Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Coast Guard Veteran Dorothy Dempsey, who served in the Women’s Reserve during World War II.

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Coast Guard Veteran Dorothy Dempsey, who served in the Women’s Reserve during World War II.

Drawn to military service by the tragedy of Pearl Harbor, Dorothy Dempsey enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard Women’s Reserve in 1944. She joined some 13,000 other women in the training process, which began in Palm Beach, Florida. The women, nicknamed “SPARS,” after the Coast Guard motto of “Semper Paratus-Always Ready,” participated in rigorous training exercises to prepare them for land-based duties.

Dempsey joined SPARS with the intention to become a chaplain’s assistant. However, because her gender prevented her from performing religious ceremonies in her Roman Catholic religion, the service denied her request.

Instead, Dempsey became a master-at-arms, responsible for morale and assignment management. She worked in an office in Boston and performed recruitment, assignment and morale-boosting duties all over New England.

Part of Dempsey’s role as a recruiter and morale-lifter included performing in radio shows. Dempsey reflected on her time singing on a Boston radio show in a 2010 interview with Rutgers University.

“I used to sing with the group in Boston, on Boston radio,” she explained. “…We would recruit, tell them about women in the military, and then, Margaret Chase Smith, who was the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress.”

In March 1946, Dempsey honorably discharged from the Coast Guard. She began work at a New York advertising agency.

Dempsey also became involved with several groups for women Veterans and advocated for the placement of statues of women Veterans. She served on the New Jersey Advisory Committee on Women Veterans in 1989. The same year, she designed a statue of a woman Veteran based on the Minute Man statue in Concord. The statue, known as the “Minutewoman,” was dedicated in 2003 and resides in the New Jersey Military Cemetery. She also gave many presentations on the history of women Veterans in schools and worked with Veteran women in hospitals and care facilities.

Dempsey passed away in 2018 at the age of 96.

Dempsey received an American Campaign medal as well as a Good Conduct Medal.

We honor her service.

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at


Writer: Maggie Thomas

Editors: Annabelle Colton and Theresa Lyon

Fact checkers: Giacomo Ferrari and Patrick E. Woods

Graphic artist: Kiki Kelley

By VAntage Point Contributor

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Published on Jan. 19, 2022

Estimated reading time is 2.5 min.

Views to date: 706


  1. Senior Veterans Care Network January 21, 2022 at 10:56 am

    We honor the service of Dorothy Dempsey.

  2. Jacqueline Caputi January 20, 2022 at 3:10 am

    Good day,

    I love this initiative. It’s relevant and necessary. Our history and trail blazing accomplishments are the pillars of future.

    My name is Jacqueline Caputi, I’m a Veteran and
    currently serve as a Naval Science Instructor, for
    Curtis High School in Staten Island New York.

    I’m contacting your organization interested in educational information that you might have available on our history.

    As we approach the month of February, I’m seeing for historical information about the role women in
    the armed forces prior to and after being approved by congress to serve as reservists.

    As an instructor teaching in person and virtually I would truly appreciate and educational materials
    Videos or PowerPoints that your team may be able
    to share.

    In advance thank you.

    Jacqueline Caputi

Comments are closed.

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