VA Creates Partnership With to Help Women Veterans

First Lt. Anja Nelson, a team leader with a female engagement team assigned to the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, engages with women and children during a census in southern Kandahar province, Afghanistan. (Photo by Spc. Crystal Davis)

The VA is creating a public/private partnership with to empower woman veterans to achieve their ambitions.

With 10% of the veteran population being women, and 20% of today's military comprised of women, the women veteran's community is the fastest growing subset of American veterans. This new partnership aims to assist women in navigating the military to civilian transition through an initiative comprised of two pilot groups. The initiative, known as the LeanIn.Org Women Veterans Chapter is comprised of two pilot programs:

  1. The Veteran-to-Veteran program - a virtual program, which allows any woman veteran to participate, no matter where she is located; meetings will be moderated and attended by women veterans throughout the United States.
  2. A face-to-face pilot circle - created in partnership with the existing LeanIn.Org chapter in Seattle.  This circle is an innovative hybrid of women veterans and non-military members providing an environment for both to learn and share leadership skills.

Both programs are comprised of what are known as "small circles". These small circles allow women veterans to share their personal experiences with others and gain insight from the experiences of others in the circle. Research shows that people are more confident and are able to learn and accomplish more in small groups. These small circles provide women with the peer support they were accustomed to in the military and are often lacking in the civilian world. There are several small circles that women can join, ranging from "Combat Boots & High Heels", to "Spirituality & Wellness - Women's Vets".

The program combines the global and supportive community model of Lean In with the unparalleled leadership skills of women veterans to provide a rich environment for all women looking to advance their careers and grow their leadership capacities. 

As women veterans go from active duty to veteran status, they face a  loss of connection to community  and a  loss of the contribution  they were accustomed to making on a global scale. For mission-driven individuals accustomed to functioning with esprit de corps, these dual losses can be devastating. The LeanIn community creates a supportive community for women veterans. It focuses on personal growth through career advancement and leadership training, career growth educational tools, and small circles. 

"We are thrilled to have LeanIn.Org as our collaborative partner," said Kayla M. Williams, director of VA's Center for Women Veterans. "For many years, women Veterans have expressed to us that they need to have a mechanism to engage with their fellow women Veterans to make a difference in their community and we believe this is the perfect match. VA is pleased to be a part of these two pilot programs."

"Women are the fastest growing population of our nation's Veterans and through this Circles program, these women will have the peer support and community they need to reach their goals," said Ashley Finch, LeanIn.Org, head of partnerships. "Leanin.Org is proud to be a part of this groundbreaking and important initiative."

For more information about the Women Veterans' chapter, visit LeanIn.Org/womenvets.

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Women in the Military