The U.S. military might be dominated by men, but women are increasing in number every year. In fact, Pew Research Center pointed out that 15 percent of active duty personnel are women, which is an increase from 11 percent in 1990. Additionally, women were allowed into combat roles starting in January 2016 for the first time ever in U.S. history. No matter their numbers or the roles they fill, however, women have contributed to the defense and service of this country. This Memorial Day, let’s celebrate and thank the women active service members and veterans dedicating their lives to freedom.
While women weren’t always allowed in the military, they did play roles during conflicts. For instance, many women cooked and cleaned at camps while others acted as nurses as far back as the American Revolution. As time went on, some became administrators. World War II saw women serve as mechanics and engineers, and in 1948, Congress passed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act allowing women to join the military officially in all but combat roles. However, history is filled with instances where women disguised themselves as men to fight on the front lines. Now, women can be in combat.bobbi
In fact, female service members continue to make strides. The U.S. Army listed three women who have recently become the first in their fields. Major General Linda Singh became the first African-American and first woman to serve as adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard in 2015. Brigadier General Diana Holland made history in 2015 when she became the first female commandant of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. Finally, Private 1st Class Katherine Beatty is the first female cannon crew member as of 2016.
What’s more, four women veterans now serve in congress: Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii). They all use their position to bring attention to the needs of female service members. From addressing sexual harassment in the military to looking for family planning support for female service members, these lawmakers represent a growing group of the population.
Supporting women vets
While all U.S. veterans can use support, women’s needs often differ than their male comrades’. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for women veterans was slightly higher than for men, highlighting a need to help women find work after their service ends. Fortunately, many organizations are doing their parts. For instance, The Dress Code seeks to supply female vets with business suits for women and other workwear.
Another issue female vets face is living with trauma, particularly as it relates to sexual assault. Show support for your women service members and veterans by donating to organizations that address these and other issues. Additionally, don’t forget to thank military women on Memorial Day.