Honoring Women’s History Month – Veteran Inmates Offered Special Counseling

Honoring Women’s History Month – Veteran Inmates Offered Special Counseling

Written by Washington State Women Veterans Advisory Committee Member, Sharon Kirkpatrick

Of course, you know that women veterans have served their country proudly in every war and in service to their country.  But do you know that women veterans are here – in our midst? Sometimes in our lives, our current circumstance does not reflect who we really are.  KING 5 TV did a special on our WOMEN VETERANS SUPPORT group at Purdy.   


 “Just because they're serving time doesn't mean they lose the honor of serving their country.”

 Author: Drew Mikkelsen. Published: 5:39 PM PST November 7, 2017.

In February 2018, under the leadership of WDVA Director Alvarado-Ramos, WA State Governor Inslee was briefed about incarcerated women veterans and our support groups at Purdy and Mission Creek. 

The following points were presented:

-Over 200 women veterans have attended our support group over the last 5 years
-The challenges of identifying incarcerated women veterans (DOC 310.140)
-Measuring our success in lower recidivism rates – no women who received benefits have returned
-Veterans support services that help to eliminate homelessness (housing; medical coverage)
-American Legion Post 204 membership for DOC involved women veterans

In addition to our efforts to reach incarcerated women veterans, there is a newsletter for our monthly support groups.  Have you seen it?  the content and message are directed to those women who may not know they are still a veteran and are entitled to the benefits and support services due them.   In honor of the many accomplishments and sacrifices made by our women veterans, here are a few stories…..

Her story of women veterans who endured while serving their country – do you know their names?

Deborah Sampson became a hero of the American Revolution when she disguised herself as a man and joined the Patriot forces. She was the only woman to earn a full military pension for participation in the Revolutionary army.  Deborah Sampson Act: This bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to carry out a three-year pilot program to assess the feasibility of peer-to-peer assistance for women veterans who are separating or newly separated from the Armed Forces, with emphasis placed on women who suffered service-related sexual trauma or who are at risk of becoming homeless.

Harriett Tubman served in the Civil War. She recruited a group of former slaves to hunt for rebel camps and report on the movement of the Confederate troops. In 1863, she went with Colonel James Montgomery and about 150 black soldiers on a gunboat raid in South Carolina. Because she had inside information from her scouts, the Union gunboats were able to surprise the Confederate rebels.

Elsie S. Ott (1913-2006) First woman to receive the Air Medal, 1943 World War II Second Lieutenant Elsie S. Ott was a pioneer in air evacuation of military casualties.

There are many brave women who are featured on the Memorial wall for their service during the Vietnam War.  For her service in Vietnam, 1st LT Sharon Ann Lane was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star with “V” device, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the National Order of Vietnam Medal, and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross (with Palm).

Their lives were given as a sacrifice for our freedom.

Women continue to serve and have received little recognition.  Here are a few more names:

Lillian Fishburne, the only African American women to be promoted to flag rank in the U.S. Navy, "is a woman whose story helps us to understand the truth that women are an indispensable part of today's military," Cohen said. Fishburne was born near the water at Patuxent River, Md., and into a naval family. She is one of only 41 African Americans who have achieved the honor of being a flag officer in the United States Navy as of January 2010.

Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester led a counterattack against insurgents who had ambushed her convoy while serving in the Afghan-Iraq War. She became the first of two women to earn a Silver Star since World War II.

As of October 2013, over 200 women had lost their lives in military operations against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a Congressional Research Service report on women in combat.

Sacrifice is a part of freedom.  The wounds are not always visible, but they are carried in the hearts and minds of every veteran.  This is the reality of war and peace, of service to country.  Each minute, hour, day, and year served reflects the honor and the sacrifice made to protect that freedom.  Help us – Your Washington Department of Veterans Affairs – to recognize and support those who have made the sacrifice.  Thank you for             YOUR service.

Sharon Kirkpatrick, American Legion Post 204

WDVA Women Veterans Advisory Committee