American Legion Post 75 honors Women Veterans

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Over the weekend, the Baxter L. Schaub American Legion Post 75 hosted its commander’s annual banquet honoring women who have served in the military and those who help veterans find resources once they’ve left the armed forces.

“One of the things that we need to continue to do, as the ranks of the military continue to enlist more women, we have to be ready to address female issues when they become veterans after their service,” Past Department Commander Mark Shreve said. “With the American Legion here today, honoring female veterans and supporting each other, I think that’s a great start for us.”

The women honored were Officer Raven Holstick, Officer Tonjala Moton-Williams, Sandra Brownlee, Dr. Rickiya Williams, Ella Howard, LaKesha S. McDow-Kenner, Patricia Liddel and LaShonda Smith.

Holstick represents the American Legion Department Services and veterans with appeals as they get ready to go in front of a judge through the Georgia Department of Veterans Services. Moton-Williams is the Assistant Department Service Officer and is also a field service officer for the Department of Veterans Services. She helps veterans get their claims whether it’s through pensions, education housing, etc.

“We have regular training courses and take annual exams to make sure we are ready to hit you and your family,” Moton-Williams said.

Brownlee is the owner of Waypoint Veteran Services. She started her non-profit in a Dunkin Donuts after seeing a homeless veteran in the street in Decatur, Georgia needing help. Waypoint Veteran Services helps struggling veterans transition out of the military and find essential resources such as temporary housing, jobs, and understand benefits.

“If you serve in the armed forces and especially if you retired, your job doesn’t stop because you take the uniform off,” Brownlee said.

Williams and Howard are leaders from the Women’s Health Coordinators of Tuskegee VA Medical Center. Williams acts as the women’s health practitioner and Howard as the women’s health coordinator. They work to provide female veterans with access to health care and advocate for health care claims.

Williams said she is an advocate for all wounded veterans and ensures that facilities are up to par and are dignified, safe and comfortable for all of the female veterans they serve. Currently, they help serve approximately 1,000 female veterans in Alabama and Georgia.

According to Williams, the Women’s Health Coordinators of Tuskegee VA offers focus groups for substance abuse, postpartum depression, reproductive health services, military sexual trauma coordinators, LGBTQ coordinators and intimate partner violence coordinators.

“I was raised by an amazingly beautiful Army veteran, and I love her with all my heart,” Williams said. “Through my eight years in the VA, I’ve been able to help my mom get her benefits because when I was growing up, she didn’t think deserved it. So, when I went, and I made sure to work closely with other female veterans to ensure they got everything they deserved and more.”

McDow-Kenner represents the Central Alabama Veterans Healthcare System and the Center for Development and Civic Engagement. This organization helps veterans in central Alabama find their footing after retirement and understand all of the benefits that are available to them.

Liddel is the master recruiter for the American Legion. Post Adjutant Tania Griffin said she has helped recruit approximately 3,000 veterans to the American Legion.

“I love veterans,” Liddel said. “Ninety percent of my family are veterans. Now, I figure as long as I take care of the veterans here and their families in Georgia, then my family is going to be taken care of where they’re at.”

Smith is the director of the LaGrange Senior Corps. She works to offer senior citizens and retired veterans a way to get involved in the community and stay active. Through the Senior Corps, they help struggling child learn to read, help deliver groceries and offer support to families impacted by natural disasters.

“A lot of us have elderly parents or any family members we can’t be with as much as we’d like. We still have to go to work, and we still have our families to be attentive to as well. With Senior Corps, I try to give people that relief, that respite and give them a way to get involved in the community.”

“It feels really nice to honor these women here with us today,” said Charlie McCamey, Post 75 commander. “I didn’t serve with women in the military, but this was right on time. They deserve to be honored, and I hope we can do it again.”

For more information on help and resources for retired veterans, visit the Baxter L. Schaub American Legion Post 75 located at 722 Jenkins St or call (706) 416-2749.