Missouri Governor Mike Parson this week signed bipartisan legislation designating June 12 of each year Women Veterans Appreciation Day.

The bill was sponsored by State Rep. David Tyson Smith (D-Columbia) at the request of Elizabeth Herrera, the Executive Director of Mission Promise Kept at Stephens College, and a United States Air Force Veteran.

“Recognizing women in the military is something I’ve always valued because I’ve served side by side with women in the armed forces and I tell people all the time when you are in situations of battle, it really doesn’t matter who the other person is beside you – we are all definitely dependent on one another to survive,” Gov. Parson remarked before signing the bill. “It doesn’t matter who that person is, where that person comes from, what they look like, at the end of the day, you’re soldiers.”

Recognizing women veterans for their contributions to the armed forces holds special meaning for Smith, whose grandmother served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. 

“I was honored to introduce and pass legislation honoring women veterans,” Smith said. “My grandmother was an incredible woman and mentor. I’m grateful for all the sacrifices of servicewomen throughout the decades.”

Herrera emphasized the significance of Women Veterans Appreciation Day to recognize and honor the “invaluable yet frequently overlooked contributions of women in the military” while acknowledging their sacrifices, preserving their historical legacy, and inspiring future generations. 

“This day is not intended to overshadow the importance of Veterans Day; rather, it addresses historical imbalances by highlighting the extraordinary feats of women in the armed forces, offering a dedicated platform to celebrate their accomplishments and fostering a more comprehensive understanding of military service and dedication,” Herrera said.

Smith said June 12 is a significant date because it was the day in 1948 when President Harry Truman allowed all women to serve permanently in the armed forces. The first Women Veterans Appreciation Day will be celebrated June 12, 2024. About 14 states have a Women Veterans Appreciation Day. 

Mission Promise Kept is the first comprehensive college program designed to meet the full spectrum of living and learning needs of women veterans. Stephens College launched the program in 2022. The program fulfills Stephens College President Dr. Dianne Lynch’s vision of a residential community of women veterans that provides wraparound supports needed to thrive on a college campus, including on-campus housing and childcare. 

Stephens College recently received a three-year grant for $600,612 from the U.S. Department of Education to develop a Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success. The center will allow the college to serve men and women veteran students at Stephens College, and Mission Promise Kept will be part of the center.

Mission Promise Kept Executive Director

Elizabeth Herrera, MNM, SHRM-SCP

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