We knew many veterans live in Texas, but we didn’t realize our state has the second-highest number of female veterans in the nation.
Last week we learned that 150,000 women veterans call Texas home, and thanks to a measure introduced by state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, there is now a Women Veterans Month to honor them.
Nelson introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 16 last year during the 82nd legislative session to recognize the contributions of women in the U.S. military, and she was in Denton last week to help launch the inaugural observance during a news conference at Texas Woman’s University.
“Quite honestly, it is something we should have done a long time ago,” Nelson said. “I was surprised to find that we didn’t have an initial recognition for our female veterans.”
At the news conference, Nelson joined representatives of the university, the Texas Veterans Commission and veterans including retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Mary Saunders, director of the TWU Leadership Institute, and retired Col. Kimberly Olson, executive director of Grace After Fire, a nonprofit group that supports and helps women veterans in the North Texas area.
Another guest speaker at the event was Kate Cochran, a U.S. Navy veteran who is now pursuing a degree in business, marketing and advertising at TWU. Cochran, who spent six years working as a hospital corpsman, commented on what it’s like to be a woman in the military.
“When you are in the military, it is always about the men,” she said. “You are always saying, ‘Be stronger, better and faster and smarter,’ but you don’t want to be a man, you want to be you, still.”
Women Veterans Month will be celebrated in Texas each March. Under state law, such observances expire on the 10th anniversary, but the Legislature can renew them.
During the last session, the Legislature also created a position — women veterans coordinator — within the Texas Veterans Commission to provide needed benefits and services to female veterans.
Nelson was one of several senators to author the measure to designate March as the official Women Veterans Month in Texas. The bill passed both chambers unanimously.
“As the proud daughter of a World War II veteran, I was proud to author the legislation establishing March as Women Veterans Month in Texas,” Nelson said. “This month we honor the unique sacrifices, contributions and needs of the women who have served or continue to serve our nation.”
We salute Nelson for her role in making this long-overdue observance a reality. We owe our veterans more than we can ever repay.