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Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs Salutes Women Veterans during Women's History Month

Press Release - Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CHICAGO - In conjunction with National Women's History Month, the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs (IDVA) today hosted a "Salute to Women Veterans" to honor and thank women veterans in Illinois for their dedicated military service. Governor Pat Quinn also issued a proclamation declaring today as Women Veterans Recognition Day in Illinois.

Marine Corps Veteran Muriel Frieda Underwood of Chicago, 86, was also honored as the March 2010 Veteran of the Month.

The program was held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph St., with IDVA also hosting a resource fair providing information about organizations and programs catering to the specific needs of women veterans. The Jesse Brown VA Medical Center Women's Health Clinic, Bogan Quarters transition housing for homeless women veterans, Inner Voice, and the Illinois Department of Employment Security were among those participating.

"During Women's History Month, we take time to recognize and honor the brave women who answered our nation's call to duty - often, without rank, title or even acknowledgement," IDVA Director Dan Grant said. "Today, and always, we proudly salute the accomplishments made by these courageous women. Their contributions and sacrifices will never be forgotten."

Decorated Navy Veteran Capt. Kathryn Serbin, Naval Health Clinic Great Lakes Women's Program Coordinator, served as the keynote speaker. Navy Veteran Denise Fields, membership director for the American Legion Department of Illinois, was also a guest speaker.

Director Grant presented the Veteran of the Month Award to Muriel Frieda Underwood, of Chicago. Underwood, a native of Chillicothe, near Peoria, joined the U.S. Marine Corps Women's Reserve in 1943. A children's book designer, Underwood, 86, is an active member of the Women Marines Association and the Marine Corps League.

"I am very proud to have served our country as a Marine, and I've done my best to keep the contributions of women Marines visible to the public," Underwood said.

Director Grant also presented Gov. Quinn's proclamation declaring March 30, 2010 as Women Veterans Recognition Day in Illinois.

The text of the Governor's proclamation follows:

WHEREAS, throughout history, women have displayed their patriotism by courageously serving in the various branches of the United States Armed Forces; and

WHEREAS, although women did not officially receive permanent military status until President Harry Truman signed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act in 1948, they have served and distinguished themselves in times of peace as well as during every major conflict since the birth of our great nation; and

WHEREAS, prior to 1948, women served in numerous support roles both on and off the battlefields in such capacities as nurses, saboteurs, cooks, mechanics, clerks, telephone operators, and drivers; and

WHEREAS, today, there are approximately 350,000 women, or almost 15 percent of the active duty, reserve and guard units, enlisted in the various branches of the United States Armed Forces; and

WHEREAS, on March 30, in honor of women's history month, the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs will host a "Salute to Women Veterans," to acknowledge the numerous sacrifices and accomplishments made by the brave women who have served our country through military service:

THEREFORE, I, Pat Quinn, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim March 30, 2010 as WOMEN VETERANS RECOGNITION DAY in Illinois, and encourage all citizens to honor those women veterans who have courageously served our country.