WOMEN
11/11/2015 11:02 am ET Updated Nov 11, 2015

33 Powerful Photos Of Military Women Serving Their Country

To celebrate and honor all servicemembers, past and present, this Veterans Day.
CWO2 Paul S. Mancuso/U. S. Marine Corps

"People don’t know: What is a female veteran? What does she look like? What does she bring to the table? What did we do over there?”

That's how veteran Julie Weckerlein described her experience after returning home from duty to NBC News in 2012. Weckerlein's right -- not enough people understand the impact female veterans have had and continue to have in the U.S. military. 

Since 2001, women have joined the armed services at higher rates with 280,000 women serving in the military. In 2013, the Pentagon lifted the ban on women in combat allowing service women to fight on the front lines. Despite the ban, many women served in combat for over a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And still, our cultural idea of what a person in the military looks like has simply not caught up to the reality.

"Being a woman hugely affects my identify as a veteran," one respondent said in a June 2015 survey conducted by The Mission Continues. "It's a regular thing to be told I'm too pretty to have served in the military, let alone at war. I've been told I couldn't possibly have any issues relating to war since I was a female and couldn't possibly have experienced anything but rainbows and sunshine while deployed. I've been called a liar."

Veterans of all genders too often come home to unemployment, homelessness and horrible medical care. But female veterans usually experience it worse than their male counterparts. 

One in four Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals don't have a full-time gynecologist on staff. On a single night in January 2013, 4,456 female veterans were homelessWomen in the military experience a much higher risk of getting sexually assaulted than civilian women. This added trauma can make the transition back to civilian life that much harder. 

So today, on Veteran's Day, we've rounded up 33 photos of women serving their country to honor the service women that are often missing from the common image of a military person. The photos show women training on base, fighting in combat and reuniting with family members.

These are what servicepeople look like, too. And this Veterans Day, along with every other day of the year, we honor them.

