Women Veterans honored at the Capitol


Women Veterans gathered in Statutory Hall at the U.S. Capitol this week to be honored for their service by some of the most influential women in Washington. On March 2, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hosted her annual Women’s History Month reception at the Capitol, which included remarks by first lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught.

Vaught was one of the first female generals in the Air Force and the first woman promoted to brigadier general from the comptroller career field. She served as chairperson of the NATO Women in the Allied Forces Committee and was the senior military representative to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. She also served as president of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation. As she rose through the ranks, she recalled the challenges that women Veterans faced.

Women Veterans honored at CapitolIn 1957, there was only one colonel position that she could compete for: the director of Women in the Air Force. At that time, women were restricted to make up only two percent of the military workforce, and the law prohibited women from becoming generals and admirals. Women did not receive the same benefits as their male counterparts, were forced to leave the service if they became pregnant, were not allowed into the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps or the military academies. Over time, women spoke out against their discrimination, which led to action being taken and progress being made.

“In 1985 I retired as a brigadier general, and I remember it well. There were seven women generals or admirals, and I was the ranking one, a brigadier general. And when I think about today, we have three four star women, two in the Army, generals, and one in the Navy as a four star. We have come a long way,” said Vaught.

Today, there are nearly three million women serving in the armed forces and make up 20 percent of the military workforce. Women are one of the fastest growing segments of the Veteran population.

Women Veterans honored at Capitol

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hosted her annual Women’s History Month reception at the Capitol, which included remarks by first lady Michelle Obama and retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught.

“Thanks to brilliant, fearless women like General Vaught, today, more than 200,000 women are serving our country in just about every role and rank.  They’re flying fighter jets, training new recruits; they’re graduating Army Ranger School — and I met those graduates.  They are awesome.  Fierce! And as you’ve already heard, they will soon be welcome in every combat unit in our armed forces,” first lady Michelle Obama told the crowd. She added that while there is much progress to celebrate, women in uniform “still face plenty of challenges as they serve this country and then transition back to civilian life.”

Shockingly, many women don’t self-identify as Veterans and may be missing out on the benefits they have earned. Far fewer women use VA Healthcare and services, like the GI Bill, largely because they don’t know it’s available. VA offers women Veterans primary care, cancer screenings and maternity care coverage.

Over the past seven years VA has trained 2,400 Veteran healthcare providers in women’s health and there is now a designated women’s health provider in every VA medical center in the country. There is also the Women Veterans Call Center, where women Veterans can get answers to their questions about their benefits, VA services and resources. All the representatives at the Women Veterans Call Center are women, and many are Veterans themselves who can relate to women Veterans, their families and friends.

At the close of the ceremony, the first lady called on women Veterans to share their stories so that future generations of women, their daughters and granddaughters, will know that the women who served this country and have worn the uniform have also guaranteed their freedom.


Melissa Heintz

- Melissa Heintz joined the VA’s Digital Media Engagement team as a public affairs specialist in October 2015. She grew up on an Army base in Japan before her family relocated to Hawaii. She holds a degree in Journalism/Mass Communications and Spanish from Seattle University. Melissa has served as a public affairs specialist with Navy Region Hawaii Fleet and Family Readiness and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In December 2015, Melissa commissioned in the Rhode Island Air National Guard where she serves as a public affairs officer with the 143rd Airlift Wing.


  1. GERI P. DAVIS    

    I really appreciate the articles about women in the military because we are so forgotten. I am an African American female Gulf War Veteran, there is so little said about us. My goal is to meet with the Public Affairs Office at the DC VA and talk with them about my experiences in the military and hopefully it will be published and shared with other Women Veterans also I want to emphasize that Women Veterans have benefits and THEY need to find out what they are so that they can take advantage of them and I want to share the things that the VA has done for me ,especially now that I am a Disabled Gulf War Veteran now living in Stafford Virginia, in my Specially Adapted House by the VA.

    1. kent shebelut    

      THANK YOU “all my SISTERS” You have my admiration and support

      11AC/nam “68

  2. Valerie oestreich    

    Women, now have no waiting area that is only for women veterans. They are telling me that it is discrimination to have the women’s mammogram ( breast) that they made just for women, now is open for any male veteran or not can hang out in there
    This is suppose make a women veterans with PTSD. For sexual abuse in the military Feel safe. This is a new letters put in place, by a higher level women. I was told if I wanted to be in a women only waiting area
    They are willing to put me on a exam room and wait for how ever long it takes to get to me.
    So me as a veteran that has been gone through hell by men. Is being punished more by having to put in a six x eight feet room. In stead of the waiting area which they made for women only, until it was changed. Because men complained that they could not be in there. But the could just wait about 100 feet done the hall for there wife or girlfriend. That would make it a safe for all women veterans. The whole b
    VA is built in favor of male veteran, maybe that is w why women veterans do not bother with VA help !???

