Female Veterans Are Leading the Count for the 2020 Census

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U.S. Army Master Sgt. Annette Reed shakes the hand of one of 75 female veterans who took part in the first all-female honor flight in the United States.
FILE -- U.S. Army Master Sgt. Annette Reed, center, shakes the hand of one of 75 female veterans who took part in the first all-female honor flight in the United States Sept. 22, 2015, at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia. (U.S. Army)

Melissa Washington is a Navy veteran and president and founder of the Women Veterans Alliance.

It's been 100 years since the United States ratified women's right to vote -- 100 years of advocacy for women to be treated equally to men.

Though many strides have been made to ensure the equality and equity of all in our nation, there's one small thing all veterans can do now to continue making a difference.

The 2020 Census is here and helps make sure every community gets its fair share of resources and political representation. Census data helps to inform how billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed. For example, it impacts the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' funding for community resources, such as primary and specialty health care services, legal assistance, housing stability resources and education -- services that may be overlooked if we are not counted.

Participating in the 2020 Census is a great way to honor women who paved the path so that we can have a seat at the table to be part of the decisions being made in our government and communities.

For generations, women have honorably served in the military in America's wars and conflicts, as well as during peacetime.

As the president and founder of Women Veterans Alliance, I work with a network of female veterans to directly impact the quality of life for other women vets. We come together to equip, empower and encourage one another.

Female vets are part of the fastest-growing group within the veteran population. For example, in California, the state with the highest number of veterans nationwide, 10% are women.

The 2020 Census is important to female veterans because we continue serving our communities even after we retire our uniforms.

Just as we look to positively impact the future, so does the 2020 Census.

As a mother to a high school-aged daughter, my answers will shape what the future holds for her: her education, career and health care resources. With the evolving hour-by-hour information on the number of people in our community impacted by COVID-19, I can't help but think about the need for enough health care facilities to treat those in need in the future.

The Census is a simple and confidential nine-question survey, taking minutes to complete. Make a lasting impact, and complete it online at https://my2020census.gov today!

In honor of decades of advocacy and struggle for universal rights for all, let's ensure we lead the count for the 2020 Census. Our families, communities and state depend on our collective participation.

-- The opinions expressed in this op-ed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Military.com. If you would like to submit your own commentary, please send your article to opinions@military.com for consideration.

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