In this July 15, 2021, photo, Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., left, speaks to a Naval officer after a ceremony marking full operation of the NATO's Joint force Command aboard the USS Kearsarge at Naval Station Norfolk, in Norfolk, Va. Republicans and Democrats have something in common when it comes to recruiting candidates they hope will deliver majorities in Congress after the 2022 election, and that's military veterans.(AP Photo/Steve Helber) Elaine Luria
In this July 15, 2021, photo, Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., left, speaks to a Naval officer after a ceremony marking full operation of the NATO's Joint force Command aboard the USS Kearsarge at Naval Station Norfolk, in Norfolk, Va. Republicans and Democrats have something in common when it comes to recruiting candidates they hope will deliver majorities in Congress after the 2022 election, and that's military veterans.(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The week honors the service and sacrifice of Virginia’s female veterans.

For the fifth year in a row, Virginia Women Veterans Week will take place between March 20 and 26, 2022. During this week, the commonwealth will place special emphasis on the ladies that protect and serve, both in the past and at present. 

The week got its start in 2018 while Ralph Northam, a Democrat, was governor and was designated by the Virginia General Assembly. From the beginning, Northam scheduled the tradition to take place during the third week of March annually—the month already celebrated as Women’s History Month throughout the nation. 

A pediatric neurologist by trade prior to his governorship, Northam also served in the US Army Medical Corps from 1984 to 1992, achieving the rank of Major.

“I personally served on active duty with many women service members, including during Operation Desert Storm,” Northam said while highlighting the week in 2021. “The skill, determination, leadership, and bravery that they consistently demonstrated was second to none.” 

This year, Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, continued the tradition of Virginia Women Veterans Week, demonstrating bipartisan support. He issued a certificate of recognition, which highlighted some interesting facts about the female veteran population in the commonwealth:

  • Women veterans are the fastest-growing segment of Virginia’s veteran population
  • More than 109,000 women who served in the military call Virginia home
  • Virginia has the highest percentage of women veterans of any state in the nation

“[I]t is fitting to recognize the courage, honor, and dignity with which women have served bravely and continue to serve courageously in defense of our nation and our commonwealth,” the certificate read in part. 

One of Virginia’s most prominent leaders is also a veteran: Congresswoman Elaine Luria, who represents the 2nd District. After attending the US Naval Academy, she served in the Navy for two decades, where she retired as a Commander before becoming an elected official. In the Navy, she was a nuclear-trained Surface Warfare Officer, who served tours in the Middle East, as well as the Western Pacific. She was one of the first women in the Naval nuclear power program. Luria also is one of the first women to serve her entire naval career in combatant ships.

Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears, a veteran and first female to be elected to her seat in office in Virginia’s history, will kick off the week with remarks at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond on Mar. 21 at 11 a.m. The pinning ceremony will be open to the public, and it will be live-streamed online for virtual viewers. 

While Earle-Sears was the keynote speaker for the non-political event, her role in Virginia politics precedes her. Earle-Sears formerly served as a one-term delegate representing part of Hampton Roads two decades ago, but recently returned to politics as the national chairperson for Black Americans to Re-Elect President Trump. On the campaign trail, Earle-Sears received endorsements from Trump-endorsed Republican US Rep. Bob Good, Maggie’s List which aims to increase the number of conservative women in elected federal public offices, and the National Rifle Association.