Celebrating Women and Resilience
March 29, 2013
In honor of Women's History Month, 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry Regiment, 174th Infantry Brigade hosted a women's history observance, March 27 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
The national theme for this year's observance was: "Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics."
One such local pioneering woman in the health and sciences field joined the more than 200 Patriot Soldiers, civilians and family members to celebrate women's contributions. The 1-307th Honorary Commander, Joanne Gianndrea, Vice President of Operations for Lourdes Health System discussed the importance of resilience, aiding women service members and veterans particularly.
"Living Springs is a renewal and resilience center designed specifically for military women," said Gianndrea who also serves as Lourdes Vice President of Military Affairs. "It's the first non-profit behavioral health and healing service of its kind."
The center was dedicated in December 2012 when Maj. Gen. William Bender, commander, Air Force Expeditionary Center aided in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The center obtained its license in January 2013 and officially opened its doors to patients last month.
"We are working this spring and summer to add outpatient programs to help accommodate the healing needs of our active service women," mentioned Gianndrea.
Gianndrea pointed to the importance of training alongside joint base service members and how her staff is participating in the Expeditionary Center-led resilience training classes.
"It is essential we learn how the military trains resilience so we can apply the commonalities and build on those foundations," added Gianndrea.
Gianndrea is working with the 87th Air Base Wing to hold a resilience day here at the joint base and extended an invitation to the 174th Infantry Brigade through its Equal Opportunity Advisor to help organize a resilience day for its spouses and service women to train healthy eating ideas, better stress coping mechanisms as well as relaxation techniques.
"It is our pleasure to serve those who have served for us," shared Gianndrea. This is the motto of Living Springs. "It's about women helping women."
Continuing on with the Women's program, the Patriots honored two of their outstanding leader spouses with the Dr. Mary E. Walker Award during the Women's History Month observance. Carmen Johnson, the 174th Infantry Brigade Family Readiness Senior Advisor and wife of Command Sgt. Major Christopher Johnson, 1st Battalion, 314th Infantry Regiment command sergeant major was awarded alongside Colleen Wood, Joint Base Volunteer of the Quarter and wife of Sgt. 1st Class David Wood, 1st Battalion, 309th Regiment training noncommissioned officer in change.
"As an Army spouse of 15 years, having been with my husband and his soldiers for six deployments, I am proud to be recognized for my support in front of my husband's peers," said Carmen Johnson, who also volunteers with Fort Dix Spouses and Civilians club, the Fort Dix Thrift and Pemberton Early Childhood Education Center.
The Dr. Mary E. Walker award is the most significant medal a military spouse can be awarded for demonstrating dedicated and exemplary volunteerism that improved the quality of life for Soldiers and their families.
Adding to the diversity of the women's history event, Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Gilmer, 1-307th Command Sergeant Major who was responsible for planning and coordinating the observance, discussed past and present women pioneers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and the nation's need for more women to elect careers dedicated to the advancement of STEM.
"So why do we mention all these inspiring women," asked Gilmer. "Because although women continue to make significant impacts in the workforce, unfortunately, women remain largely underrepresented in many STEM professions and academic programs."
This truth transcends the gender gap in America. It is evident when comparing both women and men with STEM degrees amongst global industry leaders. According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, Americans with STEM degrees only comprise 5.6 percent of college graduates across the country, while Germans comprise 28.1 percent, South Korea produces 37.8 percent and China, with the highest number of STEM graduates, boasts 46.7 percent.
Furthermore, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, in the next five years, STEM jobs are projected to grow twice as quickly as jobs in other fields. While all jobs are expected to grow by 10.4%, STEM jobs are expected to increase by 21.4%. Similarly, 80% of jobs in the next decade will require technical skills
In keeping with the resilience theme and push for more women to elect careers in STEM, Col. Craig A. Osborne, commander, 174th Infantry Brigade highlighted a local Army hero in honor of Women's History Month.
Mildred Manning, known as the last of the living Angles of Bataan, died at age 89 this month in Hopewell, N.J. Her story was featured in a New York Times article March 10. Manning was among the Army and Navy nurses taken captive by the Japanese during WW II. During the war, she treated the injured at field hospitals. She served in the Philippians at the Bataan Peninsula, and again at Corregidor before being taken prisoner of war.
According to the NYT -- 'Manning - Lt. Mildred Dalton during the war - and her fellow nurses subsisted on one or two bowls of rice a day in the last stages of their imprisonment. She lost all her teeth to lack of nutrition.'
Manning shared some of the post-traumatic stress symptoms experienced by today's military.
According to the NYT -- 'Manning told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2001 that she continued to experience trauma from her war experiences. She feared dark places long after those grim days and nights in the tunnels of Corregidor, she said, and she built extra shelves in her home to store staples out of fear that she would run out of food. '
"But I came out so much better than many of my friends," she said. "I have never been bitter, and I have always known that if I could survive that, I could survive anything."
Osborne reiterated, "Women have been an intricate part of our history. We would be a lesser nation without their contributions. We a stronger nation because of them."