DID YOU KNOW Women Veterans



MARCH 16, 2010

DID YOU KNOW women did not officially serve in the U.S. military until the Army and Navy Nurse Corps were established in 1901 and 1908 respectively. Prior to that time, women served with the armed forces as contract and volunteer nurses, cooks, and laundresses and even in disguise as soldiers. For example, during the American Revolution, Deborah Samson enlisted in the Continental Army as Robert Shurtliff and served as an enlisted soldier for approximately one year. Hundreds of women disguised themselves as men and served in the Union and Confederate Armies during the Civil War. By the turn of the century, however, this course of action was no longer available to women. The armed forces, wanting to make certain that only healthy men were accepted in the service, began conducting thorough examinations of all potential recruits. (Source:Women in Military Service for America Memorial archives)

MARCH 23, 2010

DID YOU KNOW the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is an elite team of more than 6,000 full-time, well-trained, highly qualified public health professionals dedicated to delivering the Nation's public health promotion and disease prevention programs and advancing public health science. Driven by a passion for public service, these men and women serve on the frontlines in the Nation's fight against disease and poor health conditions. As one of America's seven uniformed services, the Commissioned Corps fills essential public health leadership and service roles within the Nation's Federal Government agencies and programs.

MARCH 30, 2010

DID YOU KNOW Dr. Mary E. Walker was awarded the Medal of Honor for her service as a contract surgeon in the Union Army during the Civil War. She is the only woman who has received the nation’s highest military award. The medal was awarded for her work as a physician on the battlefield and in military hospitals without regard to her own health and safety. When the criteria for awarding the medal changed in 1917, Dr. Walker’s medal was rescinded along with 900 others. In 1977, due to the persistent efforts of the Walker family, the Army Board of Corrections reviewed the case and reversed the 1917 decision, thus restoring the Medal of Honor to Dr. Walker. (Source:  Women In Military Service For America Memorial archives)

APRIL 6, 2010

DID YOU KNOW in the fall of 1976, women enrolled in the military service academies? Only months after President Gerald Ford signed Public Law 94-106, establishing the admission of women into the academies, 119 women entered West Point, 81 entered the US Naval Academy, and 157 enrolled at the US Air Force Academy. Women also enrolled in the Coast Guard Academy and the Merchant Marine Academy. (Source:  Women In Military Service For America Memorial archives)

APRIL 13, 2010

DID YOU KNOW over 1,500 nurses served with the Army in the Spanish-American War. These nurses served with the Army in Hawaii, Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, on the hospital ship Relief and in stateside hospitals. Dita Kinney, former contract nurse, became the first Superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps when it was founded in 1901. Esther Voorhees Hasson, one of the Relief nurses during the war became the first Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps in 1908.  (Source:  Women In Military Service For America Memorial archives)

APRIL 20, 2010

DID YOU KNOW that the Women’s Memorial honors all U.S. servicewomen, past, present and future, including living or deceased women veterans; Active Duty, Reserve, Guard and US Public Health Service uniformed women; and women in the Coast Guard auxiliary and Civil Air Patrol. The Memorial also honors women who served overseas during conflicts, in direct support of the armed forces, in organizations such as the Red Cross, USO and Special Services; and members of the US Public Health Service Cadet Nurse Corps.  The Foundation is seeking names, addresses, photos and memorable experiences of women who have served to be included in the Memorial's Register, an interactive computer database available at the Memorial.  Deceased servicewomen from any era or those civilian women who served with other civilian organizations can be registered by family members, friends and organizations. Visit  www.womensmemorial.com for more information.

