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Female soldiers honored for their accomplishments, achievements

Friday, May 01, 2015

Greetings from the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), our Army’s and our soldiers’ professional organization.

I recently had the honor to attend the Army Women’s Foundation (AWF) Seventh Annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Summit, March 17 – 18, here in the District of Columbia.

"The mission of the Army Women’s Foundation is to celebrate and preserve the achievements of women who serve in the Army and help them prepare for ongoing success whether they continue their careers as soldiers or return to civilian life," said Maj. Gen. Dee Ann McWilliams, USA, Ret., president of the Army Women’s Foundation.

In March, the Army celebrates Women’s History Month to recognize the contributions women have made to our military service by honoring those who have served.

Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., AUSA president, introduced Lt. Gen. Karen Dyson, military deputy for budget, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Financial Management and Comptroller, the evening’s keynote speaker.

In his remarks, Sullivan reflected on his tenure as commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division, "The Big Red One," and drew a comparison between the division’s motto – "No Mission Too Difficult, No Sacrifice Too Great, Duty First" – and Dyson’s career.

Sullivan said, "[Dyson] was among the first to break some of the ‘glass ceilings’ inhibiting woman soldier opportunities."

Dyson’s career included serving as the first woman to command a large finance organization in combat – the 266th Finance Command.

As a brigadier general, she was the first woman in uniform to serve as the director of operations and support in the Pentagon, responsible for all Army military personnel, operations and maintenance funding.

As a major general, she was the first woman to be the director of the Army budget.

Now she is the first woman in the Finance Corps to become a three-star general, and the first woman military deputy for budget.

The Woman’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony included the posthumous induction of Command Sgt. Maj. Mary Sutherland, USA, Ret., whose career included tours in Germany, Bosnia, Honduras and Italy.

Sutherland joined the Women’s Army Corps in June 1969 and served over 35 years until her retirement in 2004, making her the longest serving woman of any rank on active duty.

Col. Sally Murphy was the second inductee. Murphy distinguished herself as the Army’s first women helicopter pilot.

The Army capitalized on Murphy’s intelligence background and aviation proficiency that spanned nearly 27 years of service.

Staff Sgt. Julia A. Stalker was the third inductee.

A Distinguished Flying Cross recipient, Stalker is a combat medic who deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and deployed twice with the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to an officer or enlisted member of the armed forces who distinguishes himself or herself in support of operations by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.

During her deployment in June 2011, Stalker displayed extraordinary courage under enemy fire during a 60-hour rescue mission to save 11 wounded soldiers on a mountain top.

The final recipient inducted into the Hall of Fame was Col. Jill Chambers, USA, Ret.

Chambers was recognized for developing a successful, sustainable strategy to reduce crippling stigma associated with mental health challenges in a warrior culture.

When Chambers retired from the Army after 28 years of service, she founded "This Able Vet," an organization that provides real time solutions and non-pharmaceutical alternatives for post-traumatic stress among veterans.

Her work has greatly influenced how the Army and other military support organizations support veterans grappling with mental health and trauma issues.

The Army Women’s Foundation each year also recognizes civilians for their leadership, support and commitment to Army women with a special Champion Award.

This year the foundation provided the Champion Award to the "Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship" (V-WISE) program at Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families.

V-WISE is committed to women veterans by providing the tools they need to become successful entrepreneurs.

Recognizing entrepreneurship as an important part of the nation’s economic growth, V-WISE enables women to pursue their dreams and helps women veterans have an impact in the world.

Dr. J. Michael Haynie, vice chancellor of Syracuse University and the program director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families and the V-WISE program accepted the award.

Emmy Award and Academy Award winner Ron Howard and Frank Martin were recognized with a Champion Award for their documentary "Unsung Heroes: The Stories of America’s Female Patriots."

At the heart of unsung heroes are the powerful first-hand accounts of women who have lived the story of patriots and warfighters.

Their stories of perseverance and triumph reveal the unheralded achievement of this valiant legion of female patriots.

Martin, the film’s director, accepted the award.

The second day of summit included two forums focusing on Army women’s leadership and political opportunities.

Both forums were designed to stimulate discussion and create an environment to take action on issues affecting women.

At the awards luncheon, the Army Woman’s Foundation presented $75,000 in scholarships to women Army soldiers currently serving, veterans and their family members.

For more information on the AWF, see the webpage below and the corresponding links for information on all the amazing people serving our Army and our nation. http://armywomensfoundation.org/

Now more than ever America’s Army needs AUSA and AUSA needs your membership support.

Membership is the volume knob to ensure your voice is amplified many times over and heard throughout the halls of Congress, from sea to shining sea across this country, and throughout every small town and community in-between.

Keep America’s Army Strong!

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Still Serving, Still Saluting!