IAVA continues campaign for recognizing women veterans with monument dedication.

Lauren Warner
October 12, 2018 - 4:27 pm

Photo courtesy of IAVA

This weekend the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)'s 'She Who Borne the Battle' campaign moves into their next phase with a special monument dedication in New York City. 

Image courtesy of IAVA

After a week in D.C. spent  'storming the hill' and meeting with lawmakers, the IAVA submitted a petition to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to replace their current motto. The next phase of the campaign takes the IAVA to NYC to dedicate the "Women Serve" monument alongside the New York City Department of Veterans Services in Calverton National Cemetery.

"When we received the invitation from the Department of Veterans Services in New York City to attend the dedication, we started asking ourselves where else were there monuments recognizing women for their service?" says Melissa Bryant, Chief Policy Officer for the IAVA. "We realized that there really aren't any...just like all other things with women in service, its an afterthought."

The ties to New York City run deep for IAVA, with their headquarters located there as well as their two years of advocacy focused on creating the New York City Department of Veterans Services, it seems only fitting that the dedication of the "Women Serve" monument is there and included in their campaign.

Photo courtesy of IAVA

As IAVA continues their fight to bring equality to the service and recognition of women veterans, it's important to note that some of the VA offices locally acknowledge the importance of this mission. But looking at the bigger picture, as military history has evolved, so should the language and marketing used around veterans. 

The IAVA, in conjunction with the Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), Yale Law School's Veterans Legal Services Clinic, and the New York City Veterans Alliance submitted their petition to the VA Friday, October 12th, and addresses the 'outdated and exclusionary motto with one that is inclusive of women.' While no change is guaranteed, the petition does require the Administration and the VA take an official position to let the country know where they stand when it comes to recognizing and standing up for all veterans. 

Image courtesy of IAVA

The petition starts with confronting the current VA motto, "[t]o care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan." The IAVA points out that this motto is not only gendered but fails to recognize the sacrifice and service of the over 2 million veterans and their survivors, continuing to relegate them to the fringes of the veteran community. A number of the systemic issues faced by women veterans-- inadequate healthcare facilities, mental illness, and suicide all relate to a VA culture that doesn't adequately acknowledge their service and sacrifice.

After submitting the petition this morning, the answer from the White House was that they deferred to the VA; following which Curt Cashour, the VA Press Secretary, responded saying "Lincoln's words were a historic tribute to all veterans including women veterans...the VA will view the petition and respond appropriately."

As this campaign continues, the IAVA stays focused on transforming the landscape for women veterans in our country forever.

For more information about the 'She Who Borne the Battle' campaign, click here. To read the full petition, click here

To share your story, or your thoughts on this one contact us at [email protected]tingvets.com.