The Pennsylvania Commission for Women hosted an event to honor Pennsylvania’s female veterans in celebration of Women’s History Month. The event honored 21 women from across the commonwealth representing every branch of the armed services for their brave service and selfless contributions to Pennsylvania and to the nation.
“Tom and I are deeply grateful for and inspired by the strength, resilience, and pride, of the service of the women we are celebrating today,” said First Lady Wolf. “These valiant leaders have made great sacrifices to protect our commonwealth, our country, and our freedoms. It is important that we elevate their stories and accomplishments to express our appreciation and encourage the next generation of military women.”
“On behalf of the Pennsylvania Commission for Women, we are honored to recognize the courageous and selfless women who keep Pennsylvania, and our nation, safe,” said Commission Chair Randi Teplitz. “Women who serve make tremendous personal sacrifices and deserve our endless gratitude. We are excited to share the unique stories and accomplishments of 21 women who have triumphed in both the public and private sectors.”
“It is truly an honor to recognize these amazing military service women and celebrate their careers. Women in the military continue to push boundaries because of the service of the women we honor today and women that served in every generation,” said Maureen Weigl, Deputy Adjutant General for Veterans Affairs. Over 300,000 women served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 9,000 earned combat action badges, and today women make up over 16% of the United States Armed Forces. In Pennsylvania there are over 65,000 female veterans and service members. I thank you all for your service!”
“It is truly an honor to be here today to offer congratulations and a thank you to our service members. Women have served our nation since its inception and have proven over and over again that we are an integral part of our nation’s defense. The United States military has always represented the very best that America has to offer – regardless of gender,” said Laura A. McHugh, Brigadier General, Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
The women who were honored today included the following:
Sheila Berg from Lehigh County began her military career with the Air Force Reserves as a Jet Engine Mechanic. She dedicated over 34 years of her life to military service and currently serves as the Chair for Women Veterans at the Jewish War Veterans of the United States.
Asia Boyd from Allegheny County enlisted in the United States Air Force in 2014. She was awarded Airmen of the Year in 2016 and Airman of the Quarter in 2018. She currently serves as a Commander’s Support Staff Supervisor for the 911th Maintenance Group, 911th Airlift Wing at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station.
Lenora Byrd from Fayette County served 21 years in the United States Army as a Noncommissioned Officer for two years and as a Commissioned Officer for 19 years. She successfully ended her military career as a military police officer and retired as a Major in 1989.
Karen Davis from York County joined the United States Navy immediately following graduation from high school in July 1976 and completed 22 years of service as a Chief Cryptologic Technician. She intends to retire from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs this year ending 46 years of service to our country.
Jennifer DePalo from Luzerne County began her military career in the United States Navy and completed basic training in March 2008. She deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and deployed to Africa in support of Special Operations Command.
Janet Donovan from Dauphin County served in the United States Navy for more than 31 years culminating her career as the 11th Deputy Judge Advocate General and the 3rd Deputy Commander, Naval Legal Service Command – and was the first woman to so serve in either capacity. She currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania.
Janice Gavern from Susquehanna County enlisted in the United States Air Force and spent four years on active duty. She then joined the Air Force Reserves and served for another 22 years. She retired as a Captain and continues to serve her country as the deputy commander for Women Veterans Issues at the 15th District American Legion Department of Pennsylvania.
Veronica Hally from Montgomery County joined the United States Army in 1996. She was deployed to Egypt in support of Operation Bright Star and to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2006, she left the United States Army and retired with the Federal Bureau of Investigation after 24 years of federal service.
Stephany Hartstirn from Allegheny County enlisted in the United States Navy Reserve in 1992. She served in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom and supported Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
Lindsay Jones from Allegheny County enlisted in the United States Air Force and served for over 10 years. She continues to serve her country with the 171st Air Refueling Wing as the Public Health Emergency Officer and COVID-19 mitigation expert.
Kristine Kline from Lebanon County served more than 27 years in the United States Air Force, including four years enlisted and 10 years in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. She served two tours in Iraq and concluded her career serving as pediatric intensive care unit nurse.
Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, MD from Allegheny County served in the United States Navy for 16 years, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Commander and completing an OBGYN internship at Portsmouth Naval Hospital. She currently serves as a Senior Vice President and the Enterprise Chief Clinical Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer for Allegheny Health Network.
G. Victoria McCoy from Lebanon County enlisted in the United State Marine Corps in 1987 and was honorably discharged with the rank of Corporal in 1991. She was awarded the Marine of the Year for Pennsylvania.
Angela McDonough from Bucks County was commissioned as a Lieutenant in 2001 with the United States Navy. She currently serves as the Medical Administrative Officer and Dental Officer assigned to the 111th Medical Group with the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.
State Representative Tracy Pennycuick from Montgomery County joined the United States Army as an enlisted medic in 1984. Her combat tours include Desert Shield and Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. She retired in 2010 after 26 years of both active and reserve service.
Sharlene Rodriguez from York County enlisted in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 2009. In 2020, she mobilized to Afghanistan to support Casualty Liaison Services at Bagram and Kandahar Airfields. She currently works as a Bilingual Senior Human Resources Generalist for GXO Logistics.
Risa Schmiedlin from Allegheny County enlisted in the United States Air Force and completed 21 years of service. She currently serves in 171st Medical Group where executes the medical exam process for the 171st Air Refueling Wing.
Ashley Stough from Butler County was commissioned in the United States Air Force in 2016, making her the third woman in her family to serve. She has been awarded 17 medals and awards, to include the Air Medal and the Aerial Achievement Medal.
Raquel Stewart from Montgomery County enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves in 1986. She fulfilled her 8-year military commitment and was honorable discharged in 1994. At the time of discharge, she received the Outstanding Service Women’s award from her Reserve Unit.
De’Andra Walker from Cumberland County served in the United States Navy and United States Air Force. She has 12 years of experience in military service including training, information management and administration.
Rachael L. Zolinas from Allegheny County was direct commissioned into the United States Army Medical Service Corps. She served overseas in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Spartan Shield. Her awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and Overseas Service Ribbon.
The Pennsylvania Commission for Women, which was created by Executive Order and consists of volunteer members, is responsible for advising the Governor on policies and legislation that impact women; supporting economic and civic opportunities for women; encouraging mentoring programs for girls and young women; identifying programs and opportunities for the benefit and advancement of women; and serving as a resource center for Pennsylvania women and girls.