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97-year-old Hoosier female vet remembers serving during World War II

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A veteran from Anderson, Indiana will get national recognition Wednesday morning on a virtual Veterans Day celebration by Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) – an organization that honors those who have served.

“We provide free programs and services to help them (veterans) heal mind, body and spirit” said Mike Linnington, who is the CEO of WWP.

At 97 years old, Betty Raymer will be the oldest veteran joining WWP’s virtual event alongside former NFL player Jesse Palmer and multi-platinum artist Sara Evans.

Wearing a white shirt along with a black and red printed scarf the day before the event, Raymer is a serious fashionista.

“I thought I looked pretty good in the navy blue uniform,” said Raymer, who recounts her childhood years.

Raymer says she was a bit of a tomboy and as the oldest of five children, she was the only one old enough to serve during World War II.

Courtesy: Betty Raymer

“My father had been in World War I as a sailor and it was unpopular opinion at the time for women to enlist,” Raymer said.

But at age 20, Raymer went against that opinion and enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve, also known as the WAVES (for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).

Born in Anderson Indiana, Raymer landed in the Anderson House while stationed in Washington DC.

“It was close to DuPont Circle, we were given a daily allowance and could eat at any restaurant we wanted to,” she recalled.

That’s because Raymer was housed in a hotel as many were used for housing military personnel at the time.

“We had the same food allowance as men and of course, the ladies didn’t need to use all of it. We spent it on going out,” said Raymer, whose memory is still sharp.

“During my time there, President Roosevelt died and I remember going to stand at the curb when his hearse drove by,” she recalled.

Raymer has fond memories of her time in our nation’s capital while serving, but those emotions are often overshadowed by guilt.

“The conditions those men had to go through. Here I am with a nice clean dry bed every night, three square meals every day, never in harm’s way,” Raymer said.

She now hopes to shed light on others who have served, especially those who have been physically or mentally injured.

Speaking of how others can pay their respects to veterans during the pandemic, Raymer says, “I think if we watch the programs on TV, we stay home, listen to the patriotic music, that is what we can do.”

Wounded Warrior Project’s “Honoring our Warriors” virtual Veterans Day celebration will take place on Nov. 11 at 11:30 am and while Raymer encourages everyone to watch, she also suggests donating to a local fund that helps veterans and their families.

“We owe them, we owe them for this great country,” Raymer adds from the home she now lives in on the north side of Indianapolis.

For more information on the celebration, click here.