Growing Opportunities for women in military

Growing Opportunities for women in military

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LUBBOCK, Texas - It's been three years since the Army opened infantry, armor, fire support, and special operator jobs to women, for the first time.

"I just bruised some egos by outscoring them... and that's okay," Army Sergeant, Kalea McFadden Hernandez said.

According to the Army Times, from a count in September 2018, there were 783 women serving across five divisions and one independent brigade in the Army. 

Sergeant McFadden-Hernandez joined the Army when she was 27. 

"When people told me, oh no, you couldn't be in the military, you can't do it, you're a female, that's not your place, so, yeah, I'm going to prove you all wrong, I'm going to do this for me, and I'm going to do this for my son, and I'm going to do this because it's bigger than me and it's something that I'm proud to have been a part of," Hernandez said.

She served for 11 years while also raising her son. She said he's considering the military for his career, but growing up with a mom serving overseas was difficult.

"He was really affected by my year is Iraq and so every time I came home and every time I put on the uniform, he thought I was leaving again, for a really long time and it took some time for him to understand okay, no, mom isn't, mom's not going away for a while until she's called again, and the older he's gotten, the more appreciative he's gotten and the prouder he's been of me," Hernandez said.

The gym is now Sergeant McFadden-Hernandez's outlet. She struggles with post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety.

"So this is kind of like my sanctuary, I love this place and fitness for me is my iron therapy, it's a therapy for me," Hernandez said.

Historically, the Air Force has had the highest percentage of enlisted and officer women. However, by 2016, the Navy had nearly caught up with about one in five sailors being women according to the Council on Foreign Relations. 

"There were a few salty dogs who were like women don't belong here, this isn't what we're used to," Navy Damage Controlman, Sonya Salas Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez had family ties to the military and enlisted right after high school. She served for six years.

"I actually out did the boys as far as push ups and my boots were also shinier, because I learned from a pro, so," Gonzalez said. 

She was the first female to qualify for the E-4 Third Class Damage Control on her ship and the second in her division. By the time she left, she said there were six or seven in her division alone.

"Some jobs were more inclusive, of course your secretaries, your MS's which are the cooks, alot of those were more inclusive because those are "girl jobs" now I chose the other. I was a damage control man, which is a firefighter," Gonzalez said.

If you're a woman wanting to join the military, Hernandez said "Do it!" 

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