Lake Wales Marine first female inducted to Florida Veteran's Hall of Fame

For the first time, a female Marine is being inducted into the Florida Veteran’s Hall of Fame in Tallahassee.

U.S. Marines Staff Sgt. Kat Gates-Skipper, of Lake Wales, will be awarded for her trailblazing career at the induction ceremony next week.

Gates-Skipper served in the Marines for 20 years, including Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Back then, female Marines were not allowed to fight.

Gates-Skipper was assigned to collect the personal items of the troops who lost their lives during battle and send them to their families back in the states.

A former Marine himself, Lake Wales Commissioner Al Goldstein said Gates-Skipper has a lot to be proud of.

“I think it’s great for Kat,” he said. “I think it’s great for Polk County and the State of Florida.”

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When Gates-Skipper retired, she became a veteran’s advocate, helping pass the Veteran’s Accountability Act of 2014.

She helps veterans navigate government paperwork and bureaucracy and regularly speaks to community groups.

“I enjoy going to schools, especially for the young girls,” she said. “They’re interested in a woman in the military.”