by Senior Airman Matthew Lotz
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
2/27/2015 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- During
the 1900s, answering phone calls, maintaining records and providing
minor health care were just some of the roles women were permitted to
serve in the military. Jobs left open because men left for war, gave
women the opportunity to step up and volunteer on the home front.
A century later, women across the Department of Defense have
responsibilities such as maintaining multi-million-dollar aircraft,
leading troops through battlefields and serving in higher leadership
positions. Women's History Month honors the hard work and contributions
made in the past and present.
"Those women paved the way for me to be able to serve as a United States
Air Force firefighter," said Senior Airman Chelsea Westfall, 31st Civil
Engineer firefighter. "Because of them, I can come to work and feel
like I belong. Women are no longer seen as the outsiders."
Knowing the efforts of women in the past allow for today's women to
prevail and make their own history, not defined by their gender.
"We celebrate Women's History Month to remember the struggles women went
through to get the equalities we have today," said Chief Master Sgt.
Dorothy Olson, 31st Operations Group chief. "We have achieved what our
ancestors worked so hard for."
Today, in the U.S. military, there aren't many jobs women cannot
volunteer for. Serving as a testament to this, John McHugh, Secretary of
the Army, announced that women, for the first time, will be eligible to
participate in U.S. Army Ranger School.
"Physically, there may be things that women might not be able to do,"
said Olson. "But technically or academically, we are the same. The Air
Force offers everyone the same opportunities. That's the best part about
being in the military -- no one has to worry about whether or not a
woman will be able to accomplish a task."
Individuals like Col. Linda McTague, the first female fighter squadron
commander and Honorable Sheila Widnall, the first appointed secretary of
the Air Force, have led by example and proven women can perform in
Technical careers, equal pay and voting rights were merely dreams for
women in the past, but now those dreams are constitutional rights.
"If you're a technical sergeant, you get paid as a technical sergeant.
If you want to make chief master sergeant during your career, with hard
work, you are eligible to make chief," said Olson.
According to the Air Force Personnel Center, there are more than 58,000
females in the U.S. Air Force. These women have the opportunity to
ensure the empowerment given to them is carried on to the next
"In an ideal world, people wouldn't focus on our gender, rather how we
can be better together," said Westfall. "We go through the same training
as men. If I'm wearing a duty badge on my uniform, you should know
without hesitation that I belong. We are strong women who fought to be
here and we aren't going anywhere."