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Chamber Honors the Service of Women in the Military

In 1948, President Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act which allowed women to serve in our armed forces. During the 85th legislative session in Texas, State Representative Victoria Neave filed House Bill 2698 to designate June 12 each year as Women Veterans Day, a day to recognize and honor women veterans throughout the state. On the heels of this past weekend’s holiday, we were honored to have more then 360 guests join us virtually to hear from an esteemed panel of trailblazing military leaders for our Women in the Military Web event:

  • Lieutenant General Laura Richardson, Commander, United States Army North and Senior Commander, Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis
  • Major General Jeannie Leavitt, former Commander, Air Force Recruiting Service and newly assigned Director of Operations and Communications, Air Education and Training Command, and
  • Captain Elizabeth Montcalm-Smith, Acting Deputy Commander, Naval Medical Forces Support Command

According to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, female veterans comprise less than 10% of the overall veteran population, and when leaving the uniform behind, they typically don’t self-identify as a Veteran. Women Veterans are the fastest-growing group of Veterans, and as more women enlist and join the service, they continue to have unique challenges compared to their male counterparts. We were honored to shine a light on women in the military and find out how best to support them, in and out of the service. From peacetime to war, women serve valiantly and lead troops selflessly while also striving for success in their personal lives. Military City USA is home to hundreds of women veterans and many of our great business organizations are proud to employ women veterans from across a wide variety of industry and positions.

IVMF research finds that 41 percent of women leave the military for family reasons. This likely means that women veterans are accepting jobs out of necessity to meet family obligations instead of positions that better match their skills and earnings potential. Our panelists were able to share the reasons they chose a military career, sacrificed family time due to deployments and career opportunities, and now continue to mentor and promote the military as an excellent path to success in life, noting their amazing accomplishments in both their personal and professional lives. These women, who candidly spoke of their families and challenges early in their careers, have paved a path for future women leaders. They inspire, encourage, and empower our young women who are rising up the ranks and choosing military service as a career.

During the event, Mara Motherway, Booz Allen Hamilton’s Vice President of Government Relations, retired career Navy Officer with an inspiring background of military service in her own right, shared information related to the Women Veterans Registry and the Women’s Memorial Foundation. “It’s important to recognize the women who serve in the military and to keep them connected while serving their nation and also when transitioning into the civilian world,” Mara said. “One way to remain connected is to register with the Women’s Memorial Foundation.” Details can be found here. The Women in Military Service For America Memorial is the only major national memorial honoring all servicewomen—past, present and future. The Memorial honors nearly 3 million women who have served or are serving in or with the US Armed Forces, starting with the American Revolution. For our women veterans, registering means documenting their service in a formal way, honoring their choice to join the military and make others aware of their legacy of working bravely to keep our nation safe, healthy and prepared for future challenges.

Special thanks to our Sponsors at Booz Allen Hamilton, Port San Antonio, and Southwest Research Institute. The success of these events is directly related to your generosity and continued support to advocate for our region’s military community and, in particular for this event, to honor the role that women have played and will continue to play in the years to come.

For more information on how to support women in the military or to assist them in transitioning into the civilian workforce, please contact Lori Stinson, Vice President of Military Affairs and Leadership Development, at lstinson@sachamber.org. If you missed the event in real time, please view and share the recording here.

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