Helping female veterans find resources

Former Army Pvt. First Class Jessica Lynch, the first successfully rescued POW since World War II, entered the sun-filled Veterans Resource Center in Gary wearing a friendly smile and olive green sweat pants that reveal the brace she wears on her lower leg.

As special guest for the "Celebration of Life" dinner and program to honor area veterans Monday night at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster, Lynch, along with the keynote speaker Dr. Irene Trowell-Harris, hope to bring more attention to the plight of female veterans.

Trowell-Harris, a retired major general with 38 years in the U.S. Air Force, was the first African-American woman to be promoted to general in the National Guard. She is also the former director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Women Veterans.

On hand at the Resource Center to greet the women was Robert Farmer, executive director of The Webb House, a Gary-based non-profit organization that supports the Resource Center and provides housing and other assistance to area veterans.

Female veterans make up just about 2 million of the 22 million veteran population. There are 35,569 female veterans in Indiana and 54,707 in Illinois, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"One of the biggest problems with female veterans is that they do not self-identify as veterans. They do not speak up about their military service, " Trowell-Harris said. As a result, they often are not referred for veteran's healthcare, employment and loan services, she said. Read the rest of the story in the Chicago Tribune.

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