50th IS Airman involved with Yuba Sutter Veterans Stand Down event

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  • 655th ISR Wing Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Breona Calvert, 50th Intelligence Squadron, commander’s support staff, not only volunteered for the Yuba Sutter 20th Year Stand Down event August 21-23 2019, she found the event a great learning experience and rewarding. The event was held at the Cotton Rosser Pavillion, Riverfront Park in Marysville, California.

According to the Yuba Sutter Veterans Stand Down web site, each year the Yuba-Sutter Veterans Stand Down has grown, been refined to meet the needs of the veterans, homeless or not, all active duty personnel and their dependents. There are organizations, agencies and more than 2,800 volunteers that make Stand Down happen.

One of the volunteers this year was Calvert. Calvert worked the Women’s Tent – a safe place for female veterans, active duty, reserve, guard, retirees and their dependents to come and receive critical items for their wellbeing. Items included personal hygiene, under garments, business casual attire, shoes, reading material, school and office supplies plus boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

Over the three-day event, the Women’s Tent help service 234 women.

“I was the first face they saw while I signed them in and gave them a rundown of what they were free to gather,” said Calvert.  “I was able to explain to the women that it was a safe place for them to take their time getting all that they felt they needed. No judgement. No rushing. This opened the door to a handful of women who were able to emotionally express their gratitude towards having such a tent for just women.”

During the event, the vice wing commander for the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base, California, Col. Spencer Thomas, his wife, Laura, and his command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Dustin Hall, stopped by Calvert’s tent and asked about the mission of the tent.

“I was very proud to explain to them the reasons why this tent was set up and my personal choice to volunteer my time and efforts, Calvert said.

Calvert received an email later that evening from Mrs. Thomas.

“I got the e-mail later that evening from Mrs. Thomas. The e-mail read, ‘I have never seen anything like I saw today where women veterans had their own place to go for supplies and support.  You couldn’t have possibly stated it any better then you did today, that it is not about singling out women over men, it is that there are certain needs women have that men don’t.  That was excellent, more often than not those needs get over looked because there aren’t as many of us women vets.’

Calvert said the women that visited her tent shared their military experiences with here. Some were having negative memories of inequality and gender shaming.

Calvert said other local counties have not had a women’s tent in existence in their Stand Downs. The coordinator for the Sacramento Stand Down visited her tent in hopes of getting best practices and advice on how to get a women’s tent built for theirs in the future.