with Kayla Williams, Director of the VA Center for Women Veterans
Posted Nov 02, 2017
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Women comprise about 10 percent of the veteran population today, and are projected to make up about 16.3 percent by 2043. And while this population continues to grow rapidly, so does the need for proper health care and housing services. Kayla Williams, Director of the VA Center for Women Veterans discusses some of the challenges women veterans face today and how her organization is working to resolve them. This discussion continues in part 2 of Women Vets.
Robert Traynham:Since 2000, the number of female veterans receiving healthcare from the Veterans Health Administration has more than doubled. With half of all women veterans projected to use VA benefits by 2019, the VA services and approach are evolving. Hello everyone and welcome to Comcast Newsmakers, I'm Robert Traynham. My guest is Kayla Williams. She is director of the VA center for womens veterans. Kayla, welcome to the program.Kayla W:Thank you so much for having me, Robert.Robert Traynham:That's an interesting fact that I just mentioned a few moments ago. Tell me a little bit more about that.Kayla W:So there are about two million women [00:00:30] veterans today and a lot of people don't necessarily know that women have been serving in our military since the Revolutionary War. However, we haven't necessarily been recognized as veterans. I know when I came home from Iraq back in 2004, groups of us would go out to get a beer, celebrate coming home alive from a combat zone, and somebody would say, "Hey somebody get those guys a round." And would take it really literally, and buy the guys a round and assume that the women who were present were not veterans themselves. And so changing [00:01:00] that perception to help folks understand that women are veterans that we are serving, in a really vastly increasing number of roles as well, is one of the important parts of my position.Robert Traynham:You know, Kayla, thank you for mentioning that because I think there is a stereotype out there, or at least there was, that women perhaps maybe served in a nursing role, or a caregiver role, wearing a uniform but in a different role. But I think it's important to raise the awareness that women have and do continue to serve our country [00:01:30] in a various wider spectrum of job duties, so thank you for mentioning that. Walk me through specifically some of the unit challenges, if any, that women veterans have, particularly in the VA system Kayla W:So because VA was established back when women were limited by law to only two percent of the military, the system as a whole really was established primarily to serve men. And as the percent of women in the military started to climb, it's now roughly 15 percent of the total force-Robert Traynham:Is it really 15 percent Kayla W:Mm-hmm (affirmative). So we're projected, [00:02:00] we're about 10 percent of the veteran population today, we'll be about 15 percent of the veteran population by 2035. So VA has been working very hard to ensure that it can care properly for women veterans, dramatically increasing the providers who have the skills necessary to serve women veterans, making sure that facilities are well equipped to be able to serve them. Some of that effort has paid off incredibly well. Today women who come to VA for their healthcare are more [00:02:30] likely to get breast cancer screenings and cervical cancer screenings than women using any other sector of healthcare in America.Robert Traynham:It sounds like the front of the house, for lack of a better term, is really evolving, if you will. What about the back of the house What about the staff What about the culture of the VA Has that evolved as well Kayla W:We are working hard on culture change. I can tell you, as a patient, there are times when I come to VA to get my care and the parking lot attendant tries to direct me towards employee parking. I'd say, "No, no, no, I'm here as a patient." And every now and then, somebody will say, "Oh are you [00:03:00] here with your husband " So we're working really hard to correct that and help make sure that everyone knows that women are veterans themselves. Fact, one of the projects that I worked on this year that I was really excited about, we did in partnership with an organization called The Veteran Artist Program. We worked with them to get an exhibit of art by 10 women veterans in 10 VA medical centers nationwide throughout march, which is women's history month. That exhibit has gone on to a couple dozen other VA medical centers nationwide. [00:03:30] It's been featured in Starbucks locations and beyond. So I'm really excited at the success of this innovative exhibit, this innovative partnership in raising awareness of women as veterans, our service, sacrifice, diversity, strength, and resilience.
