Speaker: Women in Army have seen role widen over time
Command Sgt. Maj. Dorothy Hernandez of the 2nd Infantry Division delivers remarks at a Women's Equality Day luncheon at Camp Red Cloud's Kilbourne Memorial Dining Facility Aug. 21. " U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Troth

By Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Troth

CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea -- Women over the years have repeatedly disproved unfavorable stereotypes and have gained an ever-expanding role in today's Army, a senior female Soldier said in remarks at an Aug. 21 luncheon held at Camp Red Cloud to mark Women's Equality Day.

"In today's asymmetrical warfare there is no such thing as a rear area," Command Sgt. Maj. Dorothy Hernandez, told an audience of about 40 Soldiers at the Kilbourne Memorial Dining Facility. She's the senior enlisted advisor for the 2nd Infantry Division's Brigade Special Troops Battalion.

"Over the years women have continually proven that the stereotypes limiting their choice of occupations were wrong."

In 1971, a joint resolution by Congress designated Aug. 26 of each year as Women's Equality Day to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment on that date in 1920. It gave women the right to vote.

"I joined the military in 1988 as an American eager to serve my country, not as a woman," Hernandez said. "But, over and over I was reminded that I was a female."

Hernandez said that she faced a similar attitude from her father before enlisting.

Despite having younger sisters in the Air Force and Army, her father told her that she would never make it in the Army because she was "too little."

She told the audience she's the type of person who, if told she can't do something, has to prove otherwise.

In her 24 years in the Army she rose to the highest enlisted grade and is now an example for young Soldiers relatively new to the Army.

"When she said that her father had told her 'Oh you are so small, you can't do anything,' I thought of myself," said Pfc. Mandy Lee, a chemical Soldier with little more than a year in the Army. She's assigned to the Warrior Readiness Center at Camp Hovey.

"I was like that," said Lee. "My dad was always telling me that I wouldn't make it, that I wouldn't be able to do anything."

But, Lee said, she's come to realize she can do things in the military just as anyone else can, and it's shown her what she's capable of.

During her speech, Hernandez talked about how despite the desire to serve their country women were not always allowed full opportunity.

She talked about the women who Uncle Sam called on during World War II to perform duties as administrative clerks and nurses "and were never allowed to be anywhere close to combat."

Women have demonstrated "time and again they are capable of defending our country," Hernandez said.

"Throughout the liberation of Iraq, female Soldiers have kicked down doors, participated in air missions and disarmed mines," she said in her remarks.

"As women have expanded into different roles in the U.S. Army," she said, "it has become crystal clear that the heart of a warrior is not limited to one's gender."

Page last updated Tue September 4th, 2012 at 02:53