Herb Duncan gazed at a fellow patient at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center.
She was in a wheelchair “with a leg blown off and facial scarring from shrapnel, I would assume,” he recalled.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Duncan said.
He began talking to other women who were military veterans, and “I saw a lot of hurt in these women’s eyes.”
So a year ago, he created Women Veterans of Kansas, a group specifically for women who have served. The group is open to women honorably discharged from the military and women in reserve units.
The group meets the second Thursday of every month at the American Legion Post #4 at 816 N. Water in Wichita. People gather starting at 5:30 p.m., and the meetings begin at 6:15 p.m.
“They’ve got someplace where they can hang their hats,” said Duncan, a Vietnam War veteran.
The women had had two meetings as of late October. More information is available at www.womenveteransofkansas.org.
“They’re getting to know each other,” he said. “It’s just blossomed.”
Duncan hopes to have 100 women march in a Veterans Day parade that starts at 11 a.m. Nov. 10 at Central and Main in Wichita. A women’s color guard will participate, he said.
The color guard practiced the evening of Oct. 29, and “boy, were they sharp,” Duncan said.
Although he started the group, Duncan plans to bow out “when it’s more organized.” He wants the group to be led by women for women.
A female friend of his, also a Vietnam veteran, warned him a women’s veterans group would never work.
Duncan decided to try anyway.
“I say I have a steam engine on the tracks, water in the boiler, coal in the fire box building a head of steam, and we’re going to go down the tracks,” he said. “They signed up to serve their country and serve they did. In Vietnam, women veterans had a bounty on their heads … If they took out a medic, that could result in more loss of life because of neglected care of critically wounded GIs.”
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