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When

Wednesday, September 27, 2023 from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM PDT
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Where

This is an online event.


 
 

Contact

California Department of Veterans Affairs
Minority Veterans Division
(916) 651-3054 
minorityveterans@calvet.ca.gov

LGBTQ+ Webinar: Benefits and Services for LGBTQ+ Veterans 

 

The CalVet Minority Veterans Division will host a webinar to celebrate the 12th anniversary of recognizing the contributions of LGBTQ+ veterans. The theme for this year's event is "Beyond the Act: Ongoing Victories and Challenges for LGBTQ+ Veterans Post-Repeal." The webinar is being organized in collaboration with State Senator Caroline Menjivar of District 20, Omar Columbus, who serves on the Advisory Board of Poetic Theater Productions' Veteran Voices Program, and the VA LGBTQ+ Coordinator Care Center. During the webinar, CalVet plans to spotlight LGBTQ+ individuals who have played a pivotal role in enacting, endorsing, or creating policies, events, and resources that have positively impacted the LGBTQ+ veteran community.

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Xˇchitl Rodriguez Murillo, Deputy Secretary
Minority Veterans Affairs
She/Her/Hers

Master of Ceremonies 

Xˇchitl Rodriguez Murillo was appointed by Governor Newsom on October 17, 2019, to serve as Deputy Secretary for Minority Veterans Affairs at the California Department of Veterans Affairs. She is a Sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve since 2012. She deployed with the Army from 2004-2005 to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. She received the National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M Device, and the expeditionary and service Global War on Terrorism medals.

Xˇchitl served as Councilmember to the City of Woodland from 2016-2020 and as Mayor from 2018 to 2019. She subsequently worked for the State Legislature from 2008 to 2019. She was the Appointments Consultant for Boards and Commissions to Speaker Rendon, Special Assistant to Speaker John Perez, and Member Consultant to Speaker Toni Atkins. As a field representative for Assemblymember Santiago, she covered environmental protection, housing, and veterans policy areas. As Legislative and Communications Aide for Assemblymember Caballero, she covered Health, Housing, Public Safety, and Veterans policy areas. Her tenure in the Capitol started with a seat in parliamentary procedure under the Office of the Chief Clerk in 2008.

Xˇchitl holds a B.A. in International Relations and Spanish from the University of California, Davis, and an M.A. in Spanish from the California State University, Sacramento. She is a member of the American Legion Yolo Post 77, California Latino Capitol Association, and the UC Davis Cal Aggie and Sac State Alumni Associations. She resides in Woodland with her husband Antonio.


Xˇchitl Rodriguez Murillo was appointed by Governor Newsom on October 17, 2019, to serve as Deputy Secretary for Minority Veterans at the California Department of Veterans Affairs. She is a Sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve since 2012. She deployed with the Army from 2004-2005 to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. She received the National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M Device, and the expeditionary and service Global War on Terrorism medals.

Xˇchitl served as Councilmember to the City of Woodland from 2016-2020 and as Mayor from 2018 to 2019. She subsequently worked for the State Legislature from 2008 to 2019. She was the Appointments Consultant for Boards and Commissions to Speaker Rendon, Special Assistant to Speaker John Perez, and Member Consultant to Speaker Toni Atkins. As a field representative for Assemblymember Santiago, she covered environmental protection, housing, and veterans policy areas. As Legislative and Communications Aide for Assemblymember Caballero, she covered Health, Housing, Public Safety, and Veterans policy areas. Her tenure in the Capitol started with a seat in parliamentary procedure under the Office of the Chief Clerk in 2008.

Xˇchitl holds a B.A. in International Relations and Spanish from the University of California, Davis, and an M.A. in Spanish from the California State University, Sacramento. She is a member of the American Legion Yolo Post 77, California Latino Capitol Association, and the UC Davis Cal Aggie and Sac State Alumni Associations. She resides in Woodland with her husband Antonio.

Lindsey Sin, Secretary
CA Department of Veterans Affairs
She/Her/Hers

Special Guest Speaker 

Lindsey Sin was appointed as Secretary of CalVet by Governor Gavin Newsom on May 26, 2023. She has served in several roles at CalVet since 2011, including Deputy Secretary of Communications and Deputy Secretary of Women Veterans Affairs. Sin is the first woman to serve as Secretary of CalVet since the appointment of Virginia Mae Days as Director in 1975.

After graduating from high school in her hometown of Sacramento, Lindsey enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served from 1997 until 2005 as a Cryptologic Technician Interpretive in the Arabic language. She completed two flight tours in Rota, Spain during which time she deployed in support of Operations Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom, and achieved the rank of Petty Officer First Class with Naval Aviation and Naval Aircrew designations.

