The I Am Not Invisible (IANI) campaign began in February 2017 in Portland, Oregon. The vision was to bring awareness to the barriers and challenges that women Veterans face in obtaining health care and other services. The program, started by then-Oregon Woman Veterans Coordinator and Army Veteran Elizabeth Estabrooks, also helped recognize Women Veterans.
With support from the Center for Women Veterans this project has crossed 50 States, 75 cities, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 27Native American/Alaska Native Nations to capture more than 3,053 women Veteran images.
This initiative means different things to different women Veterans. Often, women Veterans express that they are not a Veteran. In recognizing this, and to change cultural mindset, the Center has changed how we ask the question, “Did you serve?” To further change the culture, Center for Women Veterans is sharing the message with as many women Veterans as possible. This includes I Am Not Invisible to #BringWomenVeteransHome2VA, so that all women Veterans can receive the benefits and services they have earned.
In December 2020, photographer Gene Russell took the last IANI photograph in Oahu, Hawaii.
“It is one thing to honor Women Veterans, something completely different and inspiring to show them in the light they so richly deserve,” Russell said. “How very fortunate am I?”
With the completion of the photography, it is not the end of IANI. The I Am Not Invisible Campaign 2.0 kicked off in December 2020. The overarching goal is to change the culture of gender-based harassment by strategically placing them in VA medical facilities. This will help ensure women Veterans feel welcome in their own spaces. IANI 2.0 supports the center’s ongoing mission of recognizing the service and contributions of women Veterans and women in the military, raising awareness of the responsibility to treat women Veterans with dignity and respect, and helping to advocate for positive cultural transformation.
Photos will be in facilities VA-wide soon. Veterans can take a picture and tag @VAWomenVets on FB and Twitter. Also, the library of IANI pictures is available here.
The Veterans Canteen Service supported the effort and the center’s outreach initiatives.
Missina Schallus is the communications manager for Center for Women Veterans.
Editor’s note: this post updated March 9, 2021, to identify Native American/Alaska Native Nations.