Michelle Weiss, Executive Director
Michelle is the Executive Director of Female Veterans Alliance. While in service to her country, Michelle was attached to an Air and Rescue Unit. Michelle has worked as a service officer for Disabled American Veterans, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as a psychometrist and also has worked with non-profit organizations in helping to find permanent housing for homeless veterans and their families. Michelle has developed employment veteran’s initiatives for corporations and has conducted domestic violence clinics at Quantico, and Ft. Drum as well as spoken at conferences about military sexual trauma (MST) and domestic violence (DV). She is currently finishing her Masters in Social Work and Policy from the University of Southern California.
As a disabled female veteran, Michelle recognizes the needs of female veterans and that not all these needs are being met. Michelle has been advocating for the veteran population since 2006. Through her advocating, she has assisted a diverse group of men and women seeking benefits for disabilities incurred during their military service. Michelle did extensive research involving the veteran’s medical records, existing Federal Regulations and their real life experiences while on active duty, which resulted in a 95% success rate in obtaining benefits for these veterans. As an advocate for the veteran population, Michelle has become aware that there were a large number of these women and men that were homeless and in need of assistance with their educational and disability benefits. Michelle has expanded her efforts working directly with the homeless veteran population in New York City and now nationwide. This had become one of her main focuses. The female homeless veteran presents demanding challenges due to the diversity of their circumstances they have encountered upon leaving active duty. Michelle has dealt with those who have substance abuse issues, mental health issues, family court and criminal court issues, and limited income sources. Homeless veterans are unique from other homeless men and women in that they gave of themselves in support of their country only to return to life in a shelter or hopelessness of the unforgiving streets.
Michelle has contributed to issues of policy, VA Health care, benefits and policies surrounding the use of service dogs. Michelle also has contributed to the media and has been a presenterat the NASDAQ Bell Opening, at the Robin Hood Hero’s Breakfast, Battered Mothers Custody Conference, Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma (IVAT), the Albany Times Union, and is also featured in documentary’s Service: When Women Come Marching Home, and Small Justice: Little Justice In America’s Courts.
Many women veterans have been victims of MST and domestic violence (DV). Current statistics indicate the number of women veterans diagnosed with PTSD exceed any other disability incurred while on active duty. Assistance through FVA continues to be a source of comfort for these women and teaches them the tools necessary to continue on their life journey.
Richard Lee, Director of Benefits and Policy
Richard Lee served in the Air Force as a Military Police officer while deployed during the Vietnam War. Richard has been a service officer for all veterans since 2005. Richard’s service career began as an administration assistant with the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Since then, he has worked diligently to obtain benefits for veterans of all conflicts and their families. Richard’s service officer positions include the Disabled American Veterans, Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Richard has the skills and determination needed for success with claims and appeals. Richard spent two in half years as the Appeals Officer for the Military Order of the Purple Heart in Washington, DC. His success resulted in the awarding of over $1,000,000.00 in previously denied benefits for veterans and their families annually.
As the Director of Benefits and Policy for FVA, Richard will employ his vast experience, knowledge, and understanding of issues affecting women veterans of all conflicts. Richard has dealt with homeless, battered and underserved female veterans for 14 years. Richard’s understanding of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is well documented. Richard has presented on domestic violence (DV), Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and benefits.
Richard has fought for proper treatment for all veterans related conditions in the VA medical/mental health area. Richard also advocates the use of service dogs. Richard has been a guiding force especially women veterans from Washington, DC. Martinsburg, West Virginia, and New York.