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Friday October 31st 2014

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Recognition for Female Veterans


About 20 to 25 percent of the armed forces are women and yet, there is no monument to commemorate their service to this country.

That will change Friday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. when The Center for Strategic Military Excellence (CSME) and the Monument to Women Veterans Foundation present the first monument dedicated to women veterans in this country.

The dedication ceremony will correlate with the 2nd Annual Col. “Bud” Day Award Presentation and will immediately follow the Veteran’s Day Parade in Bartram Park. For those who cannot attend, you can watch the live stream at Ustream.tv

Michelle Caldwell is the founder of both Monument to Women Veterans Foundation and CSME. She is a veteran who served in the 1980s beginning at NAS Pensacola. She is enthusiastic about giving women veterans the recognition they deserve.

“The whole purpose of the monument is to bring awareness and to assess the gaps in addressing their needs,” Caldwell said. “It gives us the opportunity to make right what we did wrong with Vietnam.”

Caldwell is also on the Board of Directors for the Coalition of the Homeless.

“Eighteen percent of homeless vets are women,” Caldwell said. “We give out clothing to 300-400 homeless vets every year. This year was the first time we started to hand out women’s clothing.”

From the foundation, to the sculpting, to finding a home for the monument women have supported this cause. Barbara Regan, who served during the Korean War, donated the space. Elizabeth MacQueen sculpted the piece, which will depict a timeline of women’s military history.

Surprisingly, Caldwell could not get support from local congressmen and senators. Caldwell also mentioned that the IN was the only paper to contact her.

“We went directly to senators and congressmen in our area with no response,” Caldwell said.

The monument will not only be groundbreaking, but it will be a reminder to civilians and military personnel, men and women, the strife of women in the armed forces.

“The monument is to provide a voice to those who have not been heard,” Caldwell said. “If we can impact one woman, we’ve done our job.”