Honoring Trailblazing Women

The story of America is the story of American women, marked by strength, bravery and dedication, whether in our Army, in our own families, or in our society.  We observe Women’s History Month in March, established by Congress as the official observance in 1987, but we have observed the outstanding achievements and contributions of women to the building and sustainment of our nation for many years.

The images of the work and sacrifices of American women are plentiful:  pioneer women, heading west in covered wagons to help settle the frontier; camp followers during the Civil War, often nurses, tending to the needs of the soldiers; suffragettes, marching and sometimes being jailed for the right to vote; Rosie the Riveter, performing the “man’s work” at home so that the men could fight the war.  World War II also saw women serving in the military, followed by the official integration of women into the Armed Forces in 1948.

Women's History Month Poster

Today, women perform virtually every job in the military as well as in the civilian sector.  They play a vital role in today’s Army:  they are Soldiers on the battlefield and in garrison; they are officers and noncommissioned officers; they are Army Civilians.  And they are Army wives, mothers, and sisters who provide vital support to the Army team.   Within USACE, more than 10,000 women work in virtually every field, comprising almost 32 percent of the workforce.  About 30 percent of our Southwestern Division workforce is made up of women, more than 800 altogether, performing just about every job specialty available.  They should be proud of their accomplishments.  I know that I am.

Every now and then, we glimpse a piece of history that has been hidden and gain a new perspective.  One such glimpse is the recent film “Hidden Figures,”   the story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.   Who knew that such unrecognized feats were buried away. This film provided great recognition not only for women, but also for African-Americans.

This year’s Department of Defense theme, Honoring Trailblazing Women, highlights women who have successfully broken down barriers and changed the role of women.   This year, DoD highlights four women, one from each branch of the military:  the Honorable Dr. Sheila Widnall, former Secretary of the Air Force; Command Master Chief Evelyn Banks (retired), U.S. Navy; Major General Lori Reynolds, (retired) U.S. Marine Corps; and the late Ms. Tracey Pinson, U.S. Army, director of the Office of Small Business Programs for almost two decades.

Their contributions to the Department of Defense were national news, and had an impact that was felt across the country and in some cases around the world.  They are indeed role models for women to learn from and honor.

This March, I also honor each SWD woman, whether you work at a lake, a dam, or a desk, for all the great contributions that you make to our SWD mission and to our American history!  Thank you!

David C. Hill
Brigadier General, U.S. Army
Commander, Southwestern Division
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

“Building Strong…Army Strong!”