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VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System

 

2018 Women's History Month ceremony

Guests rise to their feet with rendered salutes and hands over their chest as the Harlingen High School All-Female Army Junior ROTC Color Guard present the colors, while the

Guests rise to their feet with rendered salutes and hands over their chest as the Harlingen High School All-Female Army Junior ROTC Color Guard present the colors, while the "Star Spangled Banner" is sung by Mrs. Rebecca Arismendi, during the VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System's ceremony in observance of national Women's History Month, which took place March 2, 2018, at the VA Health Care Center at Harlingen, Texas. The ceremony was held in honor of Women Veterans and was attended by more than 200 people. (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs photo/Luis H. Loza Gutierrez)

By Luis H. Loza Gutierrez, VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System Public Affairs
Monday, March 5, 2018

Local VA celebrates Women Veterans during Women’s History Month ceremony

 

HARLINGEN, Texas -- VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System hosted a ceremony in observance of this year’s Women History Month by recognizing Women Veterans within our communities. The ceremony took place March 2, 2018 at the VA Health Care Center at Harlingen, Texas.

 “Women Veterans represent an enduring legacy of leadership, service, and sacrifice,” said Mr. Joe A. Perez, director of VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System.  “This event is our way of honoring the sacrifices and contributions made to our country by Women Veterans from all generations past and present.”

The free, public event began with a presentation of the colors by the Harlingen High School All-Female Army Junior ROTC Color Guard followed by a beautiful rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” by Mrs. Rebecca Arismendi, which drew loud cheers and applause from the crowd. She was followed by an invocation by active Navy Petty Officer Corina Tristan.

The Harlingen High School All-Female Army Junior ROTC Color Guard prepares for one final practice run prior to presenting the colors for a VA ceremony in observance of national Women's History Month, which took place March 2, 2018, at the VA Health Care Center at Harlingen, Texas. The ceremony was held in honor of Women Veterans. (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs/Luis H. Loza Gutierrez)

The Harlingen High School All-Female Army Junior ROTC Color Guard prepares for one final practice run prior to presenting the colors for a VA ceremony in observance of national Women's History Month, which took place March 2, 2018, at the VA Health Care Center at Harlingen, Texas. The ceremony was held in honor of Women Veterans. (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs photo/Luis H. Loza Gutierrez)


Chief Petty Officer Teresita Garcia, the senior enlisted leader at Navy Operational Support Center in Harlingen, was the ceremony’s keynote speaker.

Chief Garcia spoke about the milestones achieved by the more than two million women who served throughout the nation’s existence. She spoke about Army Capt. Kristin Griest and Army 1st Lieutenant Shaye L. Haver who broke the barrier that had prevented women from fulfilling combat roles, by becoming the first women to meet all the requirements to complete Ranger School and earn their Ranger tab.

She also provided the audience with examples of women Veterans who not only dreamed about reaching for the stars, but literally succeeded in capturing them as she mentioned Veterans like Brig. Gen. Anna Mae Hays who in 1970 became the first woman in the U.S. armed forces to be promoted to the general officer ranks, which are represented by star insignias. The senior enlisted noncommissioned made sure to provide an example from her own service as well by referencing Admiral Michelle Howard, who recently retired from the Navy in January 2018, but not before breaking another barrier for women by becoming the first female four-star admiral in the history of the U.S. Navy in 2014.

 Chief Petty Officer Teresita Garcia the senior enlisted leader at the Navy Operational Support Center in Harlingen, Texas, delivers her speech to people attending VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System's ceremony in observance of national Women's History Month, which took place March 2, 2018, at the VA Health Care Center at Harlingen, Texas. The ceremony was held in honor of Women Veterans and was attended by more than 200 people. Chief Garcia spoke about some of barriers broken and milestones achieved by U.S. Women Veterans. (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs/Luis H. Loza Gutierrez)

Chief Petty Officer Teresita Garcia the senior enlisted leader at the Navy Operational Support Center in Harlingen, Texas, delivers her speech to people attending VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System's ceremony in observance of national Women's History Month, which took place March 2, 2018, at the VA Health Care Center at Harlingen, Texas. The ceremony was held in honor of Women Veterans and was attended by more than 200 people. Chief Garcia spoke about some of barriers broken and milestones achieved by U.S. Women Veterans. (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs photo/Luis H. Loza Gutierrez)

“Women Veterans hail from all walks of life representing diverse national origins, races, religions, ages and abilities. Many of them have chipped away at the barriers they’ve faced – sometimes against great odds,” said Chief Garcia. “As an active-duty member in our armed forces, I take great pride in serving our country during an era where I can turn to young girls and provide them with plenty of examples to remind them that they too can reach for the stars.”

Nine Women Veterans were presented with the VA Community Leadership Award, which officially recognized the outstanding support, commitment and leadership they have provided to Veterans and their families from within the various communities served by local VA health care system.

