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  • Megann Horstead

Women veterans who serve honored


Many veterans might not think they receive the credit they deserve for their service, but according to a new nonprofit organization based out of Plainfield, this is especially the case for women who have served.

For those in attendance at After The Peanut’s A Celebration of Women Veterans events during Veterans Day, support was encouraged.

“Basically, what I have found is women who have served in the military have been less rewarded, so to speak, with medals and accommodations,” said Natalie Coleman, founder of After The Peanut. “What I’m trying to do is bring more awareness about women’s role in the military.”

Coleman had conducted research to find out that Harriet Tubman fought for the Union Army during the Civil War and freed more people during the Combahee River Raid than she did on the Underground Railroad.

Coleman said the problem is many people do not acknowledge Tubman’s military efforts, as they do her civil rights work.

“It’s two-fold, so I’m trying to get her acknowledged as a veteran because she never was,” Coleman said. “She received a pension, but it was because her [second] husband was in the military, and then he passed. She received his pension. The other part, which is local and close to my heart, is building a home for women veterans in Joliet.”

The festivities kicked off with the Hustle for Harriet Walk/Jog/Run 5K followed by a panel discussion, dubbed “A Conversation with Women Veterans” held at Gallery Seven in Joliet.

The nonprofit organization and its events have special meaning for Coleman. She served from 1997 to 2012 in the Illinois Army National Guard.

Coleman invited three women veterans to come out to speak and share their experiences about having served in the military. Topics discussed included the treatment and equity of women who serve in the military throughout history.

“Right now, women veterans are the largest [group] as far as growth,” Coleman said. “Women were let in the military later, and they’re starting to retire and get out. So, they need that transitional home, that transitional assistance getting back to civilian life.”

Not all of them are married and have families.

Coleman said there is a great need for organizations like After The Peanut.

“There are a lot of veteran organizations, [and] there are a lot of people who support veterans, but the focus on women veterans and transitional homes is not there,” she said. “There’s a need for it, so I’m hoping to make that happen.”

All proceeds generated during the two events go toward After The Peanut’s campaign called “A Model for Harriet” and the construction of a home for women veterans.

“That went over well,” Coleman said of the two events. “The mayor came out. U.S. Congressman Bill Foster gave opening remarks. Also, our state senator, Sen. Pat McGuire, was there, and Will County Board Member Denise Winfrey. So, it was a good time. [We] had a lot of support over the Internet, over Facebook. [We had] great attendance for the events. So, we’re just going to try to just keep things going. We’re going to have an annual event in June, we’re going to have something every Veterans Day, and probably something during February or March time period, as well, just to continue to raising awareness and having people hear about it and then trying to raise money to build a women’s veterans home.”

After The Peanut has a short-term goal to raise $50,000 by 2020, according to Coleman.

For more information or to get involved, visit www.afterthepeanut.com


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