Military veterans come in all shapes and sizes. While the majority of America’s veterans are male, there are hundreds of thousands of women proud to wear the title “veteran”. We would like to honor some of the military women we have featured here over the years.
Female Chaplains Serve God and Country
Four female ministers â€“ an Episcopalian, a Unitarian Universalist, a Southern Baptist and an African Methodist Episcopal â€“ all join the military â€¦.
But thereâ€™s no punch line here, just four strong-willed pioneers working in a career field with few others of the female persuasion.
There are ministers who are veterans. There are lawyers who are veterans.
Lady Lawyer in Battle Fatigues
In the middle of the largest rebuilding effort since the Marshall Plan, a young woman in Iraq joined the ranks of the legal profession this month via a video teleconference with an Iowa judge.
Melissa Head took the bar exam two weeks before she deployed to serve with the Army Corps of Engineersâ€™ Gulf Region Division in Iraq.
Not all our female veterans escaped danger.
Portrait of An American Soldier
Shortly after her arrival, SSG Elliott and SPC Hauer was driving along in convoy when she saw the vehicle in front of her swerve to avoid a black bag. SSG Elliott was behind the wheel at the time and tried to swerve as well, but the 5-ton tractor-trailer responded too slowly. They clipped the mine inside the bag.
SSG Elliott, who was also injured in the explosion, recalls that â€œan orange flame blew SPC Hauer up to the ceiling of the cab and tossed her onto the â€œdoghouseâ€ where the transmission and controls were located.â€
Some of our female veterans have the medals to prove that they are also heroes.
Airman 1st Class Charity Lee Trueblood
Airman Trueblood was driving an up-armored Humvee providing security to a group that was moving supplies on Dec. 5, 2005, when her convoy was attacked near Balad Air Base in Iraq. A driver indicated over the radio that he had been hit. Under fire, Trueblood moved her truck between the enemy fire and the other vehicles, which were not up-armored. The injured man pulled to the side of the road because his truck caught on fire. Trueblood drove up to the injured manâ€™s vehicle, which was engulfed in flames. She performed first aid and helped to get him to a secure location for medical treatment.
Trueblood received the Bronze Star with Valor on Sept. 14, 2006.
Here is a veteran from the Rochester, New York area, who has been a hero at home and overseas.
Master Sgt. Luann Van Peursem
Sergeant Van Peursem led the initial medical response for two Airmen critically injured by shrapnel from an exploding rocket. After the rocket hit outside her building she quickly responded to moaning and cries for help. As she was providing aid to the first Airman, she heard additional cries in the distance. She passed care of the first victim to others and ran to the other victim. By herself she moved him to a bunker for protection and rendered proper aid. She then managed the care for both victims until medical personnel arrived.
Sometimes, all too often, our military women give their lives in service to our nation.
Spc. Rachael L. Hugo
The medic reached into her pocket and removed an Army honors coin she received for saving a sergeantâ€™s life in Iraq in February. She told her dad, Kermit Hugo, she had carried it with her ever since then to make sure she didnâ€™t misplace it before she had a chance to give it to him.
â€œShe said, â€˜Dad, I got something for you,â€™ and she pulled that coin out of her pocket,â€ Kermit Hugo said Monday.
On Friday, Rachael Hugo found herself in a similar situation to the one in February, but with much different results.
Hugo, 24, of Madison, was killed when she went to help injured colleagues after they were hit by an improvised explosive device and came under small-arms fire in Bayji, north of Baghdad. She was deployed just over a year ago and was expected to return home in November.
No one will deny the beauty of our women in uniform.
G.I. Jill â€“ Army Medic Competes for Miss America
For the past 6 years, Jill Stevens has been serving in the US Military as a Combat Medic in the Utah National Guard, while earning her degree in Nursing at Southern Utah University. In November 2003, Jill was deployed to Afghanistan, returning home in April 2005. She has earned 5 medals for her outstanding service, and was the first female finisher of the inaugural Afghanistan Marathon, making a total of 12 marathons she has completed together with earning the highest Fitness award during Army Basic Training. In representing the Army National Guard, Sergeant Stevens recently addressed Generals from 40 different nations gathered at Hill Air Force Base.
All our women in uniform are volunteers. Some of the veterans volunteer for danger.
Soldier Profile: Sgt. Andrea Bills
â€œEvery battalion was being asked for volunteers to become door gunners and crew chiefs for the deployment,â€ said Bills. â€œI heard about it through the grapevine, and I asked if I could go to the classes. Once I made it through the aerial gunnery and all the tables, I was sent to alpha company. I love being a mechanic, but I also love being a door gunner because it is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity, and something I would never be able to do in the civilian world.â€
And, to close out this profile of women who are military veterans, we recognize the unique bond that mothers and daughters have.
Cheerleader and Mom Join Ranks
â€œI was looking at the community colleges, and thought I would go there,â€ she said. â€œThen I was talking to some people I know who are in the Navy Reserve, and some friends who have been in the military, and I thought thatâ€™s what I wanted to do.â€
She presented the idea to her mother, Lisa Altoon, who wasnâ€™t receptive to the notion of her cheerleader daughter joining the Army.
â€œI was dead set against it from the beginning,â€ she said.
Altoon, like many parents, was concerned about the possibility of Megan deploying to a combat zone. That is, until she met her daughterâ€™s recruiter, Army Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Dean of the Fremont, Calif., recruiting station. Dean proved to be a persuasive recruiter.
After learning about the Army Reserve, Altoon, a postal carrier in Fremont, decided that she, too, would become a soldier. Until recently, someone her age with no prior service would have been too old to enlist. Since the Army increased its maximum age to 42 in 2006, however, the door was wide open for the 39-year-old.
Mother and daughter enlisted in the same military occupational specialty â€” computer information specialist â€” and were assigned to the same unit, the 351st Civil Affairs Command in Mountain View, Calif.