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San Diego veteran awarded the 'Women of Valor' brooch for her exemplary service

June 12 is Women Veterans Day, a time to honor the major role women serve in our military - 73 years since the Women's Armed Services Integration Act was signed.

SAN DIEGO — The Military Women's Memorial ceremony honored not only a San Diego distinguished veteran but all the women veterans across all the military branches for a special “AppreSHEation Day.”

"Women have always served, but they haven't always been acknowledged for their service,” said Cathleen Pearl, Military Women's Memorial Executive Director.

June 12, or Women Veterans Day shines a light on female military achievements although it is only observed in 11 states, there is legislation by U.S. Representative Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey to make the day officially recognized nationwide.

"This is the day we come together to show our ‘appreSHEation’ for military women service to our nation,” said Phyllis Wilson, President of the Military Women's Memorial and a retired Army chief.

Wilson emceed the first of its kind ceremony held in Arlington, Virginia that held honored 10 veterans for their exemplary service with an award they can wear called the Women of Valor brooch.

“It's designed by renowned jewelry designer Anne Hand, and it's very symbolic. The petals are actually a beautiful purple lavender-ish color representing all the services, the joint forces, that's the color.

The brooch was given to the 10 stellar officers and enlisted representatives from each service, and the first to receive it was a veteran from San Diego, Captain Dawn Halfaker, a retired Army and former Military Police officer.

Capt Halfaker is an Iraqi Freedom combat veteran that deployed to Iraq to train Iraqi police. She is also a Bronze Star recipient as she was wounded in 2004 when a rocket grenade hit her vehicle.

This recognition comes on the 73rd anniversary of the Women's Armed Services Integration Act that granted women the right to serve permanently in the military when it was signed into law by President Harry Truman on June 12, 1948.

It is also a big year for San Diego as the first female marines to complete bootcamp in the Western United States did so in May and graduated 58 women.

That's huge I'm so happy, that's fantastic. I actually went through the very first company of integrated recruits for the Navy, I won’t say what year, but among the services, the Marine Corps was kind of the holdout, so this was absolutely the right thing to do,” Pearl said.

Pearl says out of 3 million women who have served our country, they only have over 300,000 registered on their Website and encourages all women to create an account to tell their story.

"We want every woman who has served whether it was for two years or for 27 years to take their rightful place in history,” Pearl said.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego women featured in new exhibit promoting women in science (June 2021)

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