Women’s Military History Week commemorated at Vallejo event

VALLEJO — The third week in March is designated as “Women’s Military History Week ” and, in the city of Vallejo on Saturday, a special ceremony was held to recognize female veterans and encourage them to speak out about their service.

Salutes to the military are not unusual — they happen several times a year across the country — but recognizing women who serve is rare. On Saturday, the city of Vallejo offered a special thank-you to the women who have had to fight for the right to fight for their country.

“For your small town to recognize your service after so long is very, very gratifying and very beneficial,” said retired Army Command Sergeant Major Roberta Santiago.

Women have played a key role in the wartime history of the nation but, even as their role has become more central to the combat mission, their efforts are often overlooked.

Dolores Mack
Dolores Mack received a certificate of recognition from the city of Vallejo at an event honoring women in the military.


Dolores Mack joined the Navy in 1955, and retired with the rank of Chief Petty Officer. She said women veterans have stayed quiet about their service for too long.

“It’s a time now for women to stand up and not be afraid to speak and be a part of our country,” she said. “But we’ve always been in the background and now we’re coming up to be equal and stand up for what we believe is right.”

Delphine Metcalf-Foster was injured in Operation Desert Storm and was awarded the Bronze Star.  She became a U.S. Army Reserve First Sergeant, a rank referred to in the field as “Top.” Although she had the respect of her own troops, with outsiders it was a constant struggle.

“The guys in the next company said ‘You’ve got to be kidding! A woman for a sergeant? What are you guys doing? I wouldn’t take orders from a woman,'” Metcalf-Foster said. “And the gentleman who told me the story said, ‘You know what we told him, Top? We wouldn’t have come over here with anyone else because she don’t belong to the good old boys club!'”

Metcalf-Foster said her story is common for women in the military.

“There’s so many women that have broken barriers, that have done things that we will never even know but, while their male counterparts are being recognized, a lot of women are not,” she said.

Perhaps because it has been such a struggle, many women veterans don’t talk much about their service.  As a result, they’ve had a hard time getting consideration when it comes to benefits for both retired and active-duty service members.

“Not every woman is willing to stand up for what is right, for what is right for themselves, for what is right for the person next to them. It’s important because, if not you — who?” said Lourdes Tiglao, director of the VA’s Center for Women Veterans.

As a token of gratitude and encouragement, the city offered its women veterans a certificate of recognition, one small symbol that their sacrifice was not going unseen. Even though she is now 90 years old, Chief Dolores Mack said she cherishes the gesture and she urged current servicewomen to speak up for fair treatment.

“Because, if we don’t, everything we fought for will be lost,” Mack said. “We’ve got to continue. We’ve got to be on equal balance with everything because we’re here to stay. We’re not going anywhere!”

Women veterans are being urged to participate in the “I Am Not Invisible” campaign by contributing to the oral history project, preserving their experiences for future generations.

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