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Retired Army brigadier Velma “Von” Richardson was one of six women inducted into the U.S. Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame. The event was held at the National Museum Of The U.S. Army in Fort Belvoir, Virginia during Women’s History Month.

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Before retiring in 2003, Richardson was the first female African American brigadier at the Signal Corps. During her trailblazing career, she mentored retired Lieutenant General Bruce Crawford, the 2020 Black Engineer of the Year.

“It’s been fifty years since I joined,” Richardson said in a television interview with a news channel in Florida. “Back then, it was the Women’s Army Corps, because women weren’t allowed in the service academies or in ROTC ( The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps). I joined straight out of college and was influenced by my aunt who joined the army the year I was born. She’s the one who gave me my first oath of office as an officer in the Army,” the retired brigadier said.

In 2021, women made up 17.3% of the active-duty force, totaling 231,741 members; and 21.4% of the National Guard and reserves at 171,000 members, according to the most recent defense department stats. In 2021, there were 76,495 male officers in the U.S. Army, compared to 17,275 female officers.

Currently, Gen. Richardson is a Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) alum association member. She has also chaired the BEYA Stars and Stripes Committee, which cohosts military-focused award shows and mentoring events during the annual BEYA Conference in February. She is an advisory board member of BEYA STEM Career Day.

After separating from the Army, Richardson joined Lockheed Martin Corporation as a business development principal responsible for implementing innovation clusters at colleges and universities.

As a university coordinator, she built relationships with colleges and universities for integration into the Lockheed Internship Program and facilitated mentoring opportunities for university and small business partners. Prior she managed executive branch customer relationships with the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Defense Information Systems Agency, and Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Currently, she serves on the board of directors for the Council for a Strong America and ROCKS, Inc. Additionally, she serves on the Board of Visitors for the University of Maryland University College.

According to their website, the United States Army Women’s Museum, located at Fort Lee, Virginia, showcases the remarkable stories of women patriots who have served from the American Revolution to the present day. The U.S. Army Women’s Museum is the only museum dedicated to U.S. Army women.

The Class of 2023 Hall of Fame included The Honorable M. Tia Johnson, a retired Army colonel, retired lieutenant general Flora Darpino, retired lieutenant general Susan Lawrence, retired brigadier general Rebecca Halstead, retired command sergeant major Debra Strickland, and retired brigadier Velma Richardson. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army, by Mr. Scott Davis)

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