APRIL 27, 2010

DID YOU KNOW there are over 50 monuments dedicated to women Veterans or by women Veterans organizations in our VA national cemeteries. Some of VA National Cemetery Administration’s oldest monuments dedicated to women date back to the late 1800s. (Source: VA National Cemetery Administration)

Women’s Memorials and Monuments at VA National Cemeteries

WAVES, Barrancas National Cemetery

Women of World War II Memorial, Chattanooga National Cemetery

Women’s Relief Corps/GAR monument, Crown Hill National Cemetery

Women Marines Association monument, Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery

Women’s Army Corps monument, Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery

Navy Sisters, Eagle Point National Cemetery

WAVES monument, Florida National Cemetery

Women Marines monument, Florida National Cemetery

Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, Florida National Cemetery

Unknown Dead (Women’s Relief Corps), Forest Hill Cemetery

DAR monument, Fort Custer National Cemetery

Women’s Overseas Service League, Fort Custer National Cemetery

Dorothy Starbuck/VBA, Fort Logan National Cemetery

Veterans Widows, Fort Logan National Cemetery

Gold Star Wives, Fort Sill National Cemetery

Society of Military Widows, Fort Sill National Cemetery

WAVES, Fort Snelling National Cemetery

Women Marines, Fort nelling National Cemetery

Women’s Army Corps, Fort Snelling National Cemetery

Gold Star Mothers, Golden Gate National Cemetery

Memorial to Women Who Helped Union Forces, Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery

Union Dead/Daughters of Union Veterans, Jefferson Barracks National Cemeteryr/>

WAVES, Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery

Unknowns Monument (Women’s Relief Corps), Keokuk National Cemeteyr

Maryland Sons (Loyal Women of Maryland), Loudon National Cemetery

Unknown Dead (Women’s Relief Corps), Loudon National Cemetery

Gold Star Mothers MIA, Marietta National Cemetery

WAVES, Massachusetts National Cemetery

Women’s Overseas Service League, Massachusetts National Cemetery

Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WACs), Massachusetts National Cemetery

Arizona Women Veterans, National Memorial Cemetery of Arizonaa


WAVES, Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery

Gold Star Mothers, Rock Island National Cemeteryy

Gold Star Wives, Rock Island National Cemetery

Women Veterans, Rock Island National Cemetery

American War Mothers, San Francisco National Cemetery

WAVES, Santa Fe National Cemetery

Gold Star Wives, Tahoma National Cemetery

American War Mothers, Wood National Cemetery

WAVES, Wood National Cemetery

Women’s Relief Corps/Logan Tablet, Wood National Cemetery





May 4, 2010 

DID YOU KNOW: the United States Army remained segregated during World War II. A group of African American women played a significant role in maintaining troop morale during the conflict. These women belonged to the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, part of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC).  The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion was made up of 855 enlisted African American women and officers. The battalion was commanded by Major Charity Adams Earley, the highest ranking African American woman in the military by the end of the war. The 6888th was the only all African American, all female battalion. It was deployed overseas first to Birmingham, England then later to Rouen, France. When the women arrived in Birmingham in 1943 they saw letters stacked to the ceiling of the temporary post office. Much of the mail had been there for as long as two years waiting to be sent to soldiers in the field. The women were charged with delivering mail to approximately seven million American troops stationed in Europe. The successful delivery of the mail was an important morale booster for men on the front. One difficult task was sorting letters to guarantee that they were sent to the correct “John Smith” or “Tommy Jones”. To ensure delivery, women worked three shifts, seven days a week. Although they were contributing to the war effort in significant way, the women of the 6888th were still kept separate from the other American troops. The women slept in segregated barracks and ate in segregated dining halls. The women of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion played an important role in World War II by carrying out the important task of delivering mail, by boosting military morale, and by making history as the only battalion of African American women to go overseas.  (Source: Smithsonian National Postal Museum Web) site:   http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu/AfricanAmericanHistory/p7.html#_edn1#_edn1

May 11, 2010

DID YOU KNOW  Anna Mae Hays, Chief of the Army Nurse Corps, became a brigadier general on June 11, 1970. Minutes later, Elizabeth P. Hoisington, Director of the Women’s Army Corps, received her shoulder stars. In 1971, the Air Force promoted the director of Air Force women, Jeanne M. Holm, to brigadier general. A few months later, Ann E. Hoefly, the Chief of the Air Force Nurse Corps, became the fourth woman general. In 1972, Alene B. Duerk, Chief of the Navy Nurse Corps, received a spot promotion to become the first female rear admiral (lower half), the Navy’s equivalent to brigadier general. The Navy promoted a female line officer, Fran McKee, to flag rank in 1976. RADM McKee thus became the first Navy woman who was not a nurse to achieve star rank. Two years later in 1978, the Marine Corps promoted its Director of Information and former Director of Women Marines, Margaret Brewer, to brigadier general. Director of Information and Technology, Chief Information Officer Vivien Crae was promoted to rear admiral by the Coast Guard in 2000.  (Source:  Women In Military Service For America Memorial archives)

