Philanthropist and Military Veteran BriGette McCoy found a passion for supporting other women veterans, while creating a space where women veterans can be "honored and welcomed."
McCoy is the founder and pro bono CEO of Women Veteran Social Justice Network (WVSJ). She founded The WVSJ Network in 2008 as an online discussion group. In 2009, the group moved to Facebook. The WVSJ Network’s mission is to honor and welcome women veterans of all eras, all service times, and all service branches.
"There are a lot of women of various ages who do not get invited to certain spaces because they do not meet the narrative of what people perceive what a veteran should look like," McCoy said.
The WVSJ Network provides outreach to women veterans, enhances cultural relevance on how to engage women veterans, and offers programs and services to women veterans to help them understand how to identify.
Over the years, the WVSJ Network has evolved from meeting with local veterans to becoming a three-prong empowered group working to change policy, to change how women are respected in the community, and to support women who may have experienced abuse while serving their country.
The WVSJ Network has won numerous awards for its work, including the 2020 Citizen Honors Award from The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. The organization also hosts several programs and services, including a podcast, which AARP Georgia sponsored. The podcast allows women veterans to give the narrative of their service and their transition.
Along with other initiatives, The Women Veteran Social Justice Network also brings awareness to military sexual trauma.
"My mentor told me what military sexual trauma was in 2006. I had never heard of the term before," McCoy said. "It took me two years to realize that this is something that may be impacting me."
It wasn't until McCoy testified before Congress that she realized she was the best person to speak about military sexual trauma.
"A friend asked me if I would be interested in policy changes related to military sexual trauma, and of course, I said yes. I did not know at the time that meant they wanted me to testify," McCoy said.
McCoy said that going before Congress made her realize that she needed to be on the panel.
"It wasn't until I looked at who they chose to speak and I saw who they didn't have. I realized it was important for me to be a part of that."
McCoy said that it was "very scary" to her, but she knew it was something bigger once her cellphone started to ring with calls from CNN, MSNBC, and other news outlets.
"I was amazed at how impactful it was for women to come forth -- and also men. From 2013-2015, I was still talking about sexual trauma in the military," McCoy said.
McCoy says that The WVSJ Network will continue to support women veterans, while educating women veterans through an e-learning platform.
The WVSJ Network will host a virtual hiring event, consisting of workshops and online interviews, on June 17, 2020, from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. EST.
The WVSJ Network will also co-host a virtual event called herStory: The Impact of Women in the Armed Forces Exhibit with Unsung Heroes. The exhibit will run from July 1st- Dec. 14. The event will showcase the art of women veterans.
For more information on both events, please visit The WVSJ Network’s Facebook Page.