Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught, USAFR is a retired American military leader. She was the first woman to deploy with an Air Force bomber unit, and the first woman to reach the rank of Brigadier General from the comptroller field.
Foreword by Brigadier General Wilma L Vaught, USAF, ret.
Because of my career, I have come to know and care about a lot of women veterans. I write from the perspective of a woman veteran with more than 28 years of military service and as the nearly three-decades-long President of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation (WIMSA). The Foundation's original mission was to build a memorial honoring all our servicewomen. Today, and perhaps more importantly, the Foundation and Memorial provide a forum for collecting and telling the story of women’s service to our nation.
Sadly, during those some 60 years, I’ve listened to many stories about incidents of military sexual assault and abuse, read countless news articles, and endeavored to help when I could. In recent years, a number of books have been written by women suffering from sexual assault and its aftermath, as well as those by numerous authors concerned about this serious problem in our military, on our college campuses, and throughout our society.
Diane Ferguson told me she had hidden her story of military assault and abuse from her family and friends for some 40 years. And, for as many years, she suffered devastating, physical, mental and emotional trauma. Now she wants to alert women, particularly young women, to the dangers of a permissive military environment that she believes continues to exist today. Her purpose is to help women avoid military sexual assault and abuse and the trauma that comes with it. So compelling was her 40-year journey, I had to step up too by writing this Foreword.
It's hard to come to terms with how your fellow servicemembers — your battle buddies — those you consider friends and can trust, are anything but. That was Diane’s experience in the 1970s. Despite the years of work by many members of Congress (primarily women), along with the diligent efforts of the Department of Defense and the military services to attack this problem and stop it, military sexual assault and abuse continues to persist. Our job is to keep up the pressure and to not give up. Our military, our treasured sons and daughters, and future generations of Americans deserve no less.
There is so much I’d like to say about this story but it’s Diane’s story. I’m compelled, however, to say that you will seldom read another story of anyone, particularly of those who were in a situation like hers, who gave more of her life trying to do the right thing for her country and to do her job in the face of heinous abuse. She has suffered physically, mentally and emotionally. To me, she is a hero!