Karen Pence honors military women and spouses at NAS Meridian

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - In honor of Women's History Month, the Second Lady of the United States, Karen Pence, spoke at Meridian Naval Air Station Monday. The ceremony honored military women and spouses.

Pence thanked all the women there for their sacrifices, calling them 'home front heroes'. In her speech she also mentioned there are 175 female spouses and three different spousal support groups on board NAS Meridian. She encouraged members of the audience to seek spousal support groups offered on base.

"I think it is important to let these ladies know we support you. We are here for you and it is O.K. to ask for help. Not even just help. It is nice to be with other spouses who are going through the same thing and just go out and have fun," said Pence.

Lauren Martinez, Airmen and Women Readiness program manager at the 186th Air Refueling Wing, said she has seen first-hand how military spouses have utilized these type of resources.

“Us being military spouses and getting together, the support really comes from us with helping each other out with the guard way of life," said Martinez.

Nearly everyone in the audience said they have had to move, change careers or stay behind when a spouse has been deployed. Tommy Lee Duran moved from New Mexico to Meridian with her husband, who is a VT-7 pilot in training.

"It is hard. I work as well. I am a full-time nurse and he is busy. It is hard being a military spouse is definitely hard," said Duran.

Pence called military spouses the strength of our nation because they serve alongside as selfless heroes. After the speech, she visited with the spouses.

"They said thank you to me but I said right back to them, 'No, this is about you today. This is about thanking you'," said Pence.

"I know all of the military spouses really appreciate her recognizing us and really reaching out to this population," said Duran.

The Second Lady is no stranger to our area. She and Vice President Mike Pence have a son who is currently a United States Marine in flight training on board Naval Air Station Meridian. The Pences visited him late last year in Meridian.

The month of March was designated as Women's History Month back in 1987. The origin is traced back to the First International Women's Day in 1911. Several institutions participate in the observance including the Library of Congress and National Gallery of Art.