BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Women have always played an important role in the U.S. Army.

In March, Women's History Month is celebrated to honor the accomplishments of women including their role in the military going all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Today, women serve in every career field the Army has to offer.

The 2019 Women's History Month theme is "Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence." The theme, selected and published by the National Women's History Alliance, honors "women who have led efforts to end war, violence, and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society."

In this article, a small sample of the service women and civilian women who are deployed here to support U.S. Forces-Afghanistan are highlighted. Like their male counterparts, they sacrifice daily to commit themselves to a greater cause. They are experts in what they do and are critical to the success of the mission here.


Name/rank: Maj. Korneliya Waters

Home station/Complete Unit name: 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado

Home station position: Secretary of General Staff

Length of Deployment/List any other deployments (where/when): Nine months; Two deployments to Iraq -- Balad 2003-2004; Speicher 2009-2010.

Veteran experience (what service branch/how long): Army, 19 years

What do you do here for your deployment/title: Secretary of Joint Staff

What are you feelings about serving in Afghanistan during this historic time: These are challenging times for the Afghan people. The country will have to learn how to stop the war amongst the people, not an easy thing to do. I also understand that these complex operations lay a heavy load on our military. So I'm proud to support in any role I can.

Do you have a female mentor or woman you look up to -- historic or personal -- that has helped guide you in your career. If so, share who it is and why: Col. Nora Marcos, my battalion commander from 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia. She made a profound difference in my life, giving me a solid advice through all of these years.


Name/rank: Kimberley Anne Hernandez, GS-11, Air Force

Home station/Complete Unit name: 919th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron, Duke Field, Florida

Home station position: Logistics Squadron Manager. I work the quality assurance program which is a big portion of my job. I also run programs, training, budgeting, brief the squadron commander on squadron readiness, as well as issues and suggest ways to fix the issues.

Length of Deployment/List any other deployments (where/when): This is a one-year deployment to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Prior deployments as a military member were Rhein Main, Germany, for 45 days in 2004; Moron Air Force Base, Spain, for 45 days in 2004; Ali Al Salem, Kuwait for four months, in 2003; Desert Storm, Saudi Arabia, 1990-1991; Iraq for nearly nine months in 1990; and, Camp Black Jack, Honduras, two months, 1989.

Veteran experience (what service branch/how long): November 1986 to September 1991, active-duty Army; December 1991 to December 1998, Texas Army National Guard; December 1998 to January 2010, Air Force Reserve Command.

What do you do here for your deployment/title: Sustainment officer in charge for Joint Task Force Parwan; work sustainment and contracting; train, advise, assist our Afghan National Army counterparts at the Afghan National Detention Facility and Prison -- Parwan.

What are you feelings about serving in Afghanistan during this historic time: My decision to come was to pay off bills but I also had a more personal reason for coming to learn from the people how it is to be basically held captive by one country after another, all trying to teach the Afghan people how they should live their lives. I know what little I can impart on the Afghan National Army I work with may be minute to them, but I feel we all have to start somewhere in life with change. Some adapt better than others to it, this is not to say change is always good, but I myself have changed by listening to why we are here, my whole entire outlook on this country and a lot of my preconceived ideas have changed for the better. I put myself in their shoes and thought about how it would feel to raise children, as well as grow up,in a country that was always at war with someone, how it would feel to have to uproot my family to go to another country and start over, just so my family could have a normal life. When I thought about that it really saddened me to think that children and families have to grow up this way with the constant knowledge that today could be there day to lose someone.

Female mentor or woman you look up to -- historic or personal -- that has helped guide you in your career: I would have to say my Grandmother Kraskey. She was always practical and to the point, If there was something she wanted to do and didn't know how, she taught herself. She was a very energetic fun grandmother and she could do anything she set her mind to do. She also was not afraid to use, what was at hand, to get the job done. When we were younger she would watch us kids. My two older brothers would always go down the block to a friend's house to play, but my younger brother was not allowed to go since it was across the street. Since he ran faster than Grandma, she would take the clothes line and tie him to the pole to keep him from running away. He eventually figured out how to get out, but by that time he was almost old enough to go along with the older boys. The only history Grandma Kraskey ever made was our family history as she had 10 kids, tons of grandkids and was fought over by us all as to whose grandma she was and who was her favorite. We still kid each other over Grandma Kraskey and how much we all loved her and miss her.


Name/rank: Christine Byrd, GG-12, Army

Home station/Complete Unit name: Fort Hood, Texas; U.S. Army Garrison; Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, Installation Security Division

Home station position: Security Specialist

Length of Deployment/List any other deployments (where/when): Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, six months; Desert Shield/Desert Storm, served with VII Corps, Stuttgart, Germany, from December 1990 - May 1991, Saudi Arabia.