After separating from the Navy, Lindsey returned to Sacramento and worked as the Lead Certifying Official for veterans services at American River College. She continued her work with veterans at Sacramento State as the Veterans Benefit Advisor and Certifying Official, focusing on developing programs for student veterans. Lindsey has a BA in History, Magna Cum Laude, from Sacramento State and an MBA from Drexel University. She resides in Sacramento with her husband and two children.

 

 

Amber Meyers, LCSW
LGBTQ+ Veteran Care Coordinator (VVC)
She/Her/Hers

Guest Speaker 

Amber Meyers, LSCW, is a distinguished figure in the realm of social work, currently serving as the Social Work Supervisor for Inpatient Medicine at VA Northern California HCS. Her dedication to the welfare of veterans extends further as she holds the position of LGBTQ+ Veteran Care Coordinator, emphasizing her commitment to inclusivity and providing tailored care to the LGBTQ+ veteran community. Outside the professional setting, Amber is deeply connected to nature; she cherishes the moments spent hiking alongside her vivacious 4-year-old Vizsla. Her passion for hands-on activities shines through in her knack for DIY home improvement projects, transforming spaces with her unique touch. Additionally, Amber's love for the outdoors is mirrored in her role as an avid flower gardener, where she cultivates beauty and serenity in her surroundings. Amber's multifaceted interests and commitments reflect her dedication not only to her profession but to nurturing both her environment and personal well-being.

 

Caroline Menjivar
CA State Senator (District 20)
She/Her/ella

Keynote Speaker

Senator Caroline Menjivar was elected to office in 2022 and represents California's 20th Senate District, encompassing Burbank and the San Fernando Valley. The daughter of Salvadoran immigrants, she was born and raised in the communities she now serves. 

Initially Menjivar aspired to be a firefighter, but a hiring freeze led her to change course and serve in the Marine Corps from 2009-2016. Before the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, she was forced to hide her sexual identity and girlfriend, now wife. After active duty, Menjivar attained a Master of Social Welfare from UCLA while working as an EMT and a fellow on the L.A. Mayor's Gender Equity Team.

Menjivar is Chair of Budget Subcommittee #3 on Health and Human Services, and a Commissioner for the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. 

Guided by her deep-rooted commitment to service and influenced by her lived experiences, Senator Menjivar is dedicated to championing policies that elevate Californians and her community.

 

Omar Columbus 
Advisory Board Member of Poetic Theater Production's Veterans Voices
He/Him/His

Guest Speaker

Omar Columbus (he/him) is an artist, advocate, curator, and an Air Force veteran. A native of North Carolina now living in Rancho Mirage, California, he enlisted after high school and served for 12 years on active duty. An Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom veteran, he sought healing and comfort from PTSD. His poetry and photography have become his creative outlets.

Omar moved to New York City in 2007 after being medically separated from the military. He lived in NYC for 14 years. A Brooklyn College graduate, Omar has written and performed his poetry around NYC, New Jersey, and now California.

In 2017, Omar began to find his calling not only as an artist but as an advocate for both art and veterans. In 2018, Omar was interviewed by Robin Roberts, a host on Good Morning America, for her YouTube segment called “Thriver Thursdays,” about his poetry and how art therapy helps veterans with PTSD. In 2019, Omar began writing poetry about his time in service with an organization called Poetic Theater Productions - Veteran Voices. Omar has read his poetry at the Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival, the New York City Poetry Festival, the New-York Historical Society, the flight deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, and on the Capitol steps in Sacramento, CA. In 2020, Omar was offered the opportunity to curate a show of veteran artists from across the nation, representing all branches of the military. “From There to Here: Military Veterans’ Experiences” opened in Manhattan in February 2020 and was a great success, affording him the opportunity to curate veteran art shows in 2021 and 2023. This melded Omar’s passion for art with his desire to help fellow veterans. Omar wrote his first stage play entitled “Soju,” which premiered as part of a theater festival in April 2021, Veteran Voices: Rites of Passage.

Since moving to the Coachella Valley in 2020, Omar has been busy facilitating monthly empowerment writing workshops for all veterans via Zoom with an organization called Women Veterans Empowered & Thriving. He has also been performing his poetry around California with an organization called VETART. Omar was recently chosen by an organization called Americans For The Arts to be flown to Washington D.C. and advocate before Congress for funding for veteran arts programs in the Coachella Valley.

Omar is on a mission to help veterans express themselves through art, writing, storytelling, and community.