On Memorial Day I was on the National Mall helping at the VVA tent. We met many VVA members and made new friends. I attended ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknowns and at the Women in Military Service to America (WIMSA) Memorial. Retired Maj. Gen. Dee Ann McWilliams is now the WIMSA president. We were fortunate to have had Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught, the memorial’s founder, as the keynote speaker.
The history and evolution of WIMSA continues to amaze. Gen. Vaught never misses an opportunity to remind us that our service was important, that it needs to be memorialized by each woman veteran joining the registry with her story, and the importance of getting the word out to other women veterans. In the beginning, it was important to get the World War II women veterans signed up. Now, she looks to Vietnam veterans and says it is our turn to get it done.
As we entered the memorial, we saw thousands of yellow ribbons with name cards hanging from the ceiling. Each had the name of an active-duty woman who had died since 2001. The Mindful Memorial Day tribute had each visitor interact with a volunteer by reading the name before wearing a card, an act of being present with the remembrance of this person. This was a project by Benjamin King, the president of Armor Down. This organization shares integrative techniques for dealing with postwar mind-body conditions.
While standing at the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, a woman approached us and asked us to share our thoughts with her high school students about coming home from the war. We spoke about some of our initial difficulties, but most importantly, we said to “live each day and love.”
On May 19, H.R.2577 passed. This is a multi-funded bill that includes money for the VA to begin providing IVF services to wounded veterans in need of assisted reproduction.
A Protect our Defenders report debunks the argument that commanders are more effective at prosecuting sexual crimes than military prosecutors or more protective of victims of sexual assaults. You can find that report at: www.protectourdefenders.com/debunked
Kate O’Hare-Palmer, Chair