Through Our Eyes: The Women Veterans’ Experience

Women are the fastest growing demographic of the armed forces, and recognition of that dedication and grit honors all generations of women who serve. Relative to their male counterparts, women Veterans continue to experience a lack of recognition for their contributions to the armed forces. The Women Veterans’ Program was tasked with implementing efforts to improve cultural awareness of the role of women in the military. By bringing the many faces of this diverse and important segment of the Veteran community into the community at large, this exhibit, in collaboration with My Life, My Story program, aims to increase awareness and dialogue about women Veterans, as well as open the viewers’ eyes to the contributions and experiences of women who have served in the military.

The exhibit currently features portraits of sixteen Veterans from the Sierra Nevada Health Care System’s catchment along with the veteran’s My Life, My Story, a first person narrative life history. The exhibit features a variety of women representing various backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, and the five military branches of service.

The exhibit debuted as part of the Reno is Artown activities that occur throughout the month of July 2018. The exhibit brought members of the community to the Reno VA to view the photos and attend readings of the Veterans My Life, My Story publications. The event remains in the Primary Care Waiting Room here at the Reno VA for employee and patient viewing.

Over the years, the Through Our Eyes: the Women Veterans’ Experience exhibit evolved into a traveling roadshow. It has been exhibited at many prominent locations including: several local libraries, the Fallon Community Based Outreach Clinic, The Nevada State Assembly and Senate, The Women’s’ Wellness Event, The Women’s Expo, the NDVS Women Veterans’ Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Judicial College at the University of Nevada – Reno, and the Nevada State Museum in Carson City.

In 2020, the Innovator’s Network selected the Through Our Eyes: The Women Veterans’ Experience Roadshow as an Innovation Spread. The Boston, Memphis, and Phoenix VA Medical Centers adopted the Spread to highlight their local women Veterans.

The portraits were taken by the Reno VA’s Recreational Therapy Veterans Photography Group. The finished products are 20” X 30” framed posters mounted on a wall or displayed on easels along with the printed copy of each Veteran’s My Life My Story and QR Codes with links to each story.  

The feedback for Through Our Eyes: The Women Veterans’ Experience Roadshow has been positive and supportive. When the women veterans are present at the different sites featuring the exhibit, they have been greeted with genuine respect and praise for their service to this country. Those words and gestures bring an overwhelming sense of pride and joy to our deserving veterans.

This beautiful exhibit has increased the visibility of women veterans and recognition of the critical role that they performed in service to our country throughout history.

Through Our Eyes will be on exhibit in the Nevada State Railroad Museum’s Jacobson Interpretive Center from November 2 through November 27, 2023.