Women’s History Month impacts all Airmen

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Without the historical contributions of women in the military, the Air Force culture and society would not be the same.

On March 1, 1987, Congress passed a resolution designating March as Women's History Month.

Since the early days of the Women's Auxiliary Corps, to the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, our mothers, sisters and wives have helped make this nation strong.

During this month, we take special opportunities to salute those who served and continue to serve.

"Women's History Month is a way to focus on the contributions...of women through education and awareness," said Tech. Sgt. Maurice Ingram, 509th Bomb Wing Equal Opportunity NCOIC.

The theme for 2013 is "Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination."

Ingram suggests that one way we can applaud military women is by acknowledging their past contributions and encouraging their input in charting the course ahead.

"The military is in a stage right now where it's ever-evolving, in a way that we have to do more with less in every branch of the service," Ingram said. "Observances are a great opportunity to bring attention to the featured demographic."

"Women have come a long way...by breaking down walls and the rank structure," said Staff Sgt. Samantha Branch, 509th Bomb Wing Equal Opportunity advisor. "There's a lot more female generals and pilots compared to what it was years ago."

Throughout history, women have taken on more leadership roles, and are now more recognized for their opinion, advice and leadership roles, she said.

Compared to earlier in his career, Ingram now sees more female group commanders and squadron commanders in career fields traditionally led by men.

"Many of the women were in the medical field or in force support," he said.

Branch said there are females she has looked up to over the years and some who have made impacts in her life throughout her military career.

"A significant role model in my life was Chief Master Sgt. Teldra Jones," she said. "I looked up to her and went to her for career advice, and I felt she really cared about her Airmen ... She made a positive impact on my life."

Seeing the contributions of other women, past and present, is a source of inspiration for Branch.

"I admire women serving in the military," she said. "It makes me proud to see positions being filled by women...[female] leadership in the military has inspired me to take an active role in my leadership position."

Branch also recognizes the importance of other women's service in providing chances for others.

"I feel that I have the opportunities to move forward," said Branch. "It is an honor for me to be able to stand on their shoulders to serve, because if it wasn't for the women who came before me, then women would still be in the positions that we were in before."

Ingram said he think it is important to remember what the observance is about - learning something, and more importantly, learning something new.

"With observances, we don't only have the opportunity to learn something but also have the opportunity to highlight demographics who serve with us," Ingram said. "When we stop celebrating the victories, then we forget how far we've come and how the history could be inspirational to someone else."