She Served: 8 Inspiring Women Veterans & Their Stories
Last Updated: 30 Mar 2021
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In honor of the amazing women who have served (and still serve!), we wanted to highlight a few of the most impactful, famous, and courageous women veterans who have served in the military.
Did you know that women have been serving in the United States military since our country declared independence? Though women have labored long and hard for the right to be seen as an equal within the realm of public service, their contributions have been crucial to our progress and freedom. In honor of the amazing women who have served (and still serve!), we wanted to highlight a few of the most impactful, famous, and courageous women veterans who have served in the military.
1. Bea Arthur
Though you may know her for her on-screen role on “The Golden Girls,” Bea Arthur started her career as a member of the military in 1943 at age 21. She worked as a truck driver for the Marine Corps, a Women’s Reserve member, and a typist. Though her superiors described her as “argumentative,” she successfully completed assignments at Marine Corps and Navy air stations in Virginia and North Carolina and was promoted to staff sergeant over her 2-year military career. She was honorably discharged in 1945 and married a fellow Marine.
2. Army Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody
The incredible Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody was the first woman to serve as a four-star general in the U.S. armed forces. She joined the Army in 1974 and served until 2012. She served in many roles, but her most impactful contribution was as commander of the Army Materiel Command, or AMC, one of the Army’s largest commands, employing more than 69,000 employees across all 50 states and 145 countries. Her superiors noted that she executed the role with incredible efficiency and creativity.
3. Grace Murray Hopper
In 1943, during World War II, Commodore Grace Murray Hopper joined the United States Naval Reserves. Later, she came to be known as “Amazing Grace”…and for good reason! She was an incredible programmer, and her work is now legendary among computer scientists around the world. She founded the COBOL programming language and paved the way for computer science as we know it today. At the time of her death in 1992, Hopper held honoree doctorates from over 30 universities!
4. Eileen Collins
As a young girl, Eileen Collins loved watching airplanes take off and land with her father. Years later, she was the one in the sky— when she became an Air Force colonel and the first woman to command a space shuttle mission. Collins joined the Air Force in 1978 and served as a flight instructor until she was selected by NASA for the astronaut program. She led four successful shuttle missions before retiring in 2006.
5. Harriet Tubman
Though she is a household name across America, most people don’t realize Harriet Tubman can also be celebrated for her military service. After escaping from slavery in 1849, Tubman organized a large-scale espionage ring for the Union during the Civil War. She also served as a cook, a nurse, and even a spy for the Union during the Civil War. She was also the first woman in American history to lead a military expedition.
6. Elsie S. Ott
When 2nd Lt. Elsie S. Ott signed up to serve as a flight nurse in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, she had no idea what she was in for. Ott ended up helping to pioneer military medical care practices during air evacuations of wounded personnel. The first time she performed this kind of procedure, she had no prior flying experience and was only given 24 hours’ notice! For this service, she later received the first U.S. Air Medal given to a woman in the U.S. Army.
7. Sarah Emma Edmonds
Sarah Emma Edmonds was born a woman, but she was still determined to fight in the Union Army during the Civil War. Edmonds disguised herself as a male soldier and went by the name “Franklin Flint Thompson.” She participated in several significant battles over the course of her military career. Later, she wrote a book about her experiences entitled, “Nurse and Spy in the Union Army,” and went on to marry and have children. She was awarded an honorable discharge and admittance to the Grand Army of the Republic as its only female member.
8. Dr. Mary Edwards Walker
Mary Walker volunteered for the Union Army as a civilian nurse; however, she went on to become the first-ever female U.S. Army surgeon after years of unpaid volunteer service. Her bravery led her into the heart of battle— she often crossed battle lines to treat the wounded. She was even once captured by Confederate troops and accused of being a spy! She was eventually released and went on to become an activist in women’s rights.
These incredible women veterans have paved the way for so many others who came after them! Endeavors exists to say, “Thank you.” If you are a Veteran or Veteran family member, you might qualify for some of our Veteran Supportive Services. Check out our program offerings and get in touch!
Endeavors is a longstanding national non-profit that provides an array of programs and services in support of children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness and other disabilities. Endeavors serves vulnerable people in crisis through innovative personalized services. For more information, please visit www.endeavors.org.