JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Three female members of the Onslow County community shared their stories of service and dedication. They talked about how their service helped pave the way for others just like them.
“Whatever I can do to serve my community, because our service doesn’t stop. When we take our uniform off, it continues,” said Yolanda Mayo, Deputy Operations Officer for Marine Corps Community Services Lejeune and New River.
“I wanted to be a Marine since the second grade, and I wasn’t gonna let nobody stop me,” said Raquel Painter, President of United Way Onslow County.
“I have no regrets about joining the Marine Corps. I’m very grateful” said Wendy Silvera, Commander for VFW Post 9133.
Silvera, Painter and Mayo all began serving in the 1980s and 90s.
“When I retired, there were only 23 female sergeants major in the whole Marine Corps, only 23 of us,” said Mayo.
“The biggest growing population in the VFW is women veterans. So I’m one of many,” said Silvera.
In 2016, all three retired, but their service didn’t stop there. They all continue to support other service members with their work.
“The VFW is heavily involved in legislation, to help us get our rights taken care of whether it’s agent orange, burn pits, Camp Lejeune water,” said Silvera.
And for Painter, she wanted to make sure everyone was celebrated for their service.
“One of the projects that I took up the stance retirement was establishing the Onslow veterans powwow. Native Americans sacrificed their culture while serving our country. So I wanted to bring the culture here to camp LeJeune,” said Painter.
They continued to work on base, too.
“My job gives me a unique opportunity to still serve Marines and their families. There is no other job right now that I would rather be doing,” said Mayo.
All three have received Outstanding Combat Female Veteran of North Carolina awards for their dedication to honor our country in and out of service.
“I was able to make a difference in how people see female Marines and what a difference that females can make” said Painter.