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I humbly give voice to over a quarter million of my sisters who served in the military during the Vietnam Era—at home, around the globe, and in Vietnam. No matter where we were sent, all of us were invaluable ingredients contributing to the American military effort worldwide. And it depended on us. Admittedly or not, you know it always has.

Vietnam: Over eight thousand of us were there. Most of us were nurses, working in Field, Evac, and Surgical Hospitals from the Delta to the DMZ. But nearly a thousand of us weren’t nurses. Not to be forgotten, we were specialized, dependable, and capable troops, working in a variety of fields, including logistics, administration, security, and intelligence. Our military roles were expanding. We were teetering on the edge of major change. We could feel it, and we could taste it.
We served at a time when our nation faced formidable challenges, upheavals, and unrest fueled in part by our Vietnam involvement and the antiwar turmoil that were painfully dividing the nation. Factor into this the human and civil rights movements. And let’s not forget women’s rights.

We were shaped by this period in history. This was our time to take center stage.
Driven by a cultural revolution and the changing social climate, many of us found ourselves, both inside the military and as veterans, working hard to advance fair and just treatment, care, benefits, and equity for our sisters. Just as we had traveled to this point because of so many who came before us, we were poignantly aware of our responsibility to contribute to that forward march begun so long ago in Revolutionary times. We proved we were up to the task, a force to be reckoned with. And we still are. And we ain’t done yet.

Due to the efforts of Gen. Wilma Vaught and others of our ranks, women have much more equality and respect. These efforts helped to pave the way for thousands of other military women to be judged on their abilities, not on their gender.
We had found our way into the footprints of all those women who had preceded us, taking our place in history, marking our legacy, and opening the future for generations of women to come.

As we begin to move slowly into the past, we hold faith knowing that many of you, as our future, will continue to step up to the challenges that remain, embracing your legacy, finding your place in history, and inspiring others. We knew you were coming.

As the poet Maya Angelou wrote: “We are living art, created to hang on, stand up, forbear, continue, and encourage others.”

Marsha Four, the chair of VVA’s Women Veterans Committee, delivered these remarks on November 3 during ceremonies commemorating the tenth anniversary of the dedication of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, located at Arlington National Cemetery.


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