(WBRE/WYOU) — Pennsylvania is home to the fourth-largest veteran population in the country.
Female veterans, who account for roughly eight percent of that population, were honored Saturday morning for their service.
Dozens of community members gathered at the Wilkes-Barre VA Center Saturday morning for a women veterans town hall and expo. The goal? To honor women veterans for their service as well as update them on programs and services they may have earned.
“2016 we actually opened our women’s clinic here which is a self-contained clinic. It gives them the privacy that they want. We have children coming in with their moms,” Patricia Conroy, women veterans program manager for the center said.
In terms of healthcare, the Wilkes-Barre VA provides primary care, behavioral healthcare, as well as all of the pharmacy services throughout the facility.
“Anything a woman veteran may need in her care,” Sumit Ghosh, medical director of women’s health at the center said.
Veterans tell Eyewitness News it’s also important to remind people that women veterans’ needs are equally as important as men’s.
“Historically if you thought of a veteran, you thought of maybe the WW2, you thought of a male veteran. You thought of a male Vietnam veteran. Females are veterans as well. They have served this country throughout our entire history. This is nothing new,” Conroy said.
“It is stereotypical to a degree. A lot of generational gender gaps but ultimately, it’s just speaking out beyond that and saying ‘no I did serve. I am also a soldier and I have served in the military’,” Lisa Kaye, director of the Monroe County Veterans Affairs said.
Kaye is a U.S. Army veteran who served three years active duty and one year in the National Guard. She says she experiences first-hand what it’s like to not be taken seriously as a veteran.
“You see an Army veteran license plate or sticker on the back of a vehicle, they automatically assume you must be a male driver,” Kaye said.
Leaders say they hope the expo will raise awareness in the area on how important it is to help our female veterans in need and also to make sure they always feel appreciated.
“We may think that we know what our veterans’ needs are, but there is nothing like having the veterans speak to what her needs may be,” Ghosh said.
This event is the third in a series of town hall and expos put on by the governor’s advisory council for veterans services and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.