- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 5, 2009

A new documentary tells the little-known story of women’s progression in the military - from doing domestic work on the battlefields of the Revolutionary War to commanding troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Women in the Military: Willing, Able, Essential” made its premiere in the Washington area on Wednesday at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Center at Arlington National Cemetery.

Director Susan Sherwood read from more than 30 books tracing women’s history in the military to ensure an in-depth presentation.

“We went back to the Revolutionary War times and Civil War times, when women weren’t in the military, but they stepped in,” Ms. Sherwood said. “They were willing to do whatever they could to help their fathers and sons.”

The film features interviews from military women who have achieved milestones, including Vernice Armour, the first black woman to become a U.S. military combat pilot.

Ms. Armour, 35, served in the Army Reserves and the Marine Corps, and praised the film’s content.

“It hasn’t been done yet,” she said. “Women laid their lives on the line for many years. The shoulders I’m standing on deserve that recognition.”

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught said that when she founded the women’s memorial in Arlington, she wanted there to be a film that captured the depth of women’s service. Ms. Sherwood’s film achieves that, she said.

“I hope that anyone who sees this film walks away from that experience with a better understanding of the challenges women have been confronted with and how willing they are to step forward in defense of this nation.”

The film was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum and can be purchased on the museum’s Web site.

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