"We are excited to open this vital new office,” said GDVS Commissioner Mike Roby. "Having a full-time advocate for Georgia’s women veterans has been one of our top priorities. We are thankful that our legislators saw how important this resource is for our veterans and approved the creation of this office.”
GDVS Appeals Officer Veda Brooks has been selected as the first Director of the Women Veterans Office.
Georgia Senate Bill 108, sponsored by state Sen. Larry Walker III, establishes this office as Georgia’s primary resource to meet the unique needs of a quickly growing population. Before the creation of the Women Veterans Office, Georgia’s women veterans were supported by an appeals officer who served as a women veterans coordinator as an additional duty.
"We have been watching Georgia’s population of female veterans grow over the past few years. Establishing this new office allows us to respond to their needs with the specialized care they deserve,” said GDVS Assistant Commissioner Dan Holtz.
Based out of the GDVS central office in Atlanta, the Women Veterans Office will focus full-time on women veterans’ issues across the state.
One of Brooks’ primary responsibilities is informing Georgia’s women veterans of the availability of benefits and assistance that they may be unaware of. This will include educating and working with GDVS field service officers to create a network of support for women veterans’ issues.
Brooks will provide direct assistance to women veterans, including filing benefits claims, providing counselling for military sexual trauma, and hosting programs for women veterans around the state. She will assist women veterans in connecting with resources available at both federal and state levels, including programs offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The Women Veterans Office is also tasked with working with state veterans treatment courts. These courts are modeled on drug treatment and mental health courts, providing an alternative treatment plan for veterans charged with felony and misdemeanor offenses.
"Veda’s background in social work and experience in assisting with women’s issues make her the perfect choice for this position,” said GDVS Assistant Commissioner George Canavaggio. "Her technical knowledge of VA systems and processes and her relationships with key VA personnel will be a major benefit for our women veterans.”
Born in Compton, California, Brooks is the fifth of six children. She served 15 years in the U.S. Army, including a deployment with the 2nd Armor Division as a combat medic during Desert Storm.
Following her retirement, she moved to Florida to pursue a degree in social work from the University of West Florida. Brooks returned to California with her degree to work for the Calvary Christian Center as the Outreach Director. Her responsibilities included working with homeless veterans and assisting veterans transitioning from prison or rehabilitation programs.
"It’s great to be here working with Georgia’s women veterans. Serving veterans like this has always been a passion of mine,” said Brooks. "I’ve been dreaming about having the opportunity to work collectively and directly with women veterans.”
Brooks joined the GDVS in August of 2014 as a Veterans Field Service Officer in the department’s Newnan office. In 2015, Brooks joined the GDVS Appeals division and served as the department’s American Legion service officer. She is a member of VFW Post 2667 in Newnan.
Women veterans in need of assistance can contact Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 404-656-5893. The Women Veterans Office is open Monday through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (except state holidays).