Women Veterans

Reflections on Over Two Centuries of Women Veterans in the U.S.

STRATA9 is proud to celebrate the patriotism and service of Women Veterans. Our own team is made stronger by our own Angela Ash.  A Veteran, educator, and senior consultant. Angela leads  our policy and research projects focused on improving Veteran student outcomes.  

Women’s History Month is the ideal time to celebrate and reflect on the brave women who have served in the armed forces. 

From the Revolutionary War to the present, women have been counted among the distinguished community of American Veterans. After the death of her husband during the Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey in 1778, Mary Hays McCauley heroically assumed his duties and continued to keep her deceased husband’s cannon loaded.  Her bravery became legendary, but she was not alone in breaking traditional gender roles during the Revolutionary War. In 1782, Deborah Sampson disguised herself as a man, enlisted in the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment, and saw 18 months of combat before being discovered and discharged. The state of Pennsylvania awarded Hays McCauley a pension for her service, while the United States Congress awarded Sampson a pension, making them both among the first women in the United States to receive a military pension. 

The 20th century afforded unique opportunities for women to serve, as the massive mobilization of people and resources during World War II largely contributed to the unprecedented numbers of women who volunteered to serve in the armed forces.  It is estimated that 350,000 women served in special units in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, serving as nurses, mechanics, drivers, radio and telephone operators, and even test pilots. The Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948 allowed women the right to serve as permanent members of all branches of services. Yet, despite their conspicuous presence, the first time women in the United States were asked about Veteran status on a census was 1980, where 1.2 million responded in the affirmative. Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that women are the fastest-growing Veteran demographic. Approximately 2 million Veterans are women, comprising roughly 10% of the Veteran population in the United States.  Women also constitute 12.3% of the Veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn. With the ban on women in combat lifted in 2015, the opportunities for women to serve have significantly broadened over the centuries since Deborah Sampson dressed as a man to fight in the American Revolution.

For more  primary source information on women Veterans and the Military Women’s Memorial’s  “Herstory” initiative, a historical repository of experiences of women who have served throughout U.S. history, please visit https://womensmemorial.org/index.php/herstory/

STRATA9 is a registered HUBZone, minority woman-owned small business committed to B-corp principles - balancing purpose and profit. STRATA9 pursues partnerships with nonprofit organizations dedicated to underserved populations, including Veterans and military families, to amplify and add value to their growing missions. Contact us to learn more about our services.