Women’s History Month sheds light on the struggles and achievements women have made throughout the history of the United States. In the military, we put special emphasis on the contributions women have made in service to the Armed Forces. Whether providing support during our Nation’s founding years or serving on the front lines during modern conflicts, women have provided a wealth of strength that our military draws on to reinforce its values and define service and sacrifice. But more than icons or symbols, these women are real people with responsibilities, dreams, goals, and others who depend on them.
U. S. Army Maj. Sharleen L. Morgan, a Chicago native and Senior Human Resources Officer for the 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, is just one of many women who staff high-profile positions within the organization, whose experience and expertise make them invaluable additions to the team.
“I have been in the Army for 16 years,” said Morgan. “I entered the Army as a Pfc. and became an officer in 2009, and yet it seems like only yesterday I’d taken the oath to serve and protect. I can honestly say much of the joy has been in the journey.”
Morgan was inspired to join the military shortly after her mother suddenly passed away. It was then she was faced with the decision to either let life happen to her or to actively follow a path that would make her mother proud. She realized the Army would allow her an opportunity to stand up and stand out, to accomplish her goal of finishing college and join an organization that had the potential to fulfill most if not all of her dreams, develop skills, enjoy world travel, and work with others as driven as herself.
But her road was not without challenges and adversity. At times she encountered gender-bias, and while these incidents were quickly reported, they persisted. “I was born a fighter, and even when I’d find myself in uncomfortable situations, I would find the courage and fortitude to continue on and fight,” said Morgan. “The Army has made significant strides through the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention and Equal Opportunity Programs. The Army has created an environment of inclusion where they provide equal opportunity for its Soldiers to be successful in any military occupation. This initiative
facilitated thousands of opportunities that never existed.”
But when times were tough, Morgan would fall back on her support network. A father who served in the Air Force, a brother-in-law who served in the Army, three children, and great friends. Together they formed the foundation of her emotional strength and provided her with the insight and knowledge necessary to keep pushing forward.
“It has been an honor to serve this country as the first female in my family to join the military,” said Morgan. “Every day I have a smile on my face, and a mission to do my very best and help as many people as I can, regardless of the capacity. My service has shaped my life in ways that are unexplainable.”
U.S. Army Sgt. Siarra Clark, Morgan’s daughter, decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and enlisted in the Army in 2015 as a 92Y Unit Supply Specialist, currently serving with the 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment, 198th Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning, GA.
This month, in a rare circumstance where a mother and daughter are part of the same Army ceremony, Morgan was able to travel to Fort Benning to reenlist her daughter as she pledged 4 more years of service to the Army. Clark raised her right hand and repeated the oath of enlistment as her mother had done 16 years before.
“I am especially proud of this momentous occasion as it has confirmed for me Siarra’s commitment to focus on an achievable goal of her own,” said Morgan. “By choosing an organization that offers so much potential with the capability of honing one’s skills and developing others makes me extremely proud. My daughter is meeting the demanding world of today and tomorrow poised to set a precedent for females in the military. That is impressed upon her two daughters as well. It is extremely gratifying knowing that in some small way I’ve helped shape the future of a great woman who will be even greater as she continues on this chosen path. I know that when ‘SiSi’ sets her mind to do something, nothing and no one will hinder that objective.”
After reflecting on her Army journey and the similar journey of other women’s service, Morgan believes that just one month to celebrate the achievements of women is not enough.
“In many ways, women have been the glue for the American family,” said Morgan. “Women birth us, clothe us, and feed us both spiritually and physically, and in some cases, they go to war for us. A month is far too short a time to celebrate everything that women are, and all we have accomplished. I am proud to be a woman and proud that I am able to inspire other women, both military and civilian, every day.”