Guests on campus were invited to the first “Lady Veteran’s Luncheon” on May 8 to empower women veterans at Citrus College. Male and female veterans from the Veterans Network gathered to show support for one another and to hear some empowering words from guest speakers Lindsey Sin, the Deputy Secretary of Women Veterans Affairs at the California department of Veterans Affairs and Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, assemblyman of the 48th District.
“A lot of people do not identify the term [veterans] to include women,” Sin said, “Women are a large part of that. They do not necessarily identify as veterans,” said Sin.
Mayra Marchington, an education major who served 10 years in the Marines, coordinated the event as a celebration of women veterans to be proud of their background and service.
The focus of the luncheon was to bring awareness to ‘What does a veteran look like?’ as Marchington asked various members in the audience to define what the term means to them. Many of them were at a loss for words because it would be hard to limit a veteran to one particular look.
For female veterans like Marchington and Sin, the biggest frustration that comes with being a female veteran is most peoples’ bias that veterans only include men.
“It is harder to come back and be a woman,” Marchington said. “… [the public] do not assume you are a veteran because they think you’re someone’s wife or daughter.”
Sin encourages people to ask veterans if they ever served in the military as opposed to asking if they are veterans since some military students are not comfortable with the term. She also encourages women veterans to embrace their status as a veteran.
“A lot of the time women can still sort of be in the background… so it is good to reserve the time to say thank you to the women who have served,” Sin said.
Sin shared her story as a women veteran adjusting to life in society. She spoke about going to college and her time in the Navy. Like many veterans Sin had a hard time adjusting to college norms and identifying herself as a veteran in college.
“ I definitely faced some discrimination because I was a woman and I still see that women are affected by that,” Sin said.
Roger Hernandez spoke about a bill he is introducing, AB 253, which he will be proposing to use tax dollars that have already been approved for veterans to help facilitate programs to help veterans going to college. Facilities like the Veterans Center on campus have been proven very helpful to returning military.
“[Veterans Centers] work, they are working to ensure that a veteran has the services to build camaraderie with others,” Hernandez said.
Support from other veterans and colleges are very crucial to veterans feeling comfortable on campus and making the transition on to a college campus
Any and all support from any kind of student is beneficial. Understanding and education on veterans is important.
“All they see, as civilians, is what they see on TV or what they read in books but to actually sit down and talk to someone opens up your eyes,” Marchington said.