‘A job I would never finish:’ Baraboo groups build, honor female veterans

BARABOO, Wis. — Twenty years ago today, the New York skyline and life as we knew it were both permanently changed. A year later, September 11 was declared a national day of service and remembrance. Today, three Sauk County groups took that message to heart, honoring female veterans.

Baraboo’s Habitat for Humanity volunteers spent much of today working, building a new house for a single mother and her two children, while taking time in the morning to honor female veterans.

Habitat was assisted in the latter efforts by the Sauk Co. Historical Society, where researcher Bob Doepke found no shortage of local female veterans.

“I realized that this was a job I would never finish,” said Doepke. “I was surprised at how many veterans I found that were female.”

Doepke attributes his surprise to the lack of public acknowledgment of female veterans.

“They don’t get probably as much press as they probably should,” he said.

The Daughters of the American Revolution joined the other two organizations, giving memorial attendees information about notable female veterans.

One such servicemember was Miriam Ben-Shalom, a Waukesha native who was discharged two years into her service in 1976 for coming out as a lesbian. In 1980, Ben-Shalom took her case to the Supreme Court, before they declined to hear the case.

Today, women make up 16% of our military, a much higher number than in Ben-Shalom’s time.

“In today’s divisive climate we need to remember freedom is not free,” said Tony Tyczynski, a Sauk County veterans service officer. “Women are a key part of today’s military and i’m happy to be here to recognize that fact.”