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Reaching Out to Women Veterans in Ky

Kentucky's focus on supporting women veterans. Credit: Greg Stotelmyer
Kentucky's focus on supporting women veterans. Credit: Greg Stotelmyer
November 9, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. – There are around 22 million military veterans in the United States and 331,000 of them live in Kentucky, including nearly 25,000 women.

Kentucky's Department of Veterans Affairs has made increasing outreach to women vets a priority this year.

The state's Commissioner of Veterans Affairs, Heather French Henry, says a key focus is helping them transition back into the civilian work force.

"Women veterans have a higher percentage of unemployment rate than their male counterpart," she points out.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs projects that over the next 30 years the percentage of veterans who are women will increase from around 10 percent to around 17 percent.

French Henry likes to call veterans "our illustrious warriors." She says Veterans Day is about more than Nov. 11.

"While we shake their hands and thank them, what are we going to be doing for them tomorrow that's going to make their life better?” she states. “So, to me it's not just about the one day it's about our promise for the future as well."

Nearly 10 million U.S. veterans are now over the age of 65, including Charles Williams, who was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army in the early 1970s.

"We would not be the country we are today, we would not be where we are in the world today, because veterans give us that value thing called freedom," he states.

A retired schoolteacher, Williams is now a volunteer with AARP, which is making donations to veterans programs in Kentucky in honor of Veterans Day.

Williams says veterans sometimes face backlogs on issues relating to their benefits. He's thankful non-profit and service organizations are, to use a military term, in the “foxhole", providing information and guidance on a variety of issues, including caregiving.

"It's been through AARP that I've been able to have a single point location where I can go to and rummage through the files, or do a search, and find what I need to help me get to the next level of help," he says.

According to AARP, 5.5 million military family caregivers provide more than $470 billion worth of at-home care every year.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY