93,000 women veter­ans gain ad­vo­cate with Women Veter­ans Of­fice Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Veter­ans Ser­vice’s adds full-time ad­vo­cate

Walker County Messenger - - Sports -

“We are ex­cited to open this vi­tal new of­fice,” said GDVS Com­mis­sioner Mike Roby. “Hav­ing a full-time ad­vo­cate for Ge­or­gia’s women veter­ans has been one of our top pri­or­i­ties. We are thank­ful that our leg­is­la­tors saw how im­por­tant this re­source is for our veter­ans and ap­proved the cre­ation of this of­fice.”

GDVS Appeals Of­fi­cer Veda Brooks has been se­lected as the first Direc­tor of the Women Veter­ans Of­fice.

Ge­or­gia Se­nate Bill 108, spon­sored by state Sen. Larry Walker III, es­tab­lishes this of­fice as Ge­or­gia’s pri­mary re­source to meet the unique needs of a quickly grow­ing pop­u­la­tion. Be­fore the cre­ation of the Women Veter­ans Of­fice, Ge­or­gia’s women veter­ans were sup­ported by an appeals of­fi­cer who served as a women veter­ans co­or­di­na­tor as an ad­di­tional duty.

“We have been watch­ing Ge­or­gia’s pop­u­la­tion of fe­male veter­ans grow over the past few years. Es­tab­lish­ing this new of­fice al­lows us to re­spond to their needs with the spe­cial­ized care they de­serve,” said GDVS As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Dan Holtz.

Based out of the GDVS cen­tral of­fice in At­lanta, the Women Veter­ans Of­fice will fo­cus full-time on women veter­ans’ is­sues across the state.

One of Brooks’ pri­mary re­spon­si­bil­i­ties is in­form­ing Ge­or­gia’s women veter­ans of the avail­abil­ity of benefits and as­sis­tance that they may be un­aware of. This will in­clude ed­u­cat­ing and working with GDVS field ser­vice of­fi­cers to cre­ate a network of sup­port for women veter­ans’ is­sues.

Brooks will pro­vide di­rect as­sis­tance to women veter­ans, in­clud­ing fil­ing benefits claims, pro­vid­ing coun­selling for mil­i­tary sex­ual trauma, and host­ing pro­grams for women veter­ans around the state. She will as­sist women veter­ans in con­nect­ing with re­sources avail­able at both fed­eral and state lev­els, in­clud­ing pro­grams of­fered by the U.S. Depart­ment of Veter­ans Af­fairs (VA).

The Women Veter­ans Of­fice is also tasked with working with state veter­ans treat­ment courts. These courts are mod­eled on drug treat­ment and men­tal health courts, pro­vid­ing an al­ter­na­tive treat­ment plan for veter­ans charged with felony and mis­de­meanor of­fenses.

“Veda’s back­ground in so­cial work and ex­pe­ri­ence in as­sist­ing with women’s is­sues make her the per­fect choice for this po­si­tion,” said GDVS As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Ge­orge Canav­ag­gio. “Her tech­ni­cal knowl­edge of VA sys­tems and pro­cesses and her re­la­tion­ships with key VA per­son­nel will be a ma­jor ben­e­fit for our women veter­ans.”

Born in Compton, Cal­i­for­nia, Brooks is the fifth of six chil­dren. She served 15 years in the U.S. Army, in­clud­ing a de­ploy­ment with the 2nd Ar­mor Di­vi­sion as a com­bat medic dur­ing Desert Storm.

Fol­low­ing her re­tire­ment, she moved to Florida to pur­sue a de­gree in so­cial work from the Univer­sity of West Florida. Brooks re­turned to Cal­i­for­nia with her de­gree to work for the Cal­vary Chris­tian Cen­ter as the Out­reach Direc­tor. Her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in­cluded working with home­less veter­ans and as­sist­ing veter­ans tran­si­tion­ing from prison or re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grams.

“It’s great to be here working with Ge­or­gia’s women veter­ans. Serv­ing veter­ans like this has al­ways been a pas­sion of mine,” said Brooks. “I’ve been dream­ing about hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to work col­lec­tively and di­rectly with women veter­ans.”

Brooks joined the GDVS in Au­gust of 2014 as a Veter­ans Field Ser­vice Of­fi­cer in the depart­ment’s New­nan of­fice. In 2015, Brooks joined the GDVS Appeals di­vi­sion and served as the depart­ment’s Amer­i­can Le­gion ser­vice of­fi­cer.

Women veter­ans in need of as­sis­tance can con­tact Brooks at vbrooks1@vs.state.ga.us or by call­ing 404-656-5893. The Women Veter­ans Of­fice is open Mon­day through Fri­days from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (ex­cept state hol­i­days).

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