By Joan F. Simoneau, Community Reporter
Marlborough – More and more women have joined the military in the past few years and the number continues to escalate. The significant display of interest began in 2013 when the Department of Defense lifted the ban on women in combat.
“It was a great stride forward for women,” said Viviana Marcotte, Iraq War veteran and director of Women’s Veterans’ Network (WVN) Department of Veterans Services. “There is an opportunity for advancement and even female gear is changing and catering more to our smaller frames. The military culture is becoming more and more diverse when it comes to gender and opportunities for both men and women are present and opening the door for promotions and advancement.”
For the past seven years, the WVN has held a conference for women veterans throughout the state to unite and provide social support to one another and share that camaraderie.
“We host these conferences each year for the women veterans of the commonwealth to come together, network and empower one another,” Marcotte noted. “Since women are still the minority in the military we feel it is important to get together annually.”
Over 380 attended the conference June 13 at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel in Marlborough. Featured were a wellness room with message therapists and workshops on writing, nutrition, finances, yoga and travel. Other resources and benefits available were also exhibited. In addition, there was a fashion show designed to help women veterans with suggestions on how to dress for job interviews, job fairs and other business events.
The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Betty Moseley-Brown, associate director of the U.S. Department of Veterans Center for Women Veterans and Marine Corp Veterans. She emphasized the growing number of women in the military and urged all to be aware of the services available and to apply for them as needed. State representatives Carmine Gentile (D-Sudbury) and Danielle Gregoire (D-Marlborough) also addressed the group and commended them for their service.
The WVN was established in 1997 with the vision of being the central resource for women veterans in Massachusetts. It has a database of 15,000 who receive a biannual newsletter with information on federal, state and local benefits, programs, and events.