My Sisters Keeper

I am. Two of the most powerful words commonly spoken today. The shortness and precision of these words are so powerful, enabling, promising, and most of all, declares ownership. Ownership of self and of becoming. People tend to stand firm in their beliefs, standards, differences, and similarities in life. They are widely connected by these two words; I am.

I am. Tells stories about dreams, aspirations, and of lives through the different lens of experiences, often connected by the same goals, making a difference and invoking change.

Women veterans have been fighting for their (I am) place in the military since the Revolutionary War. From filling in vacancies on military posts while their husbands served at war, to fighting on the front line in the wars of today. Women who have served in the military continue to encounter the undue recognition of their status; Veteran. It is evident in the lack of facilities and resources available to the women veteran population. Also, the lack of respect shown to women veterans, mistaking her status as a spouse of a veteran, repeatedly causing women veterans to stake her claim with the correctness of; I am, the Veteran.

The futile attempts to ostracize women veterans has only reinforced the beliefs, standards, differences, and similarities that once connected the women population to join the Armed Forces. To declare their I am. I am a woman, capable and willing to work alongside my male comrades, to do just as much, if not more, to serve my country, and just like my male comrades, when my tour of duty ends I can proudly say; I am; a Veteran, seeking and expecting the promises of Abraham Lincoln; To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.  As Lincoln’s motto stands throughout time and wars, the needs of women veterans have continued to grow exceedingly past expectations. More women enlist in the Armed Forces in the United States than any other country in the world. The difference between women and men veterans has been their acceptance of their identity both while serving and after completing their tour of duty. For example, women serving in the military are more likely to leave their children with a caretaker than her male comrade due to location or an assignment. This take a toll on any women, physically and mentally. Women veterans have less resources available to them in the Veterans Health Administration leaving a gap in health care (physically and mentally), employment, homelessness, and identity. The barriers and differences experienced by women veterans have motivated women to care for each other; for those who have served in battle, for their families and for each other. Those women are; My Sisters Keeper.

My Sisters Keeper are women who seek justice and fairness for women veterans. They are women, who just like male veterans have unmet needs, who have faced life adversities without the support of a system designed solely for men.

My Sisters Keeper provide food for women veterans and their families. They diligently and relentlessly seek out woman veterans who may be homeless, in need of mental care, or shelter from the storms of life (abuse). My Sisters Keeper are everywhere! You can find them in Washington D.C. lobbying for the improvement of women veteran facilities. My Sisters Keeper are in neighborhoods, seeking woman veterans willing to come forth for help, to direct them safely to shelter. My Sisters Keeper connects women veterans to employers, provide financial assistance, education, and child care services. But most of all, My Sisters Keeper reiterates to the woman veteran of her (I am), her rightful place in society as a Veteran. It is this unified strength of women veterans and resources which empower women veterans to bodly affirm; I am a Veteran!

I, Chris Tatayon, am a Veteran also. And just like my male comrades and veterans, I am expecting the same deserving, and fairness I have earned. I am also; My Sisters Keeper. I embrace the responsibility to leave no woman veteran behind without hope or in need. My duty to my country did not stop at the end of my tour. I, like many of My Sisters Keeper have the charge to care for others. In doing so, each month I will highlight “My Sisters Keeper” with organizations, information, and resources pertaining to the needs of women veterans.

I look forward to serving and living life as a Veteran and My Sisters Keeper.

Chris Tatayon (U.S. Army, Veteran)