A group of veterans from Military Women In Power gathered to talk about their experiences in the armed forces for the Women in the Military Forum on March 13 in the Atrium Amphitheater. The event was sponsored by the Student Government Association and Veteran Support Services as part of City Tech’s Women’s History Month celebration.
Military Women In Power is a non-profit organization that provides aid to female soldiers and veterans and their families, including mental health referrals, representation at housing appointments and employment agencies, and assistance with VA claims applications.
The speakers were a diverse group with a wide range of experiences in the military. Sheila Tabarsi, a U.S. Air Force veteran who specialized in medical evacuation, said that the military taught her to “not make excuses” and that her “experiences were phenomenal—the best six years of my life.” While Carmen Rosa Rodriguez, a U.S. Army veteran, said that she experienced repeated sexual harassment and assault during her time as a soldier, which prompted her, in part, to form Military Women In Power with other female veterans.
Karla Garcia, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who is currently a New York City Teaching Fellow, said that she started to recognize gender discrimination in boot camp when some men would ask: “Why are you in my Corps? Females shouldn’t be in the Marines.” Garcia also said that “women have a long way to go to being treated equal in the military,” and that it will take “collective work between men and women” to make a change. Other speakers included Sandra Rolon, U.S. Army veteran; Marie Delus, U.S. Marine Corps veteran; and Lisa Beatha, University Director of Student Veteran Affairs at The City University of New York.
Eric Fludd, from City Tech’s Veteran Support Services, said “college students who are also veterans of the military have been through many difficult and challenging experiences, particularly for those who have been to war and have graciously served our country. They offer our college community at City Tech a unique, mature perspective on learning. There is much they have to teach us as they make their own way though college. It is now our duty to serve them as they have served us.” Currently, 244 veterans are enrolled at City Tech.
Desiree Wong, Veterans Benefits Counselor at the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs, presented the group with “Women in the Military Awards” in appreciation for “outstanding service and leadership,” as well as a Women’s History Month Proclamation from Governor Cuomo.