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400 Attend Women Veterans Conference in Salem
Conference open to all women who served in the military
Sergeant Elizabeth Lane, Oregon State Defense Force
Sergeant Elizabeth Lane, Oregon State Defense Force
Throughout history, women have been pivotal in America's military struggles. Whether following their male loved ones into battle during the American Revolution to tend to the troops, or one of the 200,000 women who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, women have contributed greatly in the service of their country; however, they were not formally under the military command until the early part of the 20th Century.
Every March is National Women's History Month, and in March 2012, nearly 400 women gathered at the Salem Convention Center to honor women who have served in the military and to learn more about their history, benefits, health, and employment opportunities.
The conference is free to all women who served in the military and is totally supported through donations - taking no public funds. The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs sponsors the event and works year-round to raise funds to keep this important and enjoyable conference free to all women who have served. It is held every two years with the next one scheduled for 2014.
This year attendees watched the films Vietnam Nurses and Fly Girls; learned about SPARS, the nickname for the Coast Guard's Women Reserves; and heard from an impressive line-up of speakers including Women Veterans Coordinator Val Conley, Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs Director Jim Willis, and Congressman Kurt Schrader.
Many of the participants reflect continuing military careers, like Sergeant Elizabeth Lane (pictured above). She served four years in the US Navy, then signed up for the Oregon National Guard for another fifteen years, and is now serving in the Oregon State Defense Force, a force that helps with emergency operations during a natural or man-made disaster in Oregon.
A multitude of organizations and individuals help sponsor this event.
See Conference Photo Gallery Below.

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US VETS Director Tonja Pardo (helped organize conference)
Participants view Vietnam Nurses
Veterans Employment Representative John Concepcion (Silver Level Sponsor) with conference workerVeterans Employment Representatives Pamela Oliver and Rob Bassett at exhibit table