Virginia Guard celebrates Women’s History

The Virginia National Guard Equal Opportunity Office celebrates National Women's History Month March 21 at the Virginia National Guard and Fort Pickett proposed museum at Fort Pickett. The program included special guest speaker Col. Michelle Rose, the first female in Virginia Guard history to command a battalion in a combat theater. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va.—The Equal Opportunity office of the Virginia National Guard welcomed Soldiers and civilians to celebrate Women’s History Month March 21 at the proposed Virginia National Guard and Fort Pickett museum at Fort Pickett. The special program included a “round table forum” and a brief presentation by Col. Michelle Rose, Joint Resource Manager of the Virginia Guard. Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., Adjutant General of Virginia, promoted Rose to the rank of colonel earlier that morning in Sandston.

The forum afforded female Soldiers an opportunity to voice the experiences and some of the unique hardships they face during their careers as women serving in the military. The Soldiers shared their experiences and learned that others have faced similar obstacles along their career paths as well. Many of the women spoke of their experiences while serving overseas.

“I think everyone that attended, whether they deployed or not, was able to receive some valuable information that will help them as women leaders in the military,” said Capt. Amelia Coppage, State Equal Employment Manager. “It started off a little slow, but once we got started everyone relaxed and was able to share their experiences, the good and the bad.”

“We have come a long way in the last 20 years that I have been in the military, but I still think that it is important for women to get together and talk about shared stories,” said Rose. “It was amazing, during the forum today, I noticed one noncommissioned officer talking about a situation she had in a theater of operations and somebody on the other side of the forum would be shaking their head up and down agreeing with her.

“A lot of times people tend to be a little bit shy talking about some of these issues that they have had while they were overseas, or even concerns at home while they were deployed, but it’s kind of like a sisterhood when we discover similar situations.”

A key topic of discussion was the many humanitarian projects that Soldiers deployed overseas often take on in addition to their everyday war fighting missions. The female Soldiers discussed the many different ways they contributed to such projects while deployed.

“I think there are a lot of perspectives out there of female service members that get muddled in the typical media stories,” said Rose. “Seeing the perspective from a female side is just different and here today we actually talked a lot about the special projects that we as service members had the initiative to do while we were deployed in support of the war effort.

“Sometimes I think it really takes a female perspective to get ideas generated and these missions off the ground.”

Women’s History Month is an annual declared month worldwide that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia celebrate the month in March, corresponding with International Women’s Day on March 8.

“The whole intent for these events is to provide cross-cultural awareness for the Soldiers, Airmen and all employees of the Virginia Guard,” said Coppage. “Anytime they can come and learn something different or new about another culture or a different gender, then I think that helps us grow as a stronger organization that people will want to work for.”

“It is important for us to celebrate Women’s History Month because there are so many service women out there, many before my generation, that have contributed so much that never got recognized, so it is nice to see some recognition for contributions going on now,” Rose said.

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