Stories of women veterans take center stage at museum discussion

The crowd listens while four female veterans at the front of the room share the stories of their service and the barriers they encountered.


By ANNA STAVER | The Columbus Dispatch | Published: March 7, 2020

(Tribune News Service) — When Angela Beltz became pregnant, the Ohio National Guard didn't have any Battle Dress Uniforms that could accommodate her changing body.

"They weren't really sure what to do with me to begin with," the Desert Storm veteran said.

She was the only female in her firing battery, so they gave the 5-foot-tall Beltz a pair of "extra, extra large, extra, extra short pants." She still isn't sure where they found them.

"The waist was this big," Beltz said, stretching her arms out wide to a crowd gathered at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus' Franklinton neighborhood. "If you can't fit those, you have no business being in the army."

Eventually, she received a pair of maternity BDUs. She wore them until she delivered her son and then passed them onto another female solider because the army didn't have enough sets to go around. The crowd, who came to hear Beltz and two other women veterans speak about their experiences, chuckled.

The event was part of the museum's Rally Point program, a free gathering hosted on the first Saturday of each month with the goal of connecting veterans to each other and to area services.

The March event was about women in the military in honor of Women's History Month. April's program will focus on veteran courts.

The series launched shortly after the museum opened in October 2018 as a way "to make sure you are connected to each other," said Lt. General Michael Ferriter, president of the museum. "I say I like to collect the dots and then connect the dots."

That's why there's time at end of every Rally Point event for the audience to stand up and share other events, charities, businesses or groups they represent.

Grace Davis, who works with a nonprofit called Pets for Heroes that connects veterans with shelter dogs, talked about their upcoming Mutt Strut 5k race that's happening April 18.

Regina Rembert told the crowd to check out a new website that's working to create a comprehensive list of veteran-owned companies for people to use when they want to buy birthday presents or a local cup of coffee.

And Dana Robinson-Street, another speaker at the event, made a request for nominations to the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame. Applications are due by June 1.

Robinson-Street, who was inducted herself in 2019, spent almost 26 years in the Navy while raising her three sons.

Women who became pregnant when Robinson-Street served were given the option to be discharged, but the Desert Storm veteran didn't want to do that.

"It takes that first person to break down those barriers," she said, adding that she thought sometimes stereotypes and resentments built because the military limited women how women could serve. "I'm proud to see the growth we are making in all branches."


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