The Washington Department of Veterans Affair’s Women’s Advisory Board named King County employee, Debra Wood, its 2015 Outstanding Woman Veteran of the Year.
A Vietnam-era veteran, Debra received the award for her dedication and volunteer work as an advocate for veterans and their families with a focus on military sexual trauma survivors. Debra manages the administrative staff for King County Community Services Division in the Department of Community and Human Services.
While her work hours are filled with helping the community, her enthusiasm extends past work hours. In her free time, Debra helps veterans and their families navigate issues such as finding housing, filing disability claims, networking, finding gainful employment, and financial hardships.
“Being able to help veterans is very rewarding,” Debra said. “We all need a hand up sometimes.”
The award winner was announced at the annual Women Veterans Summit, held on June 6 in Kennewick, Washington. The summit allows women veterans to share their stories in a safe space with other veterans who have similar experiences. Veterans can also attend workshops on how to manage finances and meet with service agents for more help or advice.
King County also sends a representative to the fair to inform veterans of the services King County provides, including job opportunities. DCHS also puts on a Veteran’s Fair in King County that seeks to inform all veterans of job opportunities within the county, including King County careers, and to provide assistance in reaching out to the Veterans Program Advisory Board.
“It’s amazing meeting more and more veterans who have been working for the County almost as long as I have or longer,” Debra said. “I am finding out that there are other women veterans that I didn’t know about.”
Debra also sits on the Outreach and Resource Services for Women Veterans, a volunteer board composed of all women veterans. The board focuses on helping women veterans, though they also provide assistance to male veterans.
“Despite making up 20 percent of the military force, women veterans are an underserved population,” Debra said. Over the last three years, the board has helped over 3,000 women veterans.
To support women veterans, the board hosts fundraisers year-round, Debra said.
“One of the programs we have going on right now is an art program,” she said. The program is split into three days to accommodate all women and their lifestyles. Free for women veterans, the program brings in an artist to teach tips and tricks of the trade in various projects.
“It’s an opportunity for them to share stories and hang out with people who have shared like experiences,” she said.
For more information on King County Veteran Services, visit their website.