The deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Human Resources Command spoke to a standing-room-only audience at the Fort Knox Woman's Equality Day Observance in Saber & Quill Friday.
Brigadier Gen. Twanda "Tia" Young highlighted some of the seemingly insurmountable challenges she faced early in her career as a female leader in a male-dominated Army.
"I was a brand new second lieutenant out of Officer Basic Course and assigned as the [executive officer] in an [infantry] basic training company. I was the only female in the brigade, and I was the [officer in charge] for [rappel] training," Young said. "The battalion commander visited our training site. After I approached him with the detailed rundown of the training, and as we stood at the base of the tower, he looked me in the eye and said that women had no right to be in the Army."
"He told me that I would not be promoted -- this from the man who had to sign my promotion paperwork."
Despite her initial experience, Young said others noticed her performance and recognized her leadership potential.
"I am an example that perseverance, with a dash of humility and coupled with the prayers of my parents, the support of my family and the support of my military 'ohana' [Hawaiian for "family"], does pay off."
Young then asked the men in the audience to stand.
"On behalf of all the women -- mothers, spouses, sisters and daughters -- we salute you," she said. "We thank you for having our backs, for respecting us as Soldiers and leaders, for valuing our contributions and hearing our voice."
Young charged women to stay accountable to each other in order to succeed together.
"Empowered women empower women," she said. "I need you to have my back. If you see me [leaving] the right side of right, let me know because I will do the same for you."
Young said that diversity focused on a single goal strengthens the unity of the whole, which is key to the Army mission and the legacy left for others to follow.
"Our Army is much stronger when we have diversity in thought, race and gender," she said. "We are all charged to continue a legacy that our sons and daughters will be proud of.
"I challenge you to do more; think about what you are leaving for others to build upon. This will be our legacy."

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Women Equality01:
Master Sgt. Ruti Romero (left), the U.S. Army Human Resources Command G3 operations NCOIC, and Master Sgt. Joanna Carter, HRC Soldiers Program Support Division senior enlisted advisor, fold an American flag during the Fort Knox Women's Equality Day observance, hosted by 4th Cavalry Multi-Functional Training Brigade, in the Saber & Quill Aug. 24. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Gary J. Cooper | U.S. Army)

Women Equality02:
U.S. Army Human Resources Command Deputy Commanding General Brig. Gen. Twanda Young addresses the Fort Knox audience during a Women's Equality Day observance, hosted by 4th Cavalry Multi-Functional Training Brigade. Young called upon the women present to empower the next generation of women. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Gary J. Cooper | U.S. Army)