A reminder that the California Department of Veterans Affairs will host the 2021 Women Veterans Reception, including the presentations of the annual Trailblazer Awards, in a virtual event October 27, via Zoom.
The event begins at 6 p.m., and will include remarks from CalVet Secretary Vito Imbasciani MD and Virginia Wimmer, CalVet’s new deputy secretary of Women Veterans Affairs.
Lourdes Tiglao, director of the VA Center for Women Veterans, will give the keynote address.
This year’s reception will include two new elements. First, in addition to the six women receiving Trailblazer Awards, eight others will be recognized as Women Veterans Advocates. Secondly, CalVet will unveil a special project. To learn more about the event, or to register, click here.
The new Women Veterans Advocate honor goes to individuals who are dedicated to helping veterans. This year’s honorees are:
Rose Carmen Goldberg, Oakland: She is a professor at UC Berkeley School of Law who focuses on the rights of military sexual assault survivors.
Christina Rheingold, Compton: A licensed clinician, she created a Veteran Peer Access Team in Compton to help veterans and their families.
Gail Soffer, Sherman Oaks: Soffer is involved with the nonprofit Mindful Veteran Project, and advocates particularly for women veterans so that they are not overlooked in any veteran-related discussions.
Dr. Leslie Farmer, Mather: A medical doctor, Farmer has been the medical director of the Women’s Health Services Program of the federal VA’s Northern California Health Care System since 2015.
Antoinette Balta, Orange County: Balta is the executive director and co-founder of the Tustin-based Veterans Legal Institute, a nonprofit organization comprised of attorneys who have donated their time to assist more than 8,000 veterans and active military personnel since 2014.
Evelyn Andrews, Las Positas College, Livermore: Andrews has shown tremendous dedication as a Veterans Specialist in the Veterans First Program, leading the “Honor Women Veterans” and the ”mi Familia Miltar – Stories of Serving My Country” events at the school.
Marcey Brightwell, San Diego: Brightwell co-founded Operation Dress Code in 2015 in San Diego along with Trailblazer Award recipient RanDee McLain.
Mary Ellen Salzano, Morgan Hill: Salzano is the founder and facilitator of the California Statewide Collaborative of Our Military and Families, an organization that provides a strong voice advocating for a holistic, compassionate continuum of services, treatment, and care for service members, veterans, families, care givers, and care providers.
This year’s Trailblazer Awards recipients include:
U.S. Army veteran and human rights advocate Tracey Cooper-Harris of Pasadena; Navy Veteran and Karuk tribe member Dawn “Dusty” Napier of Hoopa in Humboldt County; Navy veteran Antwanisha Williamson of Hemet; Navy veteran RanDee McLain of San Diego; Army veteran and Shasta County Veterans Service Officer Celestina Traver; and Air Force Veteran Deborah Brook of Vacaville. (These award winners were featured in a CalVet Connect story that posted last week. Click here to read more about them.)