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Women Veteran members of VSOs

March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate and honor the remarkable contributions of women in the military. Throughout history, women have played pivotal roles in the armed forces, breaking barriers and championing gender equity.

. Davis

Part of that participation is later being able to join the various Veterans Service Organizations. The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars are two prominent VSOs, but there are also Vietnam Veterans of America, Jewish War Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and a few others.

The American Legion is the largest of the VSOs and was formed March 15, 1919, in Paris, France, by a thousand officers and men of the American Expeditionary Forces. Its charter was approved Sept. 16, 1919, by the U.S. Congress. It currently has two-million Veterans in 13,000 posts around the world. Women Veterans were included in that first charter.

D. Davis is a member of American Legion Post 17 in Camden, South Carolina. She is a 12-year Navy Veteran and a member of Post 17 for 32 years.

“A WWII Veteran signed me up.”

“I was home for Veterans Day. I attended American Legion Post 17’s Veterans Day Program. Legionnaire Perry McCoy, a WWII Veteran, signed me up. That was 32 years ago. I believe my most unique assignment was in Saudi Arabia. I was deployed to teach the Saudi military how to do the preventive maintenance on some of the shipboard systems on one of their ships,” Davis said of her service.

Cassandra Thompson is a Life Member of VFW Post 11079 in Elgin, South Carolina. She served on active duty as a drilling reservist, and in the Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) with the Army Reserve.

“My most unique assignment was my first assignment with the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. I flew over the Pacific Ocean so many times for training deployments, I stopped counting at sixteen,” she recalled.

When Thompson left active duty, she returned to South Carolina, joined the Army Reserve and changed her job to public affairs. She continued her career as a dental assistant at Columbia VA.

“My wish is to leave a lasting footprint in a Veteran’s heart.”

“I joined the VFW because I wanted to dedicate some of my time to the community and other Veterans. I really enjoyed working with Veterans while at Dorn, and I felt I could continue to care for Veterans and their families. My wish is to leave a lasting footprint in a Veteran’s heart as often as possible,” said Susan Meisner, a member of Jewish War Veterans Post 299. That post was named in memory of Army Col. Irving Heymont who commanded one of the largest displaced persons camps for European Jews in Europe immediately after World War II.

Susan Meisner

“My initial post was the one my father belonged to—Lt. Robert P. Grover Post #377—in honor of the first Jewish serviceman from Jersey City, N.J., to die in combat during World War II. My mother asked me to join the post when I was a second lieutenant. I paid dues and bought raffle tickets long distance for well over 30 years before a D.C. area friend stood up my current chapter,” Meisner recalled.

Meisner retired after 22 years in the Army. She started as an automotive maintenance ordnance officer then moved into logistics and public affairs. Half of her service was active duty and the rest was as an individual mobilization augmentee reservist assigned to a variety of active-duty posts in Colorado and the Washington, D.C., area.

“Most notable of my assignments was becoming a 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment maintenance officer in Germany and my deployment to Afghanistan as a recalled reservist from 2004-2005. Although recalled as a maintenance officer, I served as the Combined Forces Command and Office of Military Cooperation Afghanistan Public Affairs Officer, which afforded me the opportunity to see the country and better appreciate the complicated mission,” she added.

“I often went off on my own to get stories and photos.”

Melissa Walther (pictured above) served nine years as an Army Reserve public affairs print/photojournalist. Her most unique deployment was during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Her unit was assigned to the Marine Corps near the area of Babylon. “I often went off on my own to get stories and photos,” she said. When the Marines rotated back, her unit was extended and moved to Tikrit. The unit did all the live TV coverage and documentation of the capture of Saddam Hussein.

“I had volunteered with a local Veterans Service Organization when I lived in Montana and really enjoyed the friendship as well as the ability to give back to my community and to Veterans. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is highly involved in Veteran advocacy and has been instrumental in getting legislation passed that directly benefits Veterans,” she added.

While women and men can be fundamentally different, when you put them into military uniforms, there are common threads that knit them together: leadership, duty, respect, selfless service, honesty, integrity and personal courage.

Women have played a vital role in our Armed Forces since the beginning. We still have room to grow, people to teach and barriers to break, but women will always have a place in our military and in the Veteran community.

Welcome to your local American Legion! We will no longer be open for dinner on Mondays and Tuesdays.