VA Women's Retreat

June 2016 - Suri Ridge Ranch, Eastern Plains, Colorado
 
Overview:
 
Many thank you’s to the 423rd Transportation Company for its outstanding support in making the first annual VA Women’s Retreat a huge success. We can’t thank them enough personally and professional for giving back to the community. Each of the Veterans expressed their appreciation for allowing them to experience a great weekend.  
 
This year’s first annual retreat hosted three guest speakers;
  • Current Conflicts – CPT Lacey Dean
  • Past Conflicts – Ms. Dottie Holmes
  • Ms. Lisa Henke for building self-confidence – focused on how to feel good inside & out. 
 
About the Retreat:
 
VA Women’s Annual Retreat is held on Suri Ridge Ranch within a small ranching community.  One wouldn’t think it to be much; however the comradery that is development between Women Veterans is astonishing. 
 
The retreat is sponsored by one of its own female Veterans, Ms. Tami Donaldson-Barry.  The VA Women’s Retreat is the culmination of a lifetime’s worth of nonprofit work on behalf of Veterans and homeless Veterans alike.  Ms. Donaldson-Barry has worked with Veterans in all stages of their career for well over 20 years, helping one by one.  
 
Ms. Donaldson-Barry stated – “It just grew over time and is a passion of mine Then 9/11 hit – and Veterans returning from deployment needed additional options upon coming home. Hence, while deployed I decided to start a group of sessions on reintegration, career, and retirement options while Veterans were still oversees. It caught on like wildfire and here we are today.”
 

The VA Women’s Annual Retreat is an ambitious charity project that boast a full support system to benefit each female Veteran with everyday life challenges. There is various outreach programs customized to benefit the entire group; along with team building exercises to unite as one. 
 
We enjoyed our guest speakers, team activities, social time together, and most of all team encouragement that there is other female Veterans with the same challenges and one can reach out too anyone within our group for spiritual or emotional support.  
 
Most importantly, the 423rd Transportation Company allowed for our Navy Veterans to be introduced to camping. They experienced their first ever camping activity, (even thought it was a back yard camp out..; ) in a positive manner.  They are looking forward to another year to enjoy the great Colorado outdoors. 
 
So what exactly is the mission of the VA Women’s Retreat?
 
“Our ultimate goal is to raise awareness and build an alliance among female Veterans – giving them an opportunity to live without fear and mitigate the stress factors in one’s life.”  Where do we go from here? Ms. Donaldson-Barry highlighted four main reasons to continue this event: 
 
  • First – community buy-in to support the event – as Ms. Donaldson-Barry is supporting and fighting for every Veteran.
  • Second – community sponsorship and donations, such as the 423rd Transportation did.
  • Third – community involvement – Vets helping Vets – like setting up and tear down our sleeping area.
  • And fourth – ultimately good old-fashion marketing of “Spreading the word about our retreat inviting others to join the force of supporting all female Veterans.” 
 
Overall, the first annual retreat was a success in due part of the 423rd Transportation Company and their willingness to be part of an exceptional program supporting female Veterans and their well-being. 
 
Once again a big Thank You to the 423rd Transportation Company and its team. 
 
Speaker BIO’s: 
 
Retired: Ms. Dottie Holmes – 30 year Enlisted Air Force Veteran 
She was the first woman to retire from the Air Force with 30 years of "all Air Force" time (others started as WAC's). She was the first female President of a major Veterans organization (TREA) she served two terms, and is still the current president of "WAF Reunion".
 
Current: CPT Lacey Dean – First term U.S. Army Officer
CPT Dean  is an outstanding female officer who supports female Veterans of all ranks and branch of service. Her exceptional professional experience working with all branches of service was encouraging for female Veterans not to give up and to continue perseverance and move forward no matter what. CPT Dean’s accomplishments have encouraged us to not give up and shoot for the stars in everything we do. To “take charge” of our career and follow our heart 
 
Ms. Lise Henke – Professional coach
Lise provided an uplifing speach to the Women's Veterans to ecourage confidence in the women both inside and out. She also is a makeup and hair stylist promoting the beauty within. She has a long line of military family members and this is her way of giving back. She adores and has a passion dear to her heart in helping Veterans as a whole.