  • Kentucky Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kathleen Braithwaite removes a wheel from a M977 Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Tru
    Staff Sgt Scott Raymond/National Guard
    Kentucky Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kathleen Braithwaite removes a wheel from a M977 Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck in Frankfort, KY., March 16, 2017.
  • U.S. Army 1st Lt. Audrey Griffith points out an area of interest during a force protection drill to Spc. Heidi Gerke along th
    Australian Army WO2 Andrew Hetherington/Combined Team Uruzgan Public Affairs/U.S. Army
    U.S. Army 1st Lt. Audrey Griffith points out an area of interest during a force protection drill to Spc. Heidi Gerke along the perimeter of Forward Operating Base Hadrian in Deh Rawud, Afghanistan on March 18, 2013. Both women are members of the 92nd Engineer Battalion from Fort Stewart, Ga.
  • Sailors man the bridge helm station to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin during a replenishment-at-
    Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Declan Barnes/U.S. Navy
    Sailors man the bridge helm station to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin during a replenishment-at-sea on Oct. 24, 2014. 
  • Staff Sgt. Saber Barrera, with 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron firetruck and refueling maintenance, works wi
    Racheal E. Watson/U.S. Air Force
    Staff Sgt. Saber Barrera, with 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron firetruck and refueling maintenance, works with a co-worker to replace an engine starter in Southwest Asia on Aug. 27, 2015.
  • Cpl. Denise Houston hangs on to a Zodiac boat as she, along with fellow soldiers, try to get the watercraft turned back over
    Staff Sgt. Mark Patton/U.S. Army
    Cpl. Denise Houston hangs on to a Zodiac boat as she, along with fellow soldiers, try to get the watercraft turned back over on Aug. 14 at Fort Leonard Wood's Training Area. 
  • Lance Cpl. Eleanor H. Roper (right) and field radio operator with Ragnarok Company, 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Log
    Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie/U.S. Marine Corps
    Lance Cpl. Eleanor H. Roper (right) and field radio operator with Ragnarok Company, 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, pulls a Marine Corps Cold Weather Infantry Kit up a slope during a field exercise aboard Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, C.A. on Jan. 31, 2014.
  • Officer Candidates participate in a tug-of-war competition as part of a team building and physical training session during Ph
    Senior Officer Candidate Denny D. Tellez/U.S. Army
    Officer Candidates participate in a tug-of-war competition as part of a team building and physical training session during Phase I Officer Candidate School from June 9-22, 2013.
  • Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Misty Beck is pinned by her wife during a chief petty officer pinning ceremony at Naval Air Statio
    Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stephanie Smith/U.S. Navy
    Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Misty Beck is pinned by her wife during a chief petty officer pinning ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island. 
  • Sailors aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) man lines to recover a safety boat on Jan. 23, 2015.
    Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Chelsea Troy Milburn/U.S. Navy
    Sailors aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) man lines to recover a safety boat on Jan. 23, 2015.
  • Pfc. Christina Fuentes Montenegro and other Marines from Delta Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-East,
    CWO2 Paul S. Mancuso/U. S. Marine Corps
    Pfc. Christina Fuentes Montenegro and other Marines from Delta Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-East, receive final instructions prior to assaulting an objective during the Infantry Integrated Field Training Exercise aboard Camp Geiger, N.C. on Nov 15, 2013. Montenegro is one of three female Marines to be the first women to graduate infantry training with the battalion. 
  • Quartermaster 2nd Class Nyzherelle Wilson (left) conducts training with Quartermaster Seaman Fayden Cunningham on the bridge
    Mass Communication Specialist Seaman David Flewellyn/U.S. Navy
    Quartermaster 2nd Class Nyzherelle Wilson (left) conducts training with Quartermaster Seaman Fayden Cunningham on the bridge of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin on April 20, 2015. 
  • The “dead leg crawl” is one of nine obstacles on the Air Assault obstacle course at Fort Bliss, Texas. Pvt. Sonja
    Spc. Jeanita C. Pisachubbe, 1st AD CAB Public Affairs/U.S. Army
    The “dead leg crawl” is one of nine obstacles on the Air Assault obstacle course at Fort Bliss, Texas. Pvt. Sonja Robinson, human resources specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division, survived the barbed wire and completed the course with her company during Sergeant’s Time Training on Nov. 14. 
  • Sgt. Dagan Indeck assists Navy Diver 2nd Class Valerie De Freitas during a Mark V familiarization dive to commentate the Year
    Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Harry Andrew D. Gordon/U.S. Navy
    Sgt. Dagan Indeck assists Navy Diver 2nd Class Valerie De Freitas during a Mark V familiarization dive to commentate the Year of the Military Diver at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center. 
  • Spc. Sabrina Day, 132nd Military Police Company, South Carolina National Guard, smothers her 3-year-old son, Blake with hugs
    Sgt. Brad Mincey/U.S. Army National Guard
    Spc. Sabrina Day, 132nd Military Police Company, South Carolina National Guard, smothers her 3-year-old son, Blake with hugs and kisses on Aug. 4, 2014, at Eagle Aviation in Columbia, S.C. upon returning from deployment to Afghanistan. 
  • Senior Airman Kathryn Raethel, 437th Operations Support Squadron airfield management technician, drives the entire length of
    Senior Airman Dennis Sloan/U.S. Air Force
    Senior Airman Kathryn Raethel, 437th Operations Support Squadron airfield management technician, drives the entire length of the flightline during her night shifts, looking for any damaged runway lights or directional signs used by aircraft on Feb. 9, 2015, at Joint Base Charleston, SC.
  • Lt Cmdr. Melissa Buryl, a pediatrician stationed at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, VA, checks a child's vital signs at the
    Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kameren Guy Hodnett/U.S. Navy