    1. DannyG    

      Ma’am, while I empathize with your medical situation, you have to realize that not every man is your enemy. I am your brother, & would come to the aid of ANY female being harassed – especially a sister veteran! I have PTSD, but cannot avoid contact with every member of the ethnic group that was my enemy.
      I mean NO disrespect, & really do understand! You take care, & get better!

  3. Nancy    

    It is a shame that women veterans are not aware of their benefits nor aware of their memorial-The Women’s Memorial that Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught has worked so hard for so many years for. Please pass the word. The guys have been helping us do just that when they realized that this is a problem. Brig. Gen. Vaught was inducted into the Woman’s Hall of Fame for her many years of hard work and we apppreciate her. She is a great advocate for all woman veterans!

  4. Janey Kay McNamee    

    How can a female Vietnam veteran who has been rated 100% PTSD disabled since 2006 be denied PTSD counseling. Despite the intervention of my Congressman Raul Grijalva it has been over a DECADE and no help. Almost every page of my military records list chronic PTSD

    1. Penelope (Penny) Price    

      I am a vietnam veteran and also have PTSD. It would be nice to hear from you.

  5. Anna mcclellan    

    I am a disabled veteran and wish that there was ways for me to get help for my family like male veterans. I have fought my disability for over 39 years and still fighting. I am not reconized as a disabled veteran in va offices.

  6. Climmie Gaston    

    This is whats wrong with America. This crap right here. Non stop pity parties. Since when do we seperate and celebrate veterans. A veteran is a man, woman and animal that has served this once great nation. Now were hosting tea parties for women veterans because apparaently they are bigger then the big picture. So are we going to honour male veterans next? Im Infantry so i now want a tea party for all male Infantry vets. And then one for only us Infantry that have a CIB. I mean sure i guess we all deploy. But lets be real. They deploy and enjoy 4 square meals a day (dnt forget midnite chow) showers, a bed, mwr, movie theaters, american fast food, povs. Come home and get 100% for ptsd cuz a mortar round hit maximum distance away from their building but close enough to be awarded a CAB. Outside measuring the distance to make sure. While we sleep wherever we lay down at. Dont shower for weeks on end. Devour MRE. Constantly getting shot at and blown up. All for the same great pay as everyone else. I dont see a big parade for us. Took me over 2yrs to get 40% for my issues. Veteran is veteran. Stop segregating this country. And stop segregating to please certain groups of ppl. And thats from an african/native/danish american. 9/11 in a sense was the best thing thats ever happened to this country because for once in my lifetime this country didnt care if u were black or white male or femlae, we all were americans. And we all looked at that person next to us with tears in our eyes and hugged them like they were family. And then somewhere in the last 8yrs we lost that. Segregating at evey corner. Lets be great again. Rant over

  7. Carl Jacobson    

    Looking at Pilosi and Obama trying to honor veterans kinda makes you want to throw up.

  8. Buddy G    

    You lost so much credibility by having pelosi and michelle obama there. They have shown they dont care except when it comes in the form of a pr opportunity. I am tired of politicians who dont do squat for us and then use us as a pawn for their political gain. Shame on them.

  9. Jeannette Rees    

    My father died at 37 from cad and was a veteran of the Korea war I was 4 years olds…,unknowing my father death certificate was never finalize its 43 years later and to date his cause of death was never linked to his years aboard the navy ship in the boiler room …so my mother or myself never reiceved the benefits when I asked about college I was told not entitled so I had to put it off for years cause of my own learning disability. I was told only disabled military veteran family’s are entitled to services and since we were not one …..but I was entitled to 23.00 back then it was a big deal. This should not happen how sad is that this happens when my father served thinking the military would be there for his family. We should have been entitled to health care and help with counseling, my mom 24 she had no clue my father was the rock.
    The same happened to my grandmother when she need care she serve but nothing she to was forgotten …the worst part when she past away instead of her getting her own stone for her service her name was placed on the back of my grandfather …in my eyes it was a disrespect to my grandmother service. They both should have had there own head stones in the veterans cemetery.

  10. Daniel W Fox    

    Why is Obama & Pelosi on the stage honoring female veterans? The both of them hate the military and have said so numerous times. Come on VA…..WAKE UP!!!!

  11. Doris    

    It is NOT Statutory Hall. It is Statuary Hall. Look around. See all those statues?

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