Women's Military History Week observed at SMC

On Tuesday, Santa Monica College hosted an event to honor Military Women’s History Week, which itself is a part of Women’s History Month.

The event consisted of presentations about female veterans throughout history and their struggle to attain equality within the armed forces of the United States. It was coordinated and put together by SMC Counselor Audrey Sandoval.

According to SMC Librarian and veteran Brenda Antrim, the event was intended to “inform the community about the history of women in the US military, highlight the living history embodied in one of our own with our keynote speaker, and recognize the duty and sacrifice of our current women student veterans.”

The event had guest Linda Sinclair, who co-advises the SMC chapter of the Student Veterans of America with Antrim, along with special guest, Special Major Doctor Nancy Cattell.

Antrim kicked off the presentations, specifying that it was important to see female veterans not as a general whole, but as individuals.

“What do the numbers tell us about women who have served in the military?,"Antrim asked the audience. “Not much, really. Like all vets, when you’ve met one, you’ve met… one. We’re all individuals with individual stories, individual challenges, and individual triumphs.”

Antrim’s speech shifted to iconic female veterans and the roles they took in wars throughout American history. Among those mentioned were Deborah Sampson, who was dishonorably discharged for serving in the Revolutionary War whilst disguised as a man, and the many women who served as nurses during the Civil War.

After several more informative videos about the progression of women in the military and their growing roles, Nancy Cattell, who held several positions from Company Commander to Chief of Military Personnel from 1942 to 1947, shared her own experiences serving.

“The only person I’ve had a conflict with concerning sex in the army was with one man who did not want to work for a woman. I said I was glad he told me that and I immediately got him reassigned somewhere else,” she said. “But it was mostly wearing this little pin on my collar that irritated people. And they questioned whether I had the right to wear it. I wore it anyway, whether they didn’t like it or not.”

According to Antrim, the event itself was aimed at everyone who wanted to show support for women veterans, but it was also meant to inform people about their importance to the US military.

“The legal inclusion of women in the US military is relatively new but women have found ways to serve their country since its inception," she said. “The history of women in the military is often invisible, but is intrinsic to who we are as a nation.”