Roanoke Links honor women veterans

VETERANS-LINKS’: Women veteran honorees, seated, (l-r): Leigh Ann Covington, Dr. Carolyn Clark, Brenda Hale, Roanoke Links Chapter President Connie Steele, Silverine James, Taniya Jones and Deidre Day; standing: Links’ Chapter’s women veterans committee, Taisha Steele, Carolyn Patterson and Karen Davis.

Six women veterans, all of whom served in various capacities of the Armed Forces, were honored earlier this summer by the Roanoke Chapter of the Links, Inc.

The honorees were nominated as “Sheroes,” a Links, Inc. campaign to spotlight members from all branches of the U.S. military and share the history of African-American women who have served our country.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are more than 2 million women veterans across the United States. They represent more than 9 percent of all living veterans and are one of the fastest-growing segments of the veteran population. What often is overlooked is the role of African Americans, especially African-American women who have served.

At a luncheon on June 10, Roanoke Links recognized the following women veterans from the Roanoke Valley and surrounding areas:

Carolyn Clark, M.D., of Roanoke, an internal medicine physician, served in the U.S. Air Force as Chief of Internal Medicine in Robins, Georgia; as Chief of Internal Medicine at Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany; and as Chief of Internal Medicine at Langley Hospital in Virginia. Dr. Clark currently is with the Roanoke Valley-based Physician Associates of Virginia.

Leigh Ann Covington, of the Roanoke Valley, a U.S. Army veteran, served at Redstone Arsenal, AL, working at the Military Personnel Office, and continued her career for several years until taking the “early-out” program offered after Desert Storm in 1992. Covington, who served in the reserves until 1996, currently works as an entertainment underwriter for OneBeacon Insurance Group.

Deidre Day, of Roanoke, a U.S. Army veteran who received basic training at Fort McClellan, AL and food service training at Fort Lee, VA and was honorably discharged at the rank of Specialist E4 from Fort Huachuca, AZ. Day currently works for Goodwill Industries of the Roanoke Valley.

Brenda Hale, of Roanoke who served as an LPN in the U.S. Army and later as an RN and evening charge nurse at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem. She has received numerous military medals, including the Army Commendation Medal, National Service Defense Medal and Expert Marksmanship medal and a Commendation Award from the Salem VAMC. Currently, Hale is president of the Roanoke Branch NAACP.

Silverine James, of Roanoke who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1949 and retired in 1973 at the rank of Master Sergeant—one rank below the highest rank for an enlistee. Over her 44-year military career—much of it during a time when the military was segregated she served in Japan, Germany, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Michigan.

Taniya Jones, of the Roanoke Valley, served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1999 to 2004. While in the military, she was stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia and was part of a military deployment assisting the Pentagon after the 911 terrorism attack. Jones received the Army Commendation Medal in 2004 and a Meritorious Achievement Award for Drug/Alcohol Prevention in the unit. A licensed clinical social worker, Jones serves as SW supervisor and the Homeless Coordinator at the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“We were extremely pleased to be able to honor these women who made many sacrifices to serve in the military,” said Connie Steele, president of the Roanoke Chapter. “We are so proud of them and countless others who have and continue to serve. This tribute was a small thank you to the women veterans who are sometimes overlooked. We anticipate that this will be an ongoing program for our chapter.”

The Roanoke Chapter is one of 283 chapters of The Links, Inc. one of the oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of women who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. President of the Roanoke chapter is Connie Steele; vice president is Dr. Jennifer Alston.