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Erie VA Medical Center


News Release

October 22, 2013

Print Version (MS Word)

Celebrating the Year of the Military Woman

Sharing the stories, the struggles, and the triumphs of local women Veterans

10/22/2013 (Erie, PA) – Erie VA Medical Center and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) are teaming up to present a special symposium, Celebrating the Year of the Military Woman, that celebrates women who have served in the military and all they have accomplished.

What:   The Celebrating the Year of the Military Women Symposium is a free event open to the community. This symposium includes an overview of Women Veterans - their history, achievements, and unique challenges - presented by Erie VA's Women Veterans Program Manager, Nadean Sitter, followed by a roundtable discussion that consists of six local women Veterans. The roundtable discussion will be an interactive dialogue between the audience and the panelists covering everything from the joys of military service to deployment to women serving in combat.

When:  Tuesday, November 12 from 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Where:                Erie VA Medical Center – Second Floor Conference Rooms

Who:     This event is open to the public. Erie VA and the AAUW encourage women who have served in the military to attend this special event as we recognize the uniqueness of local women warriors.

Learn more about the roundtable discussion panelists below.

For more information, contact Erie VA's Public Affairs Specialist Sarah Gudgeon at 814-860-2097.



Womens Symposium Speakers

Roundtable Discussion Panelists

Saundra Fulgham

Saundra Fulgham served in the Army from 1998-2002 as a 98G, Electronic Warfare Signal Intercept Operator Linguist (Korean). After completing basic training and intelligence training, Saundra was stationed at Ft. Hood, TX with the 312th MI Battalion. Saundra has a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a master's degree in Social Work from Edinboro University. She is also certified in Cognitive Processing Therapy and Integrative Behavioral Couples Therapy. She currently works as a Marriage and Family Therapist at the Vet Center where she provides grief counseling, marriage counseling, individual counseling, and group counseling in Erie and the surrounding areas.

Laura Harper

Laura Harper served in the United States Air Force from 2005-2009 as an Arabic Linguist. She served in Qatar, Afghanistan, and completed two tours in Iraq. She received nine Air Combat Medals, two Joint Service Commendation Medals, and the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal. She was also named the National Board of Certified Counselor's Military Scholar of the Year for 2013. Laura is currently in her last semester at Gannon University pursuing a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and is completing her internship in Behavioral Health at the Erie VA. She desires to work as a therapist within the VA system upon graduation.

Cherise Gibbs

Cherise Gibbs served in the Army Reserves from 2006-Present. After completing basic training, she went to Fort Sam Houston and completed her training as a combat medic. Cherise is part of the 329th Medical Company (Ground Ambulance) based out of Fairview. In 2010 she deployed to Kuwait to support the drawdown in Iraq. She served as a combat medic during convoy operations in and around Iraq. She also helped with her unit's Morale, Welfare, and Recreation program and the Family Readiness Group. She was awarded the Iraq Campaign Medal and Army Commendation Medal for her efforts. Currently, Cherise is finishing up her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Edinboro University. She is currently applying to Master's of Social Work programs in hopes of becoming a therapist.

Dorothy Butala

Dorothy Butala served in the U.S. Army. She earned a degree in Speech Communication from the Pennsylvania State University and also graduated from the Chemical Corps Officer Basic Course and Technical Escort. In 2004, she deployed to Iraq for one year where she was one of the select few women to lead combat patrols and operations as a platoon leader among her male counterparts. She conducted over 200 combat patrols where she provided route security for two main supply routes, counter-mortar patrols, security for explosive ordinance teams, tactical psychological operations teams, and civil affairs teams. After her time as a platoon leader she worked as a battle captain for a Field Artillery Battalion. She tracked and directed the execution of over 2000 combat patrols as well as battalion and battery level operations. She also served as a female search team leader during raids and other combat operations. Dorothy's military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge, and Iraq Campaign Medal.

Virginia Brocki

Virginia Brocki RNC served her country as a Hospital Corpsman in the United States Coast Guard from 1981-1987. After her discharge from service, she returned to Erie and was honored to gain employment at the Erie VA. Virginia started as a dental technician and later earned her RN at full funding by the VA. Virginia has over 10 years of service to VA and presently works in the Behavioral Health Clinic as a psychiatric nurse.

Lisa Baumgardner

Lisa Baumgardner served in the U.S. Air Force from 1981-1984 as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician on F-4s. Lisa was stationed in Europe where she developed a tracking procedure for recurring aircraft malfunctions that was adopted by USAF Europe for its excellence in management effectiveness. She later returned to the active flight line until her discharge in 1984. After her time in the military, Lisa earned her Master's Degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where she later became a faculty member for 10 years. Upon returning to Erie, Lisa owned EuroConnections, an aviation consulting firm. Lisa also volunteered for SafeNet and was later hired as a Training Supervisor where she taught staff and volunteers how to become domestic violence advocates. Lisa was president of AAUW in 2002-2003 and chairperson of the Council of Women's Organizations in Erie from 2005-2006. Currently, Lisa is the HR/Office Manager at West Main Sales & Service in North East.