The creation of Women Veterans Day in 2018 was meant to recognize the unique struggles and sacrifices of female servicemembers. The holiday is on June 12th and celebrates all women who have served in the armed forces. Though not nationally recognized, more and more states are starting to adopt it.
A brief history of women in the military
Women have provided military service in many different ways since the beginning of the United States’ military. From holding positions as nurses and seamstresses to helping raise money for the war efforts, women have always played an important role in the military.
Outside of these roles, there are many stories of women covertly enlisting in the Civil War era military as spies and even soldiers. Frances Clayton, Nancy Morgan Hart and Deborah Sampson are just a few of the women who disguised themselves as men to fight for their beliefs in the Civil War.
The first woman to formally enlist in the military was Loretta Walsh. In 1917, she became a member of the Navy and acted as the ship’s secretary. It did not take very long for other women to begin formally joining the armed forces.
Women’s Army Corps (WAC)
The Women’s Army Corps was created during World War ll to allow women to assist the war effort in non-combat positions. This allowed 150,000 women to serve their country and opened up America to the idea of a woman among the ranks of the military.
The Women’s Army Corps came into existence thanks to Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers. This was a huge step forward in gender integration, but it expired in 1948. Despite this, there was a huge demand for women to be permanent members of the military.
Women’s Armed Services Integration Act
Directly after the expiration of WAC, the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act was passed and granted women the right to serve in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and the Air Force.
Modern women in the military
Today, it is nowhere near uncommon for a woman to join the military, and both genders are recruited equally. Generally speaking, there are still more men in active duty than women, but overall trends show an increase in female servicemembers. Despite this, retaining female recruits is far more difficult than the retention of male recruits.
This exposes unique challenges that women face as a part of the military, struggles that each branch works diligently to eliminate. The United States Government Accountability Office released a report in March 2021 that details a retention plan. The report notes this discretion while reporting that the Department of Defense plans on “updating its diversity and inclusion strategic plan.”
Women as veterans
Women make up at least 10% of all living veterans, most of them having served in the Gulf War. Aside from the normal struggles that all veterans face regardless of gender or race, minorities can face additional hardship. Much like their male counterparts, 28% of female veterans are disabled and are unable to find work due to their disability.
Womens Veterans Day is an opportunity to thank those women who have given their lives in active duty and those who have dedicated so much in service to the United States of America. June 12th is a special day commemorating the brave American women in the armed forces.