WASHINGTON — From distance runners to cyclists, the stories of 10 women Veteran athletes will be displayed at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers around the country in March, to coincide with Women’s History Month.
“The Women Veteran Athletes Initiative will highlight the strength, diversity and resilience of women who served our country,” said VA Secretary David Shulkin. “With this effort, our goal is to increase awareness of women Veterans, both in VA and in the public, and to encourage women Veterans to choose VA to support their health and wellness goals.”
In order to accomplish the Women Veteran Athletes Initiative, VA’s Center for Women’s Veterans, with assistance from the Veterans Canteen Service, has partnered with Team Red, White & Blue, a nonprofit organization that advocates for Veterans. The Semper Fi Fund and Comcast are also supporting this initiative.
“We are thrilled to be a part of this exhibition to celebrate these women and the role physical activity has played in their lives,” said Megan King, development director of Team Red, White & Blue. “Through this collaboration, we showcase the power of sport and its role in increasing Veterans’ life enrichment through enhanced physical, mental and emotional health.”
The 10 women Veteran athletes represent all branches of the armed services, and were selected by VA and its partners. The women who will be featured in the initiative are:
- Ardrena Bailey, a U.S. Army Veteran from Alexandria, Virginia. Bailey has participated in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games (multiple sports).
- Ivanna Brown, a U.S. Air Force Veteran from Miami, Florida. Brown has participated in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games (multiple sports).
- Candice Caesar, a U.S. Army Veteran from Houston, Texas. Caesar is a triathlete and distance runner.
- Bernadine Donato, a Veteran of the U.S. Navy and Air Force, from Raleigh, North Carolina. She participates in weight training, running, cycling and Zumba.
- Mila Dimal, a U.S. Navy Veteran from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Dimal is a runner.
- Cami Gage, a U.S. Air Force Veteran from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Gage is a triathlete.
- Indira Glennon, a U.S. Army Veteran from Columbia, South Carolina. She is a triathlete who runs, as well.
- Sarah Holzhalb, a U.S. Coast Guard Veteran from Covington, Louisiana. Holzhalb’s athletic interests include running, biking, yoga and basketball.
- Angela Madsen, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran from Long Beach, California. Madsen participates in Paralympics shotput and rowing.
- Judi Roberts, a Veteran of the U.S. Air National Guard, from Martinsburg, West Virginia. Roberts has participated in the Golden Age Games (multiple sports).
Photos of the women were taken by Air Force Veteran Stacy Pearsall, founder of the Veterans Portrait Project. The displays, which include photos of the women in and out of uniform, along with a brief biography, will be featured at the following VA facilities in March, after which the displays will travel to additional facilities:
- Albany Stratton VA Medical Center, Albany, New York
- Anchorage VA Medical Center, Anchorage, Alaska
- Atlanta VA Medical Center, Atlanta, Georgia
- Dayton VA Medical Center, Dayton, Ohio
- El Paso VA Medical Center, El Paso, Texas
- Bruce W. Carter VA Medical Center, Miami, Florida
- Minneapolis VA Health Care System, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- VA Portland VA Health Care, Portland, Oregon
- VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System, Reno, Nevada
- Sioux Falls VA Health Care System, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
For more information about VA’s benefits and services for women Veterans, as well as the Women Veteran Athletes Initiative, visit www.va.gov/womenvet.