JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the first time in Jacksonville, there is a week dedicated to honoring women veterans.
At a ceremony Wednesday, Mayor Alvin Brown declared March 16-22 as Women Veterans Recognition Week.
The inaugural week serves as a way to celebrate the accomplishments and discuss the unique challenges of women veterans.
"Well, the dynamic of being a female in the military, I think personally that it is an above and beyond initiative because we are still handling our families, we are all involved in the school systems with our children as well as being an intricate part of the organization that we are serving with," said Shaunah Esteves, who's in the Navy.
Women are a growing proportion of the nation's veteran population, representing nearly 18 percent of all post-9/11 veterans.
Florida ranks third in the nation for women veterans, and Duval County has the largest number in the state.
"I was stationed in Washington D.C. with the Bureau of Ships and I loved every minute of it," retired Navy veteran Joy Casino said.
"I overhauled and repaired aircraft instruments that were used for the fighter planes, and I was in the Navy," retired Navy veteran Jessica Dunbar said.
"You don't come back the same as you leave," retired Navy veteran Margaret Wright said. "Physically you do, but you have to do and say some things you normally don't have to do back home."
A Women Veterans History exhibit will be open to the public on Tuesday in the atrium of City Hall until March 21.
Also Tuesday, Women Veterans Forum: The Status of Women Veterans will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the WJCT studio, located at 100 Festival Park Avenue. It is open to the public.
March 19 is the Women Veterans Health Fair from noon to 3 p.m. at the Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic, located at 1536 North Jefferson Street.
March 20 is "Traveling Stories: A Day in the Life of a Military Women" from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Dupont YMCA.
And March 22 is the Women Veterans Recognition Gala from 6-9 p.m. at the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk, located at 1515 Prudential Drive. It is open to the public and tickets are $45. For information on how to get tickets, click here.
For more information on Women Veterans Recognition Week, click here.
Also Monday, the city will host the Military Veterans Job and Resource Fair at the Prime Osborn Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The fair is open to all transitioning military, veterans and their families. One hundred companies have signed up to participate. Resource agencies and veteran-services providers will also be available throughout the day to provide information and assistance to veterans and to help them access earned benefits.