Black History Culture : Black women veterans

Discussion in 'Black History - Culture - Panafricanism' started by dustyelbow, Sep 17, 2006.

  1. dustyelbow

    dustyelbow Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    ‘We must have someone to tell our story’
    Black women veterans, meeting in Kansas City, recall serving their country in a time of discrimination.
    By JAMES HART
    The Kansas City Star

    “We want to preserve it because we don’t want people to forget what happened.”
    Gladys Carter, discussing her military service and that of other black women in World War II

    When Azalia Oliver was a soldier in World War II, she helped fight the Axis as millions of other servicemen and servicewomen did.

    As a black woman, though, Oliver also struggled against discrimination. The Cleveland native quit her studies at a music conservatory and joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, which stationed her with a hospital unit at Fort Riley, Kan.

    “When I think of how we were treated … and yet we made light of it,” she said.

    Carter and more than 100 other people are attending the biennial convention of the National Association of Black Military Women this week at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown.

    The reunions are more than just a time to socialize. They double as an opportunity for historians, documentary makers and reporters to meet the veterans and record the women’s stories. Because more World War II veterans die each year, the association is trying to collect their history before it disappears.

    Their stories are stark reminders of a time when segregation was the law of the land.

    Women who had been recruited from college, who “had degrees the length of your arm,” were forced to sit in the back of movie theaters. Even though they wore the uniform, they could not get service at local diners, Oliver said.

    Oliver and other servicewomen were kept away from whites on base, too. The black women did not even eat or bunk with white servicewomen.

    “They went one way, and we went the other,” she said.

    Other soldiers had steam heat. Oliver’s unit had to tend a cast-iron stove that burned coal.

    “I learned how to bank a fire,” Oliver said.

    Even the German prisoners of war — whose first word in English usually was the n-word — were given better barracks.

    Oliver said that despite said it all, her time in the military was one of her proudest memories.

    Oliver’s generation was the first to join the Army in significant numbers, said Rosetta Burke, the association’s president. They led the way for other black women in the wars that followed, from Korea through Iraq.

    About 10 to 15 World War II veterans are attending this week’s convention, Burke said.

    One is Gladys Carter, who was part of a unit that handled mail for the entire European theater. She and other servicewomen would sort entire buildings full of letters, directing them to men who were constantly moving across the continent.

    “Those men never would’ve gotten that mail without us,” another veteran, Burnadine Flanagan, said.

    Flanagan said that before she was sent overseas, she attended training at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., where she and other servicewomen were warned to stay on base. It was partly because of the intense training, but also because their safety could not be guaranteed in town.

    She remembers going on bivouac and learning how to use a gas mask. “We did everything the men did,” Flanagan said.

    Many of the association’s members belong to other veterans groups, such as the American Legion.

    “But we must have someone to tell our story,” Carter said.

    Carter said that she and other veterans don’t dwell on the discrimination. They all joined voluntarily, after all. For many of them, the military was a place where they made lifelong friends and served their nation.

    They simply want historians and others to know the whole story of what they experienced.


    ***The whole article here***
     
  2. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    Photo: "WAACs off for Fort Clark." Prints
    and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.
     
  3. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    Black female vets on front line of war at home





    By Michelle Balani
    9:25 AM on 06/27/2011

    ...."For any veteran, it is a very tough time, going from war, being with people who understand what it's like and what you're going through to feeling almost alone and not understood by anyone," said J. Ashwin Madia, Interim Chairman of VoteVets.org, a veteran advocacy group. "Less than one percent of America has served in the wars we're in, and even fewer women. So, for women to re-enter society, it can be a very solitary experience. Homelessness is also a huge issue and there's a very strong link between PTSD and homelessness among veterans of all generations."


    Out of the 150,000 women who have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002, 23 percent of them are African-American. Sydney Lee, the president of the African American PTSDAssociation, says that black women in combat zones have higher rates of PTSD, and they are often victims of assaults that are never reported. With only 15 Veterans Affairs centers across the country providing residential mental-health treatment specifically for women with PTSD, is the nation adequately prepared to serve the unique needs of this population, and help them make a successful transition back to the lives they once knew?...

    continued here: http://www.thegrio.com/news/black-w...-to-life-of-uncertainty-limited-resources.php
     
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