Veteran experience (what service branch/how long): Army, four years, six months

What do you do here for your deployment/title: Future Plans Officer, Combined Joint 35

What are you feelings about serving in Afghanistan during this historic time: I feel honored, blessed and appreciative for the opportunity to serve with the U.S. Forces -- Afghanistan Operation Freedom's Sentinel and Resolute Support serving in the Combined Joint Operations Area -- Afghanistan J3 alongside our U. S. service men and women and an estimated 16 coalition partners/nations in our mission to Train, Assist and Advise the people of Afghanistan to help them become a sustainable country.

I have been serving the Army for 32 years. I began my career as a Soldier and deployed to Desert Shield / Desert Storm and I feel so blessed to continue serving Soldiers as a Department of the Army civilian. My decision to deploy as a DOD expeditionary civilian was a personal decision.

My son has deployed twice and is on his way back for his third tour. He will be away from his wife and three children again. The difficulty is being away from your loved ones. This experience has really made me appreciate the sacrifice our service men and women endure as they lay down their lives for their country. I am honored and proud to serve along high-quality men and women from all the armed services.

Do you have a female mentor or woman you look up to -- historic or personal -- that has helped guide you in your career: I have one model, mentor and motivator in my life and that is in the person of Jesus Christ.

The women in my life who portray these qualities are:

My model -- Dolores Aschenbrenner, my grandmother. She exhibited the compassion of Christ through unconditional love. She had the spirit of exhortation and encouragement. She was never judgmental, but kind, loving and supportive. The couch was always available when I needed a place to sleep. Forever grateful for our time we shared together going to multiple garage sales on Saturdays; she mapped out the good ones and I did the driving! Such a great memory!

My mentor -- Sharon Dukes, my professional mentor saw potential in me that I didn't even know I had or was too scare to pursue! Ms. Dukes pushed me to do more, be more and always at an exceptional standard. I seek her advice often and guidance when I am unsure on how to handle situations, employee problems or when I am seeking direction for projects. She was instrumental in supporting my civilian educational goals. Under her leadership, I was able to complete my bachelor's degree and I have been successful in my Army civilian education goals as well. I was afforded the opportunity to attend the Army's Civilian Education System Advance Course with a grade waiver because she believed in me.

My motivator -- Pastor Valerie Ivy Holcomb. A true example of grace, strength and mercy. She has been an example of how to walk through the valleys of life and still maintain the joy of the Lord. As my mother in the faith and spiritual leader she brings truth, correction and instruction. She exemplifies her love for Christ daily through her walk and relationship with Jesus. Her spirit of humility is evident through her confession that she is not perfect in anyway but strives each day to epitomize what a true Christian woman represents.


Name/rank: Staff Sgt. Georgia Soto

Home station/Complete Unit name: Fort Carson, Colorado; Headquarters Support Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 4th Infantry Division

What do you do back at your home station: Plans and Operations Noncommissioned Officer in Charge

Length of Deployment/List any other deployments (where/when): Nine months

Veteran experience (what service branch/how long): Army, nine years

What do you do here for your deployment/title: U.S. Forces -- Afghanistan, J1 (Personnel) Senior Enlisted Adviser/ Plans and Operations NCOIC

What are you feelings about serving in Afghanistan during this historic time: While it is a historical time, it is also a time of uncertainty. I am both proud to serve and support my country forward deployed, yet anxious to see what changes will come and the results that will follow.

Do you have a female mentor or woman you look up to -- historic or personal -- that has helped guide you in your career: Yes, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christabelle Mitchell. She was the first female in the military I looked up to -- she was physically fit, aggressive, goal-oriented and very intellectual. She was someone that I had seen and thought as a great leader and I want to be like her. So I asked her to be my mentor and to this day, although were located to separate sides of the world, she still guides me.

Editor's note: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christabelle Mitchell was a 2018 recipient of the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. The GDMLA program identifies 28 warrant and company-grade officers from the Regular Army, National Guard and Army Reserve, who exemplify the ideals of Duty, Honor, and Country within the calendar year.


Name/rank: Lt. Col. Jennifer Gotie

Home station/Complete Unit name: Fort Carson, Colorado, 4th Infantry Division Headquarters

What do you do back at your home station: Director, G-9 (Civil Military Operations)

Length of Deployment/List any other deployments (where/when): Nine months, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan; I was stationed across the Middle East as a targeting officer: 2003, eight months, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan. In 2005-2006, 12 Months, Qatar, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Bahrain. In Civil Affairs deployments, 2009, nine months, Joint Special Operations Task Force -- Philippines, Cotabato, Mindanao, Philippines; 2010-2011, 10 months, forward deployed as Theater Civil Military Support Element CMOC Chief SOCPAC, Hawaii; and, 2013, one month, Vietnam.

