On April 25, 2007, a young soldier was on a routine mission outside a remote village in Afghanistan. Suddenly, the rear Humvee in the convoy rolled over an Improvised Explosive Device and burst into flames. Mortars and machine gun fire ricocheting off the vehicles signaled the start of an ambush. But instead of taking cover, the medic ran through gunfire to the burning Humvee. Even as the ammunition in the Humvee started to explode, the medic continued to treat an injured soldier, shielding him from further injury.
Who was this courageous young soldier? Pvt. Monica Brown, an 18-year-old woman from Lake Jackson, Texas. For her heroism, she was awarded the Silver Star. She is only the second female since World War II to receive the nation’s third-highest combat honor. Women have played an integral part in defending our country since the Revolutionary War. In Iraq and Afghanistan, they are serving in greater numbers than ever before. But all too often, their service and sacrifice have been invisible.
At IAVA, we’re working to change that. This week, I was on Capitol Hill to host a special screening of Lioness, an acclaimed documentary that follows a group of female veterans of Iraq’s bloody counterinsurgency battles. These are some tough, courageous women, and their stories are compelling. Get yourself a copy here.
Lioness should be required viewing for every American, so that these untold stories finally get the attention they deserve. But if America has been slow to appreciate women’s service in combat, we’ve been even slower to recognize the unique needs of women veterans.
That’s why I also attended a press conference this week, led by two lawmakers with a long history of supporting our troops: Senator Patty Murray (WA) and Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD). These legislators are leading sponsors of the Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act, a bill to assess and improve the health care available to female veterans. This is a crucial piece of legislation, and IAVA was proud to be there in support of better care for my fellow veterans.
It was great to see the politicians focused on such a crucial issue. But you don’t need to be in Washington to honor the service of women in the military. Join IAVA’s celebration of Women’s History Month. You can take a quiz about women’s history in the military and learn more about some of our nation’s women warriors. IAVA is leading the charge for this generation of women warriors, not just during Women's History Month, but every month of the year.
Crossposted at IAVA.org.