Story Number: NNS140327-03Release Date: 3/27/2014 8:19:00 AM
By Mark O. Piggott, Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Public Affairs
YORKTOWN, Va. (NNS) -- Naval Weapons Station (WPNSTA) Yorktown celebrated "Women of Character, Courage and Commitment" at their 2014 Women's History Month program, March 24, highlighting women veterans who have served side-by-side with their male counterparts throughout American history.
Dr. Betty Moseley Brown, associate director of the Center for Women Veterans and president of the Women Marines Association, spoke about her experiences at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and as a Marine, reaching out to women veterans who might not consider themselves eligible for VA benefits.
"Somehow, the definition of veteran, it's assumed you must have served in war or in combat, and that's not necessarily true," Brown explained. "If you've served one day in any military uniform, and you are discharged or retired, you may be considered a veteran."
"Women are one of the fastest growing sub-populations of veterans," she continued. "By 2020, it's estimated that 12.4 percent of the total veteran's population will be women. Though the number of total veteran's is decreasing, the number of women veterans is increasing."
According to statistics provided by the Office of the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Policy and Planning, the increase in women veterans can be traced back to early 2001, at the start of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
"Back in OEF and OIF, when they were activating Reserves and National Guard units, more women were given veteran status and became eligible for veteran benefits because of that active duty service they had," Brown explained. "So our numbers continuously grow while World War II and Korea veterans are passing away at rapid rates."
Though Brown emphasized the importance of taking care of our veterans today, she also focused on the history of women serving in the military, including someone many people never regarded as a veteran.
"We all know Harriet Tubman went back and forth, from the South to the North, taking people to freedom through the Underground Railroad. What many people don't know is that the military actually hired her as a spy during the Civil War," Brown said. "Now she considered her work as a type of military service, and after the war, when she went to collect her benefits, she was denied. She finally did get a military pension when her husband died and she continued to receive his benefits."
Brown also talked about the 6888th Central Postal Battalion, a volunteer all-black female Army unit that successfully routed the mail to soldiers during World War II and the "Lioness" Female Engagement Teams that served in combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is just an example of the character, courage and commitment of women who served their country in the Armed Forces.
"Dr. Brown is a woman who embodies all those traits," said Capt. Paul Haebler, commanding officer, WPNSTA Yorktown. "She is an exemplary leader and an example for the many women who have earned the 'Eagle, Globe and Anchor' and are members of the Women Marines Association."
To all the men and women attending the program -civilian, Sailors and Marines, Dr. Brown exemplified the example of what it means to be a veteran and what it means to be a Marine.
"When I was a young Marine down at Parris Island, and they had the 'Eagle, Globe and Anchor' ceremony, I immediately got it," she said. "I knew that, for the rest of my life, I had earned the title of United States Marine."
For more news from Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, visit www.navy.mil/local/nwsyorktown/.