WVI was created by a small group of women veteran advocates. They started December 2008 and built an action plan to come together in order to see if there were barriers to women veterans in accessing services. The original goal was to give a voice to their concerns and homelessness.
Coffee Talk started at the “Audubon Coffee Shop” in Minneapolis. April 16th. Through those interactions WVI realized that the barriers were in accessing medical care in the VA health system, benefits, and services. The idea of the “Sister Assister” program started this year. A number of surveys were conducted to find out about women veteran’s concerns- the MNDVA, and the DVA Regional office assisted in these efforts.
WVI was asked to host a Coffee Talk in Sartel in the St Cloud Area as part of the St Cloud VA regional outreach area-4 months WVI hosted a Coffee Talk event there with volunteers traveling from the Metro area. More outreach efforts and developed continued. WVI continues to promote the Women Veterans of MN Memorial Day March and Fall Luncheon.
WVI had the Learning and Living series co-sponsored with the League of Catholic Women in Minneapolis. The purpose was veterans outreach and specific topics were addressed. A relationship with “Freedom Farm” was formed and equine therapy was offered to women veterans-and even had a congressional visit which led federal legislative support for MST assistance. The idea of a MN woman veteran license plate was formed. WVI started exploring the possibility and attended legislative hearings. In 2011 Coffee Talk changed locations to “Java Train” in St Paul. WVI was invited to participate and have 2 seats at the the table to be a voice for the woman veteran at the Minneapolis VA Consumer Advisory Board (CAB). The only other woman on the board was a spouse of a service man. WVI worked legislative initiative with MAG (Military Action Group). Sister Assister was formerly endorsed by the volunteer coordinator at the Minneapolis VA. WVI did media outreach to include 7 Star Tribune Articles, KFI Radio Show, Real Progress Cable TV Program, MPR Radio program, table at “Boot Camp” event and the WVI Chair-Trista Matascastillo was selection as the MN Woman Veteran of the Year. WVI table at the Mac-V metro Stand Down, the MN State Fair, and the “South of the Metro Veterans Program”. The idea of a stand alone VA clinic for women was brought to WVI and they assisted in writing the proposal. The Facebook page for WVI was created. For more on WVI’s accomplishment in 2011- Link:
Life Skills Seminars with the League of Catholic Women, Oct 2014 WVI coordinated with “Place of Grace” for a women veterans retreat, the first “WVI Holiday Celebration” and became tenants with an “office” at the Minnesota Women’s Building in St Paul on Rice Street. Coffee Talk, MAC-V Metro Stand Down, State Fair, “Boot Camp” for Women Veterans, multiple “Veterans in the Arts Programs,” MN WNBA Lynx recognized women veterans and WVI assisted in identifying women veterans for their events, Women Veteran Build with Habitat for Humanity, efforts to pursue a MN Woman Veteran License Plate continued with WVI participation in the UVLC and MAG. WVI continues to promote the Women Veterans of MN Memorial Day March and Fall Luncheon.
WVI decide to pursue becoming a non-Profit. Place of Grace retreat in August, Coffee Talk, MAC-V Metro Stand Down, State Fair, hosted a December Holiday Open House, designed the WVI Logo, The partnership with the League of Catholic Women resulted in another ‘Living and Learning’ series of workshops, WVI coordinated the Women Veteran Build with Habitat for Humanity, several WVI volunteers were recognized the the MN Humanities Center “Veteran Voices” Award program. An Official WVI Board was created. efforts to pursue a MN Woman Veteran License Plate continued with WVI participation in the UVLC and MAG.
Efforts to pursue a MN Woman Veteran License Plate succeeded. Governor Dayton had WVI and its partner organization attend a ceremonial signing after the 2014 Legislative session. WVI became a host partner with MNDVA for “Boot Camp” for women veterans in April. WVI tabled at the MN State Fair and the Mac-V Metro, Stand Down, hosted Coffee Talk relocated to “Lucy Cafe” in the DEED Building in St Paul, Legislative Grass Roots movement,relocated to “Lucy Cafe” in the DEED Building in,XXX, multiple “Veterans in the Arts Programs.” The MN Woman Veteran of the Year award needed new sponsorship and no MN woman veterans was recognized in 2013-so WVI stepped up to ensure the Award continued and hosted the event in October-the “Fall Tea,” WVI coordinated the Women Veteran Build with Habitat. WVI started a quarterly newsletter and Web site. The WVI bylaws were drafted in January and approved in August. WVI hosted an annual Holiday Open House at the VICTRI Build long but the VA campus. WVI tabled at the MN History Theatre for the “Lonely Soldier” production. There was WVI presence at a Red Carpet Walk for the the screening of “An American Odyssey.” WVI had volunteers honored at the Veteran Voices Award Program. WVI continues to promote the Women Veterans of MN Memorial Day March and Fall Luncheon.
The MN Woman Veteran License Plate became available for purchase on 2 January 2015. A Penny George Catalyst Grant was awarded to WVI, and this assisted funding 2 women veterans for “Mindfulness Training” through the grant. These women will give back to the veteran community using their training. WVI adjusted their focus to include Advocacy, Outreach, and Wellness to promote complimentary wellness modalities. WVI hosted a woman veteran retreat in August at St Benedicts in St Joseph, MN. WVI received a “Resiliency” award from MNDVA, coordinated the Women Veteran Build with Habitat in November and began working on a strategic plan though grant funding. The WVI office moved to the MN Humanities center as part of the “Catalyst Grant.” WVI Tabled at the Mac-V Stand Down, State Fair, and other Veteran associated events. WVI continues to promote the Women Veterans of MN Memorial Day March and Fall Luncheon. MNDVA hired a MN Woman Veteran Coordinator and WVI started to support and collaborate with her at MNDVA “Salute to Women Veteran Events.”
Woman Veteran of the Year Award was sponsored by WVI, hosted a collaborative Summit Event, assisted DAV in identifying women veterans to be recognized at MN WNBA Lynx Home Games as “HomeGrown Heroes” and continued to table at the metro Mac-V Stand Down, and the State Fair. WVI providers support with writing nominations of the MN Humanities Center’s “Veteran Voices” Program, Attendance at UVLC and MAG. WVI Tabled at the EMDR event on World Story Telling Day where 2 WVI Volunteers took the stage. WVI assisted the Veteran Voices program in recruiting veteran women to participate in MOTH events. WVI continues to promote the Women Veterans of MN Memorial Day March and Fall Luncheon. WVI continues to promote the “Salute to Women Veteran Events.”