West Point ushers in new era for women in military with first female commandant

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Army Names Woman to High Post.

In West Point’s history, there have been 75 commandants for the Corps of cadets: military leaders who direct future officers’ famously rigorous training and discipline. A veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be the first female commandant of cadets at the US military academy, one of West Point’s top positions. Holland, a 1990 West Point graduate, currently serves as a deputy commanding general with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum in northern New York.

The promotion of an accomplished female general to such a prominent leadership position is seen as symbol of women’s newly heightened role in the military and an inspiration to young female cadets. General Holland joined the Army Corps of Engineers after leaving West Point, and she deployed to Iraq in 2004 and later did two stints in Afghanistan.

Corps of Cadets,” Holland said in the Academy’s statement. “It’s a privilege to be part of the team that trains and develops leaders of character for our Army.” She herself graduated from West Point in 1990, 15 years after then-president Gerald Ford signed a bill admitting women into the armed forces’ academies. She is the recipient of the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters distinguishing devices. “I think [opportunities] are only going to keep expanding,” Holland told the Army Times earlier this year. “As long as we’re out there, showing the great American public what the opportunities are for men and women, and how they can make a difference, and how the Army can be so rewarding, I think, again, the sky’s the limit.” At age six, she told her father, who served in the Marines, that she wanted to join the service. “The Marine Corps makes the smallest person in the platoon carry the heaviest weapon,” he warned her, according to an interview with New York’s Watertown Daily News, but that did not deter her from pursuing an Army engineering career. To First Lieutenant Jill Mueller, the orders to integrate female soldiers means “I love the Army and the Army loves me back,” she told The Christian Science Monitor’s Anna Mulrine. “And finally, I feel like it’s going to stay that way.” In preparation for the Defense Secretary’s decision, West Point has been aiming to increase its percentage of female cadets: of this fall’s incoming class, 23 percent are women, an increase that admissions director Col. Although the percentage reporting unwanted sexual contact dropped from 10 percent in 2012 to 6.5 in 2014, over 90 percent of female cadets reported sexist incidents. “Every day there’s another first,” Brig.

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