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Native American Veterans highlight struggles they face

Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 5:30 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -Victoria Parker is just one of many unseen faces behind the ‘I am not Invisible’ project.

The project is taking time to honor women from North American tribes and raise awareness about the struggles they face.

Parker is a combat veteran who served two tours in Iraq.

Victoria Parker, military police officer on active duty from 2004 - 2009 and deployed to Iraq...
Victoria Parker, military police officer on active duty from 2004 - 2009 and deployed to Iraq twice as a gunner (during OIF III) and a squad leader (during OIF 06-08).(Victoria Parker)

“Right now I’m among the first of our country’s history to see women in the front lines of combat,” explained Parker. “Because of the Department of Defense’s combat exclusion policy that was in place when we first deployed, the civilian sector here in the United States never got to see women in combat.”

Parker also said access to healthcare and being recognized as a veteran adds to the ongoing list she’s hoping to bring to light.

“We talk about mental stigma, PTSD, traumatic brain injury. these are all things I struggle with on a day to day basis,” added Parker. “A lot of military police officers, males and females in these units are combatants. I was a 50 cal gunner a machine gunner on my first mission and a squad leader on my second mission.

Originally from the Hungry Valley reservation, she’s making her voice heard nationwide by also working in Montana addressing policy and legislation, with Senator Jon Tester’s office to help veterans with disabilities.

“When I lived in Stevensville, it was an hour drive north to get to the VA clinic, much less any support services they wanted to get to us. There’s no mobile support commands that go anywhere,” said Parker. “We have an added element being native female veterans from reservations and if you add the combat element to it, it’s an additional piece that we need healthcare for, mental health care has been blowing up and I need support for traumatic brain and other support that we don’t have access to. Nobody cares about us, we are literally invisible in this system.”

Parker has now completed law school and continues to help serve surrounding Native American communities in and outside of Northern Nevada.

“Native communities are so unique, i was raised with my entire family a walk away so I always come home,” added Parker. “If we’re solution focused on moving forward and we start teaching our history and being proud of both sides of what the men in our country accomplished of all races and what our women have accomplished. We haven’t only been in support positions, we are out there fighting for everything that our country has to offer too. out there too.”

To learn more about the project, click here.

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