History at the VFW

Published 8:26 pm Monday, June 23, 2014

The days are long gone when the opportunity to serve the country through a career in the military was available only to men. Today, women can be found in all branches of the armed forces, performing nearly every job, posted in nearly every unit and advancing to the very highest ranks.

But old habits die hard, and some of the organizations that exist to support members of the military once they leave the service have been slower to adapt to the gender diversity within the ranks of veterans. By the simple practicality of the all-male nature of America’s armed forces until the latter part of the 20th century, organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars have been clubs largely for men throughout most of their history.

But things have started to change as the nation’s military has begun retiring a crop of women with the medals, bars, stars and other insignia that bear witness to their wartime service — and increasingly often in hot combat situations.

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Those women have earned the same right to the camaraderie and support to be found in such organizations that has long been enjoyed by the men who came back from war. And, to its credit, the VFW has been learning to embrace them as members for a few years now.

At a few VFW posts around the country — including, recently, Post 2582 in Suffolk — the distaff ascendancy has reached to the highest levels, and women have begun to lead as commanders. The Suffolk post’s first female commander, Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicky Morrison, an active-duty Hospital Corpsman Second Class assigned to the Naval Hospital Branch Clinic at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, was elected to lead Post 2582 last month.

“With the current situation concerning the (Veterans Administration) still looming over us, I know my work will be to ensure Suffolk’s veterans get what treatment and recognition they deserve,” Morrison wrote in response to recent questions from the Suffolk News-Herald. “I look forward to continuing the legacy of service to the community our post has become known for over the past 76 years.”

Considering her qualifications, her meritorious service and her eagerness to serve the VFW, it seems clear that Morrison was a great choice to lead Post 2582. That she sets a historical precedent in doing so is just a wonderful bonus.