November is National Veterans and Military Families Month: a time when we thank those who stood up for our nation and the families who believed in and were there for them throughout their service.
That thankfulness was a central theme on November 19, as members of Disney SALUTE veteran affinity group partnered with the Disney’s Women’s Inclusion Network team to host a special evening to honor and salute those who have served in the AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex located at the Walt Disney World Resort.
The featured speaker for the event was retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, a 33-year military veteran who served as 43rd U.S. Army Surgeon General and Commander of the U.S. Army Medical Command. She made history being the first woman, first nurse and non-physician to hold these posts. She is currently CEO of OptumServe, the federal health services business of Optum and UnitedHealth Group, sponsored the event.
During her remarks to the Disney cast members and representatives from veteran-service organizations, Lt. Gen. Horoho spoke about the significance of service to nation and community. She reminisced about how her father, a military veteran, stood a little taller when people would see his veteran’s ballcap and thank him for his service. This got her thinking about women who had served, and the need for a distinctively feminine way of identifying a veteran.
Working with a notable Washington D.C. jewelry designer, General Horoho created the “Women of Valor Brooch,” a brooch in which the forget-me-not petal colors combine the colors of America’s military, and other subtle design elements highlight the wearer’s service.
During a special moment in the program, each woman veteran in attendance was identified by name and service branch. Then, at the program’s conclusion, those female Veterans in attendance were presented with a Women of Valor Brooch: and a lapel pin to all guests in attendance to be passed along to a female veteran or service member. It was a moving, and sometimes tear-filled conclusion to an evening full of comradery, storytelling and recognition of service to our nation and our communities.
As a veteran, I’m so grateful to have been a part of such a heart-touching event that truly brought me to tears,” said Lauren Mulvey, security operations manager at Walt Disney World Resort and a U.S. Coast Guard veteran. “It was an honor to be part of the tribute to women who have served and are currently serving our great nation and receive this brooch. I will forever cherish this beautiful symbol of femininity and valor and will always wear it proudly!”