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News from "2012 Vision2020 Congress – Collaborating for Change"

News from "2012 Vision2020 Congress – Collaborating for Change"

I’m sifting through the business cards, notes, and notations from the 3rd Vision2020/Drexel University Congress in Portland, Oregon. I got home late yesterday after a long day of flying broken up by a wonderful lunch date with our daughter in Seattle.

Every Vision2020 delegate has a great project, but one woman's mission moved me so much that I want to highlight it here., and I hope that you will be persuaded to contribute to her foundation that helps women Veterans. (Kimberly capitalized the word Veterans in all her materials, so I will, too.)

Kimberly Olson, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, is the founder and CEO of Grace After Fire. Kimberly lives in Weatherford, Texas, 20 minutes west of Fort Worth, and is an Iraq War veteran. Kimberly has to be one of the most educated veterans, male or female. She graduated from Ohio State University with a Bachelor's degree in education. She earned three Masters' degrees, a fellowship at Seminar XXI Center for International Studies, MIT, and completed the Superintendents Academy with the Broad Center for the Management of School System.

I met Kimberly during the opening evening’s get-together Wednesday night. Everyone was enjoying lively conversations, but I gravitated to Kimberly and the circle of women around her. She’s a tall slender woman and she was deep in conversation when I joined the group. Kimberly speaks with a bit of a southern accent, and I noticed her nametag said TEXAS. After we introduced ourselves, I asked her about her project, and she handed me a card for Grace After Fire. Her own name wasn’t on the front – it was on the back.

The card says, “Discover Their Grace: The Power of Women Veterans. Grace After F I R E”. Protect. Connect. Renew”. I was immediately intrigued. For the past ten years, I’ve followed the news about American military women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Far too many (estimates are one in three) are victims of sexual assault by their superiors or fellow Americans. Many women suffer from PTSD related to war, as well as their own personal battles as a result of war.

Grace After Fire provides support to women Veterans of the military who are returning from active duty to civilian life. They have a safe, albeit virtual, haven to transition from war so that they can more easily readjust to being mothers, wives, daughters, and citizens in civilian life. The organization was founded in 2008 and almost immediately began attracting hundreds of women in need of crisis support. Grace After Fire serves women Veterans from all eras and branches of the military. There are about 1.8 million American female Veterans. The board of directors is made up of 80% women Veterans, and is managed by women Veterans and family members.

Grace After Fire is a website featuring programs like "Table Talk, Color Me Camo". It's a peer support system for women Veterans that utilizes trained facilitators and peers. The program "provides educational materials and activities that promote self-knowledge, self-understanding, self-development, and self-renewal for the woman Veteran." You can read more about the program, watch a short video, and donate on the website at http://www.graceafterfire.org.

 

Read more at: http://juneauempire.com/blog-post/barb-belknap/2012-11-19/news-2012-vision2020-congress-%E2%80%93-collaborating-change#.ULN6A2fhd3h