HOUSTON (Army News Service, July 13, 2012) -- The deputy chief of the Army Reserve received a prestigious award for promoting equal opportunity at the annual conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, July 10, 2012.

Maj. Gen. Marcia Anderson, the highest-ranking African American female in the military, received the NAACP's 2012 Benjamin L. Hooks Distinguished Service Award during a dinner at the convention center in Houston.

"I'm going to use this award and the honor you bestowed upon me to continue to do my utmost to make an organization, an institution that I love very much, continue to move forward" in terms of diversity, Anderson said.

"When I came in the Army, there weren't a lot of women and there were also fewer minorities," Anderson said talking with members the 75th Training Division at the conference, "and so I felt it was incumbent upon me if anybody had a bias or if anybody had a particular mindset that I didn't deserve to be a Soldier or be in this position, I was going to dispel that notion with just my hard work."

Last year, Anderson became the first African-American woman to achieve the rank of major general in the United States Army Reserve. She was promoted and became the deputy chief of the Army Reserve in a ceremony at Fort Knox, Ky., Sept. 29, 2011.

As a civilian, Anderson serves as clerk for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

At the NAACP conference, Anderson spoke to attendees about how the Army is helping veterans and reserve-component Soldiers returning from Afghanistan to find jobs in the civilian workforce. She said the Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces had 700,000 jobs for veterans and Soldiers leaving the service.

"The other thing the Army Reserve is doing is partnering with the larger Army as we try to develop and improve the transition-assistance program and all the tools out there," Anderson said.

Tools are available that Soldiers don't always take advantage of, she said, including the career tracker and COOL, Credentialing Opportunities Online for Soldiers. This program helps Soldiers meet civilian certification and license requirements for jobs related to their military occupational specialties.