The Military Women

By: Therese Agnes Hughes

The Military Women: WWII to Present Project began in August 2010. It was an effort to learn about my mother’s service in the USN during WWII. She died when I was in my twenties and I never thought to ask her why she served and what it meant to her. It expanded to include all branches and ranks covering over 70 years of Military Women serving in defense of our nation.

The project honors our women Veterans, educates the public about women Veterans and increases the dialogue of who women are in the military, why they join, where on our national landscape they hail from and what their work is as peacekeepers and defenders of our freedoms. It is a civilian’s effort.

• When our daughters want to become an astronaut or a fighter pilot or lead a team at an early age – other than pointing her to the night sky, study engineering or other STEM careers. where do we turn to answer their questions?
• When young women in our communities want to serve and protect, who do we show as role models?
• When our daughters want to serve as peacekeepers what opportunities do we present to them?
• Have any civilians compiled information on our Women Veterans?

The Military Women: WWII to Present Project is the first of its kind.
• It consists of 1,200 interviews and photo-sessions.
• It consists of six books, one for each branch and one for WWII and Korean War Veterans.
• Participants all answer the same questions vetted through and supported by the Department of Defense and all five military branches.
• The public has opportunity to meet women Veterans in a photography Exhibit – “In a Heart Beat”. The exhibit is ready to travel.
• Their service spans seventy years and history shows they all VOLUNTEERED to do it.

Since 1 March 2011, I’ve interviewed and photographed a little over 800 Women Veterans. I’ve learned their service places them in danger on the land, air and at sea. I’ve learned all wanted to work for a larger cause. I’ve listened to their stories, laughed and cried with them. I’ve learned that over ninety percent have replied when asked: Would you do it again if asked? Absolutely, yes in a heartbeat. Hence the title of the photography exhibit.

Thanks and credit to:
• The Department of Defense.
• All branches of our military,
• Women’s Memorial Foundation,
• VADM Carol Pottenger, USN (Ret.),
• National Association of State Women Veteran Coordinators,
• Prevailance, Inc.,
• LeadStar, Inc.,
• CAPT and Mrs. Eric Mayer, USAF,
• Wisconsin State Women Veterans,
• Maine Women Veterans Association and others.

CALL TO ACTION: FaceBook Community Page for this project can be viewed by a Google search for: Military Women: WWII to Present Project.

Instagram @theresehughes1