Airmen recognize National Women's History Month

  • Published
  • By By Airman 1st Class Montse Ramirez
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
They aren't just our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. They are strong, courageous individuals who have not only cared for their loved ones, but have also fought for equality and their country.

In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women's History Month, since neither the day, nor the week they had previously assigned was enough to recognize the contributions women have made in the course of history.

"Women's History Month is an opportunity for us to recognize the contributions women have made to our Nation, and to honor those who blazed trails for women's empowerment and equality"-President Barack Obama, 2010 Presidential Proclamation.

The theme for this year's observance is "Our History is Our Strength."

We have been a part of military history since the American Revolution, when we served on the battlefield as nurses, laundresses and cooks. Women's involvement increased during World War I when we were given the opportunity to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces.

By 1941, more than 400,000 American military women served at home and overseas in nearly all non- combat jobs. During World War II, the first women pilots, known as the Women Airforce Service Pilots, was organized and performed stateside missions as test pilots and anti-aircraft artillery trainers.

Throughout history, we have proven our strength and power by overcoming obstacles and therefore opening a path of opportunity for women to follow.
One obstacle military women don't have to encounter anymore is having to chose between having a family or a career.

When women were first allowed to join the U.S. Armed Forces, regardless of whether she was married or not, if they became pregnant, they faced immediate discharge from the Air Force.

"I have been lucky to have such an amazing career without many obstacles," said Col. Kathleen Dunn-Cane, 509th Medical Group commander. "But I do remember during the first seven years of my career I worked a lot of 12-hour night shifts and weekends and my biggest obstacle was figuring out how to juggle two young children while managing my schedule at the hospital with my active-duty spouse. Not only did we have to deal with schedules, but my husband shut down two bases in Germany and had to relocate to a base a couple of hours from where I was, therefore we had to maintain two households.

"I know people have scheduling obstacles all the time and I really admire dual-military families. Because having lived it, I know how difficult it is on the couple and the children," she said.
As time progresses, we continue to expand society's expectations and become the role models who inspire us.

Colonel Dunn-Cane said one of the women she has admired during her career was Colonel Julia Yawn, her chief nurse many years ago, whom to this day she looks up to.
"She really made an impact on me because she was the first senior female officer I ever met who was married with children and able to balance both family and career," Colonel Dunn-Cane said. "She is a huge role-model to me and one of the reasons I stayed in the Air Force."

Although women have been able to obtain nearly every job and position in the Air Force due to our perseverance, we are still restricted from serving in positions such as pararescue, combat controllers and those with direct ground combat units.

To this day, more than 286,000 women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces continue to fight for our country and our place in society, leaving our footprints in history one step at a time.