Although there are numerous Veterans Day events across the country honoring those who serve, Middle Tennessee State University put the attention on female military veterans at the Women Warriors program held Monday, Nov. 6, on campus.
Sponsored by the MTSU President’s Commission on the Status of Women and the Murfreesboro Chapter of the American Association of University Women, this year’s annual event spotlighted five women nominated for the honor.
Those honored included Anne Anderson, U.S. Army; DeAnne M. Hathaway, U.S. Navy; Kimberly A. King, U.S. Navy; Dr. Joann Neubauer, U.S. Army; andTwylla S. Peebles, U.S. Army.
“So often women suffer from being unrecognized, not respected and undercelebrated. Tonight I want to change that. We show you our respect. We see you. We celebrate you,” AAUW representative Lee Anne Carmack told the crowd of nearly 100 gathered for dinner at the Sam Ingram Building on Middle Tennessee Boulevard.
Event coordinator L’Oreal Stephens, chair of MTSU’s President’s Commission on the Status of Women and lecturer in Communications Studies, said the AAUW Murfreesboro Chapter was inspired to create the event in 2019 after a member said so many women don’t feel included at events.
“The fact they are laughing and having fun is what stands out to me the most,” Stephens said. “One woman said it was the first veterans event where she had fun. We honor and respect all veterans, but I think it’s nice to recognize women veterans, who have all faced unique challenges.”
Peebles saw those unique challenges with fellow soldiers and the community, as well as those she encountered while serving in Afghanistan, where they “had no rights.”
“The things I saw, it’s very different for women over there,” said Peebles, who joined the military in 1979 before retiring in 2017. But as women, Peebles said, “We have to persevere and do what we have to do to survive because we are in a man’s world.”
Hilary Miller, director of the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center at MTSU, introduced the honorees who were nominated by members of the community.
• Anderson graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1987 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers for the U.S. Army. While assigned to the 92nd Engineer Battalion, she served as a platoon leader and executive officer. Her duty stations included Honduras and Saudi Arabia. After serving 11 years, she moved into academia, earning a Ph.D. in finance. She spent time as a faculty member at MTSU, where she served as faculty advisor for the Daniels Center. She is now a dean at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio.
• Hathaway served 21 years in the U.S. Navy before retiring in 2007 as a chief petty officer. She served on the USS Holland, a submarine tender and later was stationed at the United States Joint Forces Command in communications. Eventually she returned from duties in Uganda and Congo and ended her career at the Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit in Norfolk, Virginia, where she was an instructor of the Stabilized Glide Slope Indicator System. Service medals include the Defense Meritorious Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal. She spent 15 years at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic School in Murfreesboro where her daughter attended and recently began working at the MTSU Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans Center.
• King served 22 years in the U.S. Navy as a naval aircrewman (loadmaster) on large transport planes, ending her career as a chief petty officer. She currently serves as the commander of VFW Post 10904 and VFW District 5 in Tennessee, which is comprised of 10 VFW Posts. All 10 posts this year were awarded the VFW National All-American Award and the VFW Department of Tennessee All-State Award, the first time in state history.
• Dr. Joann Neubauer spent nine years in the U.S. Army, where she served as chief resident for one year and later became head of the Internal Medicine Clinic. After her honorable discharge, she went into a group practice in Minnesota where she later served as chief of the Internal Medicine Department. In 2020, after leaving private practice, she returned to government service working in the VA health system.
• Peebles spent over 30 years in the U.S. Army. Military assignments included chief paralegal, equal opportunity adviser, senior adviser/recruiter, senior administrative assistant, sexual assault coordinator, among other service-oriented duties. Military awards include the Bronze Service Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Medal, NATO Medal and numerous other medals. She currently works as an investigator with the Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division and serves as commander of Music City Women Veterans of American Chapter 20.
The event was hosted by the Murfreesboro Chapter of the AAUW and was sponsored by MTSU’s June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, the MTSU President’s Commission on the Status of Women and MTSU’s Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center.
Organized in 1913, AAUW Murfreesboro is a membership organization of college-educated individuals from all walks of life who share a common purpose — to level the playing field for women and girls in education and in the workplace.
— Nancy DeGennaro (Nancy.DeGennaro@mtsu.edu)