Effort underway to make women veterans aware of benefits | RecordCourier.com

Effort underway to make women veterans aware of benefits

by Sheila Gardner
sgardner@recordcourier.com

Sally Wiley is on a new mission.

As an appointee to the Nevada Office of Veterans Services Commission, the Gardnerville resident is working to raise awareness of veterans – especially women – of benefits available to them.

She’s hoping for a large turnout for two events in March for veterans.

The fourth annual Nevada Women Veterans Summit 2011 is noon-5 p.m. March 11 at the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City. Tea service is at 2 p.m.

Featured keynote speakers are Shoshana Johnson who was the first black female prisoner of war in the military history of the United States. She was captured March 23, 2003, in the early days of the war in Iraq and rescued 22 days later.

Donna McAleer, West Point graduate, Olympic athlete and author, also is scheduled to speak.

With the direction of Nevada Office of Veterans Services Deputy Director Carole Turner, Wiley is seeking out the state’s thousands of women veteran’s.

“There are approximately 24,000 women veterans in Nevada – and some male veterans – who are not aware that they may be eligible for VA benefits even if they were not in combat,” Wiley said.

Wiley said an honorable discharge from active duty military service is the minimum requirement needed to establish veteran’s eligibility for state and federal benefits.

“Every case is unique, Turner said. “Women veterans don’t seem to realize that they are eligible to apply because they erroneously assume that your active duty service must have been combat service.”

On March 24, veterans are invited to Veterans and Military Day at the Nevada Legislature.

The event is 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and includes meals with legislators and a ceremony honoring Nevadans killed in action.

The free program is offered to Nevada veterans, National Guard members and their families. It is funded with donations made by veterans’ and National Guard service organizations and donations to the Nevada veterans license plate program.

Wiley was appointed to the commission in February 2010 following years of service with the Nevada Blue Star Mothers, Gold Star Mothers of America and the Army National Guard.

She also is a member of Carson Valley Sertoma, Douglas County Republican Women, the Douglas County Republican Central Committee and St. Gall Catholic Church.

Wiley became a Gold Star mother following the February 2009 death of her son, Staff Sgt. Sean Diamond while serving his third tour in Iraq.

“My way of honoring Sean is to continue working with the soldiers, their families, and the veterans,” Wiley said. “Each quarterly meeting I go to, it’s amazing. I feel like I am contributing.”

Wiley said the website had a wealth of information about services and benefits.

“The Veterans Administration in Nevada works very hard for its clients,” she said. “We’re trying to bring awareness of what’s available not just to women, but to all veterans.”

UPCOMING EVENTS

n Fourth annual Nevada Women

Veterans Summit 2011 High Tea, March 11, noon-5 p.m., Governor’s Mansion, Carson City. Pre-register by Feb. 11.

n Veterans and Military Day, Nevada Legislature, 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m., March 24, Carson City, registration

http://www.veterans.nv.gov.

Information: Nevada Office of Veterans Services, http://www.veterans.nv.gov