Red Cross, other Janesville groups organize resource fair for female vets
JANESVILLE Amanda McVicar had hoped to serve in the Marines for 20 years.
The Janesville woman began her career in the military in 1994. She served until 1998 and rejoined after 9/11, knowing the Marines would need more people.
“I knew I had a duty to the Marines, and I felt I had to help the country. So that’s why I went back in,” McVicar said.
Three knee injuries later, McVicar was no longer able to serve in the military and now is looking for a job.
The Janesville branch of the American Red Cross and a variety of veteran’s organizations gathered Friday for a female veteran’s information fair to help McVicar and other female service members find support and information about available services.
Maryliz Murphy, who serves as an Armed Forces coordinator with the Red Cross, said they wanted to hold an event where women would feel comfortable. They had heard rumors, Murphy said, that veterans who are single mothers were worried they would lose their children if they came forward to get help. She said the women had nothing to worry about.
Murphy said communities need to make sure they take care of their veterans.
“They should not be alone in this world,” Murphy said. “They did the honor of serving this country.”
McVicar served in the 2nd Marine Division in Iraq for seven and a half months from 2004 to 2005. Her unit was assigned to guarding a power plant in the “triangle of death” region south of Baghdad.
McVicar said they were attacked at least once a day. She remembered when a mortar shell apparently intended for the command post went too far and hit the portable toilets, instead.
McVicar injured her knee for the second time while still serving in Iraq. The back door of the Humvee she was riding in was not closed all the way, causing her to tumble out the back and land awkwardly.
“My ACL was completely gone. Usually when people hurt it, they say it was just torn,” McVicar said.
Rock County Veteran’s Service Officer John Solis on Friday advised McVicar to get a medical checkup because her knee injury might be causing other health problems. If McVicar is having other problems, she might be eligible for more disability pay.
During the fair, the veterans service officials and several veterans traded stories over lunch. At one point, social worker and Army veteran Dorothy Carskadon noticed that every branch of the military except the Coast Guard was represented at the table.
Murphy said she hoped to continue the partnership between non-profit groups such as the Red Cross and other government services for veterans. She said they hope to have a volunteer coordinator in every Wisconsin city to help veterans find services.
The group swapped stories about their times in the service and everyone got a big laugh out of remembering the extra training sessions troops would have to do if they were considered overweight.
“The Air Force called it ‘the fat boy program’,” Solis said with a laugh.
Murphy said she encourages all of the 28,000 female veterans living in the state to attend a Women Veterans Conference in September at Fort McCoy, Sparta.
McVicar said she would like to attend the conference, but if she can’t make it because she has a job, she won’t complain.