Summit 2024


We will update these pages as we receive more information.

Cullowhee

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Keynote Speaker | Friday Night Speaker | Clinicians | Schedule | Sponsors | Photos

Friday Night Speaker

As a disabled Air Force veteran, advocate for women veterans, and community organizer, Vedia is deeply committed to advancing the rights and well-being of marginalized communities. Vedia became a community organizer in college and continues to advocate for marginalized people's right to 100% bodily autonomy, environmental justice, nature therapy, and veteran education. With a Master's degree from George Washington University in Women, Gender & Sexualities, Vedia focuses on enhancing women veterans' health through education and empowerment.

In 2014, Vedia founded Forever Free Books to reduce the 30 million word gap between low income children and their wealthy counterparts. She delivered free books and conducted story time to low-income children and teens in their communities. She also worked with international groups to deliver over 5,000 books to orphaned children in the Bahamas, India, and Haiti. She was inducted into the 2018 N.A.A.C.P. Hall of Fame for Outstanding Community Service with Lasting Impact. Sadly, she closed it in 2019 due to health reasons.

In 2019, a stroke left Vedia in a state of vulnerability and uncertainty as life took an unexpected course. During recovery, while grappling with physical, emotional and mental health challenges, Vedia discovered the outdoors as a sanctuary, which aided her journey to recovery. After recovery, Vedia joined the Sierra Club's Military Outdoors Campaign as a Senior Campaign Strategist for. In this role, Vedia tirelessly works to break down access barriers faced by military members, veterans, and their families in enjoying state, federal, and National parks. Recently, one of the legislations (Lifetime Liberty Pass) she advocated for was signed into law in New York, providing veterans and Gold Star families with free lifetime access to New York's state parks. She is currently working with Georgia and Michigan on free park passes for veterans.

As the founder of The Vet Space, Vedia works to create opportunities for healing and empowerment by addressing the unique challenges faced by women veterans, helping them begin the journey to live fulfilling and joy-filled lives. This includes providing the opportunity to experience the healing power of nature and the camaraderie found in sisterhood. She will be launching The Women Veterans Engagement in the Outdoors Network to connect women veterans with outdoor resources in their local communities as well as opportunities for women veterans to come together in the outdoors.

Vedia is a board member of Minority Veterans of America, which is building an intersectional movement of minority veterans and allies, advocating for equity, respect, and justice for all veterans. Additionally, Vedia is a member of Common Defense Civic Engagement - Women Veterans Caucus, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and Grandmothers For Reproductive Rights (GRR!).

As a two-time triathlete and two-time marathoner, Vedia finds joy in pushing her physical and mental boundaries through exploring the great outdoors through activities like hiking with her husband and gardening with her six-year-old grandson. When she isn't exploring a nearby trail, Vedia enjoys visiting wineries and reading historical fiction.

Vedia Barnett

Vedia Barnett