Community Character: Women veterans can find support, resources in new group
"Since I've been out, everything is still tailored towards men," Army veteran Rebecca Olsen said.
Ladies Are Veterans Also, LAVA, was born out of a need for more women-centric veteran services. Olsen served in the army from 2000 to 2003, but suffered from knee injuries and plantar fasciitis (foot injury) that she says she developed because she was wearing boots and other gear that were tailored for men, not women in the military.
"Women want to be in the military, women are going to be in the military. so why wouldn't they tailor things towards women to prevent these injuries?" Olsen questioned.
While she's one of the newer members of LAVA, the organization is slowly trying to spread the word about what they do.
"Working with other veteran groups helps bring the message to the community that we're here to help and all you have to do is ask," Heather Armstrong, a Purple Heart recipient and fellow Army veteran, said.
Armstrong served in the Army from 1999 to 2004. The help Armstrong mentioned comes in many forms, too. LAVA is a program through the Rogue Valley Veterans Community Outreach so can help provide women with clothes, job opportunities, housing opportunities or whatever may be needed.
"If we have female veterans that are going off to combat and they come back to Medford, Oregon, they will know hopefully in the future what LAVA is and we can be able to be a support for that person right when they get home," Chandra York, a NAVY veteran and co-founder of LAVA alongside Armstrong and a handful of other women, said.
During the last Friday in October, York met with her first female veterans seeking help. Right now, LAVA is fundraising and spreading the word about what they do. That's the first step in LAVA's ultimate goal.
"Women veterans getting together to help women veterans, it's just that simple," York said.
LAVA is not exclusive for women, but an open group for any veteran who needs help finding resources. If you would like to join LAVA, you can reach the group on its Facebook page. Alternatively, if you're a veteran and want to participate, reach out to Don Richie, Executive Director of Rogue Valley Veterans & Community Outreach at (541)779-8564.
LAVA was nominated for community character by a viewer who emailed the News 10 newsroom about the group.