Earlier this month, we had the DISTINCT pleasure of hosting our first Train the Trainers WoVeN event, followed directly by our LARGEST EVER National WoVeN training!!! As always, our WoVeN women amazed the Boston crew. WoVeN staff walked away rejuvenated and brimming with new ideas and directions for continued growth.
On a personal note, it is truly an honor and a privilege to be able to journey along this WoVeN path with all of our amazing women Veterans. Seeing Cat and Tina (two of our pioneer WoVeN women! – with us from day 1!) again in DC is like coming home! Feeling the “Love” with Shurhonda, getting to meet Tracy’s fabulous son, hearing about Leah’s newest additions to her family, keeping it real with Brandi, getting restaurant tips from Valerie, and making new friends with Billiekai and Leandra – our WoVeN trainers are remarkable and ready to carry this program forward in this latest step of our journey. So much hard work, so much laughter – these nine women never cease to amaze me!!! As I warmly remember our time together, I cannot help but mention Friday evening when we traveled to the Women’s War Memorial in Arlington Cemetery. There are no words to describe walking through that hall and viewing the displays with women who have worn the uniform – hearing their stories and their laughter, and sharing their sorrow as we honored those who did not come home. I will forever keep that memory close to my heart.
AND THEN…. Our newest peer leaders flew in from all over the country! And they did not disappoint! Our trainers shared the WoVeN curriculum and we now have 16 additional cities in our community! The WoVeN spirit was readily apparent in the stories and in the discovery that sisterhood can be recaptured and connections can be made. Example after example of the importance of connecting with others who have walked a similar path emerged through the training. For example, one woman shared that WoVeN was the answer to her prayers, because this was the first time since separating from the military eleven years ago that she has found a place to feel connected and whole again. Another of our peer leaders spoke about how, since separating from service, she would never stand and be recognized at ball games and other events during which Veterans are routinely recognized. Almost to the woman, every one of our WoVeN members nodded their heads – relating that they too rarely, if ever, identify as a Veteran, rarely wear hats or service shirts. Someone called out, “Will you stand now?” And the answer was a resounding “YES!!!” – to thunderous applause!!!
We welcomed our first (known) combat Veteran to our WoVeN and the room erupted in a standing ovation in honor of her service. We also welcomed our first (known) Coast Guard Veteran and our first married peer leader team! Three of our new peer leaders were celebrating their 50th anniversary of their enlistment! Women lingered on our last day. Story after story after story poured forth. Women had come from all over the country as strangers and left as friends with a real community. I watched the women hug each other (and gave my share of hugs!) as they got ready to leave and I heard over and over again, “WoVeN for Life!”
We invite all women who served in the military to come and join us and make these connections. We can’t wait for the next one! Til then….
-Tara & Amy, WoVeN’s Directors