Parrish resident Amber Putnam became the first woman to command the Florida Veterans of Foreign Wars on Sunday.
She was installed as state VFW commander during the state convention in Orlando.
Putnam served 32 years in the Air Force, including 21 years on active duty. She was deployed with the U.S. Air Force during the Gulf War of 1990-91.
In an interview with the Herald in August, she said the deployment helped bring home to her the sacrifice and deprivation shouldered by the U.S. military during war time.
"My parents kept my children during Operation Desert Storm," Putnam said last year during an interview at Palma Sola VFW Post 10141, her home post.
Putnam has advocated having veterans speak up for themselves to get the support that they need, and has also
said she wants to involve more younger veterans.
"This is a valuable organization," she has said of the VFW. "We have a lot to offer veterans." She also wants to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs corrects its problems, so that vets receive the services and care which they have earned.
"The VA needs to be fixed. Get rid of the distractions and focus on the problem. I am all for spending the money that needs to be spent to fix it. If America can send us to war, it needs to care for us when we come home," she said previously. Putnam began preparing to take command of the VFW's Department of Florida more than 10 years ago, serving as a district and post commander while overseas.
Putnam is the first Florida VFW commander, male or female, from Manatee County, Karen Nigara, adjutant for the Florida VFW, previously confirmed.