It takes vision and courage to look at a worldwide problem and decide that you, and only you, have the power to fix it. ForÂ Ginger Miller, a formerly homeless veteran and founder of Women Veterans Interactive (WVI), creating an organization dedicated to supporting women veterans through advocacy, empowerment, interaction, outreach, and unification (AEIOU), was an obvious choice. “Women veterans are the fastest growing population of homeless veterans in the United States of America and this should not be,â€ said Miller.
“After suffering with my husband’s erratic PTSD behavior for more than a decade, I cried out to God wanting to know if my marriage was a blessing or curse because there was simply no in between. I walked on eggshells for over 15 years until the pressure became unbearable and I formed my first nonprofit organization, John 14:2, Inc. (2011), to support veterans who were homeless and did not have a strong support system.â€ In 2014, Miller created the Women Veterans Interactive as a division of John 14:2.
As founder of WVI, Miller has supported over 1,000 women veterans and has members in 13 states. And her extraordinary work hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2013, the White House and First Lady Michelle Obama honored Ginger Miller with the White House Champion of Change award for Women Veterans. In 2014, WVI was the sole beneficiary of theÂ Black Entertainment Television network, BET Honors, an award established to celebrateÂ the lives and achievements of African American luminaries. To top it all off, media mogul Tyler Perry personally called her to acknowledge and thank her for her great work in the veteran community.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the trailblazer to learn how she leveraged her experience as a formerly homeless veteran, mom, and wife, to inspire and support our nation’s veterans.
BlackEnterprise.com: Why did you decide to create Women Veterans Interactive as a separate division of John 14:2 ?
Miller: In the early 90’s we didn’t transition out of the military well and we became homeless. My husband is also a disabled vet who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. I worked three jobs, went to school full time, andÂ earned my master’s degree in nonprofit and association management, to pull us out of homelessness.
John 14:2, Inc., which was primarily created to support homeless veterans was going well, but I was not satisfied on the inside. There was a fire burning inside of me to do something more. So two years after I created John 14:2, I had an aha! moment that I will never forget. It was in 2011 at 3 am and I couldn’t sleep. I walked past a mirror and caught a glimpse of myself: The person I saw was Ginger Miller, mother, caregiver, commissioner, CEO, disabled veteran, formerly homeless veteran, and that’s when the light bulb went off to create Women Veterans Interactive.
Women Veterans Interactive is a premiere organization for women veterans, by women veterans. Â We are a unique membership organization that gives women veterans an opportunity to continue serving by supporting our sister veterans in need. Â WVI is more than a nonprofit; we are a sisterhood and a community.
What types of services does your organization provide?
In an effort to support women veterans, WVI provides services that assist women veterans in living full, positive, and productive lifestyles. We use a holistic approach to ensure every area of a woman’s life is positively affected. For instance, 3 out of 5 women veterans that seek assistance from WVI are underemployed or unemployed. Employment is key to a successful transition from active to civilian status. The Women Veterans Interactive developed a unique 3- tier workforce development and employment program. This program assists military women transferring out of the military, and the program educates, equips, and empowers them so they can make a smooth transition from active duty to civilian status.
Additional services include:
- Health and Wellness
- Financial Literacy
- Peer Support
- Annual Empowerment Conference
- Emergency Housing and Utility Assistance
- Workforce Development & Employment and Annual Turkey Drives
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