WOMEN VETERANS COMMITTEE REPORT
The Common Cloth Of Sisterhood
BY MARSHA FOUR, CHAIR
The Women Veterans Committee is
moving forward with an active investigation of our involvement in
veterans activities for this coming fall. This includes the Fifth
Anniversary of WIMSA (Women in Military Service for America) and
the 20th Anniversary of The Wall. Initial conversations for
planned events surrounding the Tenth Anniversary of the Vietnam
Women's Memorial also have begun.
Dr. Irene Trowell-Harris, the newly selected Director
of the VA Center for Women Veterans, attended the National Board
of Directors' January meeting. Prior to the committee meeting, I
interviewed Dr. Trowell-Harris for an upcoming article in The
VVA Veteran. We look forward to a healthy and continued
relationship with the Center for Women Veterans through our
developing dialogue with the new director.
I spent several hours last November with about 150
women veterans at a luncheon at the Coatesville VA Medical Center.
By and large, most were women older than myself, many of them
Korean and WWII veterans.
I have been an attendee at this annual day of
appreciation on several occasions. As the keynote speaker this
year, I wondered what I could say that had not been said before. I
wondered, too, what I could say that would be of interest to all
women veterans, not just those of the Vietnam era.
I decided that
even though some of my comments and remembrances were of the
Vietnam War in the late '60s, there was common ground for us all.
It wasn't so much where I was or what I did, but the uniform I
wore and the military structure of which we were all a part. This
was the thread woven into the common cloth of our sisterhood.
We laughed together as we remembered basic training,
uniforms, NCOs, shared quarters, chain of command, as well as
misconceptions. I looked out over the group and for a minute saw
myself in the years to come. I wondered to whom I would be
listening on Veterans Day, what woman would be speaking, and if
I'd still feel connected to this band of courageous, independent,
devoted, and sometimes outspoken women who sacrificed for country.
Being a woman in the military isn't
so hard any more. Things have changed. Opinions have changed. The
rules of equity have changed. Women in the military are no longer
seen as out of step with expectations of what a woman should be.
They are no longer seen as curious oddities. Motivations are
We, as women, are an important ingredient and
have proven our worth. We have earned our place. We are more
recognized and appreciated for our abilities, and we stand tall,
shoulder to shoulder in the ranks.
My hope is that we, as women, don't ever forget how
hard we fought to make it to this place and how many suffered and
sacrificed to cut the path, beating back the overgrowth, clearing
the rocks, filling the ruts, and laying the foundation for the
paved road we now travel.
The women who serve today are the guardians of our future. They
will be the storytellers of our past and of our future. They will
be the history lessons of our daughters, the messengers of our
heritage, and the pride of our future women in uniform.
This takes me to a place that always reminds me of who we all are
and how we all make this country what it is. The events of
September 11 have set us on a course not traveled before. They
will burn forever in the minds of all of us who witnessed them.
They will be passed on to our children.
September 11 fueled the fire of patriotism that lay dormant much
too long. It ignited a torch in our souls that had long been
smothering under piles of forgetfulness, apathy, and
All that is over. We join the world fiercely bent on justice with
a patriotism reborn. I write this with prayers for all who fight
the fight, for their families, our families, our country, our
world, and for all our leaders. God give them strength, prudence,
courage, and love. ■