Chelsea Camp is dismayed every time someone asks if she’s the wife, daughter or sister of a military service member or veteran.
Why? They forget to ask about her contribution to the U.S. Army — 12 years.
“What did they think of that disqualified me?” Camp asked, rhetorically.
She knows the answer. She’s a woman.
“People treat us like we have so much more to prove than our male counterparts,” Camp continued. “And it’s exhausting. Our time, youth and energy … it matters.”
Which is why on Saturday, June 12, Tennessee will celebrate Women’s Veterans Day.
Camp, a member of the Women Veterans of America (chapter 47), said as the state prepares to celebrate the holiday for the first time, she hopes it improves awareness of women’s presence and contributions.
WVA is a non-profit veterans service organization open to women who have served in any branch of the armed forces.
“Having a day where we can be proud with no fight,” Camp said, “I can just wake up and be proud that that day is for me.”
‘I think woman are under appreciated’
Women’s Veterans Day is not intended to take away from Veteran’s Day, but further acknowledge women who sacrificed while serving in the military, said Rep. Jason Hodges, D-Clarksville who in January sponsored HB 504.
Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill May 17.
“In many times I think woman are under appreciated, especially for their service in the military,” Hodges said. “Making sure that Women Veterans of America have a day to be able to share their story and to make sure history notates what woman have done,” is important.”
Why June 12th?
On June 12, 1948, former president Harry Truman signed off on the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, legally permitting women to serve in all four branches of the military, according to the Truman Library Institute. This year marks the 73rd anniversary of the groundbreaking act.
Tennessee is the latest of 12 states who celebrate Women’s Veterans Day.
There are over 44,000 women veterans in the state, while Montgomery County alone represents almost 7,000, according to Veterans Affairs.
When recognizing Women’s Veterans Day, Monica Meeks, commander of WVA Chapter 47 (Clarksville) and retired army veteran, thinks about Cathay Williams, the only documented Black woman to serve as a Buffalo solider during the Civil War. She disguised as a man.