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Texas honors female veterans during its first 'Women Veterans Day'

Staff Sgt. Heather Middlemas and Sgt. Kira Messenger, both of the Texas Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention unit, pose for a photo with Anna Gatti, a Navy veteran World War II, following Texas’s first Women Veterans Day celebration held on the steps of the Texas State Capitol on June 12, 2018. Gatti was recognized as the event’s honorary guest.

ROSE L. THAYER/STARS AND STRIPES

By ROSE L. THAYER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 13, 2018

AUSTIN, Texas — For the first time, some women veterans in Texas came together to honor their service, educate others about their history and raise awareness of resources available to women who served.

Texas has about 177,500 female veterans, the most of any state, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Women make up about 10 percent of the U.S. veteran population, but many of them do not identify themselves as veterans, largely due to the perception that veterans are men, said Anna Baker, the female veterans program manager with the Texas Veterans Commission. She said some statistics show as many as 70 percent of female veterans do not self-identify.

In 2017, state lawmakers enacted a law naming June 12 as Women Veterans Day to highlight their role in the military and commemorate their valor and sacrifice. The date marks the anniversary of President Harry Truman signing the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948 that allowed women to serve as permanent, regular members of the military.

Hiding from their service can cost women camaraderie, benefits and recognition. Tuesday's events, in part, were designed to help women veterans find resources.

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Women line up for photos with Rosieleeta Reed following Texas’s first Women Veterans Day celebration held on the steps of the Texas State Capitol on June 12, 2018. Reed presents a living history exhibition of the only female Buffalo Soldier, Cathay Williams.
ROSE L. THAYER/STARS AND STRIPES

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