Female service members celebrate Woman Veterans Day

Published: Nov. 11, 2023 at 8:51 AM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - It is important to remember and appreciate our service members, especially around Veterans Day. We should also remember that women in the military can face additional challenges.

Festival Fairbanks hosted their fifth annual celebration of Woman Veterans Day on Thursday evening. Around 50 female military veterans met to celebrate their shared experiences and challenges.

Heather Serwon, a veteran of the Veterinary Corps who has been sent or deployed to five different continents, described some of those challenges.

“My dignity, worthiness, was tested,” she remembered, “leaving me feeling mentally and physically defeated. However, it was my sister who built me back up, provided me with the needed encouragement to fight and stand up for my principles.”

Governor Dunleavy issued a proclamation in honor of Woman Veterans Day, which Festival Fairbanks Executive Director Julie Jones read aloud at the event. Dunleavy said while the role women have in the military has traditionally gone unrecognized, it is no less important.

“We are honored to pay tribute and remember the American female veterans who have bravely and nobly served in the military in defense of our nation, including all woman veterans who call Alaska home, and we are proud of the contributions they made in our communities,” Jones read.

“As a commander - a female commander - you will be challenged by those around you,” veteran Serwon explained. “I’ve never been afraid of challenges, but there may be a time where you feel undermined, unsupported, by your staff, your peers, chain of command, and not just men but women as well.”

Massages, acupuncture and gift bags were provided to all the female veterans who attended the event.

Woman Veterans Day became an official Alaska holiday in the year 2000. There are over 9,000 woman veterans who call Alaska home.