Delphine Metcalf-Foster, National Commander

Raising the voices of women veterans

For too long, too many women veterans have felt unheard, unwelcome and unappreciated for their service and sacrifices. To mitigate this injustice, we must all continue working together to help inspire and accelerate a much-needed, monumental
culture shift in the veterans community that recognizes the contributions and changing role of women in the military. That’s why, in late August, women veterans from across the nation gathered in Houston for the 2017 National Women Veterans Summit.

Unfortunately, as many women veterans set out to attend the event, flights were rerouted or canceled by incoming Hurricane Harvey, which wreaked havoc on the area just as the summit was set to get underway.

The VA Center for Women Veterans, supported by groups like DAV, still provided an opportunity for women veterans to share their experiences and discuss some of the most critical agenda items to help ensure we receive the care and recognition we have earned through our service to our nation. In abbreviated fashion, some of the most influential women veterans and advocates took action on VA health care and benefits, employment and homelessness, and needed culture changes to help make the VA a more inclusive and comprehensive system for women.

The tireless work of these advocates in the midst of the tragedy unfolding around them was a true testament to their focus, passion and dedication to the cause. I’m grateful to see we have such stalwart advocates fighting on behalf of women veterans—both within the VA and among our community of veterans service organizations.

Nearly 30 years ago, I walked into a chapter meeting expecting to learn more about our organization. Instead, I was escorted to a meeting of the members’ wives. While I would never discount the role of the Auxiliary, I had come to be among my fellow veterans. If I had let myself become discouraged by that initial
encounter, I never would have risen through the ranks to become the first female to be elected as DAV’s national commander in the organization’s near century
history. I never would have had the chance to affect policies and programs as a member of the VA’s Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. And I never would have had the chance to show other women veterans how grit, determination and fortitude can help to break through new—even historic—barriers.

DAV needs strong leaders to help guide us into the future, and I know there are many capable women and men out there who have what it takes to blaze the trails.

On behalf of DAV, thank you all for your dedicated service to this country. To all my fellow women veterans, I hope you will consider lending your insight and experience as we work to ensure all veterans are empowered to lead high-quality, fulfilled lives.

 

If you want to find out more about the National Commander, you can find her biography here.