Program helps female military veterans as they transition to civilian life

Mission United provides resources, answers to questions

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Rachel Heinz recalls struggling when she retired from the Army. She enlisted in 2006 and medically retired six years later. 

"Finding affordable housing was the biggest problem for me," Heinz said.

"Since 9/11, almost 300,000 female veterans have served," said Kathleen Cannon, president and CEO of United Way of Broward County.

Cannon says that, once female vets emerge from the military, they have a ton of questions and very few answers.   

"They're focused on their kids and not always focused on 'What's my next job?'" Cannon said. 

Cannon and the United Way pioneered a program called Mission United to help veterans reacclimate into civilian life. The program helps find homes and jobs for female vets, and offers medical and legal services.   

"It's kind of retraining some of the language from military personnel and the armed services into regular jobs," Cannon said. 

Heinz remembers applying for jobs and hearing again and again that she was overqualified. 

"I just needed a chance, just one chance," Heinz said. 

She volunteered at Mission United and that led to her first job at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. In her job, she tells employers all the reasons they should hire veterans.

Heinz went on to get her master's degree in business administration. 

She tells other female veterans not to be afraid to ask for help and to look for programs, such as Mission United, that offer assistance. The United Way program has gone national, including a Michigan location in Barry County. For more information, click here.

In the Metro Detroit area, the Buddy-to-Buddy Volunteer Veteran Program trains veterans to be peer supports. Those veterans then help other veterans with a variety of needs, including finding housing, providing help with health care and finding transportation to work or school. For more information, click here.

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