Thiele: Women Veterans Recognition Day a Proud Piece of American History

Paying tribute to the over 80,000 women veterans from New York State, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) helped pass a commemorative resolution in the Assembly declaring June 12, 2013, as “Women Veterans Recognition Day” (K.612). The designation coincides with the 65th anniversary of the Women’s Armed Services Act of 1948.

“The extraordinary courage, patriotism and ongoing commitment of women veterans is inspiring,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “The Assembly resolution recognizes all that they have done to keep our country safe and preserve our freedom.”

Signed into law by then-President Harry Truman, the Women’s Armed Services Act of 1948 made certain that there would always be a place for women in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. It remains the most significant piece of legislation pertaining to women’s military service today, Thiele noted.

“Women veterans from New York have long been instrumental in our military’s history, and it’s important to continually recognize how crucial their role is,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “From tending to wounded soldiers in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, to combat support roles in Desert Storm, and to fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with male counterparts when under attack in Iraq and Afghanistan, the dedicated service of women vets has been a vital piece of American history.”

Coinciding with today’s recognition of women veterans, the Assembly passed legislation to require that veteran organizations direct assistance to veterans who experienced Military Sexual Trauma (MST) during their military service (A.7086). This bill would require the Division of Veterans Affairs to devise a plan to provide assistance and benefits for veterans who experience MST while on active duty or during military training and would also require county and city veterans service agencies to report information on MST.

“It is heartbreaking to think that anyone who is bravely fighting to protect our freedom has experienced sexual trauma while in the military,” Thiele said. “We must provide the assistance needed to help veterans who have experienced sexual assault or abuse during their service. This legislation is important because we need to erase the stigma associated with MST – veterans should not be afraid to come forward and ask for help if they have been victimized.”

Women make up nearly 15 percent of today’s active duty military and as of 2009, 15.5 percent of the officers across the four military branches are women. In January 2013, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the military would be lifting the policy against women in combat roles, marking a major advancement in policy. Further, in April 2013, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs launched a new hotline geared at assisting women veterans, their families and caretakers (1-855-VA-WOMEN).

“Our military is evolving, and due to the tremendous bravery and intellect of the women who’ve served in our armed forces, it’s getting stronger,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “I would like to thank all women veterans – especially from the East End – for their dedication to our country.”