In September, Tanya Bradsher made history as the highest-ranking woman in the Department of Veterans Affairs, assuming the role of Deputy Secretary under the Biden administration. As we honor Veterans Day this year, it’s crucial to highlight Bradsher’s efforts to ensure female service members receive the benefits they rightfully deserve.
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Identifying Unseen Heroes
Bradsher emphasizes the need for employers to ask a simple yet powerful question: “Have you served?” Many veterans, especially women who may not have seen combat, hesitate to identify themselves. Women veterans, the fastest-growing group in the U.S. at 625,000, often compartmentalize their service. Bradsher stresses that employers play a critical role by recognizing the full spectrum of these veterans’ “top-notch leadership” skills.
Bridging Gaps in Awareness
Some women veterans, particularly those married to male service members, may advocate for their spouses’ benefits without considering their eligibility. Bradsher notes that, through initiatives like the 2022 PACT Act, Veterans Affairs has expanded health services for women veterans, including maternity care, mammograms, and abortion counseling.
A Personal Journey of Service
Bradsher, a fourth-generation Army member, enlisted at 23 in 1993, finding solace in the military during challenging times. Her journey included being stationed at the Pentagon during 9/11 while pregnant. Despite the challenges, she and her husband, also a service member, continued to serve while her mother supported their newborn.
Advocating for Inclusivity
In March 2021, Bradsher became the chief of staff for veterans affairs, eventually rising to her current position—the first woman of color to hold it. Her mission is clear: to ensure that she is not the last and to leave the door open for more diverse leadership.
A Call for Recognition and Support
As we celebrate Veterans Day, Tanya Bradsher’s commitment to empowering women veterans shines. Employers and the broader community must recognize the unique challenges faced by female service members and ensure they receive the support and benefits they are entitled to. Bradsher’s legacy extends beyond her current role, paving the way for a more inclusive and supportive future for all veterans.