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EDITORIAL: Women military veterans have earned special recognition

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - 3/8/2021

Mar. 8—March is Women's History Month, which often means things that call attention to women and their contributions might be put in the spotlight for four short weeks — and then forgotten.

A new Pennsylvania effort will keep women in the high beams for the whole year.

The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is taking advantage of the month's focus to encourage the purchase of a special license plate.

The Honoring Our Women Veterans plate costs $36, with $15 going to the Pennsylvania Veterans Trust Fund.

"Purchasing and displaying one of these plates not only shows your support of women veterans but also allows you to directly fund programs that benefit women veterans throughout our commonwealth," said Maj. General Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania's acting adjutant general and acting DMVA head.

It is an effort worth supporting.

There are about 60,000 female veterans in Pennsylvania. Some are just a few years past high school. Others are vintage classics such as Navy WWII codebreaker Julia Parsons of Forest Hills, who just celebrated her 100th birthday.

But they all need to be remembered for their contributions, whether they were flying planes, nursing wounds or driving trucks.

All service members need that support, but it is important to remember 10% to 12.3% of veterans are women, and they make up a younger demographic than their male counterparts. While the average man who served his country is 65, the average woman veteran is 14 years younger. That can mean different needs and health care concerns.

Female veterans also can have different needs than their sisters who didn't join the military. They can have problems caused by their service, such as battle wounds, but they also can have trauma that came from doing the job next to their brothers-in-arms. All service members, for example, are at risk of experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder from combat.

Women also can suffer PTSD from sexual assault or harassment, which often goes unreported or uninvestigated. That makes it particularly important for resources to be available to women even after they leave the service.

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