Thank you, Phyllis. And thank you for your decades of service to our country and your leadership ensuring women service members and veterans are remembered and recognized. It’s an honor to be here with all of you.
And great to see you, Senator Collins. Your leadership is steadfast and we are all grateful for your service.
Women have never been drafted, but they have always answered the call of duty—to serve in whatever way they could. And for 75 years, they have been able to serve as permanent, regular members of our military.
Through Joining Forces—my White House initiative to support military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors—I’ve traveled the country meeting service members and their families. And I’ve seen the dedication and resilience of our women in uniform, as well as the leadership of our women veterans.
More than a decade ago, when our country was still at war, I visited Camp Pendleton and observed the Infantry Immersion Trainer, a state-of-the-art facility combat simulation exercise designed to resemble an Afghan village. There, I met a group of Marines just before they deployed to Afghanistan.
Even though these women couldn’t formally serve in combat positions, they were still on their way to the front lines.
As many of you may know, women in Afghanistan couldn’t speak with the male troops who came to their cities and villages. But they could speak to other women.
The Marines I met were members of a Female Engagement Team trained to forge connections with women in Afghanistan. And their conversations made everyone safer—Afghan and American troops. Their bravery has stayed with me all these years not only to face danger, but to create their own path.
Around us today, are the names and faces of women who led others into battle, saved lives, and shattered glass ceilings.
I know the journey has not always been easy. And I know that the progress we’ve made has not been felt equally by all. But you never gave up.
This audience is a testament to the progress we can make when we invest in women and believe in them. When we work together to tear down the barriers that hold so many back.
And Brigadier General Vaught, thank you for fighting for women in uniform—and women everywhere—to have the rights and recognition they deserve.
There’s more work to do, like making our armed forces safer and more inclusive, and strengthening access to childcare so moms don’t feel like they need to step back. And you remind us why we must keep going, not just for ourselves, but for the girls who will inherit our world.
This memorial is a place to honor and mourn those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. But, it’s also a place to celebrate those who survived. Those who were denied opportunities and dismissed because they were women, and who fought to change that for the generations to come.
Today, the United States has the greatest fighting force in the world. Our nation is stronger and our world is safer. And that’s thanks to you.
Your President and I are grateful for everything you’ve done and continue to do.
May God bless you and your families. Thank you.
And now, it’s my pleasure to introduce a leader who works tirelessly to strengthen our military and help the women—and men—who serve: Senator Susan Collins.
Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2023/06/12/remarks-as-prepared-for-delivery-by-first-lady-jill-biden-at-the-military-womens-memorial-celebrating-75-years-of-women-serving-in-the-united-states-armed-forces/
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