Women Veterans Day, also referred to as Women Veterans Recognition Day and Women Veterans Appreciation Day
On June 12, 1948 President Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, enabling women to serve as permanent, regular members of the United States Armed Forces. There is much history behind this date, although the act promised more opportunities for women, it also limited the number of women who could serve in each branch to two percent of the total number of enlistees per branch. So, while women certainly integrated the armed forces, their overall presence remained limited. Prior to the signing of this act, many women were limited to roles as reservists, volunteers, government employees, or even used alternative methods such as impersonating men to fight for our country.
Many of the women who served during WWI and WWII were not granted veteran status until long after their service and sadly, many passed before they were officially recognized as veterans. The Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, coupled with Truman’s decision to desegregate the military, also permitted African-American women to officially serve in the military. Annie E. Graham, for example, became the first African American woman to join the Marine Corps in 1949.
Women have served in America’s wars and conflicts throughout America’s history and performed many jobs, playing vital roles in the Revolution, serving as soldiers, raising morale, and spying on the enemy. More than 400 women fought in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. During World War I, about 35,000 women officially served as nurses and support staff, such as the Hello Girls, formally known as the Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit. In World War II, 140,000 women served in the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) performing critical jobs, such as military intelligence, cryptography and parachute rigging. In August 1943, the WAFS and WFTD merged into a single unit for all women pilots and formed the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), who flew more than 60,000 miles in two years. During this time, the 6888th Battalion was formed as the first and only all Black Female Women Army Corps (WAC) unit to be deployed overseas during WWII. Their nickname was “Six-Triple Eight” and their motto was “No Mail, Low Morale.”
Today there are still many women Veteran history lessons to be taught. The first Women Veterans Day was celebrated on June 12, 2018. There are almost two-million women Veterans in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Territories/Foreign, according to VA.
Women serve in George Washington's spy ring during Revolutionary War
Deborah Sampson, disguised to serve in Continental Army
Mary Edwards Walker, 1st Female Medal of Honor Recipient
Cathay Williams, First African American Woman to Enlist
Congress Passes Women's Armed Services Integration Act
Elizabeth Barrett, first female to hold operational command in combat zone
The first women graduate from the service academies
Wendy B. Lawrence, first Navy Woman selected as an Astronaut by NASA
Center for Women Veterans was established by Congress
Martha McSally, First Female fighter pilot to fly on a mission in Iraq
Army General Ann Dunwoody, first female to achieve four-star officer rank
Army Capt. Kristen Griest, first female infantry officer in American History