Women’s Equality Month speaker says females broke barriers long before her

FORT IRWIN, Calif. — The National Training Center’s Equal Opportunity / Equal Employment Opportunity Offices and the 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment hosted the Celebration of Women’s Equality Day at Fort Irwin’s Sandy Basin Community Center on Aug. 14. Its purpose was to highlight the progress of women working towards more equality opportunities in the Army, with the theme ‘Women’s First.’ This year’s observance was to show and educate personnel on Fort Irwin about National Women’s Equality Day, and accomplishments by women regardless of their race and/or background.

The event began with an invocation by Chaplain (Cpt.) Ronald Marshall and progressed into opening remarks by Lt. Col. Thomas Frohnhoefer, commander of the 1-11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. There was then a guest speech by Maj. Gen. Tammy Smith, that ended with the presentation of an award to Smith from Frohnhoefer, thanking her and presenting her with a poster, inducting her as an honorary Blackhorse Trooper.

Smith commissioned into the Quartermaster Corps in 1986. She most recently served as the Deputy Commanding General- Sustainment, Eighth United States Army, Korea. She currently serves as the Deputy G-1 for the Deputy Chief of Staff G-1, Headquarters Department of the Army, Pentagon. The Regiment’s Equal Opportunity Office invited her to Fort Irwin to speak about her experiences as a woman who served through many of these ‘Women’s First’ events in the Army.

The women’s suffrage movement has roots dating back to 1848 when it achieved its first major milestone– the first women’s rights convention, held in Seneca Falls, New York, on July 19-20 of 1848. The convention was organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, whose Declaration of Sentiments is often credited with initiating the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. Another significant day in the suffrage movement is Women’s Equality Day, Aug. 26, declared by the Joint Resolution of Congress in 1971 (passed 1973) to commemorate the anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment (passed 1920), which guarantees the right to vote regardless of sex or gender.

More and more women are training for, and are awarded Military Occupational Specialties that traditionally only males have had the opportunity to earn. An example of women excelling in the military, Sgt. 1st Class Janina Simmons, a Drill Sergeant with the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy, at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. She recently earned the distinction of being the first African-American female to graduate Ranger School in April 2019. Another step in the pursuit of equality in the army are the changes in the new Army Combat Fitness Test. It bases the minimum passing score on the military occupational specialty code (MOS), rather than on gender and age as the current Army Physical Fitness Test does. Loretta Walsh was the first woman to enlist in 1917, in a position other than a Nurse in the Navy Reserve. The Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, enacted on June 12, 1948, allowed women to serve as permanent, regular members of the armed forces and on July 7, 1976, the first class of women was admitted into West Point. These significant events could not have occurred without the first ‘Women’s Firsts’ in the military.

11th ACR is proud to have been selected to host the event and educate the Soldiers of Fort Irwin on the progress that has been made in the Army in ensuring females are treaded as equally.

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