Hendry County women veterans have new organization

Lake Okeechobee News/Danika Hopper
Tyla Bebon is active in Wolfhounds Legacy service dog training.

HENDRY COUNTY — Florida is home to the second largest population of women veterans in the nation, with more than 144,000. Women veterans are one of the fastest growing segments of the veterans’ population. Local veteran, Tyra Bebon is focused on reaching out to all local veterans and helping to form connections and build a supportive network, especially for those who are afraid to reach out.

Currently, she works through Wolfhounds Legacy, a group that rescues dogs and trains them to be service dogs for disabled veterans and first responders. While training dogs through Wolfhounds Legacy, she has noticed that even though there are many female veterans in Clewiston and surrounding areas, they remain hesitant to attend any veteran-focused group meetings, even when they need help, due to feeling unsupported.

Recently, Ms. Bebon signed up as a member of WoVen, a peer-based support group that focuses on identifying and addressing gaps in local resources or programs for women veterans. It is a program designed to enhance mental well-being, quality of life, personal relationships, and employment opportunities by fostering strong connections. Each chapter is inclusive of any age, branch of the military, or service era. WoVen’s mission is “to provide a unique social network of women Veterans to foster connections and build relationships in local communities and across the nation.”

WoVen’s website provides the following key facts:
• There are approximately 1,882,848 living women veterans.
• Approximately 10% of the veteran population is female.
• There are 214,098 (14.6 %) women in the Active Duty Military.
• There are 118,781 (19.5 %) women in the National Guard.
• There are 470,851 (15.5 %) women in the Reserves.

Knowing how many local women veterans there are in the area, and experiencing the disconnect between women veterans and their willingness to seek support, Bebon is working towards starting a local WoVen Chapter for Hendry and Glades county. She hopes the WoVen chapter will work together, in connection with a new women’s dog training group, saying, “I believe with doing the Women’s group for service dogs, in addition to these other groups, we will really be able to build something to give support to woman veterans and our young women coming home from military service.”

Ms. Bebon is currently looking for other local woman veterans who might be interested. She says she is dedicated to, “Not letting another woman wait decades before reaching out and getting support from other women in her own backyard. I know there’s lots of us here and we are very spread out over Hendry and Glades, but I feel if there’s a safe place, we can really form a great place to get resources and answers.”

Ms. Bebon wants other women veterans to know that she understands the anxiety associated with reaching out and making a connection, but urges them, their friends, and their family to help them make that first move, as the benefits of interacting, socializing, communicating, and engaging with other women veterans are immeasurable.

For more information, Tyla Bebon can be contacted by email: tjnoahark@gmail.com.

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