October 22, 2021

Duckworth, Ernst Lead Colleagues in Urging President to Honor Trailblazing Brigadier General Vaught with Medal of Freedom


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years and is a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), along with U.S. Senator Joni K. Ernst (R-IA), a retired lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, led 18 of their female Senate colleagues today in sending a bipartisan letter to President Joe Biden calling on him to honor Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught, a retired Veteran of the U.S. Air Force, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her barrier-breaking military career and life-long advocacy for the women who serve in our Armed Forces.

“For over 60 years, Brigadier General Vaught has served this Nation both in uniform and as a staunch advocate and tireless voice for the women who have served and are serving in America’s Armed Forces,” wrote the Members.

Among the many bureaucratic and gender discriminating barriers Brigadier General Vaught broke through during her nearly 29 year distinguished military career, she became the first woman selected for promotion to brigadier general in the comptroller career field. She is best known for her 12-year quest to build a memorial to honor military women.

Describing the significance of this contribution to the Veteran community and women who served, they wrote: Brigadier General Vaught raised over $45 million to help establish the first major national memorial to pay tribute to female servicemembers, a stunning 33,000 square foot facility and education center at the gateway to Arlington National Cemetery… In short, the Memorial is a space to gather, remember and celebrate for an underrepresented but growing cohort of patriots. It is the backbone of a community.”

They continued: “It is our hope that after considering Brigadier General Vaught’s trailblazing career and her lifetime of service to the American people, you will see fit to award her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

Along with Duckworth and Ernst, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Cynthia M. Lummis (R-WY).