John Jay College of Criminal Justice in collaboration with JP Morgan Chase hosted the Women Veterans Empowerment Symposium on Wednesday, June 25. They held the event to bring awareness to the significance of women veterans and to deepen an understanding of women’s specialized needs as they move into civilian life and prepare for civilian professions. This event was free and open to all veterans in the New York area, including those on active duty, student veterans, and military families.
According to Mindy Bockstein, Executive Director of External Affairs, the symposium was informed by discussions of the John Jay Corporate Veterans Roundtable, led by Trustee Peter Beshar, at the request of President Jeremy Travis and members of the Board of Trustees.
This symposium was the first of its kind in CUNY to focus on women veterans. It offered two tracks: the first focused on capacity-building, increasing access to information, and developing personal presentation for service members. The other track focused on raising an understanding and awareness about the concerns of women veterans for the business sector and the nonprofit world.
Peter Beshar, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Marsh & McLennan Companies and Chair of the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee of the John Jay Board of Trustees introduced the keynote address given by Brigadier General Loree Sutton of the United States Army. She referred to a Madeleine Albright quote as the linchpin of her talk: “There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."
The symposium featured many women presenters who had military experience and transitioned into the business world, such as Brandis DiSimone, from the U.S. Navy and who plays a major role at NASDAQ.
A prepared greeting by U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand was played for attendees and participants at lunch.
Bockstein, the Roundtable and John Jay student Administrators had recognized John Jay’s responsibility to assist veterans’ transition from military to civilian life because of John Jay’s large cohort of student-veterans and the College’s high percentage of women veterans, which is nearly 20 percent.
“Too many women have experienced trauma on top of trauma in the military—they are facing all the challenges of war and then they face additional trauma in the form of harassment and sexual assault by superiors and colleagues who allegedly ‘have your back.’ They are coming home with a lot of experiences that they have to process and, as a result, they don’t always take advantage of activities and programs, and they don’t self identify,” said Bockstein.
A study conducted by the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation (BPW) in 2007 on women veterans and their transition to civilian careers found that in 2009 there were 1.8 million women veterans and that women veterans receive considerably less support upon returning from military service and generally have a more difficult transition compared to male veterans.
According to the VA website, “Between 2000 and 2010, the number of women utilizing VHA for health care has nearly doubled, and dramatic increases in the enrollment of women into VHA health care is expected to continue. It is estimated that 14 percent of those deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation New Dawn (OND) are women.”
JP Morgan Chase, Bockstein, Welby Alcantara, Coordinator of the Office of Military & Veterans Services and Dana Trimboli, Senior Director of Student Affairs, agreed that they must conduct a specially tailored outreach initiative to women veterans and design on-boarding programs in a totally different way due to women’s very different needs.
“We needed to find a way to engage our women vets and build bridges with other women vets in other academic institutions and across CUNY—give them opportunity or safe space where they don’t feel threatened or challenged and where they would feel OK about opening up, exploring benefits and opportunities and see other leaders from whom they could learn and feel inspired and empowered,” said Bockstein.