Women's history month women veterans

Women Veterans’ Place in Women’s History Month

Why do we have Women’s History Month?

Is it a time for celebrating the myriad ways that women have contributed to society and our nation?

Is it an intentional way to honor women, who have historically gone under-recognized?

Or, is it a chance to reflect on women’s strength, fortitude, and perseverance?

Really, it’s all of those things… and more.

Here at WVIF, Women’s History Month is a chance to honor a particular community of women who have made an impact on our society and country, who often struggle with feelings of invisibility, and whose strength, fortitude, and perseverance are examples for all women everywhere:

Women Veterans.

5 Women Veterans We Should Honor this Month

When we look at the history of Women Veterans, we can reach as far back as the Revolutionary War, when some women disguised themselves as men to join in combat. 

And since then, millions (literally, millions!) of Women Veterans have demonstrated the same courage and commitment, firmly establishing their place in our history and as part of the celebration in Women’s History Month.

These are just five of their stories.

Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar

Rear Adm Bette Bolivar Woman Veteran

Retired Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar is one of the first Filipino-American divers to graduate from the prestigious U.S. Naval Academy. In 36 years of service, Bolivar broke through glass ceilings and pushed through barriers, assuming roles that were traditionally held by men.

She was a Navy diving officer and a special operations officer in explosive ordnance disposal and diving-and-salvage operations. She held numerous leadership roles, and between 2003-2005, she was the first woman to command Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1. 

In 2005, she became one of few Navy women divers to be inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame.

Sgt. Maj. Danyell Walters

Sgt. Maj. Danyell Walters

Sgt. Maj. Danyell Walters distinguished herself early, being a teenager in the early 1990s, driven to join the Army. As a young private military police officer, she was offered a special opportunity to be part of the “Old Guard,” the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, which is the Army’s official ceremonial unit, and which provides security in Washington, D.C., during emergent situations.

At the time, women served in the Old Guard, but they weren’t allowed to perform ceremonial duties. Walters participated in rigorous training, and ultimately became the second woman and the first Black woman to ever become a Tomb Sentinel, guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. 

Walters shared that this act of service represented a true soldier, and it was a sacred act of duty. She now serves as the senior enlisted advisor for U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command at Fort Detrick.

6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion

6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion

During World War II, an estimated 7 million service members, government employees, and Red Cross workers were deployed to Europe. By 1945, over 17 million pieces of mail had backed up, unable to reach their recipients. The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, which was the only all-Black female unit in the Army Corps, saved the day.

After traveling through enemy-infested waters and narrowly escaping bombs upon their arrival, the “six triple eight” as they’re widely known, arrived to massive warehouses and airplane hangars stacked floor-to-ceiling with mail. Some mail had been waiting for three years.

Knowing their work had a direct impact on morale, the 6888th took their mission seriously. With 24-hour operations, the women worked with purpose. They corrected incomplete addresses and duplicate names, and they resolved bounced mail due to addressees’ frequent moves.

Officials estimated the job would take upward of six months.

The 6888th completed the job in three months. And then they did the same thing all over again in Rouen, France. 

In March 2022, President Biden signed a bill to award 6888th with the the Congressional Gold Medal to officially honor their service and set their place in history.

Lt. Gen. Susan Helms 

Lt. Gen. Susan Helms

Retired Lt. Gen. Susan Helms walked where most people never have: space. 

But before that, Helms achieved many other “firsts,” as she was part of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s first class to admit women. She graduated in 1980 and later served as an F-15 and F-16 weapons separation engineer and assistant professor in Aeronautics at the academy. 

Not long after, she earned a spot in NASA’s astronaut program. During 12 years with NASA, Helms flew on five human spaceflight missions. She was also part of the International Space Station Expedition 2 crew. 

Helms spent 211 days in space, and achieved a world record for the longest spacewalk: eight hours, 56 minutes. She was the first U.S. military woman to walk in space.

During the remainder of her military career, Helms served in numerous leadership roles, eventually retiring in 2014. Since then, she has been appointed to prominent Boards and panels focused on space and exploration, and she has received several awards recognizing her contributions to aerospace exploration and achievement. 

Of note, in 2011, she was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame.

🌟 All of YOU!

Women’s History Month isn’t a time to single out particular women; it’s a time to honor and recognize ALL women.

So this month, we also highlight YOU, our WVIF community!

You have been part of a 2-million strong community of women trailblazers who stood up to unfair traditions, broke down barriers, paved the way for women behind you, and forged ahead bravely where others would have faltered.

Make no mistake: YOU, Woman Veteran, have established your place in Women’s History, and indeed, in our country’s history.

This month, we honor YOU.