Friday, November 6, 2015

Women Veterans Day in Alaska

Although November 11 is the Veterans Day that many Alaskans will have off next week, November 9 is Women Veterans Day in Alaska, by order of Alaska Statute 44.12.078. Established in 2000, Women Veterans Day was created to "acknowledge and commemorate the sacrifices endured and valor displayed by American women veterans and to recognize their increasing role in the military."

Even before Alaska was a state, women were serving in the United States military. From 1942 to 1944, more than a thousand women served as Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), playing an important role testing aircraft and ferrying planes and supplies to bases around the country, including in Alaska. When the WASPs were recognized for their service with a Congressional Gold Medal in 2010, three Alaska women veterans were among them: Ellen Campbell of Juneau and Virginia Wood and Nancy Baker of Fairbanks.
Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in honor of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, March 10, 2010. Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony by Nancy Pelosi, CC BY

Today, Alaska is the U.S. state with the highest concentration of women veterans in its population (Source: U.S. Department of Labor). There are more than 11,000 women veterans living in Alaska (Source: U.S. Department of Labor). Nearly half of Alaskan vets of both genders served in the Gulf War era and 17% of Alaska's veterans are 20-34 years old (Source: Washington Post). Young women in the military are changing the face of Alaska's veteran population.
Pictured from left to right: Brig. Gen. Deborah McManus, Capt. Allison Snow, Staff Sgt. Christina Cordes, Capt. Laura Grossman, and Maj. Krista Staff. Alaska Guard forms first all-female aircrew by The National Guard.

This Women Veterans Day, we thank Alaska's women veterans for their service and recognize their essential contributions to Alaskan and U.S. military history.

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