Gov. Mark Dayton has declared Monday as Minnesota Women Veterans Day.
In a statement, Dayton said: "It is right and proper to honor, remember and thank these patriots for their service and sacrifice, because 'women were there, too.'"
Barb O'Reilly, who served in the Army for nearly 22 years and is now director of Women Veterans and Employment Programs at the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, says women often come home from service and move on as if they aren't veterans.
"Very frequently women don't see themselves as veterans because they haven't served in combat," says O'Reilly, who served for a year in Afghanistan. "They think that their service maybe is different than their male counterparts and so to have this recognition just really -- it honors them."
In announcing the move, the governor's office cited statistics from the national Women's Memorial Foundation that show there are about 23,000 women veterans in Minnesota.
O'Reilly adds: "Women come home from their military service and they move on. And there's not a lot of recognition because they haven't served in combat. And so I think this will help women understand their great service and will help them take advantages of the great benefits they've earned as well."
To help mark the day, women veterans will be honored Monday at a women-only golf tournament in Prior Lake.