PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — More than 125 nominations were submitted across Central Illinois to be the 2023 Remarkable Woman. We feature four finalists this year, one being Lieutenant Colonel Retired Jill Henry.

Henry was an army nurse for 20 years until retiring to spend her time volunteering. Specifically, she was a nurse anesthetist in the Army Nurse Corps. She did civilian nurse anesthesia and retired from the military in 1993.

“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do in retirement, and I had really been away from military folks for quite some time. It’s kind of a cliché, but it’s true. Military life is a way of life,” said Henry. That’s when Henry decided to get involved in the military family once again.

”All at the same time, I joined the American Legion, and the VFW, and I became an ambassador for the Women’s Memorial, which is located at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery,” said Henry. “Then I got involved with the honor guard, which, you know, there’s that’s we’re pretty busy all the time on and off.”

She won Legionnaire of the Year in 2021-2022, getting recognized for outstanding leadership and service as a member of the American Legion.

Henry explained that she wants to change the narrative of what people think of when they hear the word “veteran.” “If you ask any person on the street, what is your idea of a veteran? What will they tell you?” asked Henry. “They’ll tell you a man, and my purpose is to let the public know that women are veterans too.”

When Henry became an ambassador for the Women’s Memorial, she made it her mission for women to know there’s a memorial built for them and for their courage and bravery.

“Look at us from women not being allowed to serve to now we have female commanders in the Space Force. I mean, look at the difference there. That’s always been open to men, but women had to fight for it,” said Henry.

One of Henry’s favorite quotes comes from a woman who enlisted in the army nurse corps and achieved the rank of 1st Lieutenant during her service.

“Let the generations know that women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom, that our resolve was just as great as the brave men who stood among us. And with victory, our hearts were just as full and beat, just as fast as theirs, that the tears fell just as hard for those we left behind us.”

Anne Brehm, First Lieutenant