YNS is closing its virtual doors and the corporation, but not our hearts or minds.
I started with a big dream, a pilot program anchored in a coffee house environment for women veterans and those women still serving. It was to be women-focused but not exclusive, because we know that serving any woman effectively means we need to serve those she loves, and those who love her - regardless of gender, regardless of rank, age or discharge status. A place where they could access all of the supportive services -- provided by the best Veteran and women serving organizations -- in a single site; a place to gather, to re-establish community and connections with other women veterans and service women. YourNexStage was going to be the "net" offering great, relevant programming offered by the best of the best; all case managed so that no one falls through the cracks; services needed and accessible at the time and in a space that's comfortable; no pressure, no gimmicks. Just a place uniquely designed with organizations partnered together and focused on the unique needs of women who served. The dream was big and while other service designs were developed, the coffee house was the centerpiece of the dream.
But sometimes dreamers need to face hard reality and pivot to move forward. When we started this journey, there was very little real data on women veterans. Indeed, only 2% of the existing contemporary literature on veterans is about women. YNS and those few organizations around the country who are committed to serving the women veteran population have struggled to make their cases effectively, some better than others. We, the women veteran serving community, needed hard data -- both qualitative and quantitative.
That data, it's coming SOON to you, courtesy of the amazing voluntary efforts of a team anchored at The University of Alabama who produced The Women Who Served Needs Assessment. Many of you joined us for monthly Zoom call updates from February through June of 2021 to hear from Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, the lead investigator responsible for recruiting the extraordinary team who developed the survey. More than 6,000 people accessed that survey, and over 4,700 completed it, making it possibly the largest body of data from a single study on women veterans in the world. Dr. Kate left us on April 5, 2022, succumbing to Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer, a consequence of her exposure to burn pits in Fallujah, Iraq. She left us knowing of the tremendous volume of responses as well as the commitment of her friends and colleagues to this work. It's continuing and will be shared with the world this summer. Stay tuned ...
It's been a journey ... and while I reluctantly leave this dream behind, I look forward to a future supporting The Women Who Served Needs Assessment, to supporting all research initiatives focused on women veterans, and to continue to work toward a collaborative community where no veteran is left behind. I’m never further than an email away … now at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for the findings report -- coming to you this summer.
Ensure that every military woman, past, present, and future finds a welcoming space and supporting services to meet her needs.
Function as a sustained bridge over the military civilian divide.
Connect women- and veteran-serving organizations and women veterans.
Create opportunities for success in transition with emphasis on:
Increase access to and utilization of the supportive services women veterans have earned and deserve -- in an informed and educated manner.
Building the premier integrated & replicable service model for military women.
Increase the public perception of the value of women as veterans at the same magnitude as their male peers.
Increase the levels of culturally sensitive support received by women veterans, when and where they seek it.
Facilitate the evolution of a nationwide network of veteran-serving organizations with offerings and environments that more effectively meet the needs of women veterans.
We don't need to own it - just help build it.