May 18, 2010  

DID YOU KNOW the first woman POW was Civil War Army contract surgeon Dr. Mary E. Walker, who was captured on April 10, 1864, when she took a wrong turn while trying to get to a sick patient. The Confederates imprisoned her in the military prison in Richmond, VA, known as "Castle Thunder". She was released on Aug. 12, 1864, in exchange for a Confederate major. The next time military women were captured by the enemy was during World War II, when 67 Army nurses and 11 Navy nurses captured in the Philippines were held by the Japanese for nearly three years, and five Navy nurses captured on the island of Guam were held as POWs for four months. One Army flight nurse was aboard an aircraft that was shot down behind enemy lines in Germany in 1944. She was held as a POW for four months. More recently, a female Army doctor and an enlisted woman were held as POWs in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm, and three enlisted women were captured during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, one of whom died in captivity of injuries sustained in a vehicle accident prior to capture. (Source:  Women in Military Service for America Memorial archives)

May 25, 2010

DID YOU KNOW  CCPT Dovey (Johnson) Roundtree, WAAC/WAC, a native of Charlotte, NC, was a graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta and a protégée of the influential African American educator, Mary Macleod Bethune, when she was selected as a member of the first class of officer candidates of the WAAC in 1942. After the war, CPT Roundtree used the G.I. Bill to attend Howard University Law School. When she graduated with her law degree in 1950, there were only 83 black women lawyers in the United States compared to 6,165 white women. She established a law firm in northwest Washington, DC, to serve the black community there. During the course of her legal career, Roundtree handled several high-profile cases. Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company, a landmark civil rights case involving bus travel across state lines, was decided by the Interstate Commerce Commission in November 1955, the same year as the more famous Rosa Parks incident, which involved a city bus. In its decision on Keyes, the ICC found the practice of designating separate seats for white and black interstate bus passengers to be “unjust discrimination and undue and unreasonable prejudice and disadvantage … and is therefore unlawful.” (Source:  Women In Military Service For America Memorial archives)

June 8, 2010

DID YOU KNOW as a result of the progress of the 1990s, women are now excluded from only 9 percent of Army roles—although that figure represents nearly 30 percent of active-duty positions. Army women cannot be assigned to the following occupational fields: infantry, armor, special forces, cannon field artillery and multiple launch rocket artillery. Also closed to women are: Ranger units at the regiment level and below, ground surveillance radar platoons, combat engineer line companies, and short range defense artillery units. In the Air Force, 99 percent of all occupations are open to women. Navy women are only excluded from submarine crews and SEAL teams, special boat unit crews and support positions with the Marine Corps ground combat units. The Marine Corps has opened 92 percent of its occupational fields to women, however 38 percent of positions are closed to women. Closed occupational fields include infantry, tank and assault amphibian vehicles and artillery. All Coast Guard occupations and positions are open to women.  (Source:  Women In Military Service For America archives)

June 15, 2010

DID YOU KNOW the Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) was established in 1951 by then Secretary of Defense, George C. Marshall. The Committee is composed of civilian women and men who are appointed by the Secretary of Defense to provide advice and recommendations on matters and policies relating to the recruitment and retention, treatment, employment, integration, and well-being of highly qualified professional women in the Armed Forces. Historically, DACOWITS' recommendations have been very instrumental in effecting changes to laws and policies pertaining to military women.

