WIESBADEN, Germany -- Helping Soldiers is what drives Command Sgt. Maj. Samara Pitre to keep serving after many have retired. Pitre, who has served for more than 30 years, is one of 380 women in 2021 who don the highest enlisted rank in an active duty Army, which is roughly 18% female.
“If I wake up in the morning and I feel like I don’t want to do this anymore, that’s when I know it’s time,” Pitre said of her retirement plan. “I have not hit that point yet, so as long as the Army will still keep me, I am more than willing to continue to serve.”
As the Installation Management Command-Europe command sergeant major, Pitre no longer directly supervises Soldiers, but said she knows what she does each day impacts the Soldiers and families living at garrisons across Europe.
A self-proclaimed tomboy and one of six female graduates in her class from what would today be labeled as a STEM, college-prep high school, Pitre said joining a male-dominated profession wasn’t a new environment for her.
After attending a recent retirement ceremony for a female first sergeant, Pitre said she reflected that as a young Soldier she couldn’t have pointed out a female first sergeant, let alone a female sergeant major.
“I remember running into one or two as I became more senior,” Pitre said. Meeting those more senior women as she went through her career helped her to set goals of her own. As a staff sergeant she recalled meeting a female sergeant first class and setting her goal there. After witnessing a female sergeant major take over at a battalion, she recalled remembering, “I want to be a sergeant major.”
In the end, Pitre said she thinks many women shy away from joining the military because they think it’s not a “woman’s thing to do,” but today the almost 75,000 women serving in the active Army are proving that to be a misconception.
Being in the Army, “it has to be something you want to get up every morning and do because there are mornings that you’re going to be going out and freezing your butt off or crawling through mud, or it’s the middle of the night, and you’re doing the same exact thing,” Pitre said. “You’re a female, but you’re a Soldier first.”