The 8th Theater Sustainment Command held their 2022 Women’s Symposium at the Aliamanu Military Reservation Chapel, Hawaii, on March 24, 2022.
The conference featured five women at various levels of leadership from various U.S. Army units and Lululemon’s Regional Manager for Hawaii and Alaska, Rachel Maiers, as panelists. The panelists discussed leader development, work life balance, professional opportunities & challenges, diversity & inclusion, and mentorship.
This year’s symposium was a first for the unit and served as the culminating event for the 8th TSC’s observance of Women’s History Month, an opportunity for women across the command to connect and learn from each other.
The conference began with opening remarks from 8th TSC’s Commanding General, Maj. Gen. David Wilson.
“You will be empowered and more informed about how you can negotiate not only obstacles and challenges that you might face in your career, but also of the tremendous opportunities that the Army affords each and everyone one of you all present.”
Following Wilson’s remarks, the audience watched a video-message from the Secretary of the Army, the Honorable Christine Elizabeth Wormuth, on the importance of Women’s History Month. Following Secretary Wormuth’s message, each member of the panel introduced themselves and discussed their careers up to their current points. The panel and audience then began working their way through their scheduled topics and opened up the floor to questions.
Sgt. Valarie May Eduarte, assigned to 8th TSC, asked the panel if there was a “right time” to start a family while serving in the Army.
“Having two young children of my own and trying to figure out the secret ingredient to a work life balance, hearing their experiences and advice gave me hope that I too will succeed as a mother and Soldier and one day be in their shoes as a senior leader,” said Eduarte. “I appreciated hearing about the experiences from the mothers on the panel,” said Eduarte.
This question sparked an important discussion between the panel’s speakers and lead to a unanimous decided there was no “right time,” to start a family as a soldier.
That conversation naturally evolved into a back and forth between the panelists and the attendees about how soldiers could strike a balance between pushing forward with their careers and finding time for their families.
Those conversations sparked interest about mentor development. All soldiers were asked to reach out to their mentors for guidance as they grow and develop as leaders who will one day take on the role of mentors themselves.
The purpose of the Women’s Symposium was to provide and enable mentorship and leadership for all soldiers as they progress through their careers.
Sgt. Maj. Chapman, a human resources specialist with insight into the Army Career Tracker model, stressed that soldiers need to be their own advocates and communicate their goals to their mentors to develop and implement plans that meet those goals.
Command Sgt. Maj. Young was thankful for the opportunity for younger women to ask important questions and receive honest, constructive advice.
“It is my hope that the thoughts and experiences shared will serve as greater perspective and inspiration to our teammates and budding talent within the 8th TSC," said Young.
As women continue to pave the way for our future military, it is vital senior leaders continue to mentor and develop soldiers to ensure they are able to navigate obstacles related to all aspects of what it takes to be a ready soldier and balanced leader.