Harrisburg, PA - Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf today joined the Pennsylvania Commission for Women to host an event to honor Pennsylvania’s female veterans in celebration of Women’s History Month. The event honored 19 women from across the commonwealth representing every branch of the armed services for their brave service and selfless contributions to Pennsylvania and to the nation.
“Frances and I are honored to join such decorated female veterans as we celebrate each of their accomplishments along with the thousands of other women who have served or are serving in the armed forces,” said Gov. Wolf. “Thank you for the example of public service you provide to young women in Pennsylvania and for breaking down barriers and paving the way for the next generation of women who want to find success and fulfillment in military service.”
“On behalf of the Pennsylvania Commission for Women, we are honored to join the Governor and First Lady to recognize the courageous and selfless women who have served in the military,” Commission Chair Randi Teplitz said. “Women who have served deserve our endless gratitude for the vitally important role that they have had in keeping Pennsylvania, and our nation, safe. We are excited to share the unique stories and accomplishments of these 19 women who have triumphed in both the public and private sectors.”
The women who were honored today included the following:
- Sharon DeMaison from Crawford County joined the United States Air Force in 2009 as a Flight Nurse. She deployed four times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to help the wounded warriors serving our country, and now works as a nurse practitioner.
- Danielle Farber from Dauphin County enlisted in the Army National Guard and attended the Army’s prestigious Ranger school. She is honored today for a list of accomplishments in completing Ranger school including the first female from Pennsylvania, first female medic and first female Sergeant (E-5).
- Myra Fields-Rouse from Philadelphia County made the selection board for promotion to Major prior to retiring after 21 years of service in the United States Army.
- Patti Gerhauser from Allegheny County served in the United States Navy, where she spent two years on sea service and deployed to the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Aden. She is currently the Executive Director for the veteran service organization RISE: Rank & File.
- Cynthia Good from Cumberland County is honored today for 19 years of service in both the Army National Guard and Air National Guard.
- Priscillia Hamilton from Erie County is honored today for over 33 years of active service through the Reserve Officers Training Corps, including Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
- Marilyn Kelly-Cavotta from Northampton County served 13 years combined in the Army and National Guard as a Combat Medic. She is currently the Director of Veteran and Military Affairs at Moravian College.
- Loretta Kendall from Washington County was the first female to achieve the rank of Chief Master Sergeant in the legal career field in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. She retired after serving for almost 32 years.
- Jessica King from Allegheny County enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1988. She was the first female to be activated in a combat zone from her unit during a deployment to Iraq. She currently works for the Veteran’s Leadership Program for at risk and homeless veterans.
- Deborah Kramer from Adams County enlisted in the Army National Guard as a Combat Medic and Operating Room Technician. She served with the 85th Evacuation Hospital during the first Gulf War.
- Christine LeClair from Carbon County was deployed to Iraq twice and stationed in Honduras during her career in the United States Army. She is now the Director of the Carbon County Veterans Affairs Office.
- Zoraya Nieves from Philadelphia County enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves in 1991 and was honorably discharged after serving seven years and reaching the rank of corporal (E-4).
- Barbara Omstead from Berks County served in the United States Air Force for 22 years. During her service, she was deployed to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, among others, and flew hundreds of hours on combat and combat support missions.
- Elizabeth Pettis from Lebanon County served in the United States Amy for over 10 years as both a Commissioned and a Non-Commissioned Officer on active duty and in the Reserves. She currently works as the Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
- Bernice “Bobbie” Trotter from Montgomery County joined the Air National Guard in 1975, three years after her return from Vietnam as a Red Cross volunteer. She was active and influential in establishing the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.
- Marlena Ventresca Parker from Bucks County was commissioned upon graduation from the United States Air Force Academy. She served nine years on active duty and 18 years in the Reserve in a variety of flying and staff positions at the squadron and wing level. She was the first female commander of the 73d Airlift Squadron, Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.
- Annmarie Waite from Erie County entered the United States Army in 1975. Her first assignment was in Foreign Intelligence at the Pentagon and served in an Intelligence Unit in Korea until her retirement in 1998. She also served on the President’s Star War Program and the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Teams in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
- Rachetta Welker from Crawford County served 28 years in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. She was mobilized and deployed to England and Sicily in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
- Sabrina Whitehurst, MD from Centre County served six years on active duty in the United States Army. She is currently the Western Regional Director in Women’s Health for Geisinger and continues to serve as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Amy Reserves.
The Pennsylvania Commission for Women, which was created by Executive Order and consists of volunteer members, is responsible for advising the Governor on policies and legislation that impact women; supporting economic and civic opportunities for women; encouraging mentoring programs for girls and young women; identifying programs and opportunities for the benefit and advancement of women; and serving as a resource center for Pennsylvania women and girls.
To learn more about the Pennsylvania Commission for Women, visit the Commission’s website here or follow the Commission on Facebook here.
# # #