    Lt Cmdr. Melissa Buryl, a pediatrician stationed at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, VA, checks a child's vital signs at the Hattieville Government School on April 17, 2015. 
  • Is this the photo of the year? Click “like” to place your vote and share your favorites with your friends! Don’t forget
    Rear Adm. Linda Fagan/U.S. Coast Guard
    Is this the photo of the year? Click “like” to place your vote and share your favorites with your friends! Don’t forget to check out the bracket to see which photos are competing against each other! - - - - Rear Adm. Linda Fagan, commander of the First Coast Guard District, visits U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets aboard Coast Guard Cutter Eagle at Rockland, Maine, Aug. 1, 2014. The students were taking part in a seven-week traditional military indoctrination period known as Swab Summer. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Rear Adm. Linda Fagan.)
  • Chief Warrant Officer Heather Bove hugs her son, Gabriel, after returning to Kodiak, Alaska, from a patrol aboard Coast Guard
    Petty Officer 3rd Class Diana Honings/U.S. Coast Guard
    Chief Warrant Officer Heather Bove hugs her son, Gabriel, after returning to Kodiak, Alaska, from a patrol aboard Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley on Sept. 24, 2014.
  • Pfc. Bittner (left) from 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. 2nd Battalion 1st Infantry Regiment. B Company, 1st platoon and
    Lt. Chad A. Dulac/U.S. Navy
    Pfc. Bittner (left) from 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. 2nd Battalion 1st Infantry Regiment. B Company, 1st platoon and Operations Specialist 3rd Class Ashley North from Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah use tape to wrap detonation cord together as part of training on how to properly handle and prepare explosives for disposal during weapon and explosives training on Forward Operating Base Farah's weapon range.
  • U.S. Army Spc. Elizabeth Ibabao goes across a rope bridge at the obstacle course during U.S. Army Europe's Best Warrior Compe
    Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach/U.S. Army
    U.S. Army Spc. Elizabeth Ibabao goes across a rope bridge at the obstacle course during U.S. Army Europe's Best Warrior Competition in Grafenwoehr, Germany on Aug. 20, 2013. 
  • Spc. Michelle Metzger, a motor transport operator with 1487th Transportation Company, Ohio Army National Guard, applies greas
    Sgt. Jessi Ann McCormick/U.S. Army National Guard
    Spc. Michelle Metzger, a motor transport operator with 1487th Transportation Company, Ohio Army National Guard, applies grease to her vehicle at Multinational Base at Tarin Kot, Afghanistan on Aug. 12, 2013. Metzger, a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle driver, performs daily maintenance on the vehicle.
  • Private First Class Courtney Erwin secures an anchor cable to a C-17 assigned the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron on Bag
    Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade/U.S. Air Force
    Private First Class Courtney Erwin secures an anchor cable to a C-17 assigned the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron on Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan on Aug. 21, 2013. 
  • Maj. Anjeli Nayar, a 455th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron intensive care unit general internist, simulates patient
    Senior Airman Cierra Presentado/U.S. Air Force
    Maj. Anjeli Nayar, a 455th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron intensive care unit general internist, simulates patient care on a hospital staff member on Sept. 19, 2015, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. 
  • Airmen from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, conduct medical evacuation drills on Aug. 5, 2015, in Baumholder, Germany. 
    Senior Airman Nicole Sikorski/U.S. Air Force
    Airmen from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, conduct medical evacuation drills on Aug. 5, 2015, in Baumholder, Germany. 
  • A U.S. Airman with the Bagram Air Field Honor Guard participates in the 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Group change of c
    Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford/U.S. Air Force
    A U.S. Airman with the Bagram Air Field Honor Guard participates in the 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Group change of command ceremony at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan on Aug. 3, 2015. 
  • Senior Airman Hope Poialii leads the flag detail at an honor guard graduation ceremony on March 4, 2015, at Eglin Air Force B
    U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr./Released
    Senior Airman Hope Poialii leads the flag detail at an honor guard graduation ceremony on March 4, 2015, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. 
  • 1st Lt. Meaghan Cosand, C-5B Galaxy pilot with the 312th Airlift Squadron, starts engines in preparation for takeoff from Kad
    Lt. Col. Robert Couse-Baker/U.S. Air Force
    1st Lt. Meaghan Cosand, C-5B Galaxy pilot with the 312th Airlift Squadron, starts engines in preparation for takeoff from Kadena Air Base, Japan on Aug. 15, 2014. She was flying a mobility channel mission, moving high-priority cargo and passengers among air bases in the U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility.
  • A daughter greets her mother after the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy returns to homeport at Naval Base Sa
    Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eric Coffer/U.S. Navy
    A daughter greets her mother after the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy returns to homeport at Naval Base San Diego on Sept. 27, 2015. 
  • A Sailor takes a woman to medical staff aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore. Rushmore rescued 65 people from
    Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos/U.S. Marine Corps
    A Sailor takes a woman to medical staff aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore. Rushmore rescued 65 people from a sinking craft in the Pacific Ocean between the Indonesian islands of Kalimantan and Sulawesi, June 10, 2015. 
  • Ensign Danielle Garbarino monitors inbound supplies from the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Len
    Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert S. Price/U.S. Navy
    Ensign Danielle Garbarino monitors inbound supplies from the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Lenthall during a replenishment-at-sea aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Ross on May 1, 2015. 

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