Ranch & Coast Magazine

March 2023

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Celebrating Our Female Servicemembers During Women's History Month OMEN HAVE SERVED IN THE U.S. military as far back as the Revolutionary War. ey even disguised themselves so they could serve. But for a long time, women's service was not a 'given,'" says Jodie Grenier, CEO of the Foundation for Women Warriors, who deployed twice to Iraq while on active duty in the Marines. Most Americans are familiar with the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) and WAC (Women's Army Corps). ere was also an organization called WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots), made up of women who, during World War II, ferried new aircraft, towed targets for aerial and ground-to-air target practice, and served as flight instructors. More than 1,000 WASPs flew upwards of 60 million flight hours, 38 of whom lost their lives in service to their country. As the name WAVES states, the vast majority of women in the military were emergency workers brought in during wartime to fill jobs that would free up men to fight. During WWI there was a group of women who served as telephone operators known as the "Hello Girls." ere was also an all-Black women's unit deployed to England and France to clear backlogs of mail. Despite their supposedly noncombat positions, many women were killed while serving, and others became prisoners of war. But it was not until the passage of the Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948 that military service became a true career path for women — the same year the U.S. military officially ended the practice of racial segregation. 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of those historic events, and perhaps not surprisingly, three-quarters of a century later, women are the fastest-growing group of veterans in the country, with some 28,000 women veterans here in San Diego. at's a large number, and women veterans "often seamlessly integrate into the civilian population," says Jennifer Givens, a Navy veteran and program manager of the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association. But while the number of women veterans is growing, at the time of their service there wasn't the Focus military BY BILL ABRAMS W PHOTO BY BOB STEFANKO ranchandcoast.com 44 MARCH 2023 RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE Jennifer Givens, membership program manager of the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association, and Jodie Grenier, CEO of the Foundation for Women Warriors

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