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Air Force veteran supports women who've served

Air Force veteran Rhonda Smith has started a business to support fellow female veterans.

BLUE KNOB, Pa. (WJAC) -- Air Force veteran Rhonda Smith has started a business to support fellow female veterans.

Smith thinks that women sometimes have a slightly different experience than men in the military, having to prove their place.

"In my experience, I had to work twice as hard and twice as long to earn my credit and earn my dues, and I did that willingly, but there is a difference," she said of her time in the Air Force.

She said that women like her sometimes feel overlooked.

For years, she'd wanted to start a business that would connect these women. In March, she created The Skirted Soldier.

"It's just another way to say, 'Hey, we recognize the sacrifices you've made, and they're just as important,'" she said.

Smith blends tea by hand, bags it and sells it with 10 percent of the profits set aside for connecting female veterans.

"We also source all of our products from female veteran-owned and operated member cooperatives, or at least 50 percent veteran membership," she said.

When service men and women return home from deployments, Smith said that they often don't know where to start.

"You're kind of just left to figure it out on your own," she said.

The Skirted Soldier is still growing, but Smith said that she hopes to eventually hire staff to help out.

"They would preferably be female veterans, but it would really be open to any veterans," Smith said.

She also plans to host a fishing trip next summer for these women to connect.

"We want folks to come together to share their experiences, but also have a good time," she said.

The tea includes witty puns, with names like "At Ease" for a calming chamomile-mint-herb blend, "The Commander" for an Earl Grey blend and "Basic Training" for a breakfast blend.

Bits of Time in Bedford and The Raystown Reflection Gift Shop both sell the tea, and Smith said she's hoping for even more businesses to do the same.

The teas can also be found at theskirtedsoldier.com, as well as contact information for Smith.

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