By ROBYN ZELICKSON
Many of Tucson’s female veterans experience serious issues after leaving the service. Military sexual trauma and PTSD can lead to job loss, eviction and homelessness.
Karen Kuciver, president of the Student Veterans Organization of Pima Community College, offers solutions to these women. With veteran Silvana Andrea Lee’s help, an event was organized to offer support services and resources Sept. 16 at the PCC Downtown Campus.
The Navy Honor Guard and the Lady Titans Honor Guard formed a Color Guard at the ceremony, opening the event and placing flags around the speakers’ podium. Charity McLean sang the national anthem and Kuciver welcomed veterans and volunteers.
Lee spoke about the difficulties of transitioning back to civilian life, especially when carrying the burdens of trauma and PTSD. Mayor Jonathan Rothschild thanked veterans for their service and offered the support of the city of Tucson.
Dr. Ron Gellis of California was the keynote speaker. Gellis works to help heal both women and men who have experienced military sexual trauma and PTSD. He spoke at length about the process and damage of military sexual trauma, bringing several veterans and others to tears.
The event included a few meals provided by Mama’s Hawaiian BBQ, which was served by the Gospel Rescue Mission. Clothing, haircuts and personal hygiene products were available at no cost. Many service agencies, such as Project Action Veterans, provided resources and assistance to the veterans.
Over 40 female veterans were served and Kuciver was pleased by the success of the event.
“I was told many wonderful stories by others of the reactions of quite a few of our ladies, but one of the stories caught my heart,” she said. “One of our female veterans received a haircut, a makeover, a massage and new clothing. I was also told that she strolled out of the event feeling beautiful and with her head held high.”