By Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs
CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — Most Soldiers in today’s Army cannot really fathom the segregation that once was a part of Army or civilian life. Women, African-Americans and every other minority have been legally, if not always practically, on equal footing for at least a generation now.
But the integration of women into the armed forces didn’t come about until 1948, and there are still misconceptions and patterns that they must overcome. The Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) gathered to celebrate the progress of women, especially in the military, and to foster understanding during the Women’s History Month observance at Camp Striker, Iraq, March 23 at the dining facility.
“I spent the best part of my adult life in infantry units,” said 2nd BCT Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Mahoney during a brief speech. “We never had females assigned. When I came to the 2nd BCT, suddenly there were females all over in my unit. Initially, it caused me much angst.
“But after two rotations with this BCT, I don’t see females and I don’t see males. I see Soldiers,” Mahoney said.
Spc. Jenna Maravillas, a native of Lake in the Hills, Ill., and an information systems operator-analyst with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BCT, led off the ceremony by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” She was followed by a slide show highlighting women who contributed greatly to history, such as Dolores Huerta, who founded the Union of Farm Workers, and Sacajawea, a Native American of the Shoshone tribe who guided explorers Lewis and Clark through the Rocky Mountains in 1803.
Spc. Christina Breeden, a native of Imperial Beach, Wash., and an administrative specialist with HHC, 2nd BCT, read an original poem she wrote in honor of the month before Command Sgt. Maj. Lucille Crutcher, the keynote speaker, began her address to the gathered Soldiers.
Crutcher, a native of Douglas, Ga., is the first woman to hold the position of command sergeant major of the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
“I’m very honored and very touched to participate in this,” said Crutcher, who joked that she was chosen because she’s the oldest female in the BCT. “Women are definitely breaking glass ceilings in the military. Women are serving in roles I’ve never seen in my 27 years in the service. It’s amazing. There are young (female) Soldiers on personal security detachments and all kinds of missions outside the wire.”
These observances highlight those kinds of accomplishments.
“It means a lot to have these kinds of celebrations – it’s an opportunity to get our story out,” Crutcher said. “It’s definitely needed. Until people can become gender-blind, we need observances like this.”
“We’re leaving a footprint in the military,” said Spc. Lailaan Anderson, a native of Deltona, Fla., and an information systems operator-analyst with the 2nd BSTB. “There’s always more we can do, but we’re making our mark and crossing barriers.”