Women’s Equality Day Commemorates History, Bridges Future Leaders
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U.S. Army First Lt. Suzzane Laux, center, watches as U.S. Army Sgt. Sarah Fehlberg, right, prepares a wounded Afghan national policeman for emergency surgery on Forward Operating Base Farah, Afghanistan, Nov. 20, 2012. Laux, an operating room nurse, and Fehlberg, an advanced trauma life support medic, are assigned to the 541st Forward Surgical Team. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Josh Ives
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Service members and civilian guests attend the 17th annual wreath-laying ceremony at the Women In Military Service For America Memorial in Arlington Va., May 20, 2014.
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U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston
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Army 1st Lt. Demetria N. Elosiebo puts on her gear before entering the cockpit of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at Davison Army Airfield, Va., March 15, 2014. Elosiebo is a platoon leader assigned to Company D, Air Ambulance, 1st Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment.
Elosiebo is the first female African-American rotary wing pilot in the D.C. Army National Guard. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Mitch Miller
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U.S. Army Pfc. Kristina Batty dons a headscarf to meet with female Afghan villagers in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, May 5, 2012. Battym a medic assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, is joining Female Engagement Team members to discover what females of the village need. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod
Equality Day not only commemorates the 95th anniversary of the the ratification of 19th Amendment -- which solidified
women’s voting rights -- but it also coincides with current milestones for
women in service, a Pentagon official said in an Aug. 24 DoD News
Officer and Enlisted
Personnel Management Director Juliet Beyler, who oversees department-wide
policies that include promotions, assignments, separations, force management, and
awards and decorations, said casting a wider net for talent and diversity
across the force is critical.
recognition of the 19th Amendment serves as a reminder of the need for gender
equality,” Beyler said. “Keeping our eye on it will only help ensure that our
women continue to have opportunities to go as far as their talents will take
Women in Service Review
As the Defense Department primes to announce its Women in Service Review final
integration decisions for remaining closed positions and any potentially
approved exceptions to policy in January 2016, once-prohibited occupations in
armor, artillery, infantry and special operations can emerge as unprecedented
career options for women, who comprise at least 14 percent of the military, she
The Women in
Service Review stems from the 2013 decision by former Defense Secretary Leon
Panetta to rescind the 1994 direct ground combat definition and assignment
rule, Beyler explained, and, since 2013, the DoD has worked closely with the
services to implement the decision which, to date, has opened more than 110,000
positions to women.
The move signifies sweeping progress from less than a
century ago, an era that predated women’s voting rights and spurred advocates
such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Ida B. Wells to dedicate
decades of effort to affect equality.
But Beyler noted progression
often builds upon previous strides, and the 19th Amendment is no exception.
Building on Achievements
women in uniform today will continue to build on those achievements and future
leaders will continue to look to the past for lessons learned,” she said. “By
removing those old, outdated, gender-based barriers to service [we can]
strengthen the total force and enable us to select the best service members for
The DoD, Beyler
added, has also rolled out other initiatives to help service members with
work-life balance, including the career intermission program and the recent
Navy announcement of extended maternity leave.
that one of her roles as joint officer policy oversight manager entails the
exploration of factors that help develop senior leaders in a modern force.
“We need to mature
our thinking; we need joint-qualified acquisition officers, cyber officers,
logistics and intelligence officers,” Beyler said, noting that the breadth of
skills can only improve the joint force.
Beyler said her
decision to join the Marine Corps at age 17 gave her the sense of purpose,
discipline and direction she would carry throughout her career and higher
Army Ranger School Graduates
And notably, from
both a policy and personal perspective, Beyler said the two recent Army Ranger
school graduates represent a major milestone for women in uniform.
significant step for the Army because we’re leading up to the final
recommendations … and it’s part of the larger effort to validate the standards
for all of our occupations but I think we just cannot ignore that milestone we
saw last week.”
expressed personal pride in the Army’s retention of its high Ranger School
standards and conveyed confidence that the women graduates met the rigors of
the course. “Nobody associated with the effort -- women or men -- wanted to see
a standard reduced, so I think we’re all very proud of their achievement.”
With some 30 years
of military and civilian experience under her belt, Beyler shared that a
multitude of role models inspired her drive, but perhaps her most significant
influences were also the most genuine and successful not in spite of their
personalities, but because of them.
“They knew who
they were and they knew what they wanted to do,” she said. “When I was a young
corporal and sergeant, I thought that in order to succeed I had to be like
however, Beyler said she not only learned that being herself held the key to
her long-term success, but the landscape is evolving, which offers a much
broader spectrum of choices for women to do what they love as they serve.
Don’t Fear Taking Risks
not to be afraid to take risks,” Beyler said. “It’s good to have a career plan …
but don’t be so wedded to your plan that you miss an opportunity that may open
three or four more doors down the road.”
asserts that diversity and inclusion extend far beyond gender, race or
“For me it’s
broader than that -- it’s diversity of thought, ability, background, language,
culture and all of those things,” she said. “Having people with diverse
backgrounds -- not just personal backgrounds, but experiences -- will give us
that strategic advantage as we continue to try and maintain a high state of
Lyle on Twitter: @LyleDoDNews)