Veterans, representatives speak at ribbon cutting for Lady Veterans Connect

Published 4:23 pm Monday, June 14, 2021

State representatives, veterans both male and female, and other members of the Clark County community visited the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Lady Veterans Connect’s Anna’s House facility Saturday, June 12. The Lady Veterans connect organization helps homeless veteran women as they transition back into society, assisting with job searching, interview skills, VA access, and reconnecting with their families.

The Anna’s House facility is in the old Trapp Elementary School building. It houses 32 beds, with additional cottages planned for veteran mothers and their children.

Lindsay Gargotto, Air Force veteran and mother to two daughters, spoke at the event regarding her difficult time readjusting to civilian life and providing for her children.

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“They didn’t really have transition programs at the time,” she said. “I came home, didn’t have a job, didn’t have a place to live. I wasn’t enrolled in school, so it was like I wasn’t even in the military and I had to start all over again.”

Gargotto hopes that veteran women can soon get the same recognition their male peers receive, and confidently wear their veteran hats and jackets to let people know they served their country.

Among the speakers was Gov. Andy Beshear, who couldn’t attend the meeting, but did send an audio message declaring June 12 Women Veterans Day.

“Two-point-five million women have served or are currently serving in our military. More than 24,000 of those women call Kentucky home,” said Beshear. He added that veterans make up eight percent of the homeless population, with female veterans being two to three times more likely to end up homeless.

“That is unacceptable for our veterans to go without housing, medical care, and support,” said Beshear.

Following was Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner, taking the stand to read a new proclamation, seconding Beshear’s declaration. Other speakers included Congressman Andy Barr, State Representative Ryan Dotson, and State Senator Ralph Alvarado.

“The commonwealth and the entire sixth district are grateful to the essential services Lady Veterans Connect provides to veteran women,” said Barr. “These lady veterans have served our county with honor, pride, and patriotism. It’s essential that every veteran receives the benefits and the services that they have earned.”

Dotson followed, recognizing Lady Veterans Connect founder Phyllis Abbot for undertaking the gargantuan task of remolding Trapp Elementary.

“It took a lot of money from this community to get the job done,” Dotson said, then thanking the Clark County community for its donations and assistance with the project.

Alvarado then took to the podium, echoing Dotson’s gratitude.

“I’m proud that Lady Veterans Connect is in Clark county – in our home,” said Alvarado. “We need to volunteer our time and make sure that we take care of our female veterans who are out there who need our help.”

The event concluded with the organization’s official ribbon-cutting, as well as a tour of the Anna’s House center. The event can be viewed in its entirety on the Lady Veterans Connect Facebook page.