By Clarisse Peche, USAG Benelux Public AffairsApril 6, 2018
CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- March is Women's History Month, and it is a time to recognize the contributions made by women. The U.S. Army Garrison Benelux community held a special event to honor women in the U.S. military March 29 at the chapel on Caserne Daumerie in Chièvres, Belgium.
Many women fought against discrimination in the U.S. military. There are many role models such as Pilot Bernice "Bee" Haydu who graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and was one of the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II. Some women joined the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, also known as Women's Reserve, where Harriet Pickens and Frances Wills were the first African-American officers in the U.S. Army.
Army Col. Debra Lewis is another notable figure in military history. She was one of the first female cadets to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. She was "exposed to extremely harsh negative words of disrespectful responses." However, she affirmed that she "developed a talent for finding productive ways to deal with such situation." That is how she became the first female Soldier to command the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers districts in Philadelphia and Seattle, and the first woman to command an engineer brigade in Iraq in 2006.
These women fought to be considered as humans rather than as women. Coast Guard Capt. Eleanor L'Ecuyer volunteered to join the U.S. Coast Guard Women's Reserve, and her choice would forever impact policies and increase opportunities for women serving in the Coast Guard. She is the one who argued that being pregnant was not a disabling condition.
During the event, Army Master Sgt. Delonica K. Boyce spoke about L'Ecuyer. Boyce entered the Army in 1995 and has a daughter. She proved that L'Ecuyer was right. It is possible to be a mother and a Soldier at the same time.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Samara Lyn Pitre, of U.S. Army Garrison Benelux, was there to honor women. She entered basic training when our military was still segregated by gender. However, in 2006, the basic training desegregated so women and men had to pass the same test. It was a great improvement for women as it created a greater balance in the military. Women are able to adapt and learned to become Soldiers just as their male counterparts.
Army Lt. Col. Amy L. Jackson has spent 24 years in active-duty service. Being in the military was a life-long dream. Her career began when she enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve and attended Basic Combat Training in 1989. She deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as a physician assistant and is now the deputy commander for administration of the SHAPE Army Health Clinic in Belgium.
Army Maj. Bonnie Kovatch served as a human resources officer at multiple echelons of command and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. She earned a master of arts degree in law and diplomacy in May 2013, and her publications and research focus on human security issues and gender analysis in international systems. She now serves as the human resources officer for Allied Command Counterintelligence and 650th Military Intelligence Group on SHAPE, Belgium.
The observance honored the women who have worked toward ensuring dignity, equality and human rights for all. They made a lot of accomplishments. However, women only represent less than 20 percent of the Army. That is the reason why women keep fighting to be considered equally.