AUGUSTA — The Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services is partnering with Joy Asuncion, Maine’s Ambassador for the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation (Women’s Memorial), for the first “Maine Women Veterans Memorial Challenge.” The challenge is a statewide, community-led drive to register all eligible women veterans from the state of Maine, past and present, for recognition on the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., according to a news release from the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services.

The Women’s Memorial is the only major national memorial honoring all women who have defended America throughout history. The Women’s Memorial was founded in 1997 and currently has 266,000 female veterans registered out of the three million women who have served or are serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, starting with the American Revolution.

The Maine Women Veterans Memorial Challenge aims to engage local communities throughout the state in friendly competition to register every known Maine woman veteran, past and present. Registration is free and can be completed at womensmemorial.org. Those without internet access can register via paper forms, which can be requested by contacting Joy Asuncion at 930-5640 or [email protected].

“Women veterans’ legacy of service should be remembered,” said Asuncion, who served in the U.S. Navy and achieved the rank of Senior Chief, according to the release. “For me, registering wasn’t just because I’m an American military service member, I did it for my family, too. Last year, I took my son John and grandchildren to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorial. It was so rewarding to hear my grandchildren say, ‘Hey, that’s Grammy Joy!,’ when they recognized my photo and read about my service.”

MBVS hopes to make Maine the first state in the nation to achieve full statewide registration, and it has already started its outreach efforts in the Boothbay Region, where MBVS Director of Strategic Partnerships Sarah Sherman has worked for more than 20 years documenting veterans’ stories.

“We’ve had a lot of success registering female veterans from the Boothbay peninsula, and with the bureau’s support we can now scale this initiative throughout the state in 2019, with one town challenging another to get every female veteran registered,” said Sherman, according to the release. “We are asking cities and towns, veterans’ organizations, historical societies and libraries, and everyone in between to help us spread the word and record a vital part of Maine’s and our nation’s history while honoring the women who have served our country with pride and patriotism.”

Women veterans are also encouraged to join the Maine Women Veterans Facebook Group, where they can meet and connect with one another.

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