IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WLUC) - Women are the fastest growing veteran group, comprising about 9 percent of the veteran population in the United States. That's one of the reasons why Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared June 12 to be Women Veterans Recognition Day in Michigan.
A female US soldier with safety glasses on. (Credit: MGN)
"We need to recognize everyday really as Women Veterans Day," said Barbara Robinson, women veteran program manager at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center.
According to Robinson, many female veterans feel that their service has been overlooked.
"People don't recognize that female veterans served right along with the male veterans as well," said Robinson.
For the nearly 44,000 women veterans in Michigan, Governor Whitmer declared this day of recognition, so they don't have to feel forgotten.
"It's great that we're given this day to recognize us, and it gives us an opportunity as female veterans to bond with each other," said Rochelle Cherette, a United States Army veteran.
Women veterans face a number of unique barriers during and after their time in the military. At least one in four female veterans say they have experienced sexual trauma and even more have lasting effects, such as injuries from heavy gear and combat exposure.
"They have to carry the really large backpacks, sometimes over 130 pounds and they distribute their weight differently than men, so we see a lot of musculoskeletal injuries," said Robinson.
Some women veterans are still unaware that both primary and specialty care can be given at the VA Medical Center.
"Maternity care, I've received here. I see the chiropractor, and something new, the acupuncturist, which is great," said Cherette.
The VA receives help from local clinics to make all of this possible. They say it takes this help and recognition to alter the perception of female veterans.
"So it's really important to change our culture as we see more females coming into the military every year,” said Robinson.
Women veterans can find help and information by calling the Women Veterans Hotline at 1-855-829-6636, or by visiting the Department of Veterans Affairs website.