With thousands of women veterans living in the Fort Campbell area, a group committed to promoting their interests and sharing their stories is looking for 101 women to share their stories of serving in the military.
The Women Veterans of America Chapter 47 is putting together a yearbook aimed at highlighting women who served in any branch of the military, in any role, over different eras to share the contributions they made and where life has led them.
“Our goal is really to hit 101 for the 101st Airborne Division,” said Teresa English, Chapter 47 commander.
The books will include biographies of each female veteran or active-duty service member, a photo from their military days and a current photo, said member Rocio Del Carmen Terry, who volunteered to help compile book entries.
English said the yearbooks will preserve history and be a nice book that can be passed down to friends and Family.
The book is expected to be ready by November so participants can get together for a yearbook signing, Terry said. Each woman must provide a 600-word biography, written in second or third-person voice and be a member of the WVA Chapter 47 who served any length of time in the military or those who are still active-duty service members.
“The way I look at this project is it’s an opportunity for women veterans to tell their story, to capture what they did in their careers, their time of service and also talk about where they went from the time they did their serviced until now,” Terry said.
Terry retired from the Army on May 21 after a 20-year career as a petroleum supply specialist. Her final assignment was Fort Campbell, which is also where her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Brian E. Terry retired two years ago.
She was invited to join WVA Chapter 47 and then recruited to help with the yearbook, Terry said. It is her first mission for the chapter and she is excited that it will highlight the achievements of women because they are often overlooked as veterans.
“Being that I’m married to a retired veteran, anytime we go somewhere, they assume the man is the only one who served,” Terry said. “They never assume the woman also served. So, they go to my husband and they thank him for his service.”
She said it is important for people to be aware that women serve too.
“There are women from every background, every aspect of life,” Terry said. “They do so many jobs and now they are doing combat arms jobs and they’re getting promoted and doing amazing things.”
By telling her story, she hopes to inspire others, from other women thinking of joining WVA Chapter 47 to her two sons who are Boy Scouts.
“I think it’s very important that people know that especially here in Clarksville and the Fort Campbell area there is a huge population of veteran women,” Terry said. “Also, I think it’s important for my children to see that. I’ve always wanted to be a good role model for them. Not only did I do a job, I served 20 years and now I’m going into the professional workforce and I’ve done things. I want them to know anybody can do it.”
Telling her story
Terry was born in Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States in 1993. She lived in Texas with her adopted Family and was active in JROTC during her four years at North Mesquite High School before becoming the first woman in her Family to join the military.
Terry said she wanted to better her life and to travel the world.
She served in positions from squad leader to detachment first sergeant and her assignments took her to installations in Georgia, Germany, North Carolina and Korea. She deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
As a new member for the WVA Chapter 47, Terry is putting her leadership skills to use by coordinating the stories, photos and editing for the yearbook.
But the process of creating the yearbook is very much a team project. Terry is part of a committee that includes English, Veronica Ashford, Celestine McNeal, Jackie Knight, Leslie Kidd, Sharon Barrett and Beverly McLaughlin
At the start of 2020, English said one of her goals was to grow the chapter’s membership from 81 active members to at least 101, another tribute to the 101st Airborne Division. The chapter is actively recruiting women on social media and through word of mouth. A number of events, including the Women Veterans of America National Convention scheduled for September in Clarksville was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
English hopes the yearbook will inspire women to join the chapter.
“If they want to be in the yearbook, we want them to join the chapter and be in our yearbook as well,” she said.
Although over the last three-and-a-half years, Chapter 47 has grown its membership, English said, there are still women the group would like to reach.
“I know there are over 7,000 women veterans in Montgomery County, so we still have a lot of work to do,” she said. “We’re still trying to find some more.”
Terry met English while she was doing an internship at USO Pathfinders, and English told her about WVA Chapter 47.
“They were looking at getting a little more, I’d say new blood, younger ladies to be part of the chapter,” Terry said. “She told me what they did and their mission. I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet other veteran women.”
Women Veterans of America is a national nonprofit veterans service organization that advocates for all veterans, but especially women who have served or are still serving, to ensure their rights, benefits and recognition.
To reach the goal of 101 profiles in the yearbook, more women veterans are needed and the Aug. 31 deadline is fast approaching. As of mid-July, 63 women had paid deposits for the yearbooks but only 43 had completed their biography and submitted both photographs. Terry is waiting on 20 who are still working on their submissions and the committee is hoping to get more existing or new members involved.
“To make that 101, we need 38 more to participate,” Terry said. “We’re a diverse organization so we are looking for every branch, every rank, it doesn’t matter if they served a year, if they served 32 years. It doesn’t matter if they were enlisted or an officer – as long as they are a chapter member and they want to tell the story of their service.”
For women who want to learn more about joining WVA Chapter 47, email email@example.com. Those who are members and want to take part in the yearbook, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Information also is available at the WVA Chapter 47’s Facebook page.