Born in Waco, TX, my father is one of five boys. His father was one of five boys. None of my grandmothers, mother or aunts worked outside of the home, except one, part-time. I joined the US Army and spent my younger years in airborne units that were closed to women as a Forward Observer. I was involuntary drafted to be a Recruiter, and was sent kicking and screaming to Texas for my first 3 years in an office with all men.
My first experience with women in the Army was at the recruiter’s school. Being a Staff Sergeant (E-6), I walked to class each day with a fellow classmate, a women Sergeant (E-5). After 6 weeks of daily treks to class, the sergeant asked me why I had never offered to carry her bag, since she perceived me to be a gentleman. I replied; “I am a staff sergeant and you are a sergeant; you’re lucky I don’t make you carry my bag”. We both learned from each other about perceptions and realities of men and women serving in the Army.
My first experience working with and for a woman was in 1993 with 10 years in Army service, at 28 years old. No stranger to male inspired conversations and egos, I had a female Military Police Officer (MP) work for me. My First Sergeant (1SG) was a woman as well. I found that my colleague who was a female recruiter had as much heart as the men on staff, whereas the 1SG spent more time trying to prove herself to my peers who did not support her. See, my 1SG failed because, in my opinion, her subordinates allowed her to fail. No one, male or female can succeed when a team leaves a member hanging.
So what did I learn? Similarly to diversity in race and ethnic backgrounds enhance a team and bring strengths that others may not have, women too enhance our military. For decades, women have supported and fought for freedom, just as men have. The numbers today have increased so quickly that it is imperative that America keeps our promise to women Vets also. A service for women is not an exclusion of men or special treatment; it is inclusion of all Vets to receive what is earned, women included.
That is why VA is proud to offer women services to our Veterans. Treating more women today at VA than ever before allows health care providers and professionals to serve all Veterans. Just 20 years ago, VA was hard pressed to recruit health care providers with a focus on women’s health. Today, as we grow, we need everyone to provide the Best Care anywhere. Visit http://www.vacareers.va.gov/ and find your next career, today.
Alone we are strong, together we are stronger. –Unknown Author