FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- As most of you know, March is Women's History Month and we have a super program here at Fort Jackson to support and acknowledge this.

According to the latest available statistics, women serve in 91 percent of all Army occupations and make up roughly 14 percent of active duty Soldiers. In the Army Reserve, the number jumps to roughly 24 percent and in the National Guard, women represent 14 percent. These statistics represent significant progress in our Army in terms of equal employment opportunity.

Here are some interesting facts showing how women's roles are increasing:

- Before the 1994 Department of Defense assignment rule, 67 percent of the positions in the Army were open to women. At present, 70 percent of the positions in the Army are open to women, and women serve in 91 percent of all Army occupations.

- An increasing proportion of senior-level active duty and DoD positions is being filled by women. The percentage of female Army officers who are active duty and in grades O-4 and above increased from 11.5 percent in 1995 to 13.3 percent in 2009.

- The same holds true for active duty women in grades E-7 through E-9, who went from 8.3 percent in 1995 to approximately 10.8 percent as of 2009. In the grades GS-13 through senior executive service, the percentage of women increased significantly from 18.9 percent in 1995 to roughly 31 percent as of two years ago.

One of the most important facts that relates directly to our primary mission at Fort Jackson is that more than 60 percent of the women enlisting in our Army receive their Basic Combat Training right here at Fort Jackson. That's a pretty impressive statistic.

As I mentioned, this past week the Army began a monthlong observance of Women's History Month. On Monday, Fort Jackson held its annual luncheon, focused on the theme "History is Our Strength." Speaking of history, one footnote I'll point out is that if you are ever at Fort Lee, Va., visit the U.S. Army Women's Museum. The museum traces women's contributions from the late 1700s to the present, telling many fascinating stories with informative, interactive exhibits and videos.

Military service for women is a continuous journey, one that began back in the American Revolution, when Margaret Corbin - who was known as Capt. Molly - assumed the post of her husband after he was killed. Capt. Molly subsequently received the military pay she was due, and following her death, she was laid to rest at West Point.

During the American Civil War, women served as nurses, supply specialists, and even spies - while some of them disguised themselves as male Soldiers to actually engage in ground combat. Women were instrumental in organizing public relief efforts. They staffed government, hospitals and whatever else needed staffing. One woman even acted as an assistant surgeon tending to the wounded.

Women's contributions in the Army's medical field took center stage in the subsequent Spanish-American War. More than 1,500 nurses served with the Army in Cuba, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, as well as in many stateside hospitals. In World War I, women were enlisting everywhere - more than 12,000 served stateside, while overseas Army and Navy nurses, volunteers for the Red Cross and others were tending to the medical needs of our doughboys.

During World War II, approximately 400,000 women served in all the branches of service and in every theater. Some 460 women made the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives, while nearly 100 military nurses were held as POWs. American military women's contributions were immense in the Korean and Vietnam eras as well, but it wasn't until the late 1960s that we saw the legal ceilings on women's promotions lifted. In 1970, we saw our first female general officer. Slightly more than five years later, women were permitted to enroll in the military service academies.

In 2008, we witnessed the promotion of the Army's first four-star general when former President George W. Bush tapped Ann E. Dunwoody, then a lieutenant general, to serve as head of Army Materiel Command. Today, military women are serving in all types of positions. They number almost more than 350,000 strong across the Armed Forces - active duty, the Guard and Reserves. In 2010, Brig. Gen. Colleen L. McGuire became the first female provost marshal general of the Army and also took command of the Army's Criminal Investigation Command. Closer to home, in the fall of 2009 we witnessed a major Army milestone for women when Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa King became the first female commandant of the Drill Sergeant School here.

I hope to see many of you at our events celebrating Women's History month. All of our service members are important to our Army mission and this month the emphasis is on acknowledging and celebrating the contributions of our wonderful female officers, noncommissioned officers, Soldiers and civilians, all of whom enable us to stay Army Strong! Thank you for your service.

Victory Starts Here!