- Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Honors US Air Force Veteran & Veterans Service Officer
Linnea Walsh, Director of Communications and Intergovernmental Relations
Norwood — To kick off Women Veterans Appreciation Day on June 12, the 14th Annual Women Veterans’ Network Conference hosted its signature event, convening more than 300 women veterans The conference comes as Governor Charlie Baker has signed a proclamation to recognize the critical role of women in the US Armed Forces. The Department of Veterans’ Services also presented Gina Rada, Veterans Service Officer for the Towns of Bedford, Carlisle and Lexington and US Air Force Staff Sergeant with the 2022 Deborah Sampson Award. Regional and local elected officials and Veteran Service Officers (VSOs) also joined the celebration.
The Deborah Sampson Award from the Department of Veterans' Services Women Veterans' Network to recognizes a Female Veteran who has gone above and beyond to serve Women Veterans throughout the year and is named after the Massachusetts born Revolutionary War heroine Deborah Sampson.
Presenting the award to Ms. Rada, Colonel Cheryl Lussier Poppe, USA Retired, Secretary of Veterans’ Services said, “Gina’s fierce devotion to making the lives of women veterans better each day in the communities she serves, exemplifies the tenacity and spirit of the American Revolution unsung hero Deborah Sampson, who selflessly served her country during the American Revolution. We applaud Gina’s tireless work on behalf of her sisters who are active servicemembers, veterans and their family members, and extend our heartfelt congratulations.”
Gina Rada, who also served in Operation Enduring Freedom as a member of the U.S. Air Force from 2002-2008 as an Aerospace Medical Service Technician, said, “I am honored to receive this year’s Deborah Sampson Award, and thank the Department of Veterans’ Services and the Women Veterans Network for this special recognition. I am deeply committed to making sure that women veterans in my community can access the array of benefits available to them to ensure their health, well-being and help them achieve personal and professional success.”
In a video message, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said, “As a powerful force of 20,000 women, these veterans are the pillars of our communities, and are friends, neighbors and colleagues. We share their policy priorities as to accessing affordable housing, gender appropriate healthcare, mental health, education, employment, and other vital support services and are working with federal and state partners to highlight and address their concerns.”
The Women Veterans’ Conference is an annual event hosted by the Department of Veterans’ Services’ Women Veterans’ Network. This year’s conference theme “Military roots that bind us,” reflects the many contributions of women veterans who have served from all military branches of the United States Armed Forces.
The conference featured a Town Hall session with federal US Veterans Administration officials, Secretary Poppe, and Roseann Trionfi-Mazzuchelli, VSO for the Town of Winthrop, and President of the Massachusetts Veterans Service Officer Association. The conference featured more than 40 exhibitors offering information on resources and services for women veterans, and several educational sessions on topics of interest to women veterans, including support for LGBTQIA+ Veterans, healing and adaptive sports, resources to assist survivors of sexual assault, and self-care.
About the Women Veterans’ Network:
The DVS acknowledges that women veterans may have needs and concerns not experienced by the male population and created the Women Veterans’ Network in 1997. The central resource for women veterans in the Commonwealth, its purpose is to find women who served in the military, some of whom may not be aware that they are veterans and eligible for benefits they have earned through their service. For more information, visit www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-women-veterans-network.
About Gina Rada, 2022 Massachusetts Women Veterans” Network Deborah Sampson Award Recipient
Gina is the current District Director for Lexington/Bedford/Carlisle Veterans’ Services, she has served as a VSO for 10 years. In her role, Gina serves as a dedicated advocate and provides a wide range of services to local area veterans; from helping them apply for service-connected disabilities, financial assistance through the Chapter 115 program, and connecting them with various other available resources.
Before her time as a Veteran Services Officer and advocate, Gina served Active Duty in the United States Air Force for 6 years, achieving the rank of SSgt (E-5) before separating honorably in 2008. She had a decorated career as an Aerospace Medical Service Technician, receiving numerous commendations such as the John L. Levitow Award, Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, & Global War on Terrorism Service Medal to name a few. Gina was stationed at several stateside locations, eventually deploying for 1-year to Afghanistan where she served as a member of a Provincial Reconstruction Team & senior medic on 55 Ground Assault Convoys.
Gina is one of several female Veterans Services Officers who are available & accessible to women veterans statewide & has consistently exemplified what a Deborah Sampson Award recipient embodies through her storied career.