Female veterans were honored at the State House on Thursday during the ninth annual Women Veterans’ Appreciation Day.
Lieutenant 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, Md. 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 participated 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 Sept. 2.
Coleman Nee, secretary of Veterans’ Services, gave Merullo the Sampson award, named in honor of a South Shore woman who disguised herself as a man to enlist in the Continental Army. She fought in the Revolutionary War for about 18 months.
There are currently 27,000 female 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.