Women are the fastest growing veteran group in the United States, compromising about 9 percent of the veteran population. But often they are overlooked when it comes to recognition.
The Southwest Louisiana Veterans Home is changing that.
A statue dedicated to all female veterans and the service they have provided to our country both on and off the battlefield was dedicated Wednesday at the facility. Southwest Louisiana Veterans Home Administrator Matthew Duhon said there are about 28,055 female veterans living in Louisiana alone, which is about 10 percent of the state's total veteran population.
"This statue is a way for us to honor and recognize the impact women have had," Duhon said.
The dedication was three years in the making said Debrah Woolridge, senior vice president of ancillary benefits at the veterans home.
"We sold dinners, hosted a poppy drive, held raffles and all the money raised was for the good of our veterans," Woolridge said.
Those efforts — all hosted by the Lewis-Gill-Lee VFW Post 7321's Ladies Auxiliary — raised a combined $5,000 for the statue's purchase.
"To all female veterans, I salute them and thank them for their service for what they have given on behalf of this country," Woolridge, who is the past president of the auxiliary, said.
Louisiana Women Veterans president Anna Sanders, an Air Force veteran, said she was both pleased and proud of the dedication.
"Women veterans should be recognized for their service and sacrifice in the same manner that our male counterparts are," she said.
There was a time when the U.S. military was comprised entirely of men. Eventually, that began to shift and now females serve right alongside their male counterparts. This statue will forever serve as an opportunity to highlight these brave individuals.