By Jaz Levario
U.S. Army Garrison Fort Devens Public Affairs
April 1, 2022
USAG FORT DEVENS, Ma. (April 1, 2022) - - On March 15, 2022, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Devens joined the nation in celebrating the history and achievements of women throughout the armed forces with an event in observance of Women's History Month.
During the event, CSM Jamie Rogers provided us with a background on women in the military from the Revolutionary War to present. CSM Rogers shared about her first deployment to Iraq from 2004-2005 serving as a Military Police Officer. She shared a firsthand account of the courage SGT Leigh Ann Hester displayed during an ambush on a logistics convoy in Salma Pak, Iraq. SGT Hester was the first female since WWII to receive the Silver Star. SGT Hester’s gallantry and bravery is a reminder of the (s)heroes among our ranks. SGT Hester is now 1SG Hester currently serving in the Tennessee National Guard. CSM Rogers also highlighted Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, who served as a surgeon during the Civil War and was the only woman ever to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
"We hear about so many amazing men in military history, but we don't hear often enough about the amazing women. We need to say their names more," said CSM Rogers.
Two guest speakers joined us to share their stories as Army Veterans, highlighting their time in the Army and the battle they endured to find themselves once leaving active duty.
Kelly Ratcliffe, Outreach Peer Specialist from Clear Path, said she felt like she lost her home once she left the Army and struggled to find her place in the world again. Battling with PTSD, Kelly sought out a service dog and was paired with Fitch from Clear Path. "Fitch has taught me how to live again; without him, I wouldn't be able to be in front of a crowd speaking," said Kelly.
Kelly shared about the excellent services and opportunities available through Clear Path for all veterans, such as yoga, service dogs, lunches, job placement, and a women's wellness event catered just to female veterans.
Susan McDonough, Women Veterans' Network Director, also shared briefly about her time in the military, transitioning from active duty to guard, and eventually separating from the Army. Susan said, "Women are the least represented among Veterans because they don't ask for help. There tends to be shame around no longer being in the military and not wanting to take resources from other Veterans." Susan went on to say, "The resources already belong to you. Take advantage of them."
Women have had to fight hard for equal treatment and equal opportunity in various career fields such as fighter pilots and fighting on the frontline. However, women have played a vital role in the military dating back to the Revolutionary War, and continue to do so, representing 16% of the total force.
LTC Trent Colestock, Fort Devens Garrison Commander, closed the event by saying that when he first enlisted in the Army, he didn't serve alongside any women, but that is no longer a thing young Soldiers can say, which makes him proud.
U.S. Army Garrison Fort Devens provides premier training capabilities and base operations support to the Total Force in New England.
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