This article by Maj. Angel Tomko was originally published by the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs
Women have served in the Army and blazed a trail through United States military history since the Revolutionary War. Their courage and sacrifice, right alongside their male counterparts, has been a testament to the strength and power they have brought to the Army for generations. March is Women’s History Month and this year the 3rd Infantry Division celebrates the professionalism and the contributions women continue to make to our Armed Forces.
While women and men can be fundamentally different, when you put both of them into military uniforms there are common threads that knit them together: leadership, duty, respect, selfless service, honesty, integrity, and personal courage. Women have played a vital role in our Army since its inception. Today, women are Soldiers, Army civilians, veterans and family who are critical members of the Army team.
While men were drafted to fight in major conflicts, women volunteered to put their nation’s needs above their own, serving in the Army’s Nurse Corps, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and the Women’s Army Corps. It wasn’t until June 12, 1948, that women were allowed to have a permanent presence in the Armed Forces. Women had to prove through hard work and dedication that their contributions to our nation were equal. It was the determination of the women of the past that paved the way for today’s female Soldiers. It was the achievements of women in the past that showed how the inclusion of female Soldiers makes a stronger and more capable fighting force.
Women now have more opportunities in the Army than ever before. In April 2016, the Army opened up all traditional combat-arms occupations to women across the force. Currently, approximately 18% of the total Army is female with more than 1,400 women trained and performing duties in infantry, armor or field artillery enlisted and officer positions.
But there is still room for improvement. Even today, a single tweet of a new Armor officer proudly donning her Stetson for the first time, embracing the proud tradition she is stepping into and carrying forward, can bring about a slew of sexist comments. We still have room to grow, people to teach, and barriers to break, but one thing is certain: Women will always have a place in our military.
Army leaders have recognized the need for change and hope to close the gap with Project Inclusion, which aims to provide a workplace where all Soldiers feel safe and valued. Last year, Project Inclusion launched “Your Voice Matters,” a series of listening sessions formatted to allow Soldiers to anonymously discuss issues with Army headquarters representatives. Topics for these sessions included physical fitness biases and equality for job promotion and career development, among others. Army senior leaders take the feedback from these sessions to determine if there needs to be new policies implemented, revised, or reviewed due to Soldiers’ concerns.
The most recent efforts by the Project Inclusion team were to update antiquated grooming standards, which incorporated common sense hair and nail changes that were asked for by current female service members, recognizing all Soldiers for their individuality.
The 3rd ID is proud of the service and accomplishments of female service members across the spectrum of occupations and across the Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield joint force. Women not only serve in traditional combat arms positions, but also as pilots, human resources specialists and medical care professionals. Additionally, female “Dogface Soldiers” function successfully in leadership positions at all echelons of units and formations.
Former and current female Soldiers of the 3rd ID serve with distinction and act as cornerstones within their units and surrounding communities. Women have made an incredible mark on the storied history of the 3rd ID and their successes enhance the fighting force by incorporating the quality and skills they uniquely bring to Army units.
They earned the tab. They carried the weight and thanks to the strong examples before them, they continue to prove that gender is not an indicator of what can make a good Soldier or leader. Women make our military stronger.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Amber Withrow is an infantry officer assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, at Fort Stewart, Georgia. She has served as a platoon leader for a Bradley Fighting Vehicle platoon and is currently serving as an assistant S3. Withrow, a Corona, California native, graduated from Corona High School in 2012. She earned a bachelor’s degree in legal studies at The United States Military Academy in 2018. Withrow is currently working towards her master’s degree in forensic psychology from Arizona State University.
“I originally enlisted to go to college, but I stayed because I enjoyed it. I decided to become an officer because I wanted to improve the lives and experiences of my fellow Soldiers. I was fortunate to have great leaders and I wanted to be that for my peers.”
U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Christina Batchelder, a pilot assigned to the Coast Guard Air Station Savannah at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, is native to Scarborough, Maine. She graduated from Scarborough High School in 2011. In 2015, she earned her bachelor’s degree in operation research and computer analysis from the Coast Guard Academy.
“I joined the Coast Guard for the adventure. I love flying helicopters, doing search and rescue missions, and executing humanitarian efforts. It’s empowering and I want others to feel like they can achieve anything with hard work and perseverance.”
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Alexa Hernandez, a military police officer assigned to 197th Military Police Detachment, 385th Military Police Battalion, at Fort Stewart, Georgia, is from Woodbridge, Virginia. She graduated from Woodbridge Senior High School in 2013. She has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia.
“I come from a military background with my dad serving for 28 years. I joined to become a leader and positively impact my Soldiers and peers. As a female in the military, there’s definitely a stereotype, but I believe we are one team and one fight. I think having gender-specific roles discredits male and females alike.”
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Madison Jones, an engineer officer assigned to the 92nd Engineer Battalion, 526th Engineer Construction Company, at Fort Stewart, Georgia, was raised mainly overseas, but considers herself a native of Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated from Riverside High School in Greer, South Carolina, in 2014. She earned a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering from The United States Military Academy in Westpoint, New York, in 2018.
“I saw my father serve in the Marine Corps for over 20 years and the desire to help others felt deeply rooted within me. As a competitive swimmer, Westpoint and the Army sought me and it felt like a natural fit. As a woman in the military, the job is hard. It’s full of opportunities to stand in the gap of gender-related issues. It’s hard, but the good and the hard tend to go hand-in-hand. The good is seeing the moments of victory, like when a plan comes together and the systems in place work like they’re intended.”
