Bill signed on 75th anniversary of women serving in US Armed Forces
LANSING, Mich. – On the 75th anniversary of women being allowed to serve as equal members of the U.S. Armed Forces, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 4555 establishing Women Veterans Recognition Day on June 12 in Michigan. Women Veterans Recognition Day honors Michigan’s estimated 44,000 living women veterans and the many more who served before them.
“For 250 years, women have proudly served alongside men in our military,” Whitmer said. “For too long, however, they have been overlooked and underserved. Today, I am taking action to establish Women Veterans Recognition Day in Michigan, giving these courageous servicewomen the recognition and honor they have long deserved. Millions of women have put their lives on the line to serve our country and it’s our responsibility to connect them with critical resources like healthcare, mental health services, and affordable housing when they leave the service. Let’s keep working together to honor our women veterans and service members.”
Women Veterans Recognition Day has historically been recognized on June 12 in Michigan since 2018 but required a proclamation to be introduced each year by lawmakers. The legislation will eliminate the need for an annual proclamation, making Women Veterans Recognition Day permanent.
On June 12, 1948, President Harry Truman signed into law the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, which enabled women to serve as full and equal members of the U.S. Armed Forces, opening doors to countless opportunities and breaking down barriers for future generations of women in the military.
Women have supported and participated in U.S. military conflicts since the American Revolution, when some women disguised themselves as men to serve in combat. Their roles expanded in World War I when the U.S. Army Nurse Corps was established, allowing women to serve as nurses during wartime. Women went on to work as nurses, clerks, typists and other support positions. It wasn’t until the late 1970s and early 1980s that women were formally granted veteran status, opening doors for them to take advantage of the federal and state benefits they earned for their service.
Now, women serve in various combat operations with increasing opportunities and expanded roles in various branches of the military from soldiers on the ground to high-ranking officers and leaders. Women are the fastest growing segment of the veteran population. Nationwide, there are about two million women veterans, representing 11% of the veteran population. That number is projected to increase to 2.2 million in 2040, when women veterans will represent 18% of the veteran population, while the number of male veterans falls sharply.
State Representative Julie M. Rogers (D-Kalamazoo) played a pivotal role in the bill’s passing. Rogers has supported proclamations in past years to mark June 12 as Women Veterans Recognition Day in Michigan and sponsored the bill to make it a permanent holiday.
“Women have served our nation as members of our armed forces in various capacities for decades though they have not always been given the same respect or recognition. Designating June 12th as Women Veterans Recognition Day in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act ensures that Michigan will reflect annually on the contribution and sacrifice of our women veterans,” said Rogers, member of the House Military, Veterans, and Homeland Security Committee.
“There are women in my family who made military a career, serving decades, yet they rarely talk about it and are rarely recognized,” said state Sen. Veronica Klinefelt (D-Eastpointe), chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans and Emergency Services, who took the bill up in her committee. “We owe it to all women who have served in the military to honor their vast contributions to our military and our country.”
Erika Hoover, women veterans and special populations coordinator for the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA), has worked closely with Rep. Rogers to create a permanent day to honor women veterans in Michigan. Hoover is also second vice president for the National Association for State Women Veteran Coordinators.
“Recognizing Women Veterans Recognition Day in Michigan not only honors the courageous women who have served our nation, but also highlights the critical contributions they have made throughout history,” Hoover said. “It is crucial to acknowledge the unique challenges that women veterans face, particularly when it comes to their identification as veterans. By designating a specific day to honor women veterans, we send a powerful message that their service is valued and their voices are heard.”
“Today, on Women Veterans Recognition Day, we honor and celebrate the brave women who have served our country with honor, courage and distinction,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Rogers, adjutant general and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “Their sacrifices and contributions to our nation’s defense will never be forgotten and we own them a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid.”
“For too long women veterans have been underserved and underrepresented despite their monumental contributions to the US Armed Forces,” MVAA Director Adam Hollier said. “Recognizing women veterans every year on June 12 is just a small way we can show appreciation for what they’ve done. At the MVAA, we’ll continue to serve ALL veterans, make sure they feel valued, and connect them to the benefits they’ve earned for their service.”