In 2010, PBS published a story about what women get out of being in the military. Spoiler alert: It’s all the same stuff men love about their military careers. From an opportunity for higher education to the availability of health care to simply taking pride in their work, military members of both sexes gain a lot mentally and physically from serving our country. But, in truth, the rest of us are the ones who benefit most from their service. Today, we’re saluting women everywhere who are soldiers, veterans, fighters, survivors and courageous role models.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 60 Years
When it comes to women in the military, sadly, this country has a long history of not recognizing the difficult and heartbreaking work of its female participants. Take the Hello Girls, a group of more than 200 patriotic women volunteers who worked the switchboards in France during World War II—a circumstance that didn’t play out until the Army realized the war would be won or lost based on the Allies’ ability to harness the new telephone-communication technology. Using both skill and a calm demeanor, these Hello Girls connected more than 150,000 calls per day between the ever-shifting Allied front lines. They served a paramount duty, yet because they were women, were denied veteran status, including commendations, medical care, military funerals and more. It wasn’t until 60 years later that President Jimmy Carter granted full veteran status to the few remaining Hello Girls survivors, endowing them with the recognition they earnestly deserve.
WOMAN TO WATCH: General Ann Dunwoody, Retired Commanding General of the U.S. Army
In the spirit of Veterans Day and uncompromising, powerful women, let’s reveal the story of another heroic lady, General Ann Dunwoody. Ann recently retired following a daring decades-long career as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. As the army’s top-ranking woman, she experienced a whole heck of a lot of firsts. She was the first female general officer of Fort Bragg and the first woman to achieve the lauded rank of four-star general.
Having joined the Army in 1974, amazingly, Ann served at every level of command in her career, leaving her mark and making the armed forces better and stronger for both soldiers who serve and the civilians they protect. And her achievements stem from a fierce belief in what she was doing and what she values.
Most recently, Ann served as the commander of the Army Materiel Command, heading one of the largest commands in the Army, leading nearly 70,000 military and civilian personnel all over the world, overseeing research and development, foreign military sales, Army depots, manufacturing sites and more. Oh yeah, she also managed a budget of about $60 billion.
Though Ann’s ascension to the rank of general was unprecedented and definitely significant for women, she got the job not because she was a woman, but because, as fellow Army General Ray Odierno said, she was “a brilliant, dedicated officer,” and “quite simply, the best logistician the Army has ever had.”
But don’t let the word “retired” fool you. Ann is far from kicking up her combat boots and spending the day on the couch. In fact, she recently authored a book titled A Higher Standard: Leadership Strategies from America’s First Female Four-Star General, in which, like a true leader, she recognizes the men and women who helped her along the way.
With a humble nod, we say thank you, Ann, for your many years of service!
QUITE THE QUOTE
In honor of all female veterans and those still serving, we’ll end today’s On The Dot with a quote from the formidable General Ann Dunwoody, who said:
“Today, women are in combat. That is just a reality. Thousands of women have been decorated for valor…and have given their lives. Today, what was once a band of brothers has truly become a band of brothers and sisters.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.