By Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public AffairsAugust 24, 2018
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Aug. 24, 2018) -- Two 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers shared their personal stories and thoughts about equality in the military with Fort Drum community members Aug. 23 as guest speakers for the Women's Equality Day observance.
Women's Equality Day commemorates the addition of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, which granted women the right to vote.
Lt. Col. Katresha Bailey and Command Sgt. Maj. Kendra St. Helen, the 210th Brigade Support Battalion command team, delivered a speech that bounced back and forth off each other and often elicited applause and laughter from the audience at the Commons ballroom. Bailey said that when they began to develop their speech together it became obvious that they shared similar upbringings - raised by single mothers in less than privileged societies.
"The sergeant major and I have a lot of similarities and it's almost funny when we looked at," Bailey said. "We didn't know each prior to coming into this assignment but I think it's a just blessing to be here together. When you look at sergeant major's upbringing and you look at mine, you can see that our paths have all led us to a positive end state as we stand here today as a female command team."
Regardless of the challenges both women faced along the way, St. Helen and Bailey said that they persevered and ultimately "got it right."
"While I have had my own experiences of being seen and not heard, being overlooked and my opinions being underestimated or undervalued, I understand that I still play a critical part as a woman leader in this organization and that women should play critical parts in organizations at all levels," Bailey said.
Bailey said that the Army continues to celebrate diversity by integrating women into units that were previously closed to them, based on gender.
"We consistently lead the way as change agents for America," she said. "The Army has had more than 10 women graduate from Ranger School; this was once open only to males. This is a huge deal, however we don't hear a lot about it these days because it has become a part of our norm."
Bailey said that diversity is seen now as a strength, and not a limitation as the Army seeks out the best talent in its ranks.
"So our message is, as long as you have the desire and the drive, doors will continue to open for all women," they said in unison.