The World Needs to Hear Our Story, Says County Veterans Affairs Director
There are nearly two million women military veterans in the U.S. today. But compared to their male counterparts, their stories are not that well known. The Director of Cumberland County Veterans Affairs and Interment hopes to change that.
Diana Pitman, a retired Army captain and registered nurse told her compelling story last week to an audience of other women veterans at the NJ Veterans Memorial Home in Vineland. And she encouraged her peers to share their journeys too.
“Women vets have been such an integral part of our military for generations,” she said. “But we are often ‘invisible’ to the public. Our neighbors rarely know whether the woman they see in the grocery store, the restaurant or the doctor’s office is a veteran.”
Diana Pitman during medical training exercise in Fort Gordon, Georgia.
Pitman, a native of Vineland, recounted her career in the Army as a nurse – a career that included humanitarian missions in remote Central American villages and helping run an Army hospital in Germany treating gravely wounded soldiers from the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Most of my heroes were young Marines, ranging in age from 18 to 22 or 23,” she recalled. “Frankly, nothing can prepare you for this. Working in the bloodiest of ERs does not prepare your heart for what you are about to encounter.”
“Because of my Army experience, I believe I became a better nurse and a better human being,” said Pitman. I have seen the impact of poverty. I have seen the gratefulness of receiving the smallest and most basic needs in life. I have seen what war does to a young person’s body and soul and I have seen into the eyes of the dead.”
Pitman’s story evoked emotion from many in the audience, including Veterans’ Commission Liaison, Freeholder Jane Jannarone. “We really need to thank Diana and our women veterans for their sacrifice and dedication, said Jannarone. “We are honored by their service and so proud that Diana is our Veterans’ Affairs Director.”
Pitman hopes to create awareness among the women vets themselves of the many healthcare services they are entitled to from the Veterans’ Administration Hospital in Wilmington and the VA Outpatient clinics in Vineland and Northfield. She encourages all to register with the VA.
Vets can contact the Cumberland County office at: 856-453-2239. The phone number for healthcare eligibility questions is: 1-800-461-8262 x-5212. More information is also available online at www.va.gov.