For Further Information Contact: Paula L. Pedene APR VA Public Affairs Officer (602) 222-2667 phone (602) 779-3534 pager (480) 368-8714 after hours Paula.Pedene@va.gov Veteran Grand Marshal: Laura Biggar U.S. Marine Corps, Served in Iraq August 2007 — April 2008 After more than six years in the Marine Corps Reserves, Laura Biggar was deployed to Iraq, first serving as a convoy security specialist, escorting supplies and personnel. Later, she became a “lioness,” the name given to female service members who search for Iraqi women and children who may be trying to smuggle money or weapons through security checkpoints. The program was created by the U.S. Marine Corps to ease cultural sensitivities between coalition forces and Iraqi women, since Muslim tradition does not allow a man to touch women who are not related to them. Biggar believes that as a female with authority to tell men what to do, she set a unique example for Iraqi women. “They don’t speak and look at people. The only women who can do so are those who have lost their husbands and become the head of the household,” she says. While serving as a lioness, she also participated in some patrols with an interpreter to encourage women to learn more about health care and the role they could play in Iraqi society. Since returning home, Biggar has enrolled with the Phoenix VA Health Care System for help with neck and back problems from lifting and carrying gear. Her service in Iraq was important, because “when you are there, you see how much the Iraqi people need the training we are providing, so they can establish their own safety.” Biggar earned a Certificate of Commendation for her leadership and contributions while serving in Iraq. In May she earned a bachelors degree in biology/pre-med from Arizona State University and plans to pursue a masters degree. She lives in Tempe.
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