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'Keep moving forward:' Women reflect on military service

Posted at 10:28 AM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-09 10:28:38-04

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — Sunday marks the second observance of Women Veterans Day, first proclaimed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2021.

To commemorate those who served, a ceremony will be held at the American Legion Post 103 in Punta Gorda.

"This has been a long time coming for female veterans. We are rarely recognized," said Judy Puffenbarger. "We struggled to be in the positions we were in. We fought to be heard and to be seen."

Ann Farrell, known to her friends as "Ms. Ann," worked as a dental assistant in the Air Force during the Korean War.

"I think that was probably the best thing I ever did in my life, when I joined the military in 1951," said Farrell.

She joined at a time when she thought her life up to that point lacked direction. After working as a nurse's aid at a hospital she decided on a change.

"A friend and I decided that we would go to Toledo, Ohio, and we went that day," Farrell recalled. " My friend backed out, but I enlisted in the Air Force that day and when I went back home to tell my mother, she almost fell off the chair. She had no idea I was thinking about doing this."

Women like Farrell and Puffenbarger helped pave the way for those who followed.

"We have so many women who have broken that barrier," said Navy veteran Jessica Moore, "to go to these male-dominated positions and showing them that they can do it just as well."

The women have a common message they wish to pass along to those who enlist.

"The more you can learn about the military before you go in, it might be beneficial," said Farrell.

"Keep moving forward. Today is just today, and tomorrow is another day," added Puffenbarger. "Just keep moving forward and keep moving up as far as you want to go. It's a wide-open field."