On Tuesday, March 19th, 2013, the White House honored fourteen women Veterans as “Champions of Change”. One of those champions is Tia Christopher, a proud US Navy Veteran.
In 2001, Ms. Christopher began training at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA, studying to be a naval cryptologist. Her dream of serving her country was marred when Tia became a victim of military sexual trauma and was raped by a fellow sailor. As a result of this violent attack, Christopher suffered from PTSD, experiencing intense fear, helplessness and horror. She discovered that it is not easy to report a rape. The DOD reported that in 2011, only 13.5% of survivors reported their assaults.
Christopher has come a long way since she was honorably discharged in 2002, and she is doing what she can to help other victims. In addition to speaking nationally on issues facing women veterans and veterans in transition, Ms. Christopher testified before Congress last year. She has been an advocate for exposing military sexual trauma, and volunteers as a clinician instructor for those working with military survivors. For the last two years, Congress has been pushing the VA to respond to the special needs of women veterans including dealing with military sexual trauma.
Ms. Christopher is currently serving as the Chief of Staff for the Farmer Veteran Coalition in Davis, California. The Farmer Veteran Coalition mobilizes Veterans to feed America, and they are cultivating a new generation of farmers and food leaders. The Farmer Veteran Coalition also develops viable employment and meaningful careers through the collaboration of the farming and military communities. Prior to her current post, Christopher served as the first Women Veteran Coordinator for Swords to Plowshares. This position was created to respond to the specific needs of the fastest growing segment of the U.S. Veteran population: women.
Today Tia is doing well, and credits her VA referred female therapist for the progress. Ms. Christopher is the author of “You Are Stronger Than You Think You Are: A Straightforward Transition Manual” written to help Veterans transition from military to civilian life. The Champions of Change program was created as part of President Obama’s Winning the Future Initiative.
As a tribute to women Veterans, Military Connection will be profiling each of the honorees of the Champions Of Change Award. These ladies are awesome and we salute them.