June 22, 2010

DID YOU KNOW the following historical facts about American Women and the Military:

Souce:  Women's Research and Education Institution

June 29, 2010

As required by P.L. 95-79, Sec 303, the Department of Defense (DoD) provided a definition of combat to Congress.
• The Coast Guard removed all assignment restrictions based on gender.
• Owens v. Brown – District Judge John J. Sirica, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that 10 USC Section 6015, which precluded the permanent assignment of women to Naval vessels other than hospital and transport ships, is unconstitutional.
• As part of FY-79 Defense Authorizations Act, 10 USC 6015 is amended to allow permanent assignment of women to non-combatant ships and temporary assignment to any ship not expected to have a combat mission.

Source:  Women's Research and Education Institution

Operation Urgent Fury (the invasion of Grenada)—170 women soldiers served, as did Air Force women in air transport crews.
• Air Force women in KC-135 and KC-10 tanker crews participated in a raid on Libya.
• Congress passed P.L. 98-160 establishing the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Advisory Committee on Women Veterans.

Source:  Women's Research and Education Institution 

July 13, 2010

DID YOU KNOW...IN 1989 Operation Just Cause (the invasion of Panama)—770 women deploy or are already there.  A
woman MP commands troops in a combat-like operation. Women flying Black Hawk helicopters come under fire.

Source:  Women's Research and Education Institution

JJuly 20, 2010

DID YOU KNOW...IN 1994: Over 1,000 women participated in operations in Somalia from 1992-1994.
• The DoD risk rule was rescinded. This rule closed many units supporting ground combat operations to women. As a result, 32,700 Army positions and 48,000 Marine Corps positions were opened to women.
• Congress repealed Title 10 USC 6015, opening most Navy combatant ships to women (submarines and a fewer smaller ships remain closed).
• P.L. 103-446 required the establishment of the Center for Women Veterans within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Source:  Women's Research and Education Institution

JJuly 27, 2010

DID YOU KNOW... IN 1995:

• Over 1,200 women deploy for peacekeeping duties in Haiti.
• The Marine Corps selects a woman for aviation training for the first time.

Source:  Women's Research and Education Institution

AAugust 3, 2010

DID YOU KNOW....IN 2002:

• The Office of the Secretary of Defense allows the Defense Advisory Committee On Women In The Services (DACOWITS) charter to expire and issues a new charter, which reduces by over half the number of committee members and modifies the committee’s mission. Among the changes is the addition of family matters to the list of issues within the purview of DACOWITS.
• The Army decides to remove all eight women soldiers from its first Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Target Acquisition (RSTA) squadron. RSTA squadrons are expected to be part of the Army’s planned fast-deploying combat brigades.
• A woman Marine is the first American military woman killed in theater in Afghanistan. She was one of several Marines killed in the crash of a military aircraft.
• The FY 2003 Defense Authorizations Act forbids military commanders from requiring (or strongly suggesting) the wearing of the abaya by military women serving in Saudi Arabia.
• The Act also requires the Department of Defense to submit an annual report on the status of women in the services.

Source:  Women's Research and Education Institution


 August 10, 2010 


Secretary of Defense Les Aspin:

• Ordered all services to open combat aviation to women (in spite of the recommendation by the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces that Congress reinstate the ban).
• Directed the Navy to draft legislation to repeal the combat ship exclusion, Title 10 USC 6015 (as recommended by the Presidential Commission).
• Directed the Army and Marine Corps to study opening more assignments to women.

Source:  Women's Research and Education Institute

AAugust 24, 2010

DID YOU KNOW...In September 1942, the Army Air Force (AAF) created the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) and appointed Nancy H. Love its commander. Love recruited highly skilled and experienced female pilots who were sent on noncombat missions ferrying planes between factories and AAF installations. While WAFS was being organized, the Army Air Force appointed Jacqueline Cochran as Director of Women's Flying Training. Cochran's school, which eventually moved to Avenger Field in Sweetwater, TX, trained 232 women before it ceased operations. Eventually, over 1000 women completed flight training. As the ranks of women pilots serving the AAF swelled, the value of their contribution began to be recognized, and the Air Force took steps to militarize them. As a first step the Air Force renamed their unit from WAFS to Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).

Source: National Archives and Records Administration Web site:  http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/a_people_at_war/women_who_served/wafs_wasp.html