One hundred years after the first women were permitted to officially join the U.S. military, retired Army Reserve First Sgt. Delphine Metcalf-Foster was elected to lead the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) as its national commander during the organization’s annual convention in New Orleans Aug. 1.
A Distinguished Military Career
Delphine Metcalf-Foster didn’t join the military to be a minority. She joined to be part of a team — and she was. Her 21-year military career includes service with the U.S. Army Reserve, 689th Quartermaster Unit, 6253rd Hospital Unit and 6211th Transportation Unit, and Letterman Army Medical Center. She was injured in combat in January 1991 while serving in Saudi Arabia in support of operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield.
“After Delphine Metcalf-Foster was medevaced out of theater during Desert Storm, she had one request: to return and bring her soldiers home,” DAV national adjutant and Navy veteran Marc Burgess told Military.com. “This commitment to service over self exemplifies why Delphine is the perfect person for the job of DAV national commander. She has proven an unmatched commitment to her fellow disabled veterans, and the future of DAV is in strong, capable hands.”
Metcalf-Foster retired from the Reserves in 1996.
The First Female Commander
Prior to becoming the first woman and African-American elected to head a top U.S. veterans service organization, Metcalf-Foster served as the first woman commander of the California Disabled American Veterans chapter and as a member of the Department of Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Women Veterans.
Metcalf-Foster was elected unanimously to lead the organization, which represents about 1.3 million disabled veterans.
“When a man or woman raises their hand and says ‘send me’ when our nation calls, no one knows better than the members of DAV that they’re writing a blank check to our country, and the ultimate payment could be their lives,” Metcalf-Foster told the convention, according to a release. “For those who have sacrificed for our country and their survivors, we must insist on a strong VA and health care system to meet their needs. I look forward to continuing DAV’s nearly century-old mission of service as national commander.”
Metcalf-Foster currently resides in Vallejo, California, where she provides peer mentoring through Women Veterans’ Connect and spends time weekly reading to kids at the library. Her influence on younger generations is evident: Her granddaughter has completed multiple deployments.
Women’s Equality Day
More than 800 women veterans are supporters are gathering Aug. 25–26 in Houston for the 2017 National Women Veterans Summit to coincide with Women’s Equality Day Aug. 26. For those unable to attend, check out the VA Facebook Live Events page and Twitter feed for live streams and tweets. Join the online conversation using the hashtag #VAWomenVetsSummit.