The NYC Veterans Alliance has announced that U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) are introducing legislation to name the Manhattan VA as the 'Margaret Corbin VA Medical Center' in honor of the first woman veteran who fought and was wounded in combat in the U.S. Armed Forces.
On November 16th, 2018, members of the NYC Veterans Alliance "ruck" marched more than 12 miles from the historic Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan to Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights to commemorate Margaret Corbin's bravery in the Battle of Fort Washington, which took place on November 16th, 1776. At the conclusion of their march, the NYC Veterans Alliance held a press conference announcing that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney are introducing legislation to name the Manhattan VA in honor of Margaret Corbin.
On November 16th, 1776, Margaret Corbin was noted as the first woman to "take a soldier's part" in combat as the last cannoneer firing against British and Hessian forces in the Battle of Fort Washington before being severely wounded. She was recognized for her heroic acts and was the first woman paid and pensioned as a soldier and veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces. At a time when women veterans are accessing VA services at lower rates than their male counterparts, and they still face a VA that states its scope of service as caring for "him who shall have borne the battle, his widow, and his orphan," and facilities that often do not fully accommodate their needs--the NYC Veterans Alliance proposed for the Manhattan VA to be named in honor of Margaret Corbin. This would make the Manhattan VA the first VA hospital named for a woman veteran, and signal to women veterans that their service is both recognized and welcomed by the VA.
A detailed report on the importance of this action is available HERE.
In addition to the NYC Veterans Alliance, attendees of the press conference included:
Victor Montesinos, Director of Constituent Services for Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney
Jeffrey Tolentino, Wounded Warrior Fellow and Director of Veterans for Congressman Adriano Espaillat
New York State Assemblyman Al Taylor
Michael Bocchini, Deputy Director of the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs
Cinthya Fana of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
"We are grateful to Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Maloney for championing legislation to ensure Margaret Corbin and all women who have served and sacrificed in America's military since 1776 receive the recognition they are due. We hope to never again hear from women veterans that they're treated as if they don't belong when they walk into a VA medical center for the healthcare they've rightfully earned," said Kristen Rouse, U.S. Army Veteran and Founding Director of the NYC Veterans Alliance. "Margaret Corbin's service and sacrifice in battle are exemplary of the grit, determination, and selflessness of the finest servicemembers throughout our nation's history--as well as a reminder that women veterans must always have a place to seek high-quality healthcare. New Yorkers will be able to take great pride in leading the nation in having the first VA hospital named for a woman veteran right here in Manhattan--and for Margaret Corbin, who so boldly fought for our freedom in 1776."
While unable to attend the press conference, government officials and advocates offered statements of support for this legislation:
“Despite having fought in every single conflict since this nation’s founding, women service members have rarely received the same recognition as that of their male counterparts. Renaming the Manhattan VA Medical Center for Margaret Corbin, the first woman to be wounded in combat and receive a veterans pension, is a small yet significant step towards a greater appreciation of the sacrifices that women service members have made to keep our nation safe. I am proud to be introducing this legislation in the Senate, and will continue to fight to make the Department of Veterans Affairs more inclusive for women veterans.” -- U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
“I am thrilled to be introducing legislation in the House of Representatives to rename the Manhattan VA hospital in honor of the great American Revolutionary War heroine Margaret Corbin. The first woman injured fighting for our country and the first to receive a veteran’s pension, Margaret embodies the heroism of American soldiers who are wounded in battle, as well as their struggles, often lifelong, resulting from their injuries and their time on the battlefield. It is more than fitting to give Margaret Corbin the honor of being the first woman to have a VA hospital named for her.” -- U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12)
“Women have fought for our nation’s freedom and independence since 1776,” said U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). “Some had to disguise themselves as men, while others were forced into the war by circumstances that led them into battle, which was the case of Margaret Corbin. Margaret saw her husband die in the fight and immediately took his post. Today, we honor her brave legacy and service as well as honor all women who have defended our nation proudly as women and as Americans from the beginning of our nation’s history to help ensure our freedoms shared today remain equally strong for our future.”
“Since our country’s founding, women have played an instrumental role in our nation’s armed services, yet often without the recognition they deserve. Not only did Margaret Corbin make history as the first woman recognized for fighting in our nation’s military, she, like so many other female servicemembers, put her life on the line while defending her country. I am proud to honor Corbin’s legacy by supporting the NYC Veterans Alliance and their partners in naming the Manhattan VA, the ‘Margaret Corbin VA Medical Center,’ as well as making the facility’s language more inclusive for female veterans. Today, women make up the fastest growing group of veterans and we must recognize the unique challenges they face and the sacrifices they make in defense of all our liberties.” -- U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (NY-7)
"Women fight on the front lines for our country but seldom receive the recognition and support they deserve. Renaming the Manhattan VA hospital after Margaret Corbin--the first woman to be injured fighting for our country--is a fitting way to acknowledge the sacrifices our female veterans make each and every day. I applaud the NYC Veterans Alliance for their commitment to inclusivity and for recognizing the distinct challenges that face our female veterans on and off the battlefield." -- New York State Senator Brad Hoylman (27th District)
"From the very birth of our nation, women have been serving this country in countless ways, including in our Armed Forces. Today, women serve in every facet of our military, up to the highest ranks. It’s important that their service be fully recognized by the VA, so that women can receive the care they have earned. Renaming the Manhattan VA in recognition of the heroism of Margaret Corbin is a fitting way to say that women are welcome." -- New York State Senator Liz Krueger (28th District)
“The incredible women who serve in our armed forces are so often overlooked in favor of male colleagues and still suffer from the patriarchal influences that permeate every facet of our society. I am proud to support the NYC Veterans Alliance & Allies‘ work to rename the Manhattan VA the Margaret Corbin VA Medical Center—in honor of not just one incredible solider, but in honor of all the women who have sacrificed in service of our country.” -- New York State Assembly Member Harvey Epstein (District 74)
“All veterans deserve the best care we can give them, but VA services remain underutilized in general, and especially by women veterans,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Renaming this hospital for Revolutionary War veteran Margaret Corbin can increase this hospital’s visibility in the community and send an important message, that its services are here for women veterans as well as men. If even one more veteran receives care than before, it will be worth it.”
