ODVA Celebrates Women Veterans’ Legacy of Service During Women’s Military History Week

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In honor of Women’s Military History Week in Oregon (March 17-23), the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs has been recognizing women who have served in the United States military throughout our country’s history, in every branch of military service.

If you are a woman veteran or service member, ODVA salutes, recognizes and thanks you for your honorable service and your sacrifice. We honor your courage, your dedication and your commitment, and we pledge to ensure that your history-making contributions to our nation’s security and prosperity will never forgotten.

This year’s national theme is Women who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. ODVA. In keeping with the theme, ODVA has these featured podcasts and other oral history pieces feature stories of exceptional women veterans who have served in every era of service since WWII. ODVA is honored to celebrate women of all eras and branches of military service who have served in the United States Armed Forces throughout our country’s history.

Lena King | U.S. Army, World War II

As World War II in Europe unfolded, the U.S. Army encountered a massive backlog of mail for the troops. Officers knew that no mail for meant low morale, so the 6888 Central Postal Directory Battalion was born.

Cpl. Lena D. King was a member of this trail-blazing unit and later enjoyed a long career as a nurse in serving fellow veterans in VA medical facilities. Cpl. King died in January 2024 at the age of 100.

Hear her share her story of service in the Veterans Chronicles podcast.

Doris B. Porpiglia | U.S. Army, Korean War

Doris Porpiglia was asked how her family felt about her being in the military. Although her parents and immediate family were proud of her, her rich aunt told her that “Ladies don’t do such a thing.”

Doris Porpiglia replied, “I am more of a lady than you’ll ever be, and what I wear isn’t going to determine the person I am going to be.”

Hear more of Doris Porpiglia’s story from the Korean War Legacy Foundation.

Diane Carlson Evans | U.S. Army, Vietnam War

Growing up on a farm in Minnesota, Army Veteran Diane Carlson Evans, founder of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation, always knew she wanted to be a nurse.

After her second oldest brother was drafted, she had no doubt that she would go to Vietnam herself. So she went to Minneapolis, found an Army Nurse recruiter and asked how she, too, could go to Vietnam.

Hear more of Diane Carlson Evans’ story on the federal VA’s Borne the Battle podcast.

Esther Massimini | U.S. Air Force, Cold War

How does one go from a career in tech to the opera? Air Force veteran Esther Massimini could tell you. Serving from 1979 to 1984, she was one of few women to work in tech.

At the time, the government was on the leading edge of the changes in technology and she had the opportunity to see how things changed and have an impact on these changes.

Hear more of Esther Massimini’s story on the Women of the Military Podcast.

Amy Forsythe | U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, Iraq War

Amy Forsythe served on five combat tours, including becoming part of the first-ever female engagement teams, who courageously served a critical role for patrols in Iraq and Afghanistan.

She served as a combat correspondent and public affairs chief in the Marine Corps from 1993 to 2010, when she was commissioned as a public affairs officer in the Navy Reserve. 

Hear more of Amy Forsythe’s story on the Women of the Military Podcast.

Sarah Holzhalb | U.S. Coast Guard, Post-9/11

Sarah Holzhalb entered the US Coast Guard Commissioned Corps as a deck watch officer in 2002, serving for five years.

While grieving the suicides of two shipmates, she decided to train for her first marathon. The long training hours proved therapeutic, and her running club provided a new tribe to replace the shipmates she’d left behind.

Hear more of Sarah Holzhalb on the Borne the Battle Podcast.

‘I Am Not Invisible’ Exhibit Continues to Spotlight Achievements, Experiences of Women Veterans

“I Am Not Invisible” is a remarkable exhibition featuring 20 portraits of Oregon women military veterans.

There are nearly 26,000 women veterans in Oregon — a number that has risen steadily over the past three decades — representing almost one-tenth of Oregon’s veteran population.

And yet, women veterans continue to face significant barriers and challenges in accessing necessary health care and other services, while experiencing a lack of recognition unlike their male counterparts. By spotlighting the many faces of this diverse and important segment of the Oregon veteran community, IANI aims to increase awareness and dialogue about women veterans, as well as open viewers’ eyes to the myriad contributions, needs and experiences of women who have served in the military.

For more information about the project visit iani.oregondva.com or to arrange to have an IANI display at your event, contact the ODVA Women Veterans Coordinator at ODVA_ORWOMENVETS@odva.oregon.gov.

Additional Resources for Women Veterans

Women Veterans Call Center: The Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) is your guide to VA. It is your resource for information about a variety of services and benefits that you’ve earned and deserve through your military service. To get in touch with the WVCC, you can call or text 855-VA-WOMEN (855-829-6636).

Military Women’s Memorial: The Military Women’s Memorial is a one-of-a-kind tribute to America’s servicewomen, past and present. The Memorial features an education center, interactive exhibits, and a world-class collection of military women’s stories. Learn more or register your service at womensmemorial.org.

Center for Women Veterans: The Center for Women Veterans’ (CWV) mission is to monitor and coordinate the federal VA’s administration of health care, benefits, services, and programs for women veterans. Stay in touch, sign up for email, follow the CWV on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) @VAWomenVets. Learn more at va.gov/womenvet.

2024 Women’s Military History Week Proclamation

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