The 4th Annual Female Veterans Retreat will be held from September 14th to September 17th, 2017 at Day Spring Episcopal Conference Center, Ellenton, Florida.
This year’s retreat is being sponsored by Gold Coast Eagle Distributing Company/Budweiser, The Home Depot (Sarasota Store #0255 & Venice Store #0273), and BMW of Sarasota. Without their assistance, our female veterans would be unable to attend this retreat for FREE! If you would like to assist them in making these annual retreats and reunions happen for female veterans.
Please go to their GOFUNDME page (https://www.gofundme.com/femaleveteransunite) and donate or you may write out a check to FVU, P.O. Box 5403, Sarasota, FL 34237-5403. All donations are tax deductible.
The founder of this event, Ms. Georgie Alfano-Cronk said that she is thrilled that the applications have recently come pouring in for this very important event. This retreat is a FREE event that is held annually at Day Spring Episcopal Conference Center in Ellenton, Florida in September for 4 days and 3 nights for our Women Warriors.
During this retreat, the women will do various projects and activities that will allow them to build the bonds of trust with other women veterans who have also “walked their same walk.”
Ms. Elizabeth Cereska, (Army, SP4), is now the secretary of this unique 501C3 corporation and became directly involved with these ladies after attending one of their retreats in 2015. She said, “I have come such a long way myself. I attended the retreat and I was amazed at how the facilitators were able to bring me out of my shell so quickly. When I arrived at Day Springs for this retreat, I was very introverted. I stayed to myself. I turned my name tag around, and did not want to be in any of their pictures. In looking back at the experience, I was probably a little bit angry. I was angry that the VA had been unable to reach out to me and to resolve my individual concerns and I figured that these people would not be able to help me either. Boy; was I wrong. Female veterans certainly are a different breed. We trained and served alongside the men, and then came home to become caregivers, wives, mothers, employees, and students. Somewhere in that journey of a difficult and challenging transition, many of us lost our inner selves. We have a tendency to be relentless and we want to be good role models within our communities…but where do we really fit in? The “Vietnam Veterans” are truly the forgotten ones.
Dr. Jason Quintal & Associates, located at 5460 Lena Road, Suite 103, Lakewood Ranch, FL 34211 (941) 907-0525 provided me with better resources that I ever had access to within the VA system. Female Veterans Unite gave me the opportunity to become a whole person again and that is why I have become a volunteer for this very rewarding corporation for women veterans.”
Ms. Georgie Alfano-Cronk, the founder of FVU, has been a volunteer in the Sarasota/Manatee community for over 17 years in many different capacities. It was only during these last 8 years that Georgie has stepped up to the plate to focus all of her attention on “female veterans” and “homeless veterans” issues. She is the “pit bull” behind the scenes. She knows many of the issues that women veterans want to discuss because she herself served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. “It has been extremely difficult for me. When I got out of the service with my Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in 1976, there were no counseling services available to me. I was 21 years old and knew that I had to step up to the plate in order to “survive and thrive” because if not, I was going to be left behind. I had my entire life ahead of me and I had no idea how to face it while suffering from a major disability.
Because I did not want to just give up on my life, so then began my many trials and tribulations. I absolutely know all of the various subject matter that female veterans want to discuss in our groups. They include domestic violence, military sexual trauma, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, healthy relationships, and VA benefits/resources. And this is just some of what we cover at our retreats and reunions. We want to be able to explore these topics in depth and to brainstorm solutions to our problems too. Our veterans want to be able to have these discussions freely and to know that their issues will not be placed anywhere in their medical records! Plus more times than I care to admit to; errors have been made in many of our VA medical records which just adds salt to our wounds. Female Veterans Unite has strived to provide our attendees with a safe platform in order to address these sensitive issues. Yes, we do expect to shed a few tears during our journey back home in September. But I can guarantee to these women, that we will do more laughing and joking around, plus sharing lots of supportive hugs to get us through the rocky times! Women Warriors are just that…we are surviving warriors who just refuse to give up.”
Ms. Jennifer Seybold, a former retreat attendee and Army veteran herself, is a volunteer who heads up the ladies Quilting Committee. Because of her dedication to the FVU cause, she makes each female veteran feel the “warmth of community love” by providing enough quilts so that each woman warrior will receive a quilt free of charge. “It is important that our women military heroes feel important and appreciated by the community. Along with the male soldiers, we also made that commitment to protect and defend our Country, and for many of us, we have paid a very high price for our years of enlistment. Back in the earlier days, many of us women did not serve in combat or travel overseas as our younger female veterans are doing today; however we were the “support teams” back here in the States. Every day is a real challenge for me, but by being around other women veterans, I have more of a chance of continuing to build strong bonds that will last a lifetime for me”.
Patty Maybray, a former Air Force Veteran and the head of Human Resources at The Home Depot store in Venice (#0273), facilitates a special project that she chooses for the women each year. The Home Depot totally supplies all of the materials for her class, and because Patty is also a female veteran, she is able to get the women to open up and discuss their individual concerns while she teaches her DIY project. The Home Depot (both the Sarasota & the Venice Store) has provided countless cases of water to keep the ladies completely hydrated during the retreat. The Home Depot Stores are big supporters of our military personnel and the veteran organizations in our communities and can always be counted on to pitch in and help out our veterans! If you have any questions about this event, please call (941) 266-2769 or (727) 807-6458. And in the meantime, find a Women Warrior and thank her for her service to our Country.
This year’s retreat is being sponsored by Gold Coast Eagle Distributing Company/Budweiser, The Home Depot (Sarasota Store #0255 & Venice Store #0273), and BMW of Sarasota. Without their assistance, our female veterans would be unable to attend this retreat for FREE! If you would like to assist them in making these annual retreats and reunions happen for female veterans; please go to their GOFUNDME page (https://www.gofundme.com/femaleveteransunite) and donate or you may write out a check to FVU, P.O. Box 5403, Sarasota, FL 34237-5403. All donations are tax deductible.