“As we conclude Veterans Day week, I am happy to support the NYC Veterans Alliance’s call to recognize a growing demographic in their ranks: women,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Hospitals and Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus. “What better way to highlight the growing contributions of women to our nation’s military than naming Manhattan’s VA Hospital after Revolutionary War hero Margaret Cochran Corbin, a New Yorker and veteran of the Battle of Fort Washington. With our fierce Congressional Delegation leading this charge, I am confident that this recognition of women’s contributions to the U.S. military will soon become a reality, and that its passage means women veterans will feel welcome by the health system that serves them.”
“Since the inception of our nation, women have served – whether by fighting on the battlefield themselves or by providing essential assistance that made it possible for others to do so,” said New York City Department of Veterans’ Services Commissioner Loree Sutton, MD, Brigadier General, US Army (Ret.). “Margaret Corbin exemplifies the spirit of service that will inspire future generations of women to similarly serve their country. It is only fitting that we honor her service and sacrifice -- and indeed, the contributions of all women service members and veterans -- with the renaming of one of our nation’s most essential institutions dedicated to veterans’ care: the VA.”
“This is a historic day for women veterans and all Americans. Almost two hundred and fifty years after the first woman veteran received her earned benefits from the U.S. government, women veterans, including myself, are still fighting for recognition for a country we’ve laid our lives on the line for. It is past time for women veterans to be recognized for their service and sacrifice and renaming the Manhattan VA facility to the Margaret Corbin VA Medical Center is one step in a larger campaign for recognition. We still have a long way to go so that all Americans recognize that veterans come in all shapes, sizes, and genders, but this is a step in the right direction,” said Melissa Bryant, Chief Policy Officer of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and Iraq War Veteran.
"While I was Director of the VA's Center for Women Veterans, I regularly heard from fellow women veterans who told me they felt unwelcome and unrecognized at VA facilities. Renaming this hospital after Margaret Corbin would simultaneously honor an inspiring trailblazer and demonstrate to the veterans of today and tomorrow - in a tangible way - that the rich legacy of women in America's military is recognized and respected." -- Kayla Williams, Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security
"Margaret Corbin challenged the status quo and became the first woman to receive a Soldiers Pension, so who better to be the first woman to have a VA facility named in her honor. For those who dare to be first, from Margaret Corbin to Ann Dunwoody, there is no better place to honor them than the heart of New York City. The Veteran Advocacy Project strongly supports the proposal to name the Manhattan VA medical center after Margaret Corbin as a step in the right direction in the VA’s recognition of women who have served." -- Coco Culhane, Director, Veteran Advocacy Project
"Margaret Corbin, the first woman to receive a military pension for wounds and heroics in battle, is an inspired choice to receive the honor of being the first military woman for whom a VA medical facility is named." -- Captain Lory Manning, USN (ret.), Director of Government Operations, Service Women's Action Network
“Women veterans have been serving in this country’s military since the Revolutionary War with little recognition for their contributions to the larger cause. Naming the Manhattan VA the Margaret Corbin VA Medical Center is a step in the direction of recognizing the contributions of women veterans and their needs. As the Minority Veterans of America is an organization that serves women veterans, we see the disparities in outcomes in the rising suicide rates and homelessness among our women veterans. In nearly every epidemic facing the veteran community, you will find that women veterans are overrepresented. It’s time for that to change and the Margaret Corbin VA Medical Center is a step toward greater recognition.” -- Lindsay Church, President, Minority Veterans of America
"Women have been under-recognized for their service to our country since its founding and Margaret Corbin's story is a great illustration of that fact. Renaming one of the nation's largest VA facilities in Corbin's honor is a meaningful step toward women veterans getting the public acknowledgement we've long deserved, but is still sorely lacking across America." -- Allison Jaslow, Iraq War veteran and former Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
"The VA's motto reads, 'To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and for his orphan.' Yet women are the fastest growing veteran population, with 2.2 million women veterans representing every branch of the military. In 2017, the New York Legal Assistance Group opened the nation's first legal clinics to exclusively serve women veterans, held at the Manhattan VA Medical Center. In doing so, NYLAG hoped to help shift the VA's male-dominated atmosphere. A recent Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America study of women veterans found that fewer than half believed that VA staff treated women veterans with respect or provided a culture welcoming to women. New York can play an important role in leading this culture shift by renaming the Manhattan VA after Margaret Corbin, the first female veteran to receive a military pension after becoming disabled from injuries sustained in combat in 1776. It will be the first VA hospital in the country to be named after a female veteran and will signal the VA's commitment to recognizing the importance and contributions of women veterans." -- Beth Goldman, Executive Director, New York Legal Assistance Group
NYC Veterans Alliance further announced their partnership with GenEquality on special-edition t-shirts in support of this campaign; and also with Backward Flag Brewery, owned and operated by women veterans, on a special-edition beer called Corbin's Cannon that will also support this campaign, and will be available in early 2019.
The press event concluded with a visit to the large historic marker noting the service of Margaret Corbin.