Women Veteran’s Interviews

Women make up about 13 percent of the U.S. military today and are in more combat situations now than in past wars. KQED’s Scott Shafer met with Bay Area female veterans about the particular challenges women face after their military service and what support is available to them.

The history of American women fighting for and defending their country dates back to the Revolutionary War. VA honors the service and sacrifice of all Women Veterans.

Seven inspiring stories of women in the United States Armed Forces in their own words…

from their significant contributions to national safety and security to the ongoing challenges faced during their service and after returning to civilian life.

Peggy Mikelonis – Vietnam War nurse who faced a challenging transition to civilian life after the war, November 2011

Brigadier General Wilma Vaught – The first woman to deploy on a strategic air command, November 2011

Vivian Greeno – Navy Veteran and advocate of expanded roles for women in the military, November 2011

Katrina Goldby – Army Reservist who served nine years stateside and deployed to Iraq post 9-11, November 2011

Yesenia Covarrubias – Retired Army Reservist who turned her challenges with readjustment into a career—as a readjustment and outreach specialist, May 2012

Linda Schwartz – Commissioner of the Department of Veterans Affairs for Connecticut, and a Vietnam-era nurse who reflects “nurses who served saw more death and dying than the combat soldiers, May 2012

Zola Ferguson – Air National Guard reservist who served in Bolivia, Honduras, Iraq and Afghanistan and prides herself on being part of a generation of women who paved the way for today’s female soldiers, May 2012 

Finding ways to heal after military sexual trauma

Karin experienced military sexual trauma (MST) three times during her career in the Navy. She began drinking a lot, and her marriage fell apart. She felt hopeless and on edge, until a counselor started her on the road to recovery. After learning VA has services for Veterans who have experienced MST, she found additional resources for recovery.

Strength to overcome MST through counseling

Melissa experienced a sexual assault while serving. Following her discharge, she saw the person who had assaulted her, and it brought up difficult memories. She began having trouble sleeping and was anxious in public places. Her relationship was affected, and she knew she needed to talk to someone. Counseling helped her regain control of her life.

I Was Fighting a War of My Own

CJ Scarlet joined the Marines and excelled until military sexual trauma eventually took a toll on her confidence. She became depressed, left the military, and didn’t discuss her experiences for fear she would be betraying the Marine Corps. Counseling helped her recognize she could share her story and find a path to a stronger life.

Leading and Living Strong After Facing Adversity

From an early age, Trista knew she wanted to be in the military, and she proudly served in three branches. For a long time, she didn’t acknowledge the effects that military sexual trauma was having on her life. After years of not recognizing the emotional effects of her experience, she told a VA counselor about it and changed her life for the better.


Treatment Gave Erin Tools to Manage PTSD

Erin wasn’t prepared for the injuries she saw as a medic and the stress took a toll on her health. She began having issues with alcohol. Her company commander helped her get the support she needed, and the effective treatment she received gave Erin effective tools to deal with her PTSD.

I Deserve to Have my Life Back

Melissa deployed twice, was shot at, and saw friends become injured at the hands of enemy forces. When she came home, she had to readjust to being with her family again—a task that was harder than she anticipated. She also found she had changed and preferred to be isolated most of the time. Find out how she reached out to VA and got help.