On March 19, 2013 Betty Moseley Brown, President of the Women Marines Association was invited to the White House with the Department of Veterans Affairs for the honoring of our women veterans. While attending this event as the Veterans Administration Associate Director of the Center of Women Veterans she met Natasha Young who was one of the honorees.
Natasha Young is a Fellowship Recruitment Associate at The Mission Continues, serving the northeast and southeast United States. A 12-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Natasha served two tours of duty in Iraq and one recruiting duty stateside before a medical discharge in October 2011. Since her discharge, Natasha has overcome significant challenges to now serve a leading role in changing the public perception of veterans nationwide. She has dedicated herself to helping other veterans overcome the struggles of their transitions and emerge empowered to not only lead new lives of service, but set the example for others to follow.
As a thank you for her service both in the Marine Corps and her position with The Mission Continues, Betty presented Natasha with a two-year membership to the Women Marines Association.
VA and White House Honor Women Veterans Who Make a Difference
Fourteen women Veterans from across the country were selected by The White House as a Women Veterans Champion of Change. They were honored in ceremonies hosted by the White House and the Department of Veterans Affairs on March 19.
“These women Veterans continued serving long after their military service,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “It is about being part of something bigger than ourselves. It is the thread that connects everyone here. You served proudly. Now it is our turn to answer the call.”
The White House annually recognizes Americans who are making positive change in their communities. This year, commemorating Women Veterans Make History during Women’s History Month, the White House selected 14 women Veterans whose contributions and sacrifices while serving in the military were often surpassed by the extraordinary things they are doing today to make a difference in their communities.
One of the 14 women honored was VA Chief of Chaplains Priscilla Mondt, from the VA Medical Center in Fayetteville, Ark. Chaplain Mondt retired from the Army Chaplain Corps having served in Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. She was the recipient of the Bronze Star for combat valor and the Legion of Merit. Her visionary approach to spiritual care, from personal care to technology, set a high standard for addressing the needs of Veteran patients and families.
“I’m proud to be a woman Veteran, but even prouder to be serving Veterans,” said Chaplain Mondt. “I understand their culture, the journey they made. When they ask for a combat Veteran to work with one of our Vets who is dealing with spiritual and mental health issues, the Vet is always a bit surprised to see a woman walk through the door. But it doesn’t take long to know I’m one of them.
“This event not only recognizes women Veterans, but also the diverse roles that women had in the military,” said Mondt, who served under the current Secretary of VA, then General Eric Shinseki . “There are not many women Chaplains in combat. General Shinseki got it. He truly understood the importance of treating the spiritual part of the person, as well as the physical.”
Both Secretary Shinseki and his wife, Patty Shinseki, attended the event. The Secretary voiced his thanks and appreciation not only to the women awardees, but to all women who have served and continue to serve. He talked about the increasing demands for women Veterans’ health care, along with his commitment to meet those demands.
Marsha Tansey Four, a Champion of Change and a Vietnam Veteran, talked about VA care when she arrived home from serving as a nurse in Vietnam. “There were no women’s clinics, there was no privacy, there were no speciality programs,” she said. “But let me tell you now, the VA has made huge progress. It’s undeniable that it’s a different and better VA for women than ever before.”
Also speaking at the event was Under Secretary for Benefits, Brigadier General Allison Hickey, whose title to her presentation said it all, ‘“You Can’t.” Says Who?”’ A 1980 a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s first class to include women, Gen. Hickey went on to serve as a pilot and aircraft commander, and accumulated more than 1,500 hours of flight time in KC-10A, KC-135A, T-38 and T-37 aircraft.
“All of these women being honored today have stories of hearing ‘You Can’t’ and responding with Who says?” said Gen. Hickey. “Each made it happen and continue to make a difference in the lives of others – reshaping the message women so often hear from ‘You Can’t’ to ‘YOU CAN’– and I am here to help you do it.”
Each awardee was afforded the opportunity to talk about her military careers and what she is doing today to improve the lives of others, from caring for the homeless on the streets of New York City to providing training and skills to be farmers in rural California. Some stories brought laughter, some brought tears, but all brought respect and admiration for lives well spent.