FORT GORDON, Ga. (March 20, 2009) -- While growing up, Brig. Gen. Jennifer Napper knew she wanted to live a life in service to others.

"It seemed to me that the military was the best way to do that," said Napper, commander of the 7th Signal Command (Theater), who was the keynote speaker at Monday's Women's History Month in stallation command program at Alexander Hall.

Of Napper and her three sisters, two of them agreed with Napper and entered the military. Napper's third sister is a schoolteacher.

Napper saw the military for its equal opportunities.

"The military did not care your color, gender or religion," she said.

Women's roles in the military have changed since women disguised themselves as men to fight in the nation's battles. In 1901, the women's nursing corps, an auxiliary unit of the Army, was established. The Navy followed with a nursing corps in 1908.
The numbers of women serving in the military grew during World War II with 280,000 serving by the war's end. Women served in the Women's Army Corps, the Navy's WAVES and the Marine Corps Women's Reserve, the Coast Guard and the WASPS, for Civil Air Patrol.

The first female Army general officer did not receive her star until 1970.

Since then, 42 women have attained that office.

"Twenty-one of them are still active duty," said Napper.

As a female in the Army, a wife and a mother of two, Napper said she's often asked how she balances her career and Family.

"Honestly, at times, I'm out of balance," she said.

However, she still does her best to try and make those two loves in her life happy, she said.

After Napper's brief remarks, women from all branches represented at Fort Gordon presented a fashion show - military style - showing off their ACUs, new Navy service uniform and dress uniforms.