If you are a woman who has served in the active military, the Reserves or the Guard – of if you are serving now, someone is looking for you.
Retired Air Force Master Sergeant Susan Ash of Longs, a South Carolina organizer for Military Women Across the Nation (MWAN), is now searching for past and present military women in Horry County to join her in a fledgling chapter of MWAN.
Ash said that there are about 46,000 women veterans in South Carolina. “But where are they?” she asks.
Ash said she hopes to find the veterans for several reasons. She wants to make sure they have access to any benefits to which they are entitled. “So many people don’t know about so many things,” she said.
Ash and Linda Schoonmaker, the regional director for MWAN, said they also hope to offer the women times to socialize with other women who share similar experiences.
Ash said some of the chapters do service projects, and they would like to do some, but every member decides what she wants to do, if anything.
One thing Ash wants to do is to read to veterans in assisted living or nursing homes. Schnoonmaker wants to listen to veterans and record their stories.
According to the MWAN website, the purpose and objective of the organization is to encourage patriotism, loyalty, and devotion to the women’s communities, state, nation; and for each member to be of active assistance, and to keep up each other’s morals.
The organization, formerly known as WAVES National, has revitalized the organization in keeping with the changing military environment, now including all women veterans who have served or are serving honorably in all military branches.
Both Ash and Schoonmaker-- among other jobs and assignments-- served as training instructors for women recruits at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.
Ash met the recruits when they arrived on buses. “We called them rainbows,” she said, “because they were wearing all different colors.”
She can’t count how many times she had to remind one to step off on their other left foot.”
“They were taught all the necessary military customs, as well as becoming a team working together to graduate. Each day you could see the transformations taking place,” Ash said.
But they always rewarded her on graduation day. “It was a sight to be seen as they marched in step with their heads held high.”
The mission of the organization is to keep all military women, past and present, informed of current benefits associated with their military service, to keep female veterans connected while preserving their common glory and to provide opportunities for women in tomorrow’s armed forces through networking, socialization, and service with and for other female veterans.
WMAN members have served in all major conflicts, including WWll, the Korean era, Vietnam, the Cold War, Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, the Global War on Terror, Operation New Dawn, Afghanistan, Iraq and in peace time.
For more information, visit www.miwomen.org , call Ash at 796-0744.
Peggy Mishoe, firstname.lastname@example.org, 365-3885.