Robinson, RMU Honor Local Women Veterans

PITTSBURGH – Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-37) was joined by Robert Morris University (RMU) President Dr. Michelle Patrick today to honor local women veterans, including former prisoner of war (POW) Jessica Lynch.

“June 12 is not a separate Veterans Day – it commemorates the signing of the Women’s Armed Services Act by President Harry S. Truman in 1948,” said Robinson. “It’s a day to honor the historic inclusion of women in the military, acknowledging their bravery, heroism and dedicated service to the republic since its inception.”

The event at UPMC Events Center highlighted the service of women of southwestern Pennsylvania, including 99-year-old Betty Digby and 103-year-old Julia Parsons.

“I was too young to enlist but wouldn’t ask my parents for permission. When the D-Day invasion happened, I knew I had to do something,” Digby said. “I waited for my 20th birthday. And, on my lunch break, I signed up for the WAVES. And my grandma said, ‘I understand.’”

“I was going to join the WAACS but I agree with Betty – their uniforms were not good looking. So, WAVES it was,” Parsons said.

The gathering stirred emotions as Robinson reunited with a former POW. In March of 2003, Robinson, then an infantryman, and his United States Marine Corps unit conducted door-to-door searches in Nasiriyah, Iraq, in the days preceding the subsequent rescue of Army POW Jessica Lynch. Lynch herself served as the event’s keynote speaker.

Jessica Lynch, who lives by the motto ‘perseverance,’ talked about the day her group was ambushed in Nasiriyah, Iraq after veering off track from a convoy. “It was total chaos. We had two working weapons that day. I was the only survivor, barely surviving. The Iraqis removed all my gear and proceeded to break all my bones,” Lynch said. “They took me to a hospital. I spent the next nine days hoping and praying that I would be found. Then they then took me to an abandoned building on the outskirts of town and left me.”

Despite it all, including recovering from yet another surgery recently, Lynch said she would sign up to serve again, stating that her service helped mold and guide her into the person she is today.

Robinson is working to support funding of up to $500,000 for the RMU Center for Veterans and Military Families to bolster the center’s resources, helping it to expand programs and services for veterans and their families.

“We are deeply appreciative of this grant, which will bolster our mission at the Center for Veterans and Military Families,” said Christie McFadden, director of the center. “These funds will help us maintain dedicated facilities and provide essential resources, including tuition support, mental health services and leadership training.”

RMU is a Top Ten Military Friendly School that provides industry-leading support and services to veteran and military students and their families.

Although women have been serving in the American military since before the nation’s founding, it wasn’t until 1948 that they were officially recognized as military members or veterans. It’s projected that by 2040 women will constitute approximately 17% of the total veteran population.


CONTACT: Kevin Battle

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