The Women Marines Association (WMA) is a professional organization for women who are Marines. It’s the only veterans’ association for and about women who are Marines. WMA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) veteran organization that helps veterans, educates the young people about the Marine Corps, and works to preserve the history of “Women of the Corps”. The Women Marines Association was established in Denver, Colo., in 1960 to ensure that our history as women Marines would continue to be told and passed on to a new generation of Marines. Our Colorado chapter has hosted the 1st, 30th, and 50th conventions for National WMA.
The Colorado chapter of the Women Marines Association was formed in 1974 as the Colorado Columbines Chapter or WMA CO-1 and remained a member of the national organizations group exemption as a 501(c)19 until 2008 when we incorporated and became a separate entity The CO Columbine-WM History Chapter, a 501(c)3 organization. We are still part of the Women Marines Association and retain several names that we go by: Colorado Columbines, WMA CO-1, Women of the Corps, US Marine Memorial 5K and our official title CO Columbine-WM History Chapter. We abide by the National WMA bylaws and standing rules and support that organization as much as possible.
The chapter hosted the 1st, 30th, and 50th conventions for National WMA. WMA National Professional Development Conference and Convention in 2010 celebrating 50 years of Women Marines Association was held at the Grand Hyatt in Denver. Barbara Meeks (in the wheelchair) was the last living member of the forming committee. Sadly, she passed away the next month. She was chapter president in 2001 and gave much to the organization.
Our mission includes the following: Preserving our history, sharing our stories, helping veterans and active duty, promoting patriotism, support Marine centric organizations, and encouraging MCJROTC cadets to further their education with monetary awards.
Our firsts include – the Women of Corps Collection and displays 2004-2011; First “Web Site Award” banner by National; First Loyal Escorts recruiting award banner; First Marine Corps Memorial 5K; Three National Presidents and one who led the organization through the change to a 501(c)3. Helped to create and the first chapter recognized at THE United States Marine Corps Memorial! First to work with a state for grants to help veterans.
WMA CO-1 is Relevant, Improving, and Growing — a big RIG that is known in the Colorado veteran community for our charitable activities and nationally through our President for nearly 25 years, Paula Sarlls.
In 2010 we created a Wounded Warrior fund and have used those funds to assist veterans in crisis. In each since then we’ve assisted men and women with various concerns from obtaining help from the VA; to finding housing and/or education; to helping to solve financial crisis; to providing gifts at Christmas; and through locating lost friends or honoring those who have passed away.
We have provided “Quilts of Valor” on several occasions; support Gold Star Wives of America; and support initiatives of the United Veterans Committee of Colorado.
In 2004 the Colorado Columbines Chapter of the Women Marines Association (WMA) voted to collect as much history on women in the Marine Corps as possible and prepare a history exhibit. We had observed that eBay had a lot of WWII items for sale and thought that a tragedy. The exhibit opened at the Castle Rock Museum in August 2005 and was updated/changed until 2007 when the venue was no longer viable, and the collection had grown beyond our wildest imagination.
From August 2007 until June 2011 the chapter cataloged and organized the collection in climate-controlled storerooms in Lone Tree, CO. We exhibited at the Marine Corps Expos on behalf of WMA, at WMA conventions, and at many other venues across the country. The President of our chapter and the Curator were successful in marketing this project and growing it to be THE definitive collection on the history of women Marines. So much so that the Curator received the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s Julia Hamblet award for history preservation in 2010 and the WMA National Service Award in 2006.
In 2010 the chapter hosted the 50th Anniversary of the WMA Convention in Denver at the Grand Hyatt hotel. The Mt Sopris Room became a museum for the event and was the largest exhibit of history on women in the Marine Corps ever presented. Our work has been showcased in Leatherneck Magazine several times.
In June 2011 the Collection ownership was transferred to the National Women Marines Association to own and manage. It was our hope that one day the collection would find a permanent home for all to see. The chapter continued to support the collection as much as possible, but sadly, National WMA relinquished control of the collection to the Women of the Corps Foundation and its members were not able to sustain it due to illnesses and death. Today, National WMA has control and is dispersing the collection to museums across the country, but retaining some of it for conventions, etc.
Auxiliary - Loyal Escorts of the Green Garter
This chapter is strong because of our auxiliary members, the Loyal Escorts of the Green Garter. We received their first flag banner at the 2010 convention thanks to support from the Marine Corps League Dept of Colorado. They complete the chapter and assist in many of our projects. If you’d like to join us, but were not a Marine, FMF Corpsman or Chaplain, this is how you do it!
Colorado Young Marines
The Young Marines in the Colorado Battalion assists the Women Marines Association and we provide assistance to them when possible and we support them as we’re able. We instituted a “manners” lesson for the Buckley Field unit in 2005 and taught that annually until the unit took over doing it themselves in 2013. This prepares the young people for their YM Birthday Ball in October.
The Young Marines is a youth education and service program for boys and girls, ages 8 through completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members. The program focuses on character building, leadership, and promotes a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. The Young Marines is the focal point for the U.S. Marine Corps’ youth Drug Demand Reduction efforts.
The Young Marines are a non-profit Youth Organization and serve the Aurora, Colorado surrounding area. The Buckley Field unit meets every Tuesday evening at the Army National Guard Armory on Potomac St. in Aurora. Their staff is made up entirely of volunteers. These volunteers are former, reserve and active military members and civilians.