SWAN – Service Women’s Action Network Overview
Serving as the voice for all military women, the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) is a member-driven community network advocating for both the individual needs of service women and the collective needs of the population group of women veterans.
Although women have been serving in the military, in some form or fashion since the American Revolution, many women veterans don’t have access to the same care and resources as male veterans. The barriers that women veterans face occur while they serve and after attempting to access VA benefits and the services they’ve earned. Because so many veteran organizations are dedicated and focused on male veterans’ needs, women veterans often have challenges finding the right resources.
SWAN has set out to change that.
What Does the SWAN Offer the Veteran Community?
SWAN’s goal is to ensure that all service women receive the benefits and opportunities they deserve. They aim to provide resources for all women veterans and the tools and support they need to reach their professional goals.
This is achieved in a three-pronged approach:
Support – SWAN has a robust network of vetted resources that are specifically created to address the needs of service women, including challenges to access to appropriate health care, housing, and family and financial services. SWAN’s also connects members to caseworkers, employment assistance, transition advice, legal services, and alternative therapies.
Connect – By bringing together military women and organizations from across the country, SWAN helps to amplify service women’s voices on a national scale. Media and networking events further this mission.
Advocate – A driving force behind changing antiquated laws and policies, SWAN works diligently to create change from within the military to help increase opportunities for women, eliminate sexual violence and trauma, and address women veterans’ needs.
To propel their advocacy reach, SWAN actively seeks volunteers to help advance their mission. The organization has a small staff, so it relies on volunteers to help accomplish its goals. More information about volunteer opportunities can be found here.
Do They Help with Veterans Benefits Claims?
SWAN does not offer assistance with filing veterans benefit claims. However, their caseworker service can offer support. The SWAN resource portal provides women-specific support, services, and resources. The resource portal offers several services for women veterans, including housing and homelessness, healthcare resources, and family services. In addition, they offer resources relating to legal services, alternative therapies, and veteran benefits.
Hotlines provide women veterans with immediate access to live resources and support services, including the DoD Military Rape Crisis Center, the Women Veterans Call Center, the Veterans Crisis Line, and others.
Sexual Assault and Military Sexual Trauma are pervasive issues within the military community. SWAN aims to connect women veterans with the appropriate aftercare relating to the physical and emotional trauma of assault.
Gender Equality resources help service women with issues related to achieving gender equality. These resources include information relating to combat integration, LGBT advocacy, and other support services.
Education and Advancement resources explore the ways in which the challenge of transitioning back into civilian life can be overcome. SWAN offers job placement assistance, developmental workshops, mentoring, and more for women veterans.
Veteran Benefits that are specific to women veterans are presented all in one place. This resource offered by SWAN is complete and extensive. It offers everything women veterans might need to explore relating to how to file claims, as well as women-specific benefits and organizations, including links to the DAV Women’s Veteran Toolkit and others.
What Makes SWAN Unique?
Since the organization was founded in 2007, making SWAN one of the only nonprofits that advocates for and supports both the need of active duty service women and women veterans, regardless of military branch, years in service, or rank.
This is an important distinction, as there are currently over 400,000 nonprofit organizations in the United States. The majority of most veteran service organizations are designed to meet the needs of the majority, who happen to be men. SWAN aims to change that.
From a legislative perspective, SWAN’s efforts have played a significant role in determining the outcome of the future for military women. Advocacy efforts include working to open all military jobs to service women as well as expanding access to reproductive healthcare services, and working toward holding sex offenders accountable within the military justice system. Part of SWAN’s goal is to remove the barriers women veterans face relating to disability claims for those who have experienced military sexual trauma, as well.
Additionally, SWAN sets itself apart from other veteran organizations in that it seeks to create a viable online community for women veterans. The SWAN community forum was created to allow everyone in the SWAN community to connect with one another, receive guidance, and find encouragement among fellow veterans.
While this organization doesn’t outright help with filing claims for VA benefits, it provides a resource for women veterans unmatched in our community.