FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — As a flutist with the 399th Army Band, Sgt. Tatiana Preziuso often helps showcase the traditions and professionalism of the Army at events near and far.
Over Memorial Day weekend, Preziuso was invited to bring life to the modern-day female Soldier at a “Soldiers through the Ages” event at Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, New York.
At the event, Preziuso was responsible for talking about what it takes to be a woman in the military today, along with providing information on topics like Basic Combat Training and her job duties.
Other volunteers represented previous eras and explained their roles in military service dating back hundreds of years.
“A lot of people think women weren’t in the military way back when, but historically, women have always been there, capable and involved in all sorts of capacities,” she said. “Not just pulling their weight, but often hurdling over obstacles that were unbelievably challenging.”
Preziuso, who has been in the Army for three years, said her goal in volunteering at the event was not only to educate, but to inspire others who may think they are not the ideal candidate for military service because of their gender — and community outreach is key.
“I know a lot of females who don’t even consider enlisting because they don’t think they can do it,” she said. “Getting more female Soldiers out there to encourage these young women to try is important, because they are more capable than they think.”
Warrant Officer Brian Dorgan, 399th Army Band commander, agreed.
“Seeing the evolution of these historical female roles is extremely inspiring and it provides perspective on how far we’ve progressed as a nation,” Dorgan said. “Representation matters in opening the door for everyone from all walks of life, and hopefully younger generations see these events and hear that call to service of their country that so many of us, serving now, have experienced.”
In representing the Army at the event, Preziuso said she tried to be a positive example of what women can do in the military.
“I tried to represent myself in such a way that it demonstrated the pride I have in myself for having great weapons qualifications and physical fitness scores,” she said. “I try to be good at everything the Army wants me to be good at, so I can remain competitive.”
As a member of the Army Band, Preziuso’s job serves as a platform for sharing Army history, Dorgan said.
“We have been one of the primary vehicles for telling the Army story and showing the public the high standard expected by all Soldiers in our ranks since day one, 247 years ago,” he said. “We render honors and preserve tradition by adhering to the historical performance practices of the earliest days of Army Bands.”
That role is something Preziuso takes seriously, and she thinks others may find military service as equally rewarding if they seek out the opportunities available to them.
“The Army can be very rewarding if you find a job you like,” she said. “I love my job in the band. I get paid to do everything I would do anyway in the civilian world, like work out and practice. I think more women can find their place in the military today.”
For Preziuso, serving in the Army — and educating others and encouraging them to serve — is also a personal mission of gratitude.
Originally from Russia, she came here at eight years old, and later joined the Army, in part, to repay the opportunities this country has afforded her.
“I get to give back to a nation that’s given me so much already, so that was a meaningful part of joining and something I considered when making the commitment,” she said. “I would have never played the flute or the sports I played and would have never met my husband had I remained in Russia.”
Dorgan called Preziuso an exceptional Soldier and motivated NCO, who is proud of her service.
“She embodies servant leadership by putting her Soldiers first and develops those around her with infectious energy and enthusiasm,” he said.
In sharing her story, and encouraging others, Preziuso acknowledged the women who came before her, who afforded her the opportunity to represent the Army as a female.
“Because of those women before us, we have the modern-day military woman, and it’s awesome,” she said.