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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Remembering the past: Eastern Washington to celebrate Women Veterans Day

U.S. Army Maj. Linda Merwin, left, slices a piece of cake as Rae Anna Victor of the Jonas Babcock Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution looks on Sunday, June 12, 2022, at the Hillyard VFW to celebrate Women Veterans Day. Merwin retired in 1990 after 20 years on active duty.  (Nina Culver/For The Spokesman-Review)
By Saydee Phothivongsa The Spokesman-Review

Tzena Scarborough has a passion for helping women veterans.

“Women veterans do not have a place to tell their story, and a lot of women are not recognized as veterans,” she said.

Scarborough is organizing a celebration of Women Veterans Day to honor women who have served.

All women veterans, active duty, reservists and guardsmen in Eastern Washington are welcome to attend to honor those who have served before or are serving, learn about how the roles of women in the military have changed and hear about the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948.

Women’s Veterans Day is celebrated on June 12 and marks the anniversary of President Truman signing the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, permitting women to be full-time members of the military.

Prior to the signing of the act, women only were allowed to serve during war time and were not considered official military members. It was not until 2015 that restrictions were lifted for women in combat.

A big reason for coming together for Women’s Veterans Day is to provide a space for women to share their stories and experiences, something that many women veterans miss out on, Scarborough said .

The Women Veterans Advisory Committee aims to help change the perception of what veterans look like by helping women connect to their identity as veterans. Scarborough represents Eastern Washington on the committee.

The goal of this year’s celebration theme, “Let’s go outside and connect,” is for women veterans to be out in their communities to celebrate the official integration of women into the service, Scarborough said.

Connecting women veterans with the benefits and services they deserve is another goal of Scarborough’s and the Women Veterans Advisory Committee.

When Scarborough retired from the Army in 1983 as a sergeant, around 8% of the military were women.

Now, women make up around 18%, she said.

Scarborough’s passion comes from her experience of not feeling like she was a veteran.

Scarborough has connected with her identity as a veteran and is set on making sure every women veteran in Eastern Washington knows she will help them.

It is important to Scarborough to teach younger generations about the fight to get where women veterans are now, and to remember who paved the way.

“We need to remember the past, because if you don’t remember the past, you can’t see how far we’ve come,” Scarborough said.