March is Women's History Month

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Women have supported the American military before our country’s founding. As early as 1775, women took up support roles in military camps as laundresses, cooks and nurses – but only with the approval of the commanding officers, on top of proving that they were helpful.

From there, each conflict America had, from the War of 1812 all the way to World War II, women’s role within the military increased little by little until 1948 where congress passed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act. They were officially granted permanent status in the military, entitled to the same benefits as men.

The military is still growing. Through the years men and women have had to learn how to work together by overcoming prejudice, stereotypes and the attitudes leftover from previous generations, both genders have had to put in a lot of work to foster a strong force of camaraderie.

This isn’t to discredit the military. It’s come a long, long way in fostering an environment of equality. March is Women’s History Month, an observance that recognizes the contributions women have made to America.

Senior Airman Jessica Ray, 17th Training Wing Public Affairs broadcaster, stands as a excellent example of women being a strong asset in the military. A multiple award winner in the Air Education Training Command broadcast category, Ray hasn’t found her gender a hindrance.

“I honestly don’t think I have faced any hardships due to my gender,” said Ray.

Being in an institution based strictly on hard rules and expectations that don’t bend to any gender, race, nationality, religion or background, merit is everything.

“From my experience in the Air Force we are not split into men and women, we are all Airmen,” said Ray. “We all need to remember to focus on our doing the best we can in our jobs and being good people.
“I would tell other women not to worry about gender.”

She also calls on older and experienced women to take more initiative in mentoring and helping the younger generations of women grow.

“I have met a lot of positive female figures in the Air Force, and while they did great things in their career fields, I don’t feel any of them have impacted me in an outstanding way,” said Ray. “I think more women who have greater experience in the Air Force need to reach out not only to young female Airmen, but to young male Airmen as well, so that all new Airmen can have positive female remodels.”