Empowerment in the Women Veterans Community

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ estimates, military veterans make up roughly 10% of the United States population; women veterans in particular make up 9.4% of the total U.S. veteran demographic. This number is projected to grow to 13% in the next 20 years[1], and with it, the need for resource centers such as the Women Veterans Center in Philadelphia, PA will increase as well.

WVC Coordinator Anna Stormer aims to create a space for female veterans in the Greater Philadelphia area that provides resources, promotes outreach, and builds a community of empowered women. Since its start in 2014 as a branch of the Veterans Multi-Service Center, the Women Veterans Center has worked to provide services for female veterans by supplying meals, clothing, toiletries, housing needs, and other comprehensive services to its members.

“I am always surprised at how many women come to us not knowing what they have earned through their service,” said Stormer. “We are more than happy to invite them to all of the resources that they are entitled to as veterans in this country.”

The resources the WVC provides extend beyond personal and immediate needs as well. They host career development workshops, monthly health and wellness events, food and clothing drives, and various specialty events throughout the year.

  Women veterans participate in a monthly cooking class sponsored by the Free Library of Philadelphia Culinary Literacy Center

Women veterans participate in a monthly cooking class sponsored by the Free Library of Philadelphia Culinary Literacy Center

As a military spouse and former employee at the Wounded Warrior Project, veteran affairs are familiar to Anna. After her husband was injured in 2009 following 5 years of military service in Afghanistan, she became actively involved in the Wounded Warrior Project in Philadelphia. Her ongoing passion to help the veteran community eventually brought her to the Women Veterans Center in Philadelphia in December of 2016, where she has worked to provide a space of comfort, empowerment, and innovation to the Center’s visitors.

“Many of the women who come to us are looking for a sense of community, and for people to relate to as female veterans. We want to provide a family environment where these women can come to hang out and talk to each other and feel comfortable,” said Anna.

  Members of the Women Veterans Center attend the most recent Veterans Day parade in Philadelphia.

Members of the Women Veterans Center attend the most recent Veterans Day parade in Philadelphia.

The community within the WVC incorporates female veterans of all different age groups and backgrounds, including women who served in the Korean War extending through post-9/11 veterans. Stormer remarked that she looks forward to the monthly events hosted at the Women Veterans Center, because the variety of people attending the events. “One lady who is in her 70’s attends yoga each month, and

that’s one of the great things about the WVC. There is no  ‘typical' type of female veteran; it is such a diverse community and I love providing a space that can serve as a hub for these women to grow and thrive.”

Another frequent WVC visitor that Stormer mentioned had heard about the center online, and wanted to find a community where she could feel comfortable showing her pride as a female veteran. Since her first visit to the WVC, she has found fellowship and is now “all about being a veteran,” according to Anna.

After attending Bunker’s 2017 Muster this past September, Anna is adamant about outreach for veterans within the Philadelphia community.

“Philadelphia is a great place for organizations like Bunker Labs and the Women Veterans Center,” explained Stormer. “The spirit of collaboration among these organizations and from the private sector in Philadelphia has been so great to see so far, and I can only expect more growth in the future.”

The WVC is looking to expand its outreach and interaction with other veteran organizations in the Philadelphia area moving forward.

To learn more about Anna’s work at the Women Veterans Center, and to contact the WVC, click here.

[1] U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, VetPop2016 Living Veterans by Age Group, Gender, 2015-2045.

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