The Norman Transcript


November 18, 2012

Honoring their service



Findings from the National Survey of Women Veterans by Donna L. Washington indicates there is a breakdown in communication with women veterans. Trowell-Harris said Washington’s study revealed that 31 percent of women veterans didn’t know they were eligible for benefits and 21 percent didn’t know how to apply for benefits.

“The rest had no clue they were a veteran,” she said.

She said education is key and that collaboration and coordination are needed to help women understand their eligibility for benefits. There is an effort underway to enhance the media’s recognition of women in service and to make women veterans more visible locally, regionally and nationally.

“Today we stand on the shoulders of extraordinary women,” said Trowell-Harris of those women in military service who paved the way.

Salinas spoke on representing the military. She enlisted in the Marines in 1974. She rose through the ranks commanding at each rank. She became the first female assigned as a plans and policy officer for a major combatant command in 1999 and in 2001 became the first woman to serve as a recruiting district commanding officer.

Vaught offered remarks to the Oklahoma women veterans and their guests.

She has served as chairperson of the NATO Women in the Allied Forces Committee and as senior woman military representative to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. She is one of the most decorated military women in U. S. history.

Locally, Joan Willauer served in the Marine Corps in World War II. Today, she serves fellow veterans of both sexes through volunteer work at the Norman Veterans Center. Willauer takes communion to the Catholics who live there.

Asked why she chose to serve in the Marine Corps, she laughed.

“People have asked me that for 65 years,” she said. “I wanted to do it and I wanted to do it for a very long time.”

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