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Weeklong celebration of female veterans kicks off Monday

Florida Times-Union - 3/11/2017

March 10--Dee Quaranta advocates for female veterans every day of the year. It comes with the territory as the president of the Northeast Florida Women Veterans organization.

But she's been busier than usual lately as she prepares for a full week of events geared toward female veterans on the First Coast. The program will finally get underway Monday morning.

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"We have women's history month, but I think it's important to carve out a portion of the month to recognize the things women have done to serve their country," Quaranta said.

That's why she's made a push each of the last three years to get Florida Gov. Rick Scott to declare a week in March as a time to honor those women. The third time ended up being the charm as Scott signed a proclamation in January to celebrate female veterans throughout the state.

"We were jumping for joy because it was a victory for all women veterans, not just in Northeast Florida," Quaranta said.

But the proclamation from the governor cited efforts from Quaranta's organization along with the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs as two major forces in promoting the observance of the 2017 Women Veterans Week of Recognition.

The week of observance runs from Sunday through Saturday, and Quaranta encourages female veterans in the area to participate in a variety of programs starting Monday morning.

The Department of Veterans Affairs hosts a conference Monday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Florida State College at Jacksonville downtown campus.

Quaranta said organizers will inform female veterans of all the benefits they are eligible to receive. She also said it's important for active-duty military to come out since they will soon be eligible for those benefits.

A health fair will be offered Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the VA Clinic, 1536 N. Jefferson St. That event will be followed by a wealth seminar titled "Mistakes Women Make with Money" from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Suite 3500 in the Wells Fargo Center, 1 Independent Dr.

Educational fair will be held Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Mayport USO, 2560 Mayport Rd. in Atlantic Beach. That night there will be an entrepreneurship/small business idea workshop from 6 to 8 p.m. at the North Florida district office of the Small Business Administration, 7825 Baymeadows Way Suite #100B.

Quaranta said the event Thursday night will be an opportunity for female veterans to learn about starting their own businesses.

Friday is all about fun, she said. The organization is hosting a bowling night from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at King Pins Bowling Center, 5310 Lenox Ave. A$20 fee covers two games, food and shoes.

The week comes to a close Saturday with the Northeast Florida Women Veterans Gala at 6:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, 225 E. Coast Line Dr. Tickets are $50.

Several women who served in World War II will be in attendance as the guests of honor, including 99-year-old Hattie Ulmer.

All events outside the gala and the bowling night are free to the public, but Quaranta said she's spent the majority of her time lately trying to solicit donations and recruit sponsors for the week.

Anyone interested in donating money to the cause or becoming a sponsor can go to the organization's website at www.womenveteransresources.org. Tickets to the gala and contact information for certain events can also be found on the website.

Joe Daraskevich: (904) 359-4308

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(c)2017 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Visit The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.) at www.jacksonville.com

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