ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — When people think about veterans, they often picture men storming the beaches of Normandy or fighting in the jungles of Vietnam. However, women have played just as an important role in the military since the formation of our country.
We sat down with some women of a local veterans group who want to make sure their service is recognized while also offering help to fight battles that often go undisclosed.
“Women, the invisible soldier,” explained retired US Army Sargent first class Nancy Clark.
Women have served the nation since before the United States was formed, yet their voices often go unnoticed.
“A lot of military men don’t even want to admit that we exist,” explained the U.S. Marine Corps SheVet VP Melody S. Brocato.
“If you go back … historically a lot of the female veterans have been forgotten about. The nurses, the pilots that had to take over for training. In general, women have just been forgotten about and that’s not the way it should be, explained Army Military Police Officer Theresa Criss-Amos.
Nancy Clark retired from the Army.
“I spent 20 years and retired from the United States Army and I was the best WAC I could be,” Clark explained.
Melody Brocato is a retired marine.
“I was in the Marine Corps in 1968 and 69 during Vietnam era. I worked in the capacity of Airfreight. I loaded planes, I put men and equipment on the planes, and eventually, they went to Vietnam and the bad part of my job was when the planes came back we also unloaded caskets,” Brocato said.
Theresa Criss-Amos was honorably discharged as a military police officer.
“I loved being military police, I loved helping people when I went to college that’s what I did,” Criss-Amos said.
“I joined the army just like a lot of people did back in 2000 to pay off student loans, but right in the middle of my enlistment 9/11 happened, so that had a profound impact on me, my community and my family members.”
Now, these citizen-soldiers are the leadership of the Rockford SheVet Chapter–a chapter made for all female veterans.
“I had told my husband on his death bed that I would start a female veteran group somewhere, that we would not be invisible veterans,” Clark explained.
Clark formed the local chapter in 2016–centered around educating service members both past and present.
“Part of the goal is to let women know that we’re here, let women know about their benefits, let women know that if they need anything we’re always here to help,” Brocato said.
No matter how small the favor is, there is always someone there to listen.
“If they literally just need someone to talk to because they’re having a really bad day, they can reach out to us in any form,” Criss-Amos explained.
The group wants to help fight the often silent battles.
“We are still strong, we are a powerful group of veterans who are not maybe serving in, we’re serving outside,” Clark added.
“A lot of PTSD for women veterans is due to MST, military sexual trauma,” Criss-Amos said. “A lot of women veterans don’t want to talk about it, but we’re here to let them know that no matter what it is we will listen and if you need help we will find a way to get you help.”
For more details about the program and how you can get involved, click here.
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