Women veterans, active-duty soldiers discuss 'changing face' of local military community

University of North Florida holds panel for women in the military

As part of the University of North Florida’s Women Veterans 2019 Recognition Week, the university hosted a panel of local women veterans and active-duty soldiers to discuss their military service and how military gender demographics have shifted in the past 40 years.

The speakers included retired Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Michelle Veal, retired Army Col. Dr. Linda Connelly, retired Navy Cmdr. Amanda Hawkins, retired Air Force Master Sgt. Marrian James and Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Amanda McGhee. All women served locally, spanning a period from the 1980s to the present day.

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“You’re not alone, we’re all around you and all you need to do is reach out for help,” McGhee said.

Each woman shared her experience in the military and what challenges she faced as a female service member.

“You’re always trying to excel, you’re always trying to reach a higher standard,” McGhee said.

The panel also discussed new opportunities for female service member and the growing number of local woman joining the military. However, they also shed light on the local resources for veterans through Northeast Florida Women’s Veterans Inc.

“When I first started, it was probably 10% of women in the Coast Guard, and now I believe it’s close to 19%,” Veal said. “So I really feel like it’s still a small fraction of the service members, but yet we are allowed in the Coast Guard to do any position we want to do.”


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