When Robin Harder moved to San Antonio, Texas, she joined several running Meetups. In 2013, when three foot surgeries over the course of a year forced her to take a running hiatus, Robin decided to look for a different kind of group—this time, one for veterans. Sergeant First Class Harder is an active duty soldier—she’s served in the Army for almost 20 years.
Robin’s search for veterans’ Meetups in San Antonio turned up empty. “There weren’t any,” she recalls, “so I thought, ‘why don’t I start one?’” On May 7, 2013, Robin founded the Women Veterans of San Antonio Meetup. A year and a half later, she’s found over 70 women veterans with a shared vision. That vision, she explains, is to create a place for women veterans to socialize and enjoy themselves. There are lots of veteran support groups, Robin says, but she’s setting out to create something different. “We don’t want to just commiserate, or dwell on bad memories—we want to get out and do fun things together.” Her group gets together every month for coffee, and recent Meetups have included a winery tour, and a trip to see the San Antonio Stars—the Spurs’ sister team—play. “I just really wanted to meet with other military women to share experiences, and have some fun while we do it,” Robin says. “We don’t really dwell on our military experience, but its the common bond that brings us all together.”
When Robin created the Meetup, her choice to limit the group to women was intentional. “My husband is a retiree too,” Robin says. “He served 20 years, and when we’re out together people automatically identify him as military, and come right up to him. He always says, ‘you know, my wife has been in for almost 20 years too, and she was deployed to Afghanistan,’ and they don’t know what to do, or how to talk to me or anything. They never think about women being in the military too.” The Meetup’s slogan, plastered across the hot pink t-shirts Robin ordered for the group, reads: “Women are veterans too.” “There really aren’t groups out there that are exclusively female,” Robin explains. “There are big conferences and things, but there isn’t anything that’s just like, ‘let’s go grab coffee.’ Being part of a Meetup has allowed that to happen, and it wouldn’t have happened otherwise.”
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