Veterans fight for Arlington rights

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By Sarah B. Boxer

They were known as WASPs, Women Airforce Service Pilots. During World War II, between 1942 and 1944, about 1,100 women volunteered to fly military planes here in the United States. Today, a new battle is being waged for these veterans of war.

Despite the important role they played, the women pilots have never been awarded full Army status and therefore cannot be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. They were granted retroactive veteran status in 1977 but never received the full military benefits needed for the right to be interred at Arlington.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is looking to change that for good. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., are holding a press conference today to draw attention to legislation that would allow for WASPs to be interred at Arlington. The bill now has the support of almost 40 percent of Congress, with 28 co-sponsors in the Senate and 181 in the House, according to McSally’s office. Ernst and McSally will be joined by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Rep. Susan Davis, D-Calif., as well as the family of Elaine Harmon, a WASP who died last April.

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