American Legion: The time is now to ensure equality for women veterans

Eric Dehm
March 14, 2018 - 11:54 am

Courtesy American Legion

Typically, when doing a write-up based on interviews I've done on the Morning Briefing radio show, I do so in a straight-forward, news-journalism style. Today, I'm doing something a bit different. 

I want to ask male veterans to do a mental exercise of sorts. It won't take more than a few moments and might change your outlook a bit.

I want to ask you to imagine knowing that you served your country honorably in the military yet finding your service regularly questioned by those you meet.

Imagine telling a recruiter for a veteran specific organization hungry for members that you are a vet who is eligible to join, and being told "Nah, that's cool. When your wife gets home, let her know we'd really like to talk to her."

Imagine going to the VA because you have a problem with your penis and being told "We only have one doctor who handles that. How does an appointment a couple months from now work?"

Hard to imagine, isn't it? After all, many of us would confront those who questioned our service in some way, a few of us might even take a swing at them. We'd raise hell if we couldn't see a urologist for a problem with our genitals. We'd be confused, and likely irritated, if a VSO that needs members to survive told us no while openly courting our spouse. 

Hard to imagine, but these are facts of life for women veterans. According to the American Legion, some VA Medical Centers only have one gynecologist on staff. Current Legion National Commander Denise Rohan was ignored by the first Legion recruiter who showed up to her house looking to get her husband to join. Legion Media Director Joe Plenzler says he stopped wearing his Marine Corps uniform to functions because people kept assuming he was the Commanding Officer when they came across he and his wife who was also a Marine officer. An officer of the same rank, no less.

To their great credit, women vets deal with these slights and lack of support in various ways some by correcting false impressions, others simply bite the bullet as they "grin and bear it." But there is clearly work that needs to be done to ensure that the fastest growing segment of the veteran population, our sisters-in-arms get both the respect, and care, they deserve and require. 

This Women's History Month, the American Legion tells us they are working to ensure that the movement in the positive direction regarding women vets doesn't falter, and say they have a multi-pronged plan of attack to ensure that things keep getting better.

You can listen to our full interview with Keronica Richardson, Army vet and Asst. Director of Women and Minority Veteran Outreach Programs for the Legion below by clicking "Play" to stream now, or clicking "Share" and selecting "Download" from the available options to listen later.