Flags wave in the air, the national anthem echoes through the halls and the color guard marches in as American River College honors military women.
The Veterans Resource Center at ARC partnered with Veterans Affairs to host a Military Women’s Appreciation Day on Saturday Oct. 26. More than 400 people attended the six-hour event held in the Student Center. Veterans were offered classes about mental health and spiritual wellness along with veteran-specific resources. The event started with a presentation by the American Legion Post color guard and attendees were welcomed by a community of women with shared experiences.
Christina Seui served in the U.S. Army for five years as a supply woman and works as a lead tutor in mathematics, biology and chemistry at the Veterans Resource Center at ARC. She said the event helps women take care of little things they can’t usually do because of their family or life.
“It’s nice to feel loved and pampered,” Seui said. “It is amazing to have services available to us and for us. Our community is open to all the women veterans out here. We were only allowed certain jobs 20 to 25 years ago, but now we have servicewomen in infantry and we are happy to be recognized for what we do.”
Seui said she volunteers at the event to give back to the veteran community because she knows first-hand the sacrifices they have to make.
This altruistic sentiment was echoed by Benita Wilson, who served at Travis Air Force Base and volunteered her time singing the national anthem at the opening of the event. She said she feels events like this reminds them of who they are as women.
“[I] came here to appreciate and love on the women,” Wilson said. “I have had a great network and support system. I know there are many women who feel [invisible] and we want to erase that feeling and that facade. We want them to know how valuable they are.”
Dan White, a member of the color guard, retired base operator in the Marine Corps, and heavy mechanic in the National Guard, said there should be equal rights for everyone and no one should be left behind, discarded or thrown off to the side.
“We lose 20 veterans every day to suicide,” White said. “I did the math one time. In a year we lose more than 8,600 (veterans). They commit suicide because they feel all hope is lost and there’s no hope or help for them.”
White said these events are important for female veterans to get the resources they need for housing, food, and medical needs because they have paid the price.
“I am proud to be here to represent the flag and represent the military,” White said.