The oldest female veteran in the United States died this week at 108 years old. She joined the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC, later the WAC) in 1943, shortly after the attack on Pear Harbor.
1943 was the same year that recruiting efforts for the WAAC stalled when a slander campaign, launched by male service members, tried to undermine the WAAC's credibility by claiming the women were sexual promiscuous. Recruitment trends shifted when the WAC expanded after the draft was dissolved in 1972. The U.S. Army eliminated the WAC in 1978 and fully integrated women into male units.
Thanks to women such as Lucy Coffey--who joined the Army at a time when women faced incredible obstacles within military culture--current and future generations of women have the opportunity to join a more inclusive and accepting force. The U.S. military still needs to make major strides for women in the ranks to have full equality of opportunity, but Lucy Coffey has certainly set an inspirational example for future women to follow.
Lucy Coffey, the nation's oldest female military veteran, has died at the age of 108. She died Thursday in her sleep at her home in San Antonio, Texas... President Obama issued a statement Friday on her passing, noting that Coffey earned two bronze stars and that "the example set by her and her fellow WACs has inspired generations of patriots since."... In Friday's statement, Obama said it was an honor meeting Coffey and that "it was clear that the passage of time never dampened her patriotic love of country or her pioneering spirit."