By Barbara A. Toner (AMC)November 14, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A group of female Army ROTC cadets from the University of Iowa learned about life in the military from three Army Sustainment Command female officers.
The event took place Nov. 8 at the Department of Military Science building. The purpose of the panel discussion was to give the ROTC cadets an opportunity to talk to active-duty female Soldiers about the unique challenges of being a woman in the military.
Col. Regina Draper, Maj. Leah Kenfield, and Capt. Latisha Irwin led the discussion with nine female ROTC cadets, ranging from freshmen to seniors.
They talked about issues that affect female officers, including the challenges of being a military family, deployments, sexual harassment, and the advantages and disadvantages of an Army career. They also discussed benefits such as health care and educational opportunities provided by the Army.
On the general issue of being a woman in the Army, Draper advised that the group to not "play the woman card."
"The worst thing you can do to yourself is to dwell on being a woman. You are a Warrior first," she said.
Kenfield added to the sentiment.
"Don't sell yourself short because you are a woman," she said. "You can do anything you want to do, and you can be anything to want to be."
Kenfield said that no one wants to go to war, but "you know that at some time you'll be asked to put your life on the line."
On sexual harassment, the officers told the group that any kind of harassment is not tolerated in the Army, and they have options on how to deal with the situation through service-proper channels.
Irwin said that the best way to protect yourself from harassment from other male officers is to gain their respect by knowing your job.
Kenfield talked about being a Soldier, wife, and mother in the Army, and the challenges of juggling all three while deployed. She stressed the importance of having a family plan to deal with the situation of both parents deploying at the same time, which happened twice to her and her husband.
Kenfield closed the meeting by urging the group to take care of themselves, and resist the unrealistic pressure female Soldiers put on themselves.
"Be good to yourself; take care of yourself," she said.