Women have served in the United States military for decades, but it’s often men who come to mind when many think of American veterans. Women make up 8 percent of the veteran population, and on Thursday, combat boots decorated by female veterans were displayed on campus.
“Her Boots: Step up for the Stand Down” was at Grand Rapids Community College Wednesday with 20 pairs of boots decorated by female veterans to help raise awareness for issues that female veterans face. Volunteer of America Michigan asked women veterans to craft combat boots into artwork.
Jane Doyle, a World War II veteran, was proud to be able to decorate a pair of her old boots to put on display.
“It brings back a lot of memories doing this.” Doyle said.
Doyle served the military as a part of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Members of the program were hired as female civilian pilots to work domestically in an effort to free male pilots for combat overseas. WASP members finally received their veteran status in 1976.
These decorated boots will also be a part of an Artprize entry this year. Photographer Jean Prians created a collaboration honoring female veterans working in our military.
“Woman played a very important role in all branches of military.” Prians said. “They aren’t recognized as much as their male counterparts. I want people to realize that there are a lot of female veterans.”
Prians’ artwork will be on display at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 47 Jefferson Ave. SE, in Grand Rapids during this year’s ArtPrize competition.
The Volunteers of America Michigan will be holding an event Sept. 16t at the Lansing Center in Lansing where more boots will be displayed. The event will also feature giveaways, makeovers, and representatives from dozens of agencies for female veterans. More information is available at the Volunteers of America Michigan website, voami.org.