Florida Hosts Women Only Veterans Conference

Courtesy: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Courtesy: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

There are more than 160,000 women veterans living and working in Florida.

“Many of them don’t even realize – they’re veterans. They feel they’re not recognized as veterans,” said Alene Tarter, director of benefits and assistance for the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) based at Bay Pines.

Larri Gerson used to be one of those women veterans. She now supervises benefits claims at the FDVA.

“I didn’t know I was a veteran for 25 years because I didn’t grow up in a military family,” Gerson said.

“It wasn’t until I came here working at the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs that I realized how important it is to have that knowledge.”

So, Florida is sponsoring its first Women’s Veterans Regional Conference, March 7 from 9 am to 1 pm, at the Veterans Affairs Regional Office, 9500 Bay Pines Blvd, St. Petersburg.

Dr. Betty Moseley Brown is the scheduled keynote speaker.

Dr. Betty Moseley Brown is the scheduled keynote speaker.

Navy veteran Cynthia Brown, a claims examiner and state women veterans’ coordinator, is organizing the conference around the current issues affecting women vets.

“Employment issues, homelessness, mental health and obviously health care and benefits,” Brown said.

One of those benefits rarely used by women is the government hiring preference extended to all veterans according to Jacquelyn Consentino, the FDVA veterans’ preference administrator.

“Men use it. They use it all the time, but for some reason when the women fill out their applications they just glide over it and don’t seem to use it,” Consentino said.

Consentino is one of several panelists who will field questions at the end during an open-microphone session.

“What I want them to know when they come to the conference, I’m here to help them,” Consentino said.

The conference is for women veterans only.

“A lot of times services are geared towards men and their needs and their health issues. But for women, we have separate needs and health issues and this allows for a forum for us to come together,” said Chava Grier, a former U.S. Army military police officer.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Betty Moseley Brown, associate director of the VA Center for Women Veterans of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Online registration is not required, but it is preferred. You can find more information at www.floridavets.org and register here.

Listen to the voices of some of Florida’s women veterans in a WUSF 89.7 FM news story.

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2 Responses

  1. BriGette McCoy of Women Veterans Social Justice is putting on the first women veterans’ conference in Georgia in April. Would you consider writing and promoting that event?

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