March is Women’s History Month, a time for the Veteran community to draw its attention to the two-million women who wore our nation’s uniform. Women Veterans are our family members, friends and community leaders, and they have volunteered to serve since the Revolutionary War, shaping the world around them for future generations.
Once the uniform is removed, there is no apparent indication that these women are Veterans. They are far from the quintessential image that springs to mind when one thinks of a “U.S. military Veteran.” In fact, it isn’t uncommon to hear about a woman Veteran getting lectured about parking in a “Reserved for Veteran” spot or not being thanked for her service on Veterans Day. It is also not unusual for our staff to elicit two different responses when asking a room with women, “Who here served in the military?” versus “Who here is a Veteran?”
Women Veterans are not only frequently overlooked by those around them, but even today some struggle to consider themselves Veterans. VA estimates that ten percent of our Veteran population consists of women and is the fastest-growing group in the Veteran population. That number is projected to grow to 18 percent by 2040.
As such, it is imperative that we heed the words of World War II Veteran and Army nurse Lieutenant Anne Brehm: “Let the generations know that women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom; that our resolve was as great as the brave men who stood among us; and with victory our hearts were just as full and beat just as fast as theirs…”
Capitalizing on the success of “I Am Not Invisible” and “I Am Not Invisible 2.0,” the VA/LOC cooperation intends to normalize Americans seeing women Veterans by offering them a prominent and enduring platform to share their memories, reflections and thoughts through LOC’s National Library.
We invite you to add to the conversation
On Tuesday, March 8, 2022, at 6 p.m. EST, the VHP and VA CWV will host the panel discussion “I Am Not Invisible 3.0,” in which women Veterans will explore the challenges they face, communities they represent and how we can all be better advocates for women in the military. The discussion will be presented through the VHP Facebook page where panelists will be available to answer questions and address remarks in the comments section.
The stories don’t end there. Documenting and sharing the accounts of women who have served our country ensures that they are not invisible, that their stories are not lost to history.
Women Veterans and their supporters can learn how to participate and contribute their own oral history interview with photographs, letters, memoirs and other materials. Anyone interested in hearing these stories (family members, students, scholars, authors, history lovers, advocates and more) can search the archives or browse VHP’s Experiencing War online exhibits, which include themed collections of digitized stories, such as WASP: First in Flight, Women of Four Wars and Women at War.
With as little as 30 minutes, one can etch their own words in history, to enshrine their narrative in the Library of Congress, so that generations to come will learn from and possibly be inspired by their service. In doing so, we make our country stronger, just like Veterans always have.
Among the new Veterans History Project voices that arrive at the Library of Congress every week, will yours be one of them? Visit www.loc.gov/vets today.