The Department of Veterans Affairs joins with the nation to observe Women’s History Month in March by recognizing and honoring women Veterans.
“Duty. Honor. Pride. These words reflect the spirit of generations of American women who have sought to defend the rights and freedom of others,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The history of women in the armed forces began more than 220 years ago with women who served during the American Revolution and continues through the present day. VA is honored to serve these women who have contributed so much to our Nation.”
Women Veterans are one of the fastest growing segments of the Veteran population. Of the 22.7 million living Veterans, more than 1.8 million are women. They comprise nearly 8 percent of the total Veteran population and 6 percent of all Veterans who use VA health care services.
VA estimates women Veterans will constitute 10 percent of the Veteran population by 2020 and 9.5 percent of VA patients.
In recent years, VA has undertaken a number of initiatives to create or enhance services for women Veterans, including the implementation of comprehensive primary care throughout the nation; staffing every VA medical center with a women veterans program manager and regional offices with a designated woman Veterans coordinator; supporting a multifaceted research program on women’s health; improving communication and outreach to women Veterans; and continuing the operation of offices like the Center for Women Veterans and the Women Veterans Health Strategic Healthcare Care Group.
“During this observance of Women’s History Month, let’s remember the special contributions of the ever-increasing number of women serving in the armed forces,” said Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs. She noted that women currently make up more than 14 percent of the active-duty military and 18 percent of the Guard and Reserves.
VA has 43 women’s memorials and monuments at its National Cemeteries across the country. Additionally, several notable women are buried in VA National Cemeteries, including Chief Specialist Evelyn B. (Ulrich) Einfeldt, a Navy World War II Veteran who was one of the 67 Navy “WAVES” involved in Operation Magic. She assisted with the assembly of BOMBE (Enigma), a machine to decode German and Japanese transmissions. She was laid to rest at the Fort Sill National Cemetery on April 6, 2006.
Lillian Kinkela Keil, an Air Force flight nurse pioneer, is buried at the Riverside National Cemetery. She flew 425 combat missions and took part in 11 major campaigns, including the D-Day invasion and the Battle of the Bulge in World War II and the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in Korea. One of the most decorated women in American military history, she was awarded 19 medals.