Seventy-nine women Veterans are attending the National Veterans Golden Age Games. They range in age from 55 to 86 years old and represent the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force. They are unique, no two are exactly alike but they share a common bond, they served their country with honor and distinction.
World War II Navy Veteran Maxine Bodman is the oldest female competitor at the Games. A native of West Palm Beach, FL, Bodman enlisted in the Navy at age 17 and served from 1943 – 46 as a yeoman in Mobile, AL. She said, “I was in 11th grade when Pearl Harbor was bombed. I knew then I wanted to go in the Navy. I grew up on the water and was a Mariner Girl Scout so it seemed the natural thing to do.”
Jo A. Nicholson served in the Army National Guard from 1983 – 2004. She deployed to Desert Storm and Iraq earning a Bronze Star and was the first female Commander of the 151st Military Police Company. Nicholson, who is attending her first Golden Age Games, leads a “Vet to Vet” group at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center which helps other Veterans work through issues with PTSD and substance abuse. To remain fit she walks and works out in the gym and is a firm believer that exercise can help decrease stress and anxiety.
Marine Corps Veteran, Judy Noeller, a Native American from Kansas was an air traffic controller in the Corps from 1970 – 74 and is participating in her first Golden Age Games. Noeller enjoys the camaraderie of the Games and the opportunity to compete and be in company of other Veterans. Her favorite event is the air rifle competition.
Linda Hicks served in the Air Force from 1968 – 75 and retired from the Air Force Reserve in 1989. She is attending her 6th Golden Age Games and won silver in bowling. Of the Games she said, “As a little girl I was a tom boy and loved sports. The Games give me the opportunity to be active again. I compete against myself and try to improve my own personal record.”
Hicks, who volunteers at the Long Beach VA, works with Veterans in a photography program.
“We started the program for spinal cord patients but now other Veteran are involved. We have 50 Veterans in the program and have scheduled our fifth photography class. I am very proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
The women Veterans of the 26th Golden Age Games blazed trails and shattered barriers for women who followed them into the service of our country. They made history and continue to excel at the National Veterans Golden Age Games – you’ve come a long way, baby!
Sandy Franks served 23 years in the U.S. Air Force and retired as a Senior Master Sergeant. She currently works at the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center as a Public Affairs Officer.