The Women Veterans selected by the local Women’s History Month committee were Mrs. Thalia Hernandez, Cameron County Veteran service officer from the San Benito office; Ms. Gina Guajardo, a former Army police officer and Veteran peer provider form Tropical Texas Behavioral Health in Harlingen; Ms. Lupita Maciel Perez the junior vice commander for District 18 for the Veterans of Foreign War and a national legislative committee member for the VFW; Marine Corps Veteran Ms. Tracy Wisdom, a Veterans clinical therapist at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Counseling Center, who organizes Veteran outreach efforts and coordinated community-based services, including information and referral for additional services from other VA programs, other government programs and community agency programs, and Mrs. Arlene Laboy an Army Veteran and founding member and first president of the local Veteran service organization, Veteran Females United. Mrs. Laboy could not attend the event.

Mr. Joe A. Perez the director of VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System gives Ms. Lupita Maciel Perez a congratulatory handshake during the health care system's ceremony held in observance of this year’s Women’s History Month, which took place March 2, 2018, at the VA Health Care Center at Harlingen, Texas. Ms. Maciel Perez is the junior vice commander for District 18 for the Veterans of Foreign and a national legislative committee Member for the VFW. She was one of nine Women Veterans from local communities to receive a VA Community Leadership Award for their advocacy and work in benefit of Veterans and their families. (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs photo/Luis H. Loza Gutierrez)

Mr. Joe A. Perez the director of VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System gives Ms. Lupita Maciel Perez a congratulatory handshake during the health care system's ceremony held in observance of this year’s Women’s History Month, which took place March 2, 2018, at the VA Health Care Center at Harlingen, Texas. Ms. Maciel Perez is the junior vice commander for District 18 for the Veterans of Foreign and a national legislative committee Member for the VFW. She was one of nine Women Veterans from local communities to receive a VA Community Leadership Award for their advocacy and work in benefit of Veterans and their families. (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs photo/Luis H. Loza Gutierrez)

The remaining four recipients included four female Veterans from Brownsville that went above and beyond during Tropical Storm Harvey during their attendance at the first Female Veteran Summit in Houston.

They were Army Veteran Ms. Maria Osorio, Marine Corps Veteran Brenda Saldivar, and Navy Veterans Nora Bard and Josie Commack.

The event also featured information booths with representatives from the Women Veterans Health Program, Mental Health, and Health Promotion and Disease Prevention programs. After the ceremony guests were invited to the third floor of the center, which housed a photo exhibit of black and white portraits featuring local Women Veterans, which will remain open to the public till the end of the month of March.

(At right) Army Veteran Ms. Laura B. Vela, stops by the information booth manned by Ms. Kathleen Libke (Women Veteran Program manager) and Aleli Duque (Women Health Care coordinator), who provided information and educational material regarding Women Veteran health matters to guests at the photo exhibit, which opened to the public after VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System's ceremony held in observance of this year’s Women History Month, which took place March 2, 2018, at the VA Health Care Center at Harlingen, Texas. The Women Veterans Health information booth was one of several VA and community organizations participating in the series of events and activities held in observance of national Women's History Month. (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs photo/Luis H. Loza Gutierrez)

(At right) Army Veteran Ms. Laura B. Vela, stops by the information booth manned by Ms. Kathleen Libke (Women Veteran Program manager) and Aleli Duque (Women Health Care coordinator), who provided information and educational material regarding Women Veteran health matters to guests at the photo exhibit, which opened to the public after VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System's ceremony held in observance of this year’s Women History Month, which took place March 2, 2018, at the VA Health Care Center at Harlingen, Texas. The Women Veterans Health information booth was one of several VA and community organizations participating in the series of events and activities held in observance of national Women's History Month. (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs photo/Luis H. Loza Gutierrez)

The event drew tremendous positive feedback from those present.

“The event was very nice. It was exciting to see so many Women Veterans from different eras,” said Ms. Danielle Aly, a VA employee and Army Veteran who led everyone in attendance in reciting “The Pledge of Allegiance”. “I felt very proud to have participated in the ceremony. I think the VA did a great job in honoring Women Veterans, and I hope they continue to do more events like this in the future.”

Guests and spectators tour the photo exhibit, which opened to the public after VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System's ceremony in observance of this year’s Women History Month, which took place March 2, 2018, at the VA Health Care Center at Harlingen, Texas. The VA recognized Women Veterans with an exhibit of black and white portraits on the third floor featuring 29 Women Veterans from various communities served by the local VA health care system.(U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs photo/Luis H. Loza Gutierrez)

Guests and spectators tour the photo exhibit, which opened to the public after VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System's ceremony in observance of this year’s Women History Month, which took place March 2, 2018, at the VA Health Care Center at Harlingen, Texas. The VA recognized Women Veterans with an exhibit of black and white portraits on the third floor featuring 29 Women Veterans from various communities served by the local VA health care system.(U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs photo/Luis H. Loza Gutierrez)

 

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