September 23, 2016 –
INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 26, 2016) – “It’s wonderful to be part of the celebration of the 96th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote."
Those words, from Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks, U.S. representative of Indiana’s 5th District, were part of an observance event to celebrate the 2016 Women’s Equality Day held by the Army Reserve’s 310th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) at the SPC Luke P. Frist Army Reserve Center on Fort Benjamin Harrison.
Guest speakers were Congresswoman Brooks, and Mary L. Aurtrey, chaplain of the Indianapolis American Legion Women's Post #438.
“It was in 1851 that women from the Women’s Rights Association of Indiana began their fight, working for the next 70 years to achieve suffrage,” continued Brooks.
Brooks, former Deputy Mayor of Indianapolis from 1998 through 1999, and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana under President George W. Bush, has served on several boards and took office in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012.
Brooks has sponsored several bills in Congress addressing veterans issues and currently sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Committee on Ethics, and the Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi, Libya. She is also a member of several caucuses, including, but not limited to, the Women’s Policy Committee, the Guard and Reserve Caucus, and the Public-Private Partnership (P3) Caucus.
The event, organized by the Equal Opportunity office of the 310th ESC, attracted approximately 200 Soldiers and members of the veteran service organization community to celebrate the 96th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment and to talk about the challenges for women and women veterans that still exist today.
“Despite the important achievements on the national and international stage, women are still underrepresented at every level of government in the United States, but also in the private sector,” said Brooks, “so a lot of work still needs to be done.”
Aurtrey comes from a lifetime of public service, both as the current chaplain for the American Legion Women’s Post #438 and a Systems Accountant at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) Center, Indianapolis. Aurtrey is also a 22 year Army veteran from the Vietnam era through Desert Storm, and retired from active duty as a Sgt. Maj.
“It is questionable as to whether there is equality in providing housing for homeless veterans,” said Aurtrey, focusing on women's veteran issues. “Based on research statistics, the answer is “no.”
“The ratio of available housing for male and female homeless veterans in Indiana is astoundingly unequal,” continued Aurtrey, “there aren’t enough beds in some places to house women veterans; some of them have children, and end up living with relatives or friends, or without shelter.”
“This is an increasing issue,” said Aurtrey, “that shows women are still struggling as far as obtaining equality with their male counterparts.”
“This is the reason to commemorate Women’s Equality Day each year,” she said, “and take action to make sure all women have equality in life.”