Female Service Members Speak to NYU Council During Fleet Week

By Chief Petty Officer RJ Stratchko, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic   NEW YORK — For the third year in a row, service members from the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard participated in an […]
By Chief Petty Officer RJ Stratchko, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic  

NEW YORK — For the third year in a row, service members from the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard participated in an event to help provide insight into the experience of being a woman in the military.

Members and guests of New York University’s Women’s Initiative listened to officers and senior enlisted females at the council’s “An Insider View of Women in the Military” event held during Fleet Week New York (FWNY).

The event highlighted different aspects of being a woman in the military with topics on career choices, dual military marriages and deployment schedules.

“For a long time, I have been serving as the only female officer on a staff of more than 80 people,” said Lt. Cmdr. Allison Ward, Carrier Strike Group Ten’s Judge Advocate General. “I take that responsibility very seriously to set a good example and I get to experience the positive affect of that when my junior male Sailors ask me specifically to be at their reenlistments and end of tour events. It makes me proud and I hope my leadership makes them proud too.”

While each woman had the opportunity to tell their unique perspectives about being a female servicemember, they also discussed what led them to their decision to join.

“I joined the Marine Corps because it was the most selective [in regard to females] because there were so few of them and I was told that very few of them would pass officer candidate school,” said Marine Corps 1st Lt. Stephanie Pavlo, from Detroit. “I wanted that challenge, I wanted to be a part of the few and the proud. Since I’ve joined, the level of equality has changed a lot and we’re showing everyone what we’ve been capable of all this time.”

Some of the women had male family members that have served or are currently on active duty, but others wanted a different challenge.

“I don’t have a history of my parents being in the military, but they love to travel,” said Lt. Cmdr. Terra Reber, from Reading, Pa. “One of the places we visited the Naval Academy and I thought to myself ‘I like this place.’ So I went there and I became a surface warfare officer. I love it. I’m very passionate about this job.”

The military has taken great strides to ensure equality throughout the ranks by opening career opportunities and relationships to female servicemembers. For Coast Guard Maritime Enforcement Specialist 2nd Class Kira Booke, from Albany, N.Y. this is becoming more apparent every time she interacts with her male counterparts throughout the world.

“I have noticed that sometimes we run into some resistance, but I don’t think it’s a lack of respect. It’s a lack of experience with working with women,” said Booke. “I feel like today’s media is telling us that there is a brick wall in front of us, but I’m not finding that. Overall, I think I’ve had a positive experience both at home and overseas with foreign entities.”