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New campaign launched during Fashion Week raises awareness of the plight of returning female veterans

LatinaLista — There are more than 1.8 million women veterans — the highest number in American history. Yet, resources and support services for these women when they return to civilian life after being deployed remains insufficient and inefficient.


These women, who leave their children, spouses and families behind, to serve in some of the most dangerous parts of the world face unique problems when trying to rejoin their families. Depending on how intense their service, some women suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, just like their male colleagues.

In other cases, some female veterans suffer sexual abuse from their male counterparts. In an environment that considers itself still a good ol’ boy network, help for victims of rape in the military still has a long way to go and so these soldiers must find it when they re-enter civilian life.

And in most cases, female soldiers have been wearing uniforms for so long that they no longer have a wardrobe suitable to go job hunting or even out with friends.

But disparities don’t end there. According to the women’s veterans help group, Grace After Fire, 70 percent of female veterans need VA healthcare but only 14 percent access it. Nearly 9,000 women veterans have received prosthetics. 8.8 percent of military women versus 3.2 percent of military men get divorced.

One in five women screened report MST — military sexual trauma. Of the 13,000 homeless women veterans, 75 percent suffer from MST and 23 percent have children. And 30,000 single mothers have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Realizing these are a unique set of problems for a special population, a new national campaign to raise awareness of the contributions of female soldiers was launched yesterday, Feb. 15, during New York City’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week called, “Fatigues to Fabulous,” (F2F).

Four organizations, Grace After Fire, the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR), DKNYC and multichannel retailer HSN, are joining forces to help the fashion industry “raise awareness of the contributions of women soldiers and the physical, emotional and psychological challenges uniquely faced by women transitioning home from war.”

“Fatigues to Fabulous™ is a campaign that speaks to women, in a woman’s voice, honestly, about the serious issues they are facing when they come home from war,” said Air Force pilot and Iraqi war veteran, Colonel Kim Olson, executive director of Grace After Fire. “We are getting the word out that they need help. Help with basics from health and employment to literally ‘what to wear’ to feel confident now that they are out of uniform. We’re delighted that the fashion industry is putting its substantial muscle behind the gals who have been putting their muscle up to defend our nation for so long!”

Campaign partner DKNY is designing an exclusive watch featuring traditional military “dog tag” imagery with a feminine twist. It will be sold exclusively at HSN and this summer. A portion of the proceeds will go to fund F2F. The F2F watch will be shown on the F2F website when the design is complete.

“Women in uniform are warriors and heroes, and they’re also wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and friends,” said Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN, Inc. “We are indebted to them for their dedication to serving our country and want to give them a ‘badge of honor’ that’s fabulous and stylish – and that we can wear to show we support them.”


Fatigues to Fabulous is also available on Facebook.

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