The recent tragedy at the Fort Hood Army Post in Texas reminds us just how much we value and appreciate the men and women who bravely serve our nation. This Army post houses soldiers who have returned from deployment in the Middle East and others who will travel to combat zones shortly.

This week we recognize Veterans Day, a time for all Americans to celebrate the patriotism, service, and sacrifice of those who have proudly put their own lives on the line to keep us out of harm’s way.

Police Sgt. Kimberly Munley is a retired member of the Armed Forces and she is rightfully hailed as a hero for her role in stopping the gunman in Fort Hood.

Everyday in the media, we see women in military roles that were once thought unimaginable and unattainable. Our women veterans span generations and all branches of the military including the National Guard and Reserve components.

Currently there are almost 2 million women veterans in America and 11,495 in Hawaii alone.

It’s often forgotten that since the beginning of time, women have served in all wars and conflicts. The history of women in the military is a history of love for country, service, commitment, dedication, and courage, and it includes sacrifices that have largely gone unrecognized. That is changing, but we must be part of that change.

With a rapidly increasing number of women serving in the military today and returning from deployments as seasoned veterans, Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities and veterans service organizations such as the Disabled American Veterans are working overtime to ensure that the unique needs of women veterans are met. For decades the VA has been at the forefront for healthcare and lifestyle solutions affecting an aging male population, however now we must identify innovative courses of treatment and solutions to obstacles that are unique to women veterans such as pregnancy, breast cancer, and other medical
concerns.

In the coming months I plan to stand heart to heart with the National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL) and the Center for Women Veterans at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to identify and implement new strategies to meet the everyday challenges that women veterans face. I hope you will join me in this effort. I encourage women veterans and their families to bring specific needs and concerns to our attention.

‘Lynn Finnegan is the Hawaii State House minority leader’

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