EL PASO, Texas - With Women's History Month upon us, one cannot help but recognize and pay homage to the women in our Army.
First Sgt. Jessica Taylor, from the 4th Financial Management Support Unit here, trains Staff Sgt. Icenie Herring on personnel management techniques and soldier readiness requirements, February 25, 2013. The month of March is Women's History Month. (US Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Veasley)
The lengthy journey for women's equality in the military was nothing short of grueling and callous, but women persevered and fought for their right to belong to the nation's mightiest fighting force.
The Women's Army Corps or WACs, was an all women branch of the United States Army formed in the early 1940s. More than 150,000 strong, the WACs were the first women to serve in the Army with jobs other than nurses during the two World Wars.
Through many stereotypes and opposition women continued to fight for equality and were formally accepted into the Army in 1978, at which time the WACs were disbanded.
Before 1978, women were not authorized leadership positions or any position of power or authority, which subjugated women to their own organization. Men across the nation opposed the concept of allowing women to serve in the military.
There were campaigns and protests that labeled women wanting to serve in the military as lesbians or prostitutes, but this gross representation did not prevail and women fought their way to the top.
“I feel a great pride about being a woman in the military,” said Dr. Angela Rawlings, sergeant major with the United States Army Materiel Command. “Women have come a long way since the WACs. We are even looking into putting women into combat arms Military Occupational Specialties, which is a great progression for women in the Army.”
From the beaches of Normandy to the sands of Afghanistan, women have played an integral part in the progress and foundation of the United States Army.
Through time-hardened advancement, women in the Army have persevered and exceeded the standard in many venues and at every echelon of military operations.
“In my experiences, I feel equal. I feel that the Army has done a great job with equal opportunity for both sexes that equality is not as an prevalent issue anymore,” said 15-year veteran Staff Sgt. Rachel Coronado from the 15th Sustainment Brigade. “Women have come too far in the military and I would encourage women in general to fight through the adversity and never settle for average, because women before us didn't.”
In the early 1970s, it was a challenge for the nation to accept or adapt to the integration of women's rights, but more specifically in the military. The primary stigma was the biological and physical aspects between men and women.
Time has proven that this is not always the case. Females have performed on levels that exceed those of many male soldiers in many military-related occasions.
“We fight stigmas everyday as women,” said 1st Sgt. Jessica Taylor from the 4th Financial Management Support unit here. “The main thing we have to do is assess soldiers as soldiers and not as males versus females. We need to get rid of all those old mind sets and go into a new era of ideals that focus on actual statistics of performance and not their (sex).”
Taylor, one of very few female first sergeants on Fort Bliss, credits her success to hard work and a can do attitude. She also challenges her seniors, peers and subordinates to continue to fight for impartiality and continue to uphold the highest standards achievable.
“I am sure the WACs had many more road blocks than women today have had to endure,” she said. “In this profession you will have roadblocks and oppositions, but each day you have to make ground and progress as leaders, as soldiers, and as women and that's how you overcome. Women must always remain relevant. Stay educated, the more you know, the more power you will have. Always keep yourself relevant against your peers because that's the only thing that will break these negative stigmas.”
Women's History Month is the entire month of March. Take the time to recollect and thank women for their contributions to this great nation and always remember the struggles others before you have endured to give us the rights we benefit from today.
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Veasley
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