Event celebrates women of ‘Tropic Lightning’ Division
Staff Sgt. Cashmere Jefferson
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Women’s Equality Day, Aug. 26, commemorated the anniversary of the passage of the U.S. Constitution’s 19th Amendment, which guarantees all women the right to vote.
Soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division held an event to observe the commemoration and to recognize contributions that women have made in the military and to the 25th ID, here, Aug. 28.
More than 100 Soldiers attended the event that focused on “Celebrating Women’s Right to Vote.”
During the observance, Col. Brian Eifler, commander, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, “Bronco Brigade,” 25th ID, recognized the equal standing of women serving their country and their continued effort toward equality in the military, specifically in the 25th ID.
Eifler noted that he has seen the roles of women in the Army increase dramatically throughout his career, from their increased roles in Iraq and Afghanistan, to their recent integration into direct combat formations, such as the 25th ID.
Eifler commands one of the first brigades in the Army to take part in the female integration program, enabling female Soldiers to serve in military occupational specialities, or MOSs, traditionally held by men.
“Cultural Support Teams and Female Engagement Teams have filled the gaps in capabilities and have made tremendous impacts to combat operations,” Eifler said, emphasizing that missions of those teams cannot be done without women in the Army.
Victoria Olson, guest speaker, has been an advocate for Soldiers’ issues during the last 40 years. Her husband is retired Maj. Gen. Eric Olson, a former commander of the 25th ID.
Olson, the first female referee for men’s basketball in Colorado in 1973, told stories of barrier-breaking women of the past and reminded everyone of the battles for equality that women continue to fight for in America today.
The event also featured a panel of six female Bronco Brigade Soldiers who answered questions from the audience relating to their past and current experiences while serving in the Army and in the 25th ID.
One panel member, 1st Lt. Brandy Gainsley, medical platoon leader, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT, was asked about serving in an infantry unit.
“I knew coming here that it wasn’t going to be easy, and I didn’t want it to be,” she said. “My commander said he didn’t care that I was a female. I appreciated that because I knew that I was part of a team and that was it.
“As far as challenges,” Gainsley continued, “ I tell females all the time, ‘All you have to do is be faster than their slowest guy, and you’ll be just fine.’ ”
“I thought the event was great,” said Spc. James Komarmi, field artillery tactical data systems specialist, 3rd Bn., 7th Field Artillery Regt., 3rd BCT. “It touched on a lot of subjects that I didn’t know about. I got the chance to see a female Soldier’s point of view on the importance of working together and learned that it’s not about gender; (it’s) just (about) accomplishing the mission.”