NY Legionnaires conduct 3rd annual Women Veterans Day event

NY Legionnaires conduct 3rd annual Women Veterans Day event

On June 12, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, enabling women to serve as permanent, regular members of the U.S. Armed Forces. That date now is honored annually as Women Veterans Recognition Day or Women Veterans Day.

In New York, not too far from the Finger Lakes area, members of The American Legion have made sure that date has commemorated each of the past three years, most recently on June 9.

At Skinner Ernest American Legion Post 1612 in Big Flats, the Chemung County American Legion conducted its third Women Veterans Recognition Day. The event was open to women veterans and their families, and served as a way to both honor and educate women veterans.

Ciji Remick-Sheremeta, who serves as Chemung County second vice commander – the same position she holds at American Legion Harry Bentley Post 443 in Elmira – said the idea for the first recognition event came from fellow Legionnaire Terri Souder and now is an annual event. Remick-Sheremeta has worked with Souder to coordinate the event the past two years.

“A lot of veterans I’ve talked to who are females say they’ve had a negative experience in the military,” Remick-Sheremeta said. “I just want them to know they deserve to take up space as well. And it’s paying tribute to all those female veterans who served before us and connecting with them.

“On Sunday, I got to meet a Korean War veteran who is a female and a Vietnam War veteran who is a female. They had so much gratitude. They were like, ‘No one sees us as veterans.’ All of that meant so much, hearing that from them. They had so much joy on their faces. It was amazing.”

Remick-Sheremeta, who served in the U.S. Army from 2000 to 2008 and also now serves as chaplain for American Legion Riders Chapter 443, also gained some perspective during the event. “We honored a female World War II veteran who had recently passed away … and had actually served in the military prior to that 1948 enactment,” she said. “I was thinking about that and thought that was really amazing. So, in the speech that I gave at the event, I talked about how it’s not just about female veterans. It’s about showing respect to those individuals back in 1948 who said, ‘Hey, this isn’t right. Let’s do something about this.’ The females deserved just as a much (as male servicemembers).”

While honoring women veterans, which included a lunch and a raffle, the event served to share what resources are available to women veterans. Also in attendance at Post 1612 were representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Chemung County Veterans Affairs and the Women Veterans Alliance.

“We want to get people connected with the VA. And the Chemung County veteran service officer was there, too,” Remick-Sheremeta said. “We want it known that ‘Hey, these are options for you when you’re ready. Just know that you’re not alone.’

“Prior to me becoming a part of The American Legion, I kind of felt alone. We’re not really connected. That’s why I also talked about the importance of The American Legion, the VFW. Start there. There’s lots of connections.”