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Members of the Regional Command (South) female engagement teams pose for a picture after a graduation ceremony for the first all-female Afghan National Police basic patrolman’s course class, Jan. 9, 2014, at the Joint Regional Afghan National Police Center, Kandahar, Afghanistan. (DVIDS)
Since President Jimmy Carter declared the first Women’s History Month in 1980, March has been designated as a time to learn about and honor the contributions of women in every stage of American history and in every sector of the country’s economy and society. This month we once again honor women with the theme: Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment.
"The Department is filled with civilian and military women who truly embody these traits of character, courage, and commitment. Today, more than 350,000 women serve in our armed forces along with 248,000 civilians in the Department of Defense. Women are pilots, medics, explosive ordnance disposal technicians, and engineers as well as reaching the highest levels of civilian leadership in the Department. Their roles continue to grow, as we continue to expand opportunities to those who are best qualified and the most capable, regardless of gender," says the Honorable Jessica L. Wright, Acting Under Secretary of Defense, Personnel and Readiness.
At the Office of Warrior Care Policy we are pleased to serve and support both male and female warriors as they courageously face their own journey through recovery, rehabilitation and return to duty or reintegration into the civilian community. All the women we are privileged to serve are wonderful examples of the commitment to thrive and continue contributing to their units, communities and families.
When Laura Root was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy during her Naval officer candidate training, she didn’t give up. Instead, she became part of the military adaptive sports program and took up rifle shooting. Her hard work and training paid off when she claimed a gold medal at last year’s Warrior Games in Colorado Springs. But the contribution adaptive sports and the camaraderie of a team made to her physical and mental well-being were the real wins.
When a traumatic brain injury sustained on a humanitarian deployment to Haiti left Lt. Col (Ret) Carolyn Fota with epilepsy, hearing loss and post-traumatic stress disorder, the career medical service officer had to come to terms with the unexpected turn her life had taken. She participated in an internship through Operation Warfighter program (OWF) with the Defense Technical Information Center at Fort Belvoir. The internship moved her closer to her goal of living an independent life; Carolyn turned her internship into a full-time permanent job with DTIC. She now works as a program analyst on the agency’s communications team.
These are just two examples of the countless number of female recovering Service members and veterans who are fearlessly serving our country and bravely facing their individual challenges. We honor and applaud them this Women’s History Month.
Also in honor of Women’s History Month, Secretary Wright will deliver the keynote address at the upcoming Building Resilience in Women Leaders Summit, to be held March 27 in Arlington, Va. The audience of the event will include women in the military including active duty, National Guard or Reserve commissioned officers, warrant officer and enlisted personnel. For more information please visit http://events.signup4.com/Resilience2014.