U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Tiny A. Jones, a career counselor assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia, is a native of Henderson, North Carolina. She entered the Army in 1994 as a petroleum supply specialist. Jones holds a general studies associate’s degree from Central Texas College, a bachelor’s of science degree in business from Baker College, and a master’s of education leader and administration from Trident University International.
“I joined the Army because I wanted to establish a living for my 13-month-old son and I. It’s challenging being a female in the military, but I haven’t allowed the obstacles to stop me. Overcoming adversity keeps my spirits strong. Practicing my faith reminds me that I’m never alone in the fight because I always have God.”
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Carlin Keally, an armor officer in the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia, graduated from Georgetown University in 2018 with Bachelor’s degrees in both Arabic and theology. She is a native of Herndon, Virginia, where she graduated from Flinthill School in 2014. Keally spent nine months at Fort Benning, Georgia, where she completed various leadership courses. Upon arrival at Fort Stewart, she became a tank platoon leader in the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team. She currently serves as the aide-de-camp for the deputy commanding general of readiness.
“I joined the Army to do something useful and make a difference. I love my job because of the people I work with and the camaraderie we build.”
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacqueline Gutierrez, an aviation electrician technician assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Savannah on Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, is a native of Fort Belvoir, Virginia. She graduated from Brooke Point High School in 2004. She earned her bachelor’s degree in small business and entrepreneurship from Devry University.
“I joined the military to start my life. I was ready to see what’s out there. I love the people I work with, and I’m proud of the job we do. It’s really eye-opening to look around the hangar and to feel successful.”
U.S. Army Sgt. Janine Lowe, an AH-64 helicopter repairer assigned to 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, on Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, is a native of Lanzendorf, Germany. She went to Pasco-Hernando State College, maintained a 4.0 GPA, and enlisted in the Army in 2017.
“I’ve always wanted to have a career where I can control my own progression and directly impact my success. The Army has provided me with that opportunity. As a female working in a predominantly male field, the Army can be lonely. However, the Army is making great efforts to close the gap and there are a lot of like minded females here that strongly support each other.”
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Melissa Alvarez, a cybersecurity specialist with the 15th Air Support Operations Squadron, on Fort Stewart, Georgia, started her military journey as a dependent alongside her husband, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Vetrimyer J. Quinones-Miller, but made the decision to enlist in the military to take advantage of the education benefits while they were stationed in Fort Drum, New York.
“I am the first generation born in this country. My parents both came here with the American dream, but they never graduated high school. For them, me joining was a pretty big deal.”
U.S. Army Col. Nia Robinson Middleton, M.D. is the Deputy Commander for Clinical Services at Winn Army Community Hospital at Fort Stewart, Georgia. As a Tulane University graduate, Middleton has been interested in women’s health since childhood and became an obstetrician-gynecologist.
“I love taking care of service members and their families. It definitely is a special group of people. I deal with deployments or training exercises that take service members away from their families. In some ways, I am like their extended family and support system. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to help take care of Soldiers and their Families.”
U.S. Army Pfc. Serrina Kilburn, a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist assigned to the 554th Engineer Construction Company, 92nd Engineer Battalion, on Fort Stewart, Georgia, was raised in Tampa, Florida. She graduated from Northeast High School in 2014.
“I joined the Army to give myself purpose. It feels really good to show that women are competent in a male-dominated career field.”
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Krystal Moriyon, a health services technician assigned to the Coast Guard Air Station Savannah Medical Clinic at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, is a Miami native. She graduated from John A. Ferguson High School in 2013 and is currently attending American Military University. She is earning her bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration.
“I joined the Coast Guard because I wanted to be more independent and grow. I also wanted to travel and experience the world. As a proud Hispanic female, I especially wanted to show others that you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to no matter the challenges you may face.”
U.S. Army Capt. Molly Glandon, the battalion S1 for the 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion at Fort Stewart, Georgia, is a native of Savannah, Georgia. She has a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology and a master’s of education degree in guidance and counseling from Angelo State University. Glandon entered active service as an adjutant general officer in 2015, where she attended the adjutant general officer basic course at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
“I joined the Army as an opportunity to further my education while serving my country. As a woman in the military, I’m grateful for the recognition I’ve received and the opportunity I now have to continue the legacy of past and present female service members. Additionally, as a new mother, I’m excited about the current discussions surrounding revised regulatory support for pregnant and postpartum Soldiers, which will likely lead to increased female representation within our ranks.”
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Diana Pelaez, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense officer assigned to the 83rd Chemical Battalion at Fort Stewart, Georgia, is from New Brunswick, New Jersey. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in health and science from Norwich University where she participated in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps program, and is currently working towards a master’s degree in occupational or physical therapy. She commissioned in 2017, has since deployed to Korea, served as a platoon leader and stryker vehicle commander, and is now a company executive officer.
“Perception is reality so you always need to carry yourself in a professional way. Sometimes being a woman in the military is difficult and you have to say what you need to and mean what you say. Soldiers will notice leaders when they make selfish decisions so you have to put the organization first.”
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jennifer Sullivan, a military police officer assigned to the 293rd Military Police Company, 385th Military Police Battalion, at Fort Stewart, Georgia, was raised in Seoul, Korea. She graduated from Patch American High School in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2013. She has a bachelor’s degree in international history.
“I joined the Army because with my father serving for 30 years, I got to see up close the benefits and opportunities the military provided. I think females provide a unique and different perspective to problem-solving. There are still obstacles we have to overcome as a society, but we’ve come a long way. Just because I’m a female doesn’t mean I don’t like to get my hands dirty and fix things.”