Jennifer Ross

Branch: USAF
Years Served: 2002-2023
Rank: E7
Military Occupation: Military Intelligence
Twitter Handle: @JennLemon813

Tell us a little about you outside of the military:

Why are you joining the IAVA Cavalry? 

  • Since retiring last year, I’ve been involved in supporting many different VSOs and have found that I feel more empowered and my voice can be so much louder outside of uniform.
  • I still find myself interested in improving life for those service members that will serve after me and that is why I want to remain involved in highlighting current issues and help bring about lasting and impactful improvements and change.
  • I want to bring a face to issues surrounding women service members, enlisted members, military spouses, student veterans and retirees – all hats I’ve worn over my 20 year career and beyond. 

How did your military experience shape you to be the person you are today? 

  • My service gave me a confidence I never knew. I was a poor kid growing up in the south and my service was an opportunity to change my future, travel the world, support profound and rewarding missions all while growing professionally and personally.
  • I had many amazing experiences but also dealt with many things that no service member should have to face.
  • My life was forever changed by the time I spent in the military and I want to be able to look back on my time and know I used it to make life better for others.

Which one of IAVA’s policy priorities for you believe is the most pressing? Why?

  • I believe that modernizing the VA and ensuring there is adequate support for the increasing women veteran population is the most pressing.
  • The number of women service members leaving active duty is increasing exponentially and yet there are very few locations that have services specifically tied to women’s care.
  • For the first time in 20 years, I’ve had the pleasure of finally having all of my care captured under one umbrella at the women’s clinic in the DC VA Hospital. I feel seen and heard for the first time and I want to make sure that this kind of  service is not only highlighted to others but expanded to as many other locations as possible.

Which one of IAVA’s policy priorities do you have the strongest personal connection to? Why? 

  • I am most passionate about expanding the dialog surrounding alternative therapies and removing the stigma and employment limitations placed on veterans who find success with these types of medications but then must forfeit a government career in order to use them.
  • I have chronic back issues and pain. For that, I have found that using medical marijuana products has not only helped with my back pain but also been helpful with my anxiety and sleep issues. I have not found anything else that has worked nearly as well.
  • Unfortunately, I am now not able to pursue a career in any industry tied to a federal mission. I could request a prescription of habit-forming prescription pain killers or opioids and be able to find work with the federal government but I’m penalized because I choose not to use opiates. This is a loop hole that needs to be corrected and removed not only because it penalizes people for seeking alternative pain management but it limits the talent pool from very qualified and highly employable veterans.


Our country has an obligation to fulfill its promise to honor and support vets. Make a donation today to help IAVA fulfill its mission to connect, unite, and empower post-9/11 veterans.

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