Celebrating Women Veterans - Women Veterans Health Care
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Celebrating Women Veterans

Women’s History Month 2021

VA dedicates the month of March to Women’s History Month and celebrates the contributions and achievements that women have made during their military service and beyond.

Women History Month

VA celebrates our nation’s valiant women Veterans of yesterday, today, and tomorrow

Women have honorably served in the military for generations and continue to break barriers even today. The courage and determination of all women who serve or have served provides a leading light to other women during their journeys in the military – and beyond. After service, women Veterans use the skills and experiences they gained in the military to achieve milestones in their careers, contribute to their communities, and become leaders across industries.

Women Veterans of Yesterday were the “firsts of firsts” - they carved the path to recognized military service for women, they invented, they advocated, they became military leaders. Women Veterans of Today were not only “firsts” during their military service, but went on to become today’s CEOs, astronauts, founders, directors, award winning authors, volunteers and more. Women Veterans of Tomorrow are making modern military history as “firsts,” with bright military and civilian futures ahead of them.

Women have shaped the history of the U.S. military. VA is committed to recognizing and celebrating these achievements. Throughout March, VA is recognizing valiant women Veterans across social media channels. Please join us on VA’s Facebook and Instagram (@DeptVetAffairs) and follow Center for Women Veterans to learn more and share their extraordinary stories.

Women Veterans of Yesterday

Florence Blanchfield Florence Blanchfield

Superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps during World War II, instrumental in advocating for the law allowing full rank for nurses, and the first woman to receive a military commission in the regular Army.

Susan Ahn Cuddy Susan Ahn Cuddy

The first Asian-American woman to enlist in the Navy during World War II, the first woman gunnery officer in the Navy, and the first Asian American to achieve the rank of lieutenant in the Navy.

Annie Fox Annie Fox

A member of the Army Nurse Corps during World War I, the first woman in U.S. military history to be awarded the Purple Heart Medal for her meritorious actions as a first lieutenant in helping to care for the wounded during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Marcelite Harris Marcelite Harris

The first woman aircraft maintenance officer, one of the first two women Air Force officers commanding at the United States Air Force Academy, and the Air Force’s first woman Director of Maintenance. Harris retired as a major general.

Grace Hopper Grace Hopper

A rear admiral (lower half) in the Naval Reserve who served during World War II and after, and a pioneer of computer programming. Hopper was the first to devise the theory of machine-independent programming languages that were used to create COBOL, a programming language still in use today.

Mildred Kelly Mildred Kelly

The first Black woman sergeant major in the Army, and the first Black woman to hold the highest enlisted position at a major Army installation whose population was predominantly male, Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Yzetta Nelson Yzetta Nelson

The first woman promoted to command sergeant major in military history. Joining the Women's Army Corps (WAC) in 1944, Nelson became the first WAC promoted to the new rank of command sergeant major.

Deborah Sampson Deborah Sampson

The first woman known to enlist in the Continental Army and the only woman to earn a full military pension for service during the American Revolution, Sampson served as an infantryman by disguising herself as a man and was wounded in action.

Cathay Williams Cathay Williams

The first Black woman to enlist during the Civil War and the only documented woman to serve in the United States Army, while disguised as a man, during the Indian Wars. Williams is also the only known woman Buffalo Soldier.

Aida Nancy Sanchez Aida Nancy Sanchez

A Puerto Rican physical therapist and Army lieutenant colonel who deployed in the Vietnam War to establish the first physical therapy clinic at the 95th Evacuation Hospital near Da Nang, serving American and Cambodian soldiers.

Minnie Spotted-Wolf Minnie Spotted-Wolf

The first known Native American woman, a member of the Blackfoot tribe, to enlisted in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. Skilled at working with horses, Spotted-Wolf described Marine boot camp as “hard, but not too hard.”

Women Veterans of Today

Clara Adams-Ender  Clara Adams-Ender

The first woman in the Army to qualify for the Expert Field Medical Badge, and the first Army nurse and the first Black woman to command a major Army base (Fort Belvoir, Virginia). Adams-Ender retired at the rank of brigadier general.

Mitchelene BigMan Mitchelene BigMan

A 22-year Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Army Veteran who retired as a sergeant first class. BigMan founded the Native American Women Warriors (NAWW), the first recognized all-Native American Women Color Guard.

