Let’s rewind about fifteen years…I was attending a family 50th anniversary event. I was excited to see a cousin with whom I was close growing up. I had not seen her in at least seven years: she joined the Army, I went to college.
I approached her babbling, eager to catch up and hugging her. She looked up to acknowledge me and gave a slight smile. This was not Ronnie; it looked like her but not quite her. I don’t remember the brief conversation but the next day begged my mother to contact family members because something was wrong. The rest is foggy. I didn’t see her again for at least a decade.
Fast forward to Labor Day 2010. At a family cookout, I spent time with her and recognized her again. There was still something in those eyes but we promised to keep in touch.
Later that evening as I said my goodbyes, I overheard her saying that she was opening a home for disabled women vets. My ears perked up and I pulled her aside. I told her that the organization I worked for was having a Summit for women vets in a few months and asked her to attend and participate. She agreed. We met the next week and she shared her story with me.
I told my CEO at the time that I had an event speaker who could speak to the reintegration of women veterans. Veronica Harrison served on our panel at Joining Forces for Women Veterans in October 2010. Hear what she and other female veterans had to say.
A few days after the event, I shared my memory of her at that anniversary celebration so long ago with Ronnie. I told her that it was not until few years ago that due to my work on women veteran issues did I recognize what I saw that day so long ago. She was quiet and began to cry. “I was gone.” I told her that I was so sorry that our family didn’t understand and couldn’t help her. We need to make sure families can be a support system for our ‘sheroes.’
Today, I can’t catch Ronnie because she has so many meetings and appointments to lay the foundation for The Lighthouse, the transitional home that she is establishing for disabled women vets.
I am so proud of Veronica Harrison! I love her and thank her for her service to this country. You know a vet, you should do the same. Thank a veteran for his or her service today and always. Learn more about supporting women veterans at http://www.womenjoiningforces.org.