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Louisiana Department of Veterans hosts first ever Women's Veterans Symposium

3 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago Friday, May 31 2024 May 31, 2024 May 31, 2024 5:54 PM May 31, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE — To celebrate the more than 30,000 women from Louisiana who have served their country, the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs hosted the first Women Veteran's Symposium Monday morning.

The event was held at the American Legion Post 38 ahead of Women's Veterans Day on June 12.

The department made the event after learning from female veterans that they'd appreciate a platform to talk about issues that they are facing. The department took it a step further and also included a resource fair and luncheon.

Women veterans from across the state came to Baton Rouge, swapping stories about their time serving.

"I served back in the 80s. So, we actually had to take an etiquette class when we were in," Elena Branzaru, a veteran currently serving on the Baton Rouge Mayor's Veterans Affairs Council, said. "Times have changed now and it's a different type of Marine Corps where women are actually integrated fully into the service. And I like to think I helped to pave the way as all other veterans did."

For some of the women, being around their fellow veterans reignited the sisterhood they made back while serving. However, for many veterans, getting back into civilian life can be a real struggle. Women who serve can deal with trauma, depression, anxiety and even suicide. The Department of Veterans Affairs wanted to have these resources all in one place.

"When it comes to women that have served, women are usually very quiet when it comes to taking care of their own needs," Branzaru says. "They're used to having raised families, being married and taking care of other people before they take care of themselves."

More than 275,000 veterans in Louisiana aren't part of any veterans organizations. Some of the veterans say they feel they don't deserve any extra resources or benefits for serving. They did their part and want to move past it.

However, events like these and the organizations behind it say that they are part of a special group of people and that they have many brothers and sisters who understand what they went through and want to help.

"A lot of times women veterans think, well, if I didn't serve in combat, I'm not really a veteran," Louisiana Veterans Commission Commissioner Sandy Franks says. "And that's not true, if you served in the military uniform, you're a veteran and there are benefits you've earned because you are a veteran."

After hearing from multiple speakers and eating lunch, every women veteran who attended was given a rose and a commemorative coin.

The department says they plan on hosting this event every year from now on. The location of the symposium will change every year, going to other cities like New Orleans and Shreveport.

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