Women veterans were honored at the State House Thursday during the 9th annual Women Veterans’ Appreciation Day. Lt. Eileen Merullo, a World War II veteran, was awarded the Deborah Sampson award.
During the war, Merullo was stationed at the Walter Reed amputation center in Bethesda, Maryland. She joined the Women’s Army Corps in 1944 after graduating from Boston University. A registered physical therapist, she helped wounded veterans.
After leaving the Army in 1946, she spent the next four years as the head therapist of rehabilitation at the Naval Hospital in Chelsea.
In 1969, she began a 25-year career in the Revere public school system as a science teacher.
Later, Merullo began documenting the women veterans from the area. She realized there was not much recognition of women who served, especially those who served in World War II. She began a campaign looking for women veterans, searching newspaper articles, speaking at social groups and on local cable access television.
After tracking down 154 names, she raised more than $10,000 for a monument. The World War II Women Veterans’ monument was erected on Sept. 2, 2013. Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Coleman Nee gave Merullo the Sampson award, named after a woman who dressed as a man to fight in the Revolutionary War. There are currently 27,000 women veterans in Massachusetts, according to the Department of Veterans' Services.
Nationally, women make up approximately 12 percent of the military, and are the fastest growing veteran population.
- C. Quinn/SHNS