WEST CHESTER (March 15) – State Senator Andy Dinniman recently recognized the vast and ongoing contributions of women in the U.S. military at a special ceremony at the Mary E. Walker House, a transitional residential program for homeless women veterans on the grounds of the Coatesville Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center.

“Throughout our history, women from all walks of life, including many from our region, have answered the call of duty in every hour of our nation’s need. It is high time that their sacrifices and courage be honored,” Dinniman said. “It is equally important that we recognize the ongoing service of women in the military and support the next generation of female leaders and warriors in our Armed Forces.”

Senator Dinniman and Master Sgt. Juanita Milligan.

Senator Dinniman and Master Sgt. Juanita Milligan.

Dinniman was joined by members of the Coatesville Area High School’s Air Force Junior ROTC unit (PA 771), residents of the Mary Walker House and officials from the VA and the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service & Education Center (PVMSEC), a nonprofit organization that runs the Mary Walker House.

Cadet Col. Lake Greene, of the ROTC unit, emphasized the positive impact the program, which is currently facing a funding crisis, has had on her life. Greene is set to attend Widener University next year on a scholarship.

“They are my family. They have given me the skills to be a leader,” Greene said. “They have given me everything.”

The event’s special guest was Master Sgt. Juanita Milligan, a U.S. Army veteran and veterans’ advocate who sustained multiple life-threatening injuries to the right side of her body during a deployment in Iraq in 2005. Milligan, a single mother of two children and one foster child, discussed her transition to life after military service and the importance of female veterans supporting each other and giving back to the community.

Sandy Miller, director of residential services at PVMSEC, discussed the origins of the Mary E. Walker House and the importance of empowerment and professional development in the recovery of female veterans.

“Mary Walker said, ‘Let the generations know that women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom.’ You are part of the legacy,” Miller told residents of the Mary Walker House. “And just like Mary Walker when Congress tried to take away her medal, you can say, ‘No!’ You can stand up for yourselves. No one can make you do anything you don’t want to do.”

Sandy Miller, director of residential services at the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service & Education Center  (PVMSEC).

Sandy Miller, director of residential services at the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service & Education Center (PVMSEC).

Dinniman also praised PVMSEC and VA volunteers and employees for their efforts on behalf of veterans.

“These are the heroes that work to ensure that our nation’s heroes receive the support they deserve and all the benefits they are entitled to once they return home,” he said.

ABOUT MARY E. WALKER

Born in 1832, Mary E. Walker remains the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor. Walker was awarded the medal for her service as a Civil War surgeon by President Andrew Johnson in 1865. In 1917, the U.S. Congress revised eligibility standards for the medal and rescinded 911 names, including Walker’s, from the Medal of Honor Roll. Walker, however, stood firm and refused to return the medal, wearing it until her death in 1919. Finally, in 1977 President Jimmy Carter restored her medal posthumously.

Earlier on Thursday, Walker was officially enshrined in the Medal of Honor Grove, the nation’s oldest memorial site dedicated to Medal of Honor recipients located in Phoenixville not far from Valley Forge National Historical Park.

ABOUT THE PHILADELPHIA VETERANS MULTI-SERVICE & EDUCATION CENTER

The Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service & Education Center, located at 213-217 N. 4th Street in Philadelphia, just beneath the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, is an important part of the Greater Philadelphia community, helping veterans through a wide range of free services such as training for employment, job placement, veterans benefits counseling, and homeless assistance. Its mission is to provide services, programs, opportunity and advancement to veterans of the U.S. military. The center operates LZ II, a 95-bed transitional residential program for male veterans, and the Mary E. Walker House, a 30-bed transitional residential program for women veterans on the grounds of the Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center. www.PhilaVets.org.

For more information contact Senator Dinniman’s West Chester Office at (610) 692-2112, or e-mail acirucci@pasenate.com.

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