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Minnesota National Guard
Military Women- from Boot Camp to Veteran

Serving Those Who Served and Honoring All Military Women Past, Present and Future

From World War II to the present day operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the women attending the 2010 Women’s Veterans Conference have been there

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Sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the fifth annual conference was held on May 22 at the Mall of America 4th floor conference room  The conference was free and open to the public  Over eighty people were in attendance for the events and activities 

In addition to the dozens of vendors there were multiple resources available to assist the women in utilizing the veteran services and health benefits 

The participants themselves were also a main attraction of the event These were iconic women, who represented and lead the way for women’s rights while serving their time in the military 

Elizabeth Wall Strohfus, better known as “Betty Wall”, was one of many American women who flew military aircraft during World War II  Her small frame is not an accurate indication of her generous heart and gregarious personality that swoons almost anyone she would meet

Another military women’s ‘first’, was Staff Sgt Raine Ruthig  She was one of the first Army-made “Lionesses” Lionesses were women only teams, made by the Army, to assist the males in a combat support role on the front lines  These women returned home to become the first generation of female combat veterans in history

“I honestly didn’t expect to fire my weapon … you might not want to find combat, but sometimes it can find you,” Ruthig told the crowd during her time as a guest speaker  

She was one of many guest speakers to share her story  Due to her openness, many of the other women veterans, from Vietnam to Desert Storm to now, were able to share their thoughts and feelings about what it was like to serve their country as well  Sharing their story is something that many of the women needed

“Women share bonds and deal with trauma differently than men,” said Staff Sgt Leah Boyd, Combat Medic, Minnesota National Guard Medical Detachment  “It was really interesting to hear their stories and how they lead the way for the good experiences we have now verses what they went through”

The annual conference was a success for all of those in attendance and many look forward to the 2011 conference 

“The conference was great and I’ll definitely come next year and try to bring a friend,” said retired Minnesota National Guardmen Phiengtavanh Savatdy, who deployed with the 1st Brigade Combat Team to Iraq in 2008

Staff Sgt Lynette Hoke
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
22 May, 2010

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