Regent Alumna Champions Veterans with the Power of Story, Wins 1st Runner Up in Ms. Veteran America Competition
Regent University is known as a military friendly school, and few people embody that better than College of Arts and Sciences graduate and Regent employee, Rebekah Lloyd ’16.
She’s not only dedicated to serving her country, but to veterans who served as well. Having served in the Army from 2006–2013, she has a firm grasp on the unique struggles other veterans, particularly women, undergo.
She’s lobbied for reform, been a part of fellowships and as of earlier this year, started her own non-profit for female veterans.
On Sunday, October 8, she was acknowledged and honored for this dedication at the Ms. Veteran America competition, finishing as first runner up. The competition is a chance for women like Lloyd to serve as the “ambassador” for female veterans.
Ms. Veteran America is an organization that not only celebrates female veterans as, “mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives,” but steps in to help those most in need.
They’ve raised $330,000, supported more than 3,600 homeless veteran women and their children, and funded more than 12,000 days of transitional housing.
According to Lloyd, this is the practical love of Christ on display, a living embodiment of “love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Something that we’re taught in the military is ‘never leave a fallen comrade,’” she said. “Even when you’re out [of the military], you still have to fulfill that value.”
“There are so many women veterans that not only are homeless, but their children are homeless. Seventy percent of them are single mothers,” said Lloyd. “I think through the act of service — selfless sacrifice like this — we’re showing the love of Jesus.”
“Jesus will be found in the middle of this, I believe,” she added.
But bringing awareness to the cause can be quite difficult. One of the main problems, Lloyd said, is that most people don’t recognize women who have served simply because there’s little-to-no stereotypical image associated with female veterans.
“Often times, once we take off the uniform, we’re no longer thanked for our service,” she said. “That’s something that I’ve experienced personally, and it’s painful to have that experience.”
“The [Ms. Veteran America] competition is showing our society, it’s showing our culture, that you can’t always tell that a woman has served, but that doesn’t mean that her service is any less valuable,” said Lloyd.
Lloyd said she’s driven to help on the communal and legislative level, using both stories and political activism to help those who, like herself, have gone above and beyond in their service to America.
In April 2017, she founded HER Story Inc., an organization raising awareness and aiding “women veterans by empowering them to openly share their stories so that their sacrifices are remembered.”
She started the group after spending time in Washington D.C. working with federal officials and advocating for veterans aid via legislation. While there, she saw there was a need for “local, community, grassroots advocacy,” something she already had on her heart.
Lloyd realized aid and healing could be provided through the “therapeutic power in narrative exploration” when she started sharing her own story while serving on the Military Family Research Institute’s Focus Forward Fellowship.
“That’s where [it was] confirmed that [HER Story] needed to be story-based narrative exploration,” she said.
Lloyd, who currently works in Regent’s Military Resource Center as a veteran certifying official, serves as the group’s president and CEO. She’s attending Regent’s Robertson School of Government and studying for a Master of Arts in Law and a Master of Public Administration.
She hopes that HER Story can open a shelter for homeless veteran women someday and have an impact that affects future veterans on a wider scope as well.
“I really just want to see HER Story grow in so many ways,” she said. “Reaching women veterans on the personal level, and then to have an impact federally as well in terms of legislation.”