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Memorial Day service sheds light on the gains and pains of female soldiers

Memorial Day service sheds light on the gains and pains of female soldiers

MERRILLVILLE — Ursula Brboric said it was important to her to attend Sunday's Memorial Day program in the veterans section of Calumet Park Cemetery with her three children and mother.

The Crown Point resident said her father, Vietnam veteran Joseph Setlak, is buried just a short distance away from the program site.

"I just try to remember what my dad went through in the military and Vietnam," she said.

But the speeches, music and the 21-gun aerial salute were even more personal for Brboric because she had spent 21 years serving in the Air Force reserve and guard.

It was people like Brboric that U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Indiana, had in mind when he told the group Sunday the number of females in the military has jumped from 1.6% in 1973 to 16.3% today.

Yet the number of sexual assaults in the military was up 38% from 2016 to 2018, he said. 

"That is not treating another human being correctly," Visclosky said.

Visclosky, who serves as chairman of the defense appropriations committee, said the country has failed its service people in other ways as well, citing the need for a seamless transition of medical records from active military to veteran's services.

The Navy also has a list of 9,000 children waiting to get into daycare and the Army isn't even sure of its number, he said.

Visclosky said a bill was advanced last week that includes funding for this need.

Whiting resident Roxanne Bartoszek, who serves as president of Lake County's American Legion First District Auxiliary, said she was pleased to hear the nod to female service members during Sunday's program.

"It's about time," she said.

But Bartoszek is well aware of the problems these women face serving among a majority of men. She said a female friend in the Navy has had to fight back when confronted with sexual abuse.

Memorial Day is a time to remember those who lost their lives while serving in the military, whether male or female. But Doug Heiser, commander of the Indiana Detachment of Sons of the American Legion, called on participants Sunday to do even more.

"Please think about them every day," he said.


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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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