FORT KNOX, Ky. - Soldiers and DA civilians assigned to the 1st Theater Sustainment Command, and guests from throughout the post, participated in the launch of Fort Knox’s first Female Mentoring and Morale Program, Aug. 31, 2023, at Haszard Auditorium.
Brig. Gen. Eric P. Shirley, commanding general, 1st TSC, and Command Sgt. Maj. Albert E. Richardson Jr., senior enlisted advisor, 1st TSC, showed their support to the new 1st TSC chapter of the FMMP with a video message from Kuwait.
Col. Clydea Prichard-Brown, chief of staff, 1st TSC, then described the program to attendees and told her story about why she is passionate about mentoring. Prichard-Brown founded the FMMP, along with her twin sister and Army Lt. Col. (P) Clydellia Prichard-Allen, in 2020, while serving at Fort Gregg-Adams, Virginia. This newest chapter marks close to 40 chapters established, or preparing to start up, throughout the Army since that time.
Prichard-Brown stressed that this program is open to everyone. “It is for men and women,” she explained. “The goal is to provide personal and professional development with a focus on strengthening and empowering our military and civilian women in our formations and our government offices.”
“It’s a program that asks, ‘How do we empower ourselves?’ This requires support from our brothers in arms and civilian brothers as well as leadership,” Prichard-Brown added.
Three additional panel members provided stories about their support for women or stories of challenges they’ve experienced during their careers.
David Dusterhoff, deputy chief of staff, 1st TSC, shared a story about his daughter and her fight to earn equal pay as a coach at a university. He described how she had to work hard, build a program, yet still did not earn anything near what her male counterparts did. She ultimately had to move on from this job that she loved, to make a living. “I wish I listened earlier and could have guided her better,” he said. He encouraged people to listen more and truly find out what’s going on when women discuss pay inequities.
Lt. Col. Julio Reyes, commander, Special Troops Battalion, 1st TSC, shared stories about his wife who served as an officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force. “There weren’t a lot of women in the Canadian Forces, and there weren’t a lot of female officers who she could have looked to as a mentor,” he said. “In fact, the first time she was pregnant, she was told, ‘you’re just not going to be promoted, so you can kiss your career goodbye,’” he said. She did overcome this and other challenges she faced and retired as a major and is now enrolled in law school.
The final panelist was Sgt. Maj. Lelia Purter, senior enlisted advisor, support operations, 1st TSC. She shared a story about when she experienced losses in her family and thought about ending her Army career. Her mentors showed concern for her, listened, and encouraged her not to leave until she was ready, providing her the support that she needed.
Each of the panelists provided their perspectives on different issues that women face and how to be allies to women in uniform and DA civilians. They offered examples of real challenges along with the outcomes.
When the guest speakers concluded, everyone involved in organizing the program stood on stage and helped cut a red ribbon – demonstrating that the 1st TSC’s new FMMP is ready to provide mentoring and maintain a high level of morale for women in the Fort Knox community.
Through this program’s active participation in community events and observances, the FMMP will address issues that affect female Soldiers serving in the 1st TSC. This program encourages their retention and professional development.
Video of the entire program launch is available to view at: https://www.facebook.com/1stTheaterSustainmentCommand/ .