By Meagan LoBuglio
LoBuglio is the Southwest Virginia program manager for the Virginia Department of Veterans Services’ Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Program. A Roanoke native and U.S. Air Force veteran, she can be contacted at email@example.com.
March is Women’s History Month — celebrating the progress and historical impact of women in America and around the globe. One particular group of amazing and often quiet women are America’s female veterans. They are part of a band of sisters whose service and sacrifice date back to the Revolutionary War. Women have profoundly influenced and advanced America’s military through every conflict. In the early years, women served primarily as medical professionals, but today you will find them serving in much more complex and equitable roles.
In fact, currently 20% of America’s armed services are comprised of women in uniform, while another two million American women now proudly call themselves veterans. Virginia is home to more than 107,000 female veterans – at almost 15%, the highest percentage by veteran population of any state in the U.S. Recognizing the exceptional service of Virginia’s women veterans, the Virginia General Assembly and Governor Ralph Northam have proclaimed March 15-21 as Virginia Women Veterans Week to honor and celebrate the many accomplishments of our fellow citizens.
Female veterans are a strong, diverse, and experienced group of leaders who play a vital role in the very fabric of America and the Commonwealth. Here are a few facts about female active duty service members and female veterans that illustrate their grace, grit, and fearless leadership:
We meet and maintain the same standards and requirements as our male counterparts. To enter and stay in the military, women meet and maintain every mark as the men with whom they serve. These include physical, aptitude, and rank-advancement ratings. Using rank, last name and job title as descriptors, there is little difference between genders within the armed services.
We serve during the core decision-making years for marriage and childrearing. The majority of military women serve between the ages of 18 to 48. Just as civilian women will face decisions centered on career and family, so too will her uniformed sisters.
Most military women have additional career and family considerations. Active-duty members seldom have family living close-by. So, there are minimal opportunities for a weekend at grandma’s break for military mommas. The U.S. Military is a 24/7, worldwide operation. This means military women must often navigate solutions for midnight childcare, will be separated from their spouse, and must arrange for temporary childcare caretakers to fulfill her required 6-12 month deployments overseas. Service women return to deployment status in as little as four months post-partum.
We serve for the same reasons. Women choose military service for the same reasons as men. Our stories vary but are threaded by love of country, an opportunity of personal and professional advancement, and for connection to something larger than ourselves.
Female veterans have flown multi-million dollar aircraft, built and delivered advanced missiles with precision, analyzed intelligence data for international security, extinguished fires, balanced ledgers, disarmed bombs, provided air support for troops in combat, triaged patients, negotiated million dollar contracts, laid cable, troubleshot software, and accomplished hundreds of other impressive duty tasks. You seldom hear female veterans boast or brag. Therefore, I will do it for us. Service is in our blood. Sacrifice has made us resilient. A day in the life of a military woman is often the spectrum of grit and grace. She will bring the fight to the enemy, make real-time strategic decisions that hold life and death consequences, then turn around and have an empathic conversation with a fellow service member regarding family issues and career considerations. Virginia is blessed to have such a powerful population within its borders. Employers and organizations need to seek out this population of fearless leaders. A female veteran brings value, work ethic, advanced leadership skills, and an unreal level of experience everywhere she goes.
Learn more about hiring female veterans and the V3 program at www.dvsV3.com.