Sevrine Banks served in the U.S. Army for 20 years, retiring as a Sergeant First Class. Once retired though, she missed the close-knit community that the military brought her, so she became a member of the new and local Sacramento chapter of Women Veterans Alliance, a professional organization dedicated to impacting and empowering the lives of women veterans. Today, Retired Sergeant First Class Banks serves as the Sacramento chapter director for WVA.
“The organization has supported me emotionally, knowing I have somewhere to go for anything,” Banks says, adding that through the organization’s in-depth partnership with the California Capital Women’s Business Center, she has attended educational classes to pursue her own business ideas along with having a mentor take her under their wing for guidance.
The California Capital Women’s Business Center is a nonprofit organization that provides programs and services to small businesses throughout the state. In collaboration with the Women Veterans Alliance, the Women Veterans One-Stop Resource Center was created to specifically address the needs of women veterans, their spouses and families.
“Veterans routinely call in for some type of assistance, and we will match them with the appropriate resources or service,” says Deborah Lowe Muramoto, director of the Women’s Business Center. “Melissa Washington [Women Veterans Alliance] has formed an amazing collaborative of resource partners who stand ready to provide assistance on accessing VA benefits to advance veterans education or purchase of a home, financial counseling and credit repair, and a wide array of counseling to meet their personal needs.”
Melissa Washington, founder of the Women Veterans Alliance and a Navy veteran, started the organization out of the need for a local women veterans networking resource. “My intent was for it to be a local community group of women veterans. It has become greater than that,” Washington says. “We are empowering women that have served or currently serving through networking, career and professional development and mentorship. What I have found that is even stronger is that we are bringing community.”
She says once you’re out of the military, where there is a natural sense of community, it can be challenging to connect with others. “Now women are able to connect with to the WVA community and we are changing women’s lives by helping them get connected to their VA benefits and so much more.”
The partnership with the Women’s Business Center, Washington says, adds additional quality professional services and programs to help veterans and their families. “Women Veterans have been underserved and unrecognized in the community for so long,” Washington says. “This is filling that need in the right way.”
The depth and breadth of the various programs offered for veterans through the two organizations’ partnership is expected to expand over time with plans of continuing its other resources like Women Veterans Exchange, the first online directory for women veteran-owned businesses. “It is such an important community,” Lowe Muramoto says, “and it is one of our deepest commitments to do everything we can to serve those who have served and protected all of us.”