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New MVAA employee shares journey to identifying as a woman veteran
May 08, 2022
Like many veterans before her, Alyssa Feazel felt joining the Army was her calling. She enlisted at 17 and had to wait until after graduating from high school before heading to basic training. She spent more than seven years as an Army medic before her career was cut short.
Feazel, a single parent of two young sons, would be forced out of the Army because of its involuntary separation due to parenthood policy.
“I was devastated,” she says. “I wasn’t ready to get out of the Army. Because of that family care plan separation, I felt guilty. I felt like I wasn’t good enough to be in the Army anymore and because of that, I was embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to know I was a veteran.”
Stationed in West Point in New York at the time, Feazel would move back to her hometown of Holt, Michigan, as a civilian. Her transition out of the military wasn’t easy.
“It was tough,” says Feazel. “I had a 5-year-old and an infant son. I had to figure out how to pay the bills, how to get health care, everything. I didn’t tell anyone I was a veteran because I didn’t want to deal with the judgment of how I was separated.”
In 2019, Feazel was looking to run a 5K and happened to come across the MVAA’s Women Veterans 5K in downtown Lansing. It was the first time she had heard of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.
“When I heard Director Adams speak at the 5K, I remember thinking, ‘Wow, there’ s other women veterans who felt like I did,’” says Feazel. “These women didn’t want to identify as veterans, they didn’t fit in with male veterans or the VA. I had tears in my eyes. It was like someone finally understood how I felt.”
At that moment, Feazel decided she wanted to make a difference by helping other veterans who might’ve struggled in the transition to civilian life. Luckily, she stumbled across a job posting with the MVAA’s Veteran Resource Service Center, the agency’s 1-800-MICH-VET call center.
“I had a rough transition,” says Feazel. “If I had someone who understood what I was going through, that could’ve made such a difference. If I can do that for another veteran, then it’s worth it.”
Although Feazel has only been with the MVAA a few weeks, she’s already helped veterans get their DD-214 forms, navigate their benefits and help get them back on their feet. She hopes her journey will inspire other women veterans to reach out and connect with other veterans.
“Your service mattered,” Feazel says. “No matter what branch of service, how long you were in, how you got out – all our service mattered. We all served this country and we should be able to come together and share our stories with others to let the world know women are veterans too.”
If you’re a woman veteran looking to connect with other veterans, please join us June 10-11 in Lansing for the MVAA’s Women Veterans Conference. Celebrate the 43,000+ women veterans across Michigan and learn about advocacy for yourself and your community. You’ll build friendships and get connected to the benefits you earned. Register on Eventbrite.