Every March, after the long months of winter, we welcome the first day of spring and with it, longer days and signs of new life and growth. March is also Women’s History Month, a designated time to celebrate and honor the contributions women have made throughout history. For the military community, it is a great opportunity to spotlight women Veterans and pay tribute to their service, accomplishments and heroism.
A Brief History
Since this country’s creation, women have overcome obstacles, fought discrimination and worked tirelessly to serve our country. Even before they were allowed official entry into the military, women found ways to serve. During the Revolutionary War, for example, women served as nurses, seamstresses and cooks. In the Civil War, women bravely worked as nurses and spies, while others dressed as men to fight alongside the soldiers. By World War II, each branch of the military began enlisting women in their ranks. Today, women are serving in the military in the highest numbers in our history. Women serve in every branch, in combat roles, on the front lines and in leadership positions, as pilots, vehicle drivers, engineers, infantry officers and more.
Women are now the fastest-growing subgroup of U.S. Veterans. So how do we ensure these women get the support they deserve?
A Center of Their Own
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes the need to honor the unique experiences of women Veterans and provide them with the services and care they deserve. In 1994, Congress established the creation of the Center for Women Veterans (CWV). The center’s mission includes:
- Monitoring and coordinating VA’s administration of health care, benefits and programs for women Veterans
- Advocating for a cultural transformation in recognizing the service and contribution of women Veterans and women in the military
- Raising awareness of the responsibility to treat women Veterans with dignity and respect
This mission is enacted in many ways. For example, the CWV helps to promote benefits and care specific to women such as:
- Initiatives specifically designed for women Veteran-owned small businesses
- Specialized health care for women Veterans including maternity care, reproductive health, fertility treatment, cancer screenings and treatment of conditions related to military sexual trauma
- Connections to other women Veterans through women-specific networks, resources and programs
As their site states, “We are women Veterans proud to serve our sister Veterans and those who serve them.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes the need to honor the unique experiences of women Veterans and provide them with the services and care they deserve.
Several governmental agencies such as the Library of Congress and the National Endowment of the Humanities have put together a site dedicated to Women’s History Month and the contributions of women in all aspects of our nation’s history. Under the Exhibits and Collections tab, there is an entire section devoted to “Women and War.” Hear the stories and voices of women Veterans from Afghanistan, Iraq, World War II and much more. Learn about the career of Jeanne Holm, one of the first women to enlist in the military who later became the first woman general in the Air Force. Read about Susan King Taylor, a woman born into slavery who later became known as the first African American nurse in the Army during the Civil War.
For generations, women have served and sacrificed for this country with courage and honor. With their service, they have made America stronger and safer, encouraging and empowering the next generation of young women to believe in their dreams and leave their own mark on the world.