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Women's History Month
Women's History Month
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Women Veterans, a long and distinguished history
By Antonio Sánchez, MD, MHSA, FAPA, FACHE
I would like to emphasize not only women veterans from around the world, but the Puerto Rican Women Veterans that since World War I, Puerto Rican female Physicians were contracted as civilians in the military, especially in operating rooms. As an example to that, Surgeon Dr. Dolores Piñeiro was among the first Puerto Rican women to serve under contract for the Army in October 1918. Piñeiro helped open a 400 bed Army Base hospital in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Later in 1944, during World War II, many Puerto Rican Nurses volunteered to serve with the Army and Navy Nurse Corps. The war brought opportunities for women to serve in jobs other than Nursing. They worked under the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps later recognized as Women’s Army Corp (“WAC’s”).
More than 200 Puerto Rican women worked for the WAC’s from 1944 to 1946. Among these Puerto Rican women Veterans we remember Carmen Garcia Rosado, a Humacao, Puerto Rico native, Carmen Medina, from San Sebastian, Puerto Rico, Maria Rodriguez Denton, a Guánica, Puerto Rico native, Idalia Salcedo Rodriguez, of Naguabo, Gloria Esparra, from Barranquitas, Nilda Carrulas Cedeño from Toa Baja, Ana Alicea Díaz from San Juan and many others not listed here.
Currently, our Puerto Rican Women Veterans have served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and continue their service in fighting the War on Terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the globe. Many of them have also made the ultimate sacrifice in the battlefields, and it is with great honor that we remember them for their gallantry and selfless service to the nation.
The U.S. Department of Defense has made it clear that their service is important for the success of the mission and values women Veterans not only for their work, but also for their courage.
Piñeiro not only broke ethnic/racial barriers of discrimination. She was never afraid to accept any challenges brought onto her by always putting the best of her talents and efforts in any task at hand. I can attest that Puerto Rico’s Women Veterans are BRAVE and will always fight any battle with dignity and pride wherever the call of duty requires them to go.
Thank You for your service!