Anchorage, AK – A listening session to better understand the opportunities and challenges facing Alaska women veterans is set for Friday, June 8, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Wilda Marston Theatre in Loussac Library. U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, in partnership with The Alaska Community Foundation and Rasmuson Foundation, is hosting the session. It will be attended and led by Alaska women veterans. It is intended to give them a stronger voice in how the community can join together to honor and serve our Alaska women veterans.

Alaska’s women veterans make up more than twice the national average in the general population,1.2% compared to one-half percent nationally. Despite this large population, there is a lack of networking systems to connect female veterans or communities that understand their unique experiences. Many services available to them due to their service are underutilized.

Then-Maj. Mary Louise Milligan, later Mary Louise Rasmuson, is seen at a victory garden that was part of the Women’s Army Corps program that she rose to lead.

With a $500,000 grant in 2013, Rasmuson Foundation established the Women Veterans Fund at The Alaska Community Foundation in memory of Mary Louise Rasmuson. She was a career Army officer and director of the Women’s Army Corps, where she was recognized as an advocate for African American service women. This year, with additional support from ExxonMobil Alaska and Weinberg foundations, The Alaska Community Foundation will grant more than $60,000 to organizations providing services to Alaska women veterans. The purpose of this fund is support women veterans by providing funding for high priority programs that meet their self-identified needs.

Alaska’s women veterans have a vibrant history of service in our state.  We have served in all branches and eras of military service.  We need to include the voices of women veterans in the larger narrative of veteran’s experiences.  With more women serving in the military than ever before, we can also help women veterans as they transition out of the military.  We need to understand what works and what needs to be in place to support women after leaving the military so they can be recognized and honored and have a path to continue to serve in their communities as veterans.

— Vanessa Meade, U.S. Army/Gulf War Veteran, Clinical Assistant Professor-UAA School of Social Work, Veteran’s PATH Facilitator

Mary Louise Milligan Rasmuson is seen in uniform.

At the listening session, representatives from statewide organizations and agencies that serve women veterans and their families will be able to learn what programs and opportunities serve the highest priority needs, identify gaps in services and funding, and increase community engagement in support of Alaska women veterans. All women veterans are invited to attend this session on Friday.

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Established in 1995, The Alaska Community Foundation (ACF) is a statewide platform for philanthropy that connects people who care with causes that matter. Managing more than $90 million in assets and over 450 funds for the benefit of Alaskans, ACF and their Affiliates grant $3 million to $5 million each year to charitable projects and nonprofit organizations across the state.

Rasmuson Foundation was created in May 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband “E.A.” Rasmuson. Through grantmaking and initiatives, the Foundation works to promote a better life for Alaskans.