Kentucky Women’s Annual Veterans Experience

VHV

By Capt. Andi Hahn, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Public Affairs Officer

Female veterans from the Kentucky National Guard gathered at the second Kentucky Women's Annual Veterans Experience in Louisville, Ky., Jan. 7-9 as a way to bring female Soldiers and Airmen together in a professional environment. The conference was geared at helping women Veterans unleash their unlimited potential.

LOUISVILLE, Ky.— It’s not always easy being a female in a man’s world.  When you have other females to share the experience with, though, it can make it a whole lot easier and rewarding.

As a way to bring Kentucky National Guard female Soldiers together in a professional environment, the second Kentucky Women’s Annual Veterans Experience, held Jan. 7-9 in Louisville, Ky., was geared at helping women Veterans unleash their unlimited potential.

“We often find ourselves isolated in our units,” said Lt. Col. Tinagay Riddle, Kentucky National Guard diversity officer and chairman of KWAVE.

“This conference allows our women Veterans an opportunity to find a new friend, mentor or battle buddy to reach out to,” she said.

The conference provided a relaxing training environment for females to network, share their unique military experiences and discuss topics pertaining to the female Soldier and Veteran. The weekend was full of breakout sessions and workshops provided by some of the most influential women leaders in the Commonwealth.

Eleanor Jordan, executive director for Kentucky Commission on Women, praised the Kentucky Soldiers for their patriotism and service to the country and the Commonwealth.

Kentucky Air National Guard's Master Sgt. Cynthia Rogers, Master Sgt. Annette Marshall-Robinson and Master Sgt. Sherrie Davis stand with Sister Kateri Koverman, a licensed independent social worker and chemical dependency counselor after her speech at the Kentucky Women's Annual Veterans Experience in Louisville, Ky., Jan. 7.

“The Commission on Women has a history with females in the Kentucky National Guard,” Jordan said. “I want you to know that you are the ‘breaking of the glass ceiling’ personified.

“Every time you walk down the street in uniform and that little girl sees you, the impact is greater than any of us can imagine,” she said.

More than 800 females are assigned to the Kentucky National Guard, with 770 in the Army Guard ranks, and 181 females in the Air Guard ranks. Females account for 11 percent of the Army Guard and 15 percent of the Air Guard total assigned personnel.

Kentucky Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini recognized the importance of the women assigned to his command.

“Things are not how they were back in the 60s and 70s, but we still have not gotten to where we need to be,” Tonini said.  “You people represent what is the beginning of where women are going today.”

In addition to informative sessions, the women Veterans honored World War I nurse Mary Arvin with a historic marker unveiling her accomplishments as Kentucky’s most decorated female Veteran of World War I. Arvin was the first female to ever be awarded the Purple Heart.

“It’s inspiring to hear from women who have paved the way not just in the military, but in the state of Kentucky as a whole,” said 1st Lt. Susan Matsubara, Kentucky National Guard equal opportunity advisor for the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, and KWAVE co-chairman.

“The networking opportunity between women in the Guard and other female Servicemembers has provided an unparalleled opportunity to gather mentors and grow professionally,” said Matsubara, “It was a really fun and successful weekend.”

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