By Spc. Alexia Snyder

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Throughout history there have been many influential women who have become great role models for young women like me to look up to.

Following the Women's suffrage movement, women have gained roles from being able to obtain upper-level education to becoming political leaders in our government as well as joining the armed services. For Women's History Month, I would like to recognize and dedicate my appreciation to Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum of the United States Army.

Cornum joined the United States Army in 1978. During her time in service, she deployed in support of the Persian Gulf War. While performing duties as a flight surgeon on a mission, the helicopter she was in was shot down in Iraq. Then-Maj. Cornum suffered multiple injuries in the crash, including two broken arms and a gunshot wound in her back. She and the other two survivors from the helicopter were captured, becoming prisoners of war.

During this time, she was sexually assaulted and degraded as a human being for eight days; yet, she never revealed any classified information. After her release and her return home, she continued her service in the Army. After her terrible and traumatic experiences, Cornum helped teach others and became an advocate of resiliency training.

I am a female specialist serving in the United States Army. I feel many women, like Cornum, have fought to prove women are able to persevere, have courage, and demonstrate strength in tough situations. Learning about Cornum and her life-changing experiences has helped me to keep pushing through difficult situations.

After living through the helicopter crash and her injuries, Cornum did not quit. Instead, she used her own experiences to help teach people to persevere. These women have fought for where we stand today, and if not for them, things might still be different.

Women are now able to serve in combat arms due to the struggles of the women throughout military history. Cornum is an American hero, and I am thankful for her service and sacrifice in the United States Army.