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Armed Forces Day Tribute to The Women Warriors | Welcome Home My Sisters Welcome Home
Welcome Home my Sisters, Welcome Home
On this Armed Forces Day weekend 2010, I think it’s long overdue and necessary to give a special mention to our Women Warriors. Throughout my career I was both a witness and a participant of the changing role of women in the Military. When I first came on active duty, the Army had Two Corps that were primarily women and those were the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) and the Army Nurse Corps (ANC); though The ANC was not technically women only, they were the only Army Branch that had (or allowed) females wear their branch insignia, all others wore the WAC insignia no matter what job they did, and they were primarily jobs like clerks, in admin and finance. They stayed in separate barracks and for those assigned to duty with a forward deployable unit (except Medical) in the states it was a foregone conclusion that if you had to deploy they would stay behind.
In the late 1970’s all that changed, and I’m proud to say that Army Air Traffic Control was at the forefront of that change. It was one of the first all-male occupations opened up to females, and while the learning curve was steep, it was to say the least an interesting climb. As an example of some of the more interesting hills we had to climb, I had a pilot file an Operational Hazard Report (OHR) on a female controller because she used a ‘Bedroom’ voice during a Ground Controlled Radar Approach (GCA) to the Airfield and requested a review of the tapes be conducted with the controller involved.
A GCA is when the Radar Operator gives the pilot course and glide path guidance every five seconds on his final approach; through this course and glide path guidance he adjusts his flight path using the collective and cyclic sticks in the Helicopter .It is used during bad weather, battle damage or maintenance failures, you can literally talk a pilot down to the runway when necessary when all they have is a functioning engine and radio receiver. Given all that the best GCA controllers develop a radio voice that projects calm and confidence in the face of the moments of terror the pilot might be feeling.
Now you need to understand that an OHR is serious business in Air Traffic Control. When one is filed the Shift Supervisor, the Training Officer, the Facility Chief and The Station Air Traffic Control Chief have to pull the days tape and review the incident in question and find fault or determine a corrective action or procedure often times during this process we would call in the Pilot and his Safety Officer to review the tape and discuss the incident. On the Form there is a large space for this reply to be written by the Air Traffic Control Facility Chief, you have to file a written answer to any OHR filed with the knowledge that the Airfield Commander (in this case my Colonel) would review it and take appropriate administrative action if he felt it was warranted.
To his credit my ATC Chief recognized this for what it was almost immediately (an attempt by the pilot to meet the controller), and directed me to write the following reply
“After a thorough review of the tapes of the approach in question I recommend the following:
Since there were no procedural or technical errors during this approach I have commended The Controller cited for a job well done.
If the Pilot in Command, the Safety Officer, or their Unit Commander feels it has instructional value I will invite his wife or girlfriend to come and review the tape for said instructional purposes.”
When I turned it in to The Airfield Commander, LTC Davis smiled and said “Good Job Sergeant! I’ll handle this from here.” I don’t think I would have wanted to even be a fly on the wall for that conversation.
I use this illustration to point out that we as an Army and a society had a long way to go. We have gotten better since then in many ways but when you talk to female soldiers or read their stories it is still pervasive that they feel they have to be better at whatever job they have in the military than their male counterparts just to be considered acceptable. I think that this too will pass but I just point out that in the military, the attitude of ‘good enough for government work’ has slowly fallen by the wayside since the end of the draft. From my personal observations in Iraq, There are women facing challenges in combat operations in ways we wouldn’t have thought of before. These women have turned that old slam that “You’re Mother Wears Combat Boots” in to a statement of pride, for a whole new generation.
But sadly with these advancements comes the price. We (Vets)
in general have failed to recognize these accomplishments and often times when
asked about membership in the American Legion or the VFW politely pointed
females towards the Wives Auxiliary of our organization or worse asked them politely
where their husband had served. The
Services and the VA have been slow to recognize there are unique issues women
faces with deployment; not just by them but by their families as well.We must do better by them.
But in defense of the organizations listed above they are in fact coming around and there are links below to provide some unique help to women warriors, family members, and vets. I hope any who read this who need some help or know one of our Women Warriors who do, will refer them and get them assistance.
There has been much written about the ‘Brotherhood’ of Arms, it is a bond that those outside the community have a hard time understanding and since the end of the Vietnam War, Vets when we meet give a firm handshake and say “Welcome home my Brother, Welcome Home” Well let me say it here and now to all of you Women Warriors it is long overdue, “Welcome Home my Sister, Welcome Home!”
(by the way: The controller mentioned above rose to the rank of Sergeant Major, she was one of the very finest soldiers I have ever known bar none)
Take a Moment
Please take a moment to see how Women Warriors are making a difference, In the tribute there are many international Highlighted but there are few if any that use our Women Warriors in such a variety of roles..
- Center for Women Veterans Home
Homepage for information about programs and services for Women Veterans.
- This Week\'s "HER STORY" - May 4, 2010 - Center for Women Veterans
The "Her Story" campaign recognizes the important contributions women Veterans have made in our lives and in the success of our Nation. To commemorate these lasting and profound contributions women Veterans have made over the course of our Nation’s history, VA will celebrate the accomplishments of VA women Veteran employees with “Her Story.” The goal of “Her Story” is to encourage VA offices and field facilities to actively acknowledge and honor the service of women Veterans.