Women’s History Month: Distinguished panel discusses breaking barriers

By Lori NewmanMarch 29, 2023

Recording of the live streamed event on 03-22-2023

Women’s History Month: Distinguished panel discusses breaking barriers
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Air Force Brig. Gen. Jeannine Ryder, 59th Medical Wing commander and San Antonio Market director, retired Army Maj. Gen. Jimmie Keenan, former chief of the Army Nurse Corps, and Army retired Lt. Gen. Gwen Bingham, former assistant chief of staff for Army Installation Management, participate in a panel titled “Breaking Barriers: Inspiring Journey of Female General Officers” during a Women’s History celebration at Brooke Army Medical Center, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, March 22, 2023. The guest panel answered questions and shared their perspectives about being female leaders in the military. (Photo Credit: James Camillocci) VIEW ORIGINAL
Women’s History Month: Distinguished panel discusses breaking barriers
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Air Force Brig. Gen. Jeannine Ryder, 59th Medical Wing commander and San Antonio Market director, retired Army Maj. Gen. Jimmie Keenan, former chief of the Army Nurse Corps, and Army retired Lt. Gen. Gwen Bingham, former assistant chief of staff for Army Installation Management, participate in a panel titled “Breaking Barriers: Inspiring Journey of Female General Officers” during a Women’s History celebration at Brooke Army Medical Center, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, March 22, 2023. The guest panel answered questions and shared their perspectives about being female leaders in the military. (Photo Credit: James Camillocci) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (March 29, 2023) -- A panel of female general officers shared their experiences during a Women’s History Month celebration at Brooke Army Medical Center March 22.

The guest panel included Army retired Lt. Gen. Gwen Bingham, former assistant chief of staff for Army Installation Management, retired Army Maj. Gen. Jimmie Keenan, former chief of the Army Nurse Corps, and Air Force Brig. Gen. Jeannine Ryder, 59th Medical Wing commander and San Antonio Market director.

BAMC Commanding General Brig. Gen. Deydre Teyhen was not able to attend the event, but she recorded a message thanking the panel members for their participation. She also highlighted the roles women have played in military medicine.

“For centuries, women have played a vital role in providing medical care to our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Guardians,” Teyhen said. “Throughout history, women have faced many challenges when it comes to serving in the military. Despite the obstacles they faced, women persevered and made significant contributions to the field of military medicine.”

Teyhen spoke about Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, the first female U.S. Army surgeon, and others who served during World Wars I and II.

“Today, we stand on the shoulders of giants as women continue to serve in all areas of military medicine – from combat medics to nurses to surgeons and researchers,” she said. “They bring unique perspectives and skills to the field and are essential to the success of the military healthcare system.”

The guest panel answered questions and shared their perspectives about being female leaders in the military.

Ryder said she believes that it’s more about what you know and the skill and passion that you bring to the job, rather than if you are a male or female.

Bingham shared how her past experiences shaped the type of leader she wanted to be.

“If you can conceive it and believe it; with hard work, perseverance and commitment you can achieve it,” Bingham said.

Keenan shared that throughout her career people tried to define her as being a female or being a nurse.

“What I like to always remind everybody… is that we were wearing the cloth of our nation,” Keenan said. “First we are Soldiers, then an officer or NCO (noncommissioned officer), then we are whatever we were branched, in my case a nurse, however we all wear the cloth of our nation.”

She added that many times she was the only female and the only medical professional in the room.

“The one thing I always remembered is who I was there representing, and I was there representing every other Soldier, every other service member, making sure that we had a voice,” Keenan said. “So many times, we lose our voice and we’re afraid to speak up. I would challenge each of you to not be afraid, to speak up when we see something that’s not right. It’s the leadership shadow that we cast, what we permit, we promote.”

The female leaders also talked about their mentors, work/life balance and equal opportunities in the workplace.

Bingham drove the point home by asking the audience how many have daughters.

“I often talk about the golden rule,” Bingham said. “Treat people the same way that you want to be treated. Do you want to see someone limit the aspirations of your own daughters? I think not. The next time you see someone treating a woman differently than their male counterpart just think about the daughters that we all have and how you would want them to be able to really thrive and be a part of the team.”

The leaders all agree that it’s important to ask for help when needed, and not to be afraid to say you don’t know or to admit that you made a mistake.

Ryder added, “Don’t be afraid to say you are sorry and don’t be afraid to change your mind. Sometimes you make the best decision you can with the information you have and three days later it can change.”

The panel members concluded by thanking everyone for their service.

“It’s been a tough three years for all of us … and you have been leading the way within the military health care system,” said Ryder. “You have made sure that we have a ready force and ready medics, and it is nothing but an honor to serve with every single one of you.”