By Keith Desbois, CASCOM Public AffairsMarch 26, 2012
FORT LEE, Va. - As part of recognizing Women's History Month, 10 of the U.S. Army's 23 female general officers gathered at Fort Lee March 22 to speak about education and answer Soldier's questions.
During this landmark event, hosted by the U.S. Army Quartermaster School, part of the Combined Arms Support Command, in partnership with the U.S. Army Women's Museum and Fort Lee Equal Opportunity Office, two panel discussions were held to highlight the importance of institutional education and discuss operational experiences. Each panel consisted of five generals, which when combined, represented more than 285 years of Army experience. The theme of the event was "Army Learning: Empowerment through Education."
"I think it is important to highlight the accomplishments of these generals as a learning tool for the future leaders of the Army," said Francois Bonnell, director, U.S. Army Women's Museum. "All of these ladies have advanced degrees to include master and doctorates."
The idea for the event was planted last year during an Association of the U.S. Army meeting that was attended by Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham, 51st Quartermaster General and U.S. Army QM School commandant.
During the meeting of senior leaders last fall, Bingham had the opportunity to meet many of the general officers who were on the panel. "I was so impressed by the women I met that I made a mental note to invite them to Fort Lee where they could tell their stories," she said.
The event was tailored to support the Army Learning Concept 2015, which is geared to today's technologically savvy Soldiers with an emphasis on education, according to Tracey Bradford, U.S. Army Women's Museum education and training specialist.
The morning panel concentrated on institutional education (online and traditional school houses) and the importance of bettering oneself through higher learning. The generals shared many personal examples of how education helped in giving them added discipline and problem solving skills.
"What you take away from training is how much you don't know," said Maj. Gen. Gina S. Farrisee, U.S. Army Human Resources Command commanding general. "And, you also take away that you can't possibly learn everything that you need to learn for whatever skill you're taking that training for."
Other words of advice offered were to find a mentor and compile a one, three and five-year career plan. Both of those recommendations were added to help leaders succeed.
"If you don't have a mentor, go get one, right away," said Brig. Gen. Leslie A. Purser, director Intelligence Operations, Plans, and Policy deputy chief of staff, G-2, Department of the Army. "It was one of the changing things in my situation as a lieutenant colonel. He made me realize there were many more opportunities out there."
The panels were streamed live via the U.S. Army Women's Museum Facebook page so that Soldiers as far away as Afghanistan were able to view the event and even ask questions of the members.
The panel discussions were attended by more than 600 Soldiers and civilians. Upon completion of the panels, guests were afforded the opportunity to mingle with the generals and ask further questions.
The event was well received by those who attended or watched through the Facebook feed. The discussions were intended to provide useful information for helping young leaders move up the ranks.
"The information was beneficial because I'm not sure we always know what direction to take. We are constantly told that we need to enroll in college courses and do correspondence, but I don't think that information sinks in until we actually see where it can take us," said Spc. Kiersten S. Beaster, administrative assistant to the Regimental QM Command Sergeant Major. "I think the more we are encouraged to continue our quest for knowledge, the better off we will be, not only for ourselves but for the whole team. They proved that education is very important to being successful, whether you're in the military or not."
For those who missed the live broadcast or would like to watch the event again, visit http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?ref=name0d723564185e487e3e390c1dc553aa638f3ed38f12cba2118d3e8a23e0384514990f1af0713563ea853174b3694cd45e717f72e8e6c98954dfae4bc2ce9c21e6id=1237099257#!/usarmywomensmuseum/app_142371818162 and click the Women's History panel 1 link. The stream is currently not optimized for mobile devices at this time.