June 12, 2021 is Women Veterans Day. Maryland is home to 52,000 women Veterans.
The day is the anniversary of the signing of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act on June 12, 1948. The law officially allowed woman to serve in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. The date was first recognized in New York in 2008.
Laverne Harmon is just one. She spent 24 years in the military in the US Army.
Being in the military runs in the family, her grandfather is a WWII Veteran. While on duty in Hawaii, where she finished up her college degree, relatives were able to attend her graduation, and visit Pearl Harbor, a place that impacted her grandfather. Before that she served in Germany, "“I served in a Military Intelligence Unit in Germany when the Berlin wall came down. I met my husband of 28 years, and I was able to visit Berlin,” Harmon said.
It all started while she was working two jobs while attending a community college at age 19. She saw the Army’s “Be all You can Be” campaign which inspired her to enlist first in the Army Reserve to pay for college. A year in the Reserves, she switched to active duty.
Laverne served as a Psychiatric Specialist in the US Army Reserve, providing mental health treatment to service members in need of this specialized care. “My military occupational specialty as an active duty service member was logistics. I ensured supplies, equipment, and services required for training, daily operations and special deployments were procured, maintained and accounted for,” she said.
In the military, Laverne learned to continually focus on accomplishing the mission while caring for those entrusted in her care. “I became vigilant and adamant in setting the appropriate example for other woman as I was often the first woman and the first African American woman to serve in several positions of leadership. “This vigilance extended to addressing the needs of woman and advocating on their behalf throughout my military career,” she said.
Governor Larry Hogan joined other states and has proclaimed June 12, 2021 as Women Veterans Day
Hogan also announced the establishment of the Women Veterans Inclusion Program to support women veterans. The program will collaborate with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, state and local governments and community organizations to coordinate events to raise awareness of the needs of Maryland’s women, minority, and underserved veteran populations.
Across the country women make up 10% of all Veterans.