Today I have the distinct honor of being the guest speaker for the 504th Military Intelligence (MI) Brigade as they celebrate Women’s History Month. I am very excited about this opportunity because I grew up in the military as a MI professional. I know I will likely run into someone I know, maybe served with or interacted with while serving as the MI Warrant Officer Branch Manager.
I am excited to be a part of their Women’s History Month program because I AM a Woman making HISTORY. Now is an especially good time for women in the military – all combat jobs have been opened for women who wish to pursue that career field option; regulations have changed and are now accommodating minority women with natural hair styles and textures; AND the first book chronicling the military experiences of Black Women in the military was released on Veterans Day 2015 – Camouflaged Sisters. Yes, It’s a great time for women in the military – yet we still far to travel!
Military Sexual Trauma (MST)
While things are looking good there is still a lot more work to be done for women serving in the military. Female Veterans are the fastest growing population of homeless Veterans with scarce housing available to assist those in need. The Veterans Administration healthcare system continues to struggle to provide adequate care for Women Veterans as many suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome) as a result of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and the effects of multiple combat deployments.
Yes, there is still more work to do on behalf of our Sisters serving. Today I plan to do a small part and speak on the topic of mentorship. As women continue to serve and make incredible leaders, we still only make up just 15% of the force – leaving a gap in the opportunity for women to pursue mentorship from other female leaders. This is a challenge that can be addressed within the ranks. I experienced this challenge during my career, especially as I climbed the rank ladder. That’s not to say that I did not have great leaders because I did. It’s just to say that the more rank I made, the less women leaders were available to provide that needed gender specific mentorship.
I figured it out though, because like I stated I had great male leaders who I served with who took the time to pour into me and allowed me to develop into an incredible leader. I also took the lessons shared from some awesome female leaders I served with early in my career. Their mentorship truly shaped me into the leader I grew in to. When the time came, I took the opportunity to mentor and advise those Soldiers coming up the ranks behind me. It really felt good to assist and provide lessons learned to some high-speed, motivated Soldiers.
I am excited to be sharing with Soldiers today because that was me so many years ago. Wide eyed, excited and nervous, motivated and sometimes clueless – but willing and ready to serve none the less. I salute our Troops serving in uniform today because I know firsthand the sacrifice they give for a career that is oftentimes lacking adequate rewards. So for this Women’s History Month, think about our Sisters Serving and how we can better serve them. What can our country do for our Female Veterans to help ease the stress of transition? These are tough questions/issues to address but we are a country that loves a good challenge so I believe we are ready to take this one on head on! March 2016, Women’s History Month is a good time to start the process of taking better care of the Women who sacrifice so much for our country. So let’s challenge ourselves, our politicians, and our Veterans organizations to tackle these issues. It’s time to render a Salute to the Sisters!