Olga Custodio Olga Custodio

The first Latina pilot in U.S. military history, serving in the Air Force 24 years, and retiring in 2003 as a lieutenant colonel with over 11,000 hours of flight time logged. While in the USAF Reserves, Custodio was hired to fly for American Airlines, making her also one of the first Latina commercial pilots.

Margaret Klessens Margaret Klessens

A World War II Veteran and the first VA patient in the nation to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, at VA Bedford Healthcare System, on December 14, 2020.

Kathy LaSauce Kathy LaSauce

Selected as one of the first woman officers in aircraft maintenance. She then became the first woman pilot to command a C-141 Starlifter and the first woman to serve as a presidential support pilot. LaSauce retired as a lieutenant colonel.

Ginger Miller Ginger Miller

A service-disabled Navy Veteran, who formerly experienced homelessness, and founder and president of Women Veterans Interactive, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to serving and supporting women Veterans.

Carol Mutter Carol Mutter

First woman to qualify as Command Center Crew Commander/Space Director at U.S. Space Command, the first woman of flag rank to command a major deployable tactical command, the first woman Marine major general, and first woman to be appointed to a 3-star lieutenant general in the U.S. military.

Sunita Williams Sunita Williams

A retired Navy captain, an accomplished astronaut, and one of the most experienced spacewalkers in the world who served 322 days as commander of the International Space Station.

Lanette Wright Lanette Wright

Enlisting in 1989 and deploying to support Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, and Unified Protector, the first woman Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) sergeant major in the history of the Marine Corps.

Women Veterans of Tomorrow

Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt

The first woman commanding officer to lead the crew on one of the Navy’s 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72).

Sgt. Maj. Julie Guerra Sgt. Maj. Julie Guerra

The Army G-2 sergeant major, Latina, and the most senior NCO for Soldiers in Army intelligence, facilitating training and resources for Soldiers within the career field.

Capt. Marina Hierl Capt. Marina Hierl

The first woman to complete the United States Marine Corps' Infantry Officer Course at Marine Corps Base Quantico, and the first woman Marine infantry officer.

Lt. Cmdr. La’Shanda Holmes Lt. Cmdr. La’Shanda Holmes

The first Black woman helicopter pilot in the history of the Coast Guard. She currently serves a vital role in the Global War on Terror conducting search and rescue, counter drug, and law enforcement missions.

Brig. Gen. Lorna Mahlock Brig. Gen. Lorna Mahlock

The first Black woman to be nominated as a brigadier general in the Marine Corps. She is currently the Director of Information, Command, Control, Communications and Computers (IC4) and the Deputy of Department of the Navy Chief Information.

Brig. Gen. Miyako Schanely Brig. Gen. Miyako Schanely

The first woman engineer in the Army Reserve promoted to general officer, and the second Japanese American woman in U.S. military history to reach flag rank.

Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle

The first Black woman tactical jet pilot in Navy history. Lt. j.g. Swegle currently pilots aircraft like the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter and the EA-18G Growler.

Capt. Emily Thompson Capt. Emily Thompson

An Air Force pilot with the 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron who began her Air Force career as an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, to become the first woman to ever fly the F-35A Lightning II in combat.

VA is here for all women Veterans

VA’s approach to health care is unique for women Veterans. Women Veterans are provided a Women’s Health Primary Care Provider who can provide general primary care as well as reproductive health services, like yearly exams. VA is dedicated to focusing on women Veterans’ whole health, including specialty care and mental health care services.

At each VA Medical Center nationwide, a Women Veterans Program Manager is designated to assist women Veterans. She can help coordinate all the services you may need. Services include primary care, pregnancy care, mental health care and sexual abuse counseling, inpatient medical/surgical care, programs for homeless women Veterans, and quality of care issues. Visit the Women's Health Care Services page for a listing of services available. Woman Veterans who are interested in receiving care at VA should contact the nearest VA Medical Center and ask for the Women Veterans Program Manager.

Additional Resources Available for Women Veterans

  • Our Women Veterans Call Center representatives can help you understand your VA benefits and find the right services to fit your needs. Get free, confidential guidance. Call the Center at 855-829-6636, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.
  • The She Wears the Boots podcast series features VA women’s health experts and health care providers who explain the health care services that VA offers for women. Listen* today!

Women’s History Month 2021 Outreach Posters

Valiant Women Veterans

Women's History Month Poster

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