On behalf of the Texas Veterans Commission and the Women Veterans Program, it is with respect and admiration that we recognize you for your service to our country and our veteran community.
The women veteran’s legacy can be traced back through the centuries. During the Revolutionary War, Margaret Cochran Corbin took hold of her husband’s gun after he suffered a fatal shot and continued to fight. It wasn’t until April 14, 1926, that Margaret received full military honors.
Cathay Williams, a.k.a. William Cathay, was the first known African American woman to serve in the U.S. Army in the 19th century. Cathay Williams is quoted to say: “… only two persons, a cousin and a particular friend, members of the regiment, knew that I was a woman. …I wanted to make my own living and not be dependent on relations or friends.”
Women were allowed to enlist in the U.S. military during the final two years of World War I. It was the service of these women that helped propel the passage of the 19th Amendment, June 4, 1919, guaranteeing women the right to vote.
During World War II, the Women’s Army Corps’ first black officer, Maj. Charity Adams, led the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, an all-female, all-African American unit responsible for inspecting every piece of mail sent from the U.S. to Europe. President Harry S. Truman, on June 12, 1948, signed into law the Women’s Armed Service Integration Act establishing a permanent presence of women in the military.
During the Korean and Vietnam Wars, some 7,500 women served – mostly as nurses. It wasn’t until 1976 that the first females were admitted to the service academies, and in 1980 Andrea Hollen received her diploma from West Point, becoming the academy’s first female graduate.
Many more firsts have occurred for women in the 21st century military. Cpt. Kathleen McGrath became the first woman to command a U.S. Navy warship and Col. Linda McTague became the first woman commander over a fighter squadron in the U.S. Air Force. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester became the first woman in history awarded the Silver Star for direct combat action. And, in December 2015, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced all U.S. military combat positions open to women.
During the 85th Texas Legislature, Senate Bill 805 established June 12 as Women Veterans Day to recognize the role of women in the armed forces and to commemorate their sacrifices.
Women veterans continue to be an inspiration not only to other women, but to their sons and daughters who understand that the greatest gift is to serve others and to serve their country.
Thank you for your service, yesterday and today.
Women Veterans Program Manager