BY Amanda Sotelo
HARLINGEN — Only four months ago, Deborah Jackson was working as a Foreign Service Officer at the Port of Brownsville, but now the United States Navy veteran is dealing with a layoff and the Texas Women Veterans Roll Call: Life Beyond the Oath conference is helping her get back on her feet.
Texas State Technical College recently hosted the conference catered to women veterans. The event was one of several being held across the state by the Texas Veterans Commission.
Jackson was one of few women who left the conference with two job offers and a scheduled interview.
“Everyone here has been so helpful and sensitive to my situation,” said Jackson. “They’re supporting me in my job hunt and for that I am grateful.”
Director of External Relations for the Texas Veterans Commission Edith Disler said there are approximately 180,000 women veterans in Texas, many of whom do not identify as veterans.
“Many women don’t identify themselves as veterans for different reasons,” said Disler. “We’re here to make sure they get the assistance they need or seek, and that they network with those with shared experiences.”
The Texas Women Veterans Roll Call was a three-day event providing women with veteran resources such as panel discussions ranging from women’s health and well-being, what hiring managers are looking for, to stories of hope; professional headshots; resumè building; Workforce Solution of Cameron County skills workshops, small business entrepreneurship workshops, self-care stations and a career fair.
“We are so grateful to those who have helped put this event together and make it a success,” said Disler. “Also, a huge thank you goes to TSTC for allowing us to host it on campus and opening its door to our veterans.”
Director of TSTC’s Veterans Center Steve Guevara said TSTC prides itself in being a military-friendly school.
“Hosting events like this one are a way to show our community that we truly are military-friendly,” said Guevara. “This event recognizes the impact women veterans have in our military and it’s important to honor and connect them with the benefits and services they have earned.”
Guevara said he hopes women veterans were able to find a resource they can use and perhaps even employment.
“If anything, I hope they made a connection with another veteran,” he said.
As for Jackson, she said she is thankful for events like this that give women veterans the support they deserve. She added going from active duty to civilian life is no easy task and no matter at what age, the transition is difficult, and learning how to embrace the change is the first step in moving forward.
“This has been a great opportunity to network and get informed on the resources available to us as veterans,” said Jackson. “I’ve been having a difficult time, but after this event I feel lifted and my future is looking brighter.”
TSTC’s Veterans Center is a centralized office that assists veterans or their dependents with admissions, financial aid, GI Bill and Hazlewood benefits, and internal and external referrals. The goal of the Veterans Center is to help veterans transition from boots to books and achieve their educational goals.
For more information on veteran services contact TSTC’s Veterans Center at 956-364-4385.