Remarks by Secretary Polanowicz at Women Veterans Appreciation Day
Good Morning, thank you Coleman for that introduction, and thank you to the Women Veterans Network for inviting me here and giving me a few moments to appreciate our Commonwealth’s women veterans, who have done so much for us here and across the nation.
Massachusetts has a strong military history for women, starting Deborah Sampson who disguised herself as a man to serve in the Revolutionary war and for whom the Woman Veteran of the year award is named.
And women veterans are the fastest growing segment of the population.
Nationally, in 2011, there were over 213,000 women in the Active component of the U.S. Armed Forces and about 190,000 women in the Reserves and National Guard.
In 2009, women made up 8% of the total veteran population, or 1.5 million vets, and in the next 20 years that number is projected to double.
Here in our Commonwealth, nearly 1,300 women make up 15% of our Commonwealth’s Air and Army National Guard, and there are 31,000 women veterans who live here.
And Massachusetts is a great place to be a Vet too.
We lead the nation in providing services to our 385,000 veterans and their families. Under the Patrick Administration, we have empowered veterans and their families participate in the Commonwealth’s growth and opportunity, advancing community-based initiatives to serve their unique needs.
Earlier this year, Governor Patrick signed an Executive Order to help small businesses owned by disabled veterans expand and grow in the Commonwealth.
In fact, this month was declared “Hire a Vet Month,” encouraging the employers to help our military members use their vast talents to serve their communities in civilian life. Our office of Labor and Workforce Development is working with the business community and local chambers to create meaningful partnerships to help veterans access employment and housing.
Our Department of Veterans Services launched the SAVE and SHARP programs to provide new and innovative statewide peer support to help end veteran suicides and homelessness.
And through programs like the Women Veterans Network and MassVetsAdvisor, the Patrick Administration is increasing outreach to all veterans and their families to ensure they have the knowledge and access to all the benefits they have earned.
Congratulations, LT Eileen Merullo, to an award well earned through a lifetime of commitment, and thank you to all the veterans here today for your service.