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Ceremony Honoring Alaska’s Women Veterans at State Capitol


New fund created to benefit programs and services for Alaska’s women veterans

JUNEAU-Today, the Co-Chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Veterans Caucus, Senate President Charlie Huggins and Representative Steve Thompson, joined forces with Governor Sean Parnell and representatives from the Rasmuson Foundation to host a ceremony honoring Alaska’s women veterans at the Alaska State Capitol Building.

During the ceremony, Rasmuson Foundation President Diane Kaplan announced the creation of a new fund to benefit programs and services for Alaska’s women veterans.  The Women Veterans Fund is endowed with $500,000 from the Rasmuson Foundation in honor of Mary Louise Rasmuson, who was a former board member, a 20-year U.S. Army veteran, and the fifth director of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC).

Several veterans and active military members attended the ceremony including U.S. Army Retired Major Becky Huggins, U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Sarah Morin, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Andrea Lirette, Army National Guard Colonel Cathy Jorgensen, Vanessa Meade who served as a military police officer in the First Gulf War in Iraq, Retired Air Force  Tech Sergeant Pam Beale who is also a member of the Alaskan Veterans Advisory Council, and the first woman to ever serve as Command Sergeant Major in the Alaska National Guard, Pam Harrington.

 More than 8,500 female veterans live in Alaska, making up 11-percent of the state’s veteran population.

“Our young men and women volunteer to go serve with Uncle Sam.  And this is about those young men and women,” said Senator Huggins.  “Some of them come back and you can see the scars on their bodies.  Others you can’t see it, but it’s someplace.   It’s tough.”

“We’ve known since the dawn of time that Heroism knows no gender.   Women serving our nation do so out of selflessness, patriotism and courage,” said Governor Parnell.   “We honor them and their commitment to serve.  There are still unique challenges that women veterans face, and the Women Veterans Fund will provide a source of support to address those challenges for the heroes who choose to call Alaska home.”

“I was proud and honored to recognize the military service of women and the work that the Rasmuson Foundation is doing for Alaska’s women veterans,” said Representative Thompson.

Earnings from the fund, which is permanently invested at The Alaska Community Foundation, will be granted to support the programs of the Alaska Veterans Organization for Women (AVOW), a program of Anchorage YWCA.

Staffed by volunteers, AVOW was created in 2011 to support women veterans through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment. Through monthly meetings, an annual retreat, and peer connections, AVOW addresses tough issues like the guilt women feel when leaving their families to serve, military sexual trauma, and a lack of some veterans services for women.

Contributions to the Women Veterans Fund are tax-deductible and can be made by contacting The Alaska Community Foundation by phone at 907-334-6700 or by email at info@alaskacf.org.

For more information, please call Senate Majority Press Secretary Carolyn Kuckertz at 907-465-3803.

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