Women Veterans in their early 20s to their 70s walk through the doors at the Abilene Vet Center each week to receive services, but on June 11 they were recognized for their military service with a special event.
June 12 was Women Veterans Day and the anniversary of when the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act was signed into law. Abilene Vet Center staff members held a luncheon to honor women Veterans and to show their appreciation.
“Today is an event to recognize our women Veterans and to honor them with this luncheon,” said Patricia Meiron, readjustment therapist. “When people think of Veterans, they often think of men, and today we are recognizing both men and women – they’re Veterans too.”
Abilene Vet Center provides counseling and therapeutic services to Veterans, active duty military service members, Reserve and Guard.
“A lot of women don’t like to even acknowledge they are Veterans,” said Meiron “We want to recognize the challenges female Veterans have. Also, we want to provide recognition for their service and benefits they have earned.”
Pictured above, Meiron talks with Army Veteran Lisa Jaramillo, right, and Air Force Veteran Patricia Correia at the Women Veterans Day luncheon.
Women Veterans drove from surrounding towns, some more than an hour away, to attend the event. Lunch was provided for them and their families. Gift bags were given to each woman Veteran as a thank you.
Last year’s event
Last year, after brainstorming among the Vet Center staff, a small causal breakfast was held to honor Women Veterans Day. The camaraderie and friendship formed was quite special.
“We see many female Veterans at our Vet Center. During last year’s planning, we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to honor them on Women Veterans Day?'” Meiron asked. “We had eight women in attendance. They loved visiting with each other. Some of them had been isolated, especially with the pandemic, so it was a positive experience for all being together. We formed a casual therapy support group with the women. It’s become a support group out of the Vet Center. They took each other’s phone numbers and contact each other on their own time. That was a successful byproduct of last year’s event.”
This year’s event
This year, more than 20 guests attended the event, one of which was Air Force Veteran Mieka Pugh.
“It was great interacting with other women Veterans and to be recognized,” Pugh said. “I enjoyed catching up and seeing how everyone is progressing with their post military careers. We had fellowship with other female Veterans. It means a lot to each of us to have the Vet Center. It’s a place to go where we can reconnect with one another.”
Pugh retired from the Air Force after 22 years in uniform. Some of her duty assignments included time in Alaska, Korea and Texas.
“I enjoy interacting with Veterans and helping them understand how much they’re worth,” Meiron added. “A lot of times, they get beaten down with things from their past and trying to break new ground in future careers. I really want to help them benefit from therapy and get back their self-esteem, self-worth and live a good post military life. And here at the Vet Center, we really see a lot of success from that.”
Jennifer Roy is a public affairs specialist for the Dallas Regional Office of Public Affairs.