Officials last week announced the launching of an app that can be used by veterans to get information on services.
The app — which can be downloaded on smartphone and tablets — was described as a tool that will help veterans get a variety of services faster.
“This app is a great way for Texas veterans to instantly access information and connect with other vets,” said Suzanna Hupp, associate commissioner for veteran services of the Texas Health and Human Services.
“Every Texas veteran, and everyone who knows and supports veterans, should have this app on their phone,” Hupp said at the third annual Women Veteran’s Symposium held Saturday. The symposium was hosted by Emergence Health Network’s military veterans peer network group.
The app, which can be found on Google, can connect a vet to a national hotline, the Hotline for Women Veterans and the Texas Veterans Portal, which includes a comprehensive list of local, state and federal services and benefits.
The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential hotline staffed by qualified people from with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans, their family and friends can call the crisis line for help with mental health or other challenges faced by veterans making a transition to civilian life, officials said.
The symposium was one-stop shop where participants linked with community resources. There were also organized classes by community sources to advocate for women military veterans and their families.
There are 22 million veterans in the U.S. and about 1.7 million of those in Texas, Hupp said.
In September, the Texas Veterans Commission said El Paso County had about 50,000 veterans.
Hupp told participants, “The freedoms we enjoy today are made possible by the men and women who serve and sacrifice for this country; it is our responsibility as Texans to do all we can to give back to them.”
Participants also discussed the role of women in the military.
Women have served in military conflicts since the American Revolution, but World War II was the first time that women served in the military in an official capacity, but not on the front lines.
In 2013, then Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta lifted the Defense Department’s ban on women in direct ground combat roles, and earlier this month, two women made history as the first female soldiers to graduate from the U.S. Army’s Ranger school.
Lisa Lee, a member of the Army reserves, said, “I joined in 1982 and am still serving. Women in the Army are getting more opportunity but women’s problems are different in nature…Women veterans are not afraid to be deployed to any battlefield in the world. We feel like we are contributing as much as the men.”
Sylvia Charf, a retired combat medic who served from 1993 to 2012, “I served in the Army for 20 years. In 2004 and 2007, I was deployed to Iraq and in 2012 I was retired for being gay. Women are mentally equal to men but there are physical differences, females are an important part of the military.”
Gayle Patterson, a vet who served from 1974 to 1995, said, “When I joined the Army only a few women were in the operational field but there were more females then males in administration. Now we see the vital change, females are competing and in the future we will see more equality in other fields as well. During our time in Army, men and women work separately, there was the ‘Women Army Corps’ and ‘Men Army Corps’ and now a days they have one corps but army women’s are still facing problems that should be addressed on priority.”