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Female defenders inspiring future generations

Tech. Sgt. Amy Chismar, 6th Security Forces Squadron, stands next to a memorial dedicated to 1st Lt. Joseph D. Helton a security forces officer assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron, who was killed during his deployment to Iraq in 2009. (Courtesy photo)

Tech. Sgt. Amy Chismar, 6th Security Forces Squadron, stands next to a memorial dedicated to 1st Lt. Joseph D. Helton a security forces officer assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron, who was killed during his deployment to Iraq in 2009. (Courtesy photo)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

During the month of March, we celebrate women and their contributions to the defense of our nation.

Staff Sgt. Esther Blake was the first female to enlist in the newly formed Air Force on July 8, 1948, on the first hour of the first day women were authorized to join. Since that historic day, women all over the world have followed in her footsteps.

As a female defender, it is important to understand how far we have come.

Women were not always allowed to serve within the security forces and it wasn’t until a career field divide that the first female joined. Security Forces hit a milestone Nov. 1971, when 12 female Airmen entered the law enforcement specialist training at the Security Police Academy at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

In Nov. 1976, 100 female volunteers were selected for security specialist training in a test to determine the suitability of employing women in combat-related jobs. The graduating women were assigned to security duties stateside and overseas, however, the program was phased out after a short period.

In Jan. 1985, the Secretary of the Air Force Verne Orr lifted the ban on women in the security forces career field. Since the ban was lifted, women have served in security forces throughout the career field, including flight chiefs, superintendents, security forces managers, commanders, Air Force major commands, division chiefs and Air Force Director of Security Forces.

In security forces, there are many opportunities for us to attend additional training. Females in security forces have attended and graduated qualification courses such as air assault, airborne, close precision engagement, advanced designated marksman, Phoenix Raven, deployed aircraft ground response element and most recently, U.S. Army Ranger School.

The security forces career field has traditionally been male-oriented, but when it’s time to react, it does not matter what the gender of the person right next to you is. We protect, defend and fight to enable Air Force, joint and coalition missions; we all are defenders.

It is important to encourage female defenders to understand they can perform as well as males, and in some cases, outperform them. Our desire to serve and protect this nation we love has been passed down through the generations of women who have served, currently serving and those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Being a trend setter in our career field will inspire future defenders. It will give them the motivation to push and go beyond their wildest dreams.

Women were once told that they cannot do many things. It took a few brave women to fight back and say, “Yes we can, here is why and watch me.”

By having a few women who stood up for their rights, it helped inspire future generations. There will always be “the first female”; it is also our job to ensure there is no last.