Magazine article VFW Magazine

Women Earn Top Leadership Spots in Posts

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Women Earn Top Leadership Spots in Posts

Article excerpt

At Posts around the country, female members are breaking ground by being sworn in as commanders.

As women grow in number in the military and as veterans, VFW Posts are seeing a spike in the prevalence of women members and leaders.

C.J. Watson was elected the first female commander of VFW Post 3073 in Dothan, Ala., in June 2008. A 21-year Navy vet, Watson earned her VFW eligibility serving in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War. She likens her becoming a Post commander to breaking gender barriers in the military.

"At first it was difficult," Watson told the Dothan Eagle. "[Other veterans] would ask me if I've fought in a war. I've been in two. Then it was 'Well, were you actually on a ship?' and yeah, I was. But I've proven I'm here for VFW [members] and their families."

While Watson recognizes the significance of her leadership as a woman, she gives due credit to her male predecessors.

"I don't think I'm better or different than any other commander, and they've left me quite the shoes to fill," Watson told the Dothan Eagle.

Since Watson's appointment as commander, mere have been some changes around the Post, both for her and the rest of the members.

"The older veterans broke me of saying bad words, since I'm a sailor, and they can't say 'men' anymore," Watson told the Dothan Eagle. "I have to pay them a dollar every time I use a bad word, and they pay me a dollar every time they refer to the veterans as 'the men.' It's worked out pretty well so far."

Watson is only one of many women moving up through VFW's ranks. Cinde Troutman became the first female commander of Post 2536 in Michigan City, Ind., in May 2008.

An 18-year Army veteran who gained her VFW eligibility in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Troutman says that even though she was not the first female Post member, she laughed the first few times she went the Post to pay her dues.

"I had to remind several of the bartenders, even the women, that I was a regular member of the Post, not part of the [Ladies] Auxiliary," she told The (Michigan City) News-Dispatch. …

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