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Honoring Women Veterans Recognition Day: A Message from Home Base Florida’s Angie De Lima

Angie De Lima is an Air Force Veteran currently serving as the Special Projects and Operations Manager for Home Base Florida.

Celebrated each year on June 12, Women Veterans Recognition Day marks the anniversary of the 1948 Women’s Armed Services Integration Act signing. This year, 2024, is the 76th anniversary of that groundbreaking legislation which granted women a permanent place and opportunity for a career in the nation’s military. On this special day, designated to honor America’s military women, past and present, we invite you to celebrate with us.

Women Veterans Recognition Day, June 12 is synonymous with the Military Women’s Memorial – the place to be to honor and celebrate America’s military women on this historic day. This day is not only a celebration but also an important opportunity to recognize the unique needs and contributions of women Veterans.

Women play a crucial and indispensable role in our military and work diligently to keep our country safe. Today, there are over 350,000 service women and 2 million women Veterans in the United States – the highest number in history.

Women have served and fought in every conflict since the American Revolution. Despite their critical contributions to our national security, women continue to face barriers both in the military and when accessing the VA benefits and services they have earned after their service. While many support programs exist, they are often designed with men in mind. It is crucial that we adapt these programs to meet the needs of women Veterans. Advocacy is essential to address these issues. We must push for expanding access to a broad range of reproductive healthcare services, holding sex offenders accountable within the military justice system, and eliminating barriers to disability claims for those who have experienced military sexual trauma.

One of the most pervasive stressors experienced by military women is sexual assault and harassment. Nearly a third of female Veteran’s report episodes of sexual assault during military service, while 71 to 90 percent report experiences of sexual harassment. These experiences are closely associated with PTSD; in fact, military sexual assault is a stronger predictor of PTSD among women Veterans than combat history.

Women also face higher rates of homelessness compared to their male counterparts. Returning service women are nearly four times as likely as men to become homeless, and roughly 40% of those who experience homelessness also report having been sexually assaulted while in the military. Women Veterans face challenges that place them at risk for victimization and isolation while deployed and during reintegration into their home communities.

Although women have served in the U.S. military since the Revolutionary War, it wasn’t until 1988 that the VA began offering medical and mental health services to female veterans. Women have been involved in both combat and non-combat roles, and their inclusion in combat missions has increased in recent decades, serving as pilots, mechanics, and infantry officers.

Women serve for the same reasons as men, whether it be patriotic duty, family tradition, money for college, or simply because it’s a steady paycheck in a poor economy. Women play a vital role in today’s military, and we honor the sacrifices and accomplishments of women who not only shaped our service but also our country. We honor all women for their military and civil service, their support and strength, and their sacrifices to help ensure the freedom and liberty cherished by all Americans.

“Valor knows no gender,” President Barack Obama stated in a statement on lifting the ban on women in combat.

If you or someone you know is a female veteran seeking services for PTSD, MST, depression, or anxiety, please connect them to care with Home Base at www. HomeBase.org or call 617-724-5202.