Celebrating Women's History

  • Published
  • By Command Chief Master Sgt. Christine A. Tayor
  • 349th Air Mobility Wing
It may stand to reason that sometime ones best reference points would be from their personal history, their own story. As I thought about my military story, it became clear that my story is one to tell, but would not be possible without those who came before me. As I thought more about the significant contributions women in the military have made, I wondered what did I relate to as being significantly important to me on a personal level and at the same time, had a greater effect on women in the military as a whole. Well, we all wear many hats, but as a women, it was often that we wore our hats of many colors without the benefits that would go with them, the military was no exception. As a women, my history will show that I have had a successful 34 year military career, a successful 26 year marriage with what will go down in my history as my greatest accomplishment is my two beautiful daughters, inside and out, they will always be my greatest success story, and a highly regarded and successful 21 year civilian career. In my military world all these things are important because as a member of the Air Force Reserve program, we live our lives as citizen airman and all three of these areas, family, civilian work and military commitment must be balanced. I have been successful in all three areas. But, it hasn't been easy, life is not always fair and neither was the way women received or didn't receive benefits for military service. 

I started my military career in the Army in 1975, the tail end of the Vietnam War and the last hoorah for the Women's Army Corps (WAC's). Long before 1975, in 1941 a Congresswoman named Edith Nourse Rogers, noted that women civilians, serving the Army, who had volunteered to work overseas under contract, without benefit of an official status during World War I, in fields such as communications specialists and dietitians, had to obtain their own food and quarters. They received no legal protections or medical care and no disability or pensions like what was available to the male counterparts, US military veterans. What Congresswoman Rogers did was meet with the Army's Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall , to inform him that she intended to present a bill to establish the Army Women's Corps. Congresswoman Rogers was determined that if women where to serve again with the Army in a wartime theater, that they would receive the same legal protections and benefits as their male counterparts. Her bill passed on 14 May 1942, she achieved some of her goals with many compromises, the bill provided women with overseas pay, government life insurance, veteran's medical coverage and protection under existing international agreements covering prisoners of war. The bill wasn't taken seriously in Congress until after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. In 1946 Congress gave the authority to establish the Woman's Army Corp as a permanent part of the Regular Army. This was the greatest indication of the success of the wartime WAC, thanks greatly to the efforts of Edith Nourse Rogers, Congresswomen from Massachusetts. With these efforts there would have been no opportunity for Private Wright alias "Taylor" to join the Women's Army Corps. I am proud of my Army experience and was a part of history in the WAC's from 1975 -1978, it's existence of a separate corps was abolished in 1978 and women were integrated into all but combat branches of the Army. 

Traditional restrictions on female employment in American society were broken during WWII, due to the critical labor shortage faced by all sectors of the economy. It was the military women that paved the way. The concept of women in uniform, any military service uniform, was difficult for American society in 1940s to accept, today young women proudly serve in all branches of service, home and abroad. As proud as I am of my military beginnings, my Army service, I am even prouder of the 30 years I have worn the Air Force blue. It was the Army that gave me confidence and courage, it was the Air Force that gave me a career. As a maintainer, an Aerial Porter, a First Sergeant, a Transportation Manager and Command Chief, I have lived the dream of all the military women that paved a road and were not just the first to do something, but when the door was open they were good at what they came there to do, and that is what keeps the door open for others to walk through. In my small mark on Women's history, that is what I hope I have done, made the women before me proud and made a positive enough impact through my career successes and my personal life successes to keep the door open to today's young women, so that they can have their 30 year career military story. I had equal GI Bill benefits, and that is what got me interested in joining the military in 1975. Today, benefits to all Military members of all branches of the service are better than ever, the GI Bill with all it's revisions is still the most popular benefit today. 

Because, I along with my family have benefited from the Equal Benefits Bill of 1942, I chose to remember Congresswomen Edith Nourse Rogers, for Womens' History Month. She wasn't in the military, but her actions made the military a better place for all women. When you reflect on your personal story of where you are today and how you got there, pay homage and share the spotlight with those that helped you get here and ask yourself if you've made it better for those that will follow.