2024 Women's History Month

Airman 1st Class Julia Ahaesy

102nd Intelligence Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard

Ahaesy, a Guardsman since 2022, is a public affairs specialist who joined to "amplify the voices of those who are contributing to something so much bigger than themselves." She says this observance "is a reminder to honor the women who have come before us and opened doors that were once closed, achieving incredible accomplishments despite the obstacles and barriers placed before them. This month and every month, I think it is especially important to recognize intersectionality and ensure we are recognizing the contributions of all women, including those who have multiple different identities as we continue to promote empathy and equity in our Air Force and beyond."

Airman 1st Class Laura-Kate Ahaesy

102nd Intelligence Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard

Ahaesy joined the Air Guard in 2021. "With so many inspirational women in my life, Women’s History Month is a time of celebration and honor. Looking back on the history of women in America, I am grateful for those who made the impossible possible and have moved women toward equality. Every day, I am proud of the many beautiful women in my life who have set an incredible example of how to uplift others and be a leader. I am looking forward to what’s to come in the future of our nation’s women."

Brig. Gen. Lisa M. Ahaesy

Massachusetts National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, assistant adjutant general for air

Ahaesy, a Bronze Star Medal recipient, enlisted in 1988 while still in high school. She deployed to support Operation Enduring Freedom in Africa and Afghanistan and participated in State Partnership Program exchanges in Paraguay and Kenya. Two of Ahaesy's daughters are Airmen 1st Class in the 102nd Intelligence Wing. "I celebrate my sisters and brothers in service all year long, but to have a month set aside to highlight the history of women warriors, those who stepped up when it was difficult, paved the way and then made space for others is a wonderful opportunity to measure how far we’ve come and how much farther we still need to go. There is no limit to equal opportunity. It’s an exciting time to serve."

Capt. Cammy Alberts

127th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard

Alberts joined the Guard in 2001 and has deployed four times, most recently to the United Arab Emirates in 2021-22 for operations Spartan Shield and Inherent Resolve. "I believe it’s important to highlight the contributions of women service members so that young girls have heroes that look like them. Representation is important so they can see that there are opportunities in every profession, including the military. The military is not just for men, and girls can do anything that boys can do."

Master Sgt. Jess Ashford

138th Attack Squadron, New York Air National Guard

Ashford, an MQ-9 sensor operator, joined the Air Force in 2010 and the Air Guard in 2023. "I originally became interested in the military at a young age while watching History Channel with my dad. I told him I would fly a plane one day and he told me girls couldn’t do that. Now, I’ve served on two airframes, and he couldn’t be prouder."

Maj. Sarah Atherton

224th Air Defense Group, 224th Air Defense Squadron, New York Air National Guard

Atherton joined in 2006 "to continue the family legacy and for the fun of adventure!" The highlight of her service was a deployment to Vietnam to support airspace defense during President Obama’s visit to the country in 2016. "Experiencing the history, people, and culture was a treat." She considers this month's observance "a great stride towards recognition for equality in our culture, but hopefully, 'months of remembrance and heritage' such as these can become a thing of the past as we all reach equal footing as a society."

Senior Airman Victoria I. Ayala Torres

156th Security Forces Squadron, Puerto Rico Air National Guard

Ayala joined the Air Guard in 2020. In her civilian life, she is a tattoo artist and graphics designer. "This observance means hope for women and a future with growth and opportunities where the sky is the limit."

Col. Jennifer Beck-Brown

Joint Force Headquarters, Minnesota Army National Guard

Beck-Brown, a judge advocate, joined the Guard in 1992 to help pay for college. She deployed to Sarajevo in 2002-03, to Iraq in 2009-10 and to Kuwait in 2018-19. She also participated in a State Partnership Exchange with Croatia in 2022. "The military I joined has changed dramatically to become the military it is today. It is rewarding to have been a part of the transition and the ongoing effort to improve every day."

Sgt. Nilsa M. De Jesús Beltrán

Joint Force Headquarters, Puerto Rico Army National Guard

De Jesús has served since 2008, including a deployment to Afghanistan in 2011-12. She says Women's History Month is a reminder "to remember that women were born to create and to do great things for our humanity and future generations, with the wisdom and insight that characterizes many of us to be able to lead and contribute fairly — always seeking the well-being of all."

Staff Sgt. Paige Blakeman

174th Attack Wing, New York Air National Guard

Blakeman joined the Guard in 2018 "to prove to myself that I am capable of being in a career that is challenging yet rewarding." She deployed to Qatar for six months last year. "This observance means a lot to me and is something I take a lot of pride in."

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lauren A. Bloch

104th General Support Aviation Battalion, District of Columbia National Guard

Bloch, a UH-60 medevac instructor pilot, joined the Army in 2005 and the D.C. Guard in 2007. She deployed to Germany in 2010-11 as a flight medic. "Globally, people still see the U.S. military as male-dominated. It’s important to highlight women in different positions that have historically changed and are still changing. Aviation, for example, is a field that’s male-dominated, but there’s women like me who are contributing to the overall mission and our history. Just in my time as a warrant officer alone I’ve been able to see women go through U.S. Army Ranger School and enter positions that previously were denied to them. It’s an exciting time to serve as a woman and inspire young girls to seriously explore all possibilities the military affords."