Veteran experience (what service branch/how long): Army, 17.5 years

What do you do here for your deployment/title: Resolute Support/U.S. Forces-Afghanistan J-9 Director; Combined/Joint Operations Area Commander's Emergency Response Program Manager (oversight for CJOA-wide Commander's Emergency Response Program funds)/Civil Military Operations lead/provide Deputy Chief of Staff-Operations atmospherics on the human terrain (Displaced Civilian movements that could impact operations), support to United States Agency for International Development's Office of Humanitarian Assistance, planning input for Civil Military Operations/Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations.

What are you feelings about serving in Afghanistan during this historic time: I'm honored to be serving back in Afghanistan after 12 years. The incredible changes I have seen not only with the physical terrain but with the amazing Afghan women who are working in all kinds of professional fields gives me hope that one day Afghanistan will experience real stability and peace.

Do you have a female mentor or woman you look up to -- historic or personal -- that has helped guide you in your career: Yes, retired Col. Lynda Granfield -- she was an active-duty Civil Affairs officer and only active-duty Civil Affairs woman to achieve the rank of colonel so far.

She has always made time to give her support whether providing me information on the Civil Affairs branch (before I went through the Civil Affairs selection) and when I was an experienced Civil Affairs officer who needed guidance with Civil Affairs-related challenges or those of being a woman in uniform. Col. Granfield served in the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command. In particular she served as a Provincial Reconstruction Team commander in the Nangarhar Province of eastern Afghanistan, where she earned the respect of the local leaders who previously did not see the value of women outside of the home. Many of these local Afghan leaders still reach out to her for advice and call her "sister". She is someone that I deeply respect and look to for inspiration when faced with challenges.


Name/rank: Lt. Col. Meghann Sullivan

Home station/Complete Unit name: Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

What do you do back at your home station: I was a student last year before I deployed. My next assignment after this deployment is Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, in June to take command of 31st Engineer Battalion.

Length of current Deployment/List any other deployments (where/when/length): This one approximately 11 months; Kosovo 2001-2002; Afghanistan 2002-2003, 2009, 2012-2013, 2015; Iraq 2005-2006.

Veteran experience (what service branch/how long): Army, 18-plus years

What do you do here for your deployment/title: Planner/U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, Deputy J-5, Strategic Plans and Policy

What are you feelings about serving in Afghanistan during this historic time: It has been amazing to see the changes from my first deployment here in 2002 until now. As a lieutenant, I was working with civil affairs and building wells, schools, and clinics to provide clean water, education, and basic health services to the Afghan people. Not a lot of Afghan girls were going to school and the men were always surprised to see a blonde girl in charge. Now Afghanistan has a formal government and will be holding elections again in the near future. Many young girls are attending school and there are even females holding positions in the government and working. I feel honored and grateful to be able to serve with the Afghans and see their progress over time. I have also been fortunate to work with wonderful NATO coalition partners, contractors, and civilians during my deployments.

Do you have a female mentor or woman you look up to -- historic or personal -- that has helped guide you in your career: I have always followed and looked up to Brig. Gen. Kim Colloton. She has been successful in the Engineer Regiment and the Army as a strategic leader who builds teams, delivers results, and takes care of people. Essayons!

Editor's note: Brig. Gen. Kim Colloton became the first woman commanding general of the Army Corps of Engineers' South Pacific Division in its 130 year history on July 25, 2018.


Name/rank: Capt. Kritina Hoffman

Home station/Complete Unit name: Camp Williams, Utah National Guard, Main Command Post Operations -- Detachment, 4th Infantry Division

What do you do back at your home station: In the National Guard I fill a position to augment the 4ID G4 (Logistics) as required. I work day-to-day for the Utah Army National Guard in support of the Homeland Response Force. I am currently taking a leave of absence from my civilian employer, Okland Construction, where I am a cost accountant.

Length of Deployment/List any other deployments (where/when): Nine months; Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo 2009-2010

Veteran experience (what branch/how long): Army, 11 years total. I enlisted as a 92A, Automated Logistical Specialist and was commissioned through the North Dakota Army National Guard in 2012.

What do you do here for your deployment/title: G4, Supply and Services Officer in Charge

What are you feelings about serving in Afghanistan during this historic time: There is a whole generation of American youth who have only known our country to be at war, and I am excited for that to change.

It is exciting to be in Afghanistan during this historic time. America is closing in on closing this chapter of our history books. The transitions we will see that are bound to take place back on our homefront -- increased military retention and federal spending adjustments -- will be a welcomed change.

There are a lot of young people in our country that have grown accustomed to and accepted war as a norm and I am hopeful and grateful for the shift in "the norm" in the near future.

Do you have a female mentor or woman you look up to -- historic or personal -- that has helped guide you in your career: I always gravitate towards people, regardless of sex, who are hardworking, open-minded, trying to do the right thing, and willing to make hard choices. I love being a student, so any person willing and eager to teach those around them has always been important to me.