The Asian American Pacific Islander community makes up six percent of the U.S. population, but is growing more than four times as rapidly as the total U.S. population. Asians are the largest group of immigrants to enter the U.S. as immigrants. A conversation with Janelle Wong, Senior Researcher at AAPI Data about the fastest-growing but one of the understudied racial groups in the United States.
The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will be hosted this summer in Seattle, with more than 4,000 athletes and coaches representing 50 states and the District of Columbia. Jason Schriml of the Special Olympics USA Games discussed the impact the games and this organization that highlights athletes with intellectual disabilities through highly competitive sports, uplifting experiences, and demonstrating inclusion for all.
Preparations are underway for the 2020 United States Census. A fair and accurate count of all communities is of major importance, as data gathered is used to determine federal funding, congressional representation and more. For some populations, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the process can be of concern due to immigration status, language barriers and fear of providing personal information. John Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC joins Robert Traynham to discuss the importance of an accurate count, especially for the AAPI population in America.
Filipino Americans make up the third largest subgroup of Asian Americans today, with millennials comprising nearly a quarter of this population. And while there about 4 million Filipino and Filipino Americans living in the U.S today, this population is underrepresented in political and leadership roles. Brendan Flores, National Chairman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations joins Robert Traynam to discuss the welfare and well-being of Filipino Americans and efforts to strengthen the personal and professional development of young Filipino Americans.
According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. Asian population increased 72 percent between 2000 and 2015, resulting in the fastest growth rate of any major racial or ethnic group. And as this population continues to grow, there remains a lack of involvement in politics and corporate leadership positions. Kendall Kosai, Deputy Director at OCA National discussed programs designed to help high school students explore their identity, and encourage them to become future community leaders.
Korean Americans, like many other Asian Americans, are recent immigrants to the United States, emigrating in large numbers after 1965. As first and second generation Americans, many still have close ties with their homeland, where family and friends still reside. A discussion with Sam Yoon, Executive Director of the Council of Korean Americans on the Korean American community, including their ties to both North and South Korea.
Yolanda Vazquez speaks with Maryland State Delegate from District 14, Eric Luedtke. They discuss the 2018 Legislative Session and how it’s going. They also discuss Automatic Voter Registration. For more information on Delegate Ben Kramer, visit the General Assembly of Maryland website.
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Ken Norton of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill NH explores the impact of NAMI nationally and in New Hampshire as families and individuals face the daily challenges of mental illness with host Nathan O'Leary on this edition of Comcast Newsmakers.
Interview recorded on October 11, 2017. Hosted by Nathan O'Leary.
Mission & Vision
MISSION: NAMI New Hampshire is a grassroots organization working to improve the quality of life for all by providing support, education and advocacy for people affected by mental illness.
VISION: We envision a future where people affected by mental illness have hope, help, and health, and are able to:
access the supports and evidence-based treatment necessary for recovery,
have a lifespan that is not cut short by their mental illness or co-morbid conditions, and
reach their full potential, living in their communities free from discrimination and stigma.
After the death of her husband in 1972, Peggy Straw's daughter began experiencing a mental illness. Back in those days, families, especially parents, were blamed for causing mental illness. Although the Community Mental Health Center Act of 1963 established centers throughout the US, most of them were providing "prevention" services to people who could be identified as the "worried well." The flawed theory was that, if people received services before they became ill, the illness could be prevented.
In an effort to find support and learn about the nature of her daughter's disease, Peggy joined the NH Association for Mental Health. In 1976, at the urging of the Association's Executive Director, she wrote to every state to find out if there were any support groups for families of loved ones with mental illness. Of the 39 states that responded to her inquiry, none knew of any support groups or even where information other than patient rights booklets could be obtained.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party works locally and nationally to encourage citizens to get involved in the political system, supports voter participation and advocates to get democratic candidates elected. Chairman, Gus Bickford joins Newsmakers.
Interview recorded on November 21, 2107 at Suffolk University.