Senior Airman Courtney Bullock

174th Operations Group, New York Air National Guard

Bullock, an Airman since 2020, serves at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base. "My brother joined three years before me, and seeing how well he was doing and having a career and all of the benefits at 19 years old inspired me to join right out of high school." She says this observance "embodies a conscious commitment to honor, respect and recognize traditions and values that hold significance in a person's life."

Senior Master Sgt. Keri Burke

105th Airlift Wing, New York Air National Guard

Burke continued a family legacy of service when she joined in 1997 and considers it one of the best decisions she ever made. "When I first joined the NY Air National Guard, I was a single parent. One of my commanders at the time had made a comment that I would leave the military once I found a husband. This year marks 26 years being active duty, so I’m pretty sure I proved my commander wrong. The stigma of women being in the military has changed drastically from when I first raised my hand. As women, we can be wives, mothers, providers AND serve our country!"

Spc. Lizmairim Camacho-Santiago

634th Support Battalion, Puerto Rico Army National Guard

Camacho, a motor transport operator, joined the Guard in 2021 to improve her future. To her, Women's History Month "means recognition, not being forgotten for who we are and what we contribute to society."

1st Lt. Gabrielle Cole

Detachment 2, Golf Company, 1-111th General Support Aviation Battalion, Illinois Army National Guard

Cole, an aeromedical evacuations/aviation officer, joined the Guard in 2018, attracted by the opportunity to serve locally and learn to fly helicopters. Women's History Month is "an opportunity to take stock of how far we have come. It was only my grandmother’s generation when I likely would not have been able to do the work that I do today and to serve in the way I serve. I think that’s astonishing progress to have made in a few generations and it really makes me excited to think of what is to come."

Spc. Suheil Collazo Salgado

Joint Force Headquarters, Puerto Rico Army National Guard

Collazo has served since 2018. Her primary military occupational specialty is finance specialist, with a secondary MOS as an automated logistical specialist. She says Women's History Month highlights the need "to remember that we women are strong and capable of doing great things."

Spc. Tiffany A. Colon

Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 124th Military Police Battalion, Puerto Rico Army National Guard

Colon joined the Guard in 2008, following in her parents' footsteps. During more than 25 years of service, she has deployed to Honduras and participated in a State Partnership Program exchange in the Dominican Republic. Colon says it has been hard trying to fit in a male-dominated workplace. "My military experience has impacted my entire life. I have learned self-discipline. I have earned respect and demonstrated work ethic. I have developed experience, training and leadership skills."

Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Dippo

139th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 109th Operations Group, 109th Airlift Wing, New York Air National Guard

Dippo has served since 1998, including a 2019 deployment to Qatar. Her military occupational speciality is aerospace medical services. "More than anything this observance makes me reflect on the giants’ shoulders on which I stand. If it weren’t for courageous and notable women who have made strides before me and stepped out in boldness, I would not have the opportunities I do today. I am grateful for their daring and strive to earn the positions they’ve created for me."

Sgt. 1st Class Beverly Domínguez Cruz

Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3678th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Puerto Rico Army National Guard

Domínguez has served since 2006, responding to hurricanes and earthquakes and working with young people in the Youth ChalleNGe Academy program. A water purification specialist, she has also assisted on missions in Guatemala, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. "As a military woman, I had the responsibility to serve those in needs and the PRNG gave me the opportunity in my military duties and as a civilian in the Puerto Rico Youth ChalleNGe Academy."

Senior Airman Cheyenne Doverspike

126 Security Forces Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard

Doverspike joined the Guard in 2019 and has deployed to Kuwait. She says this month's observance "is special to me because we have so many strong and powerful women in the military that need to be recognized, and this is an opportunity that they get to be and it's so awesome to see."

Sgt. Zoraillyx K Durieux Marrero

162nd Quartermaster Water Support Co., Puerto Rico National Guard

Durieux, a water treatment specialist and motor transport operator, joined the Guard in 2011 for the discipline, structure and core values. A highlight for her was helping communities after Hurricane Maria. "This observance for me means dedication, development, innovation, and evolution of women fighters willing and able to continue positioning themselves and echoing what was claimed in the past, in the present and future."

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Scherell K. Expose

Joint Force Headquarters, Louisiana National Guard

Expose, a Guardsman since 1990, deployed for Operation New Dawn in Iraq. Her daughter serves in the Louisiana Air National Guard. "Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on the resilience and contributions of those who came before. I think of the WAACS (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps), who demonstrated how invaluable women are to the task of defending our nation. Thanks to their dedication and perseverance, women are no longer limited in the military occupational specialties they can pursue. As an African American woman in the Louisiana National Guard, I hope that my service honors the sacrifices of my predecessors."

Senior Master Sgt. Julia Figueroa Pickering

156th Contingency Response Group, Puerto Rico Air National Guard

Figueroa, an airfield manager, has served since 1994. Her most recent deployment was to Afghanistan in 2011. "This observance is a day to celebrate our identity and achievements and to raise awareness about gender equality and support for women’s rights worldwide."

Staff Sgt. Laura Fontana

224th Security Forces Squadron, New York National Guard

Fontana joined in 2016 and says the people she has served with make all the hard times worth it. "Women make up (roughly) 50% of the population, but only 23.4% of the Air Force. We have a unique perspective on things and have made hundreds of contributions to the United States military, and it’s important to highlight those contributions."

Col. Asheleigh O.J. Gellner

182d Airlift Wing, Illinois Air National Guard

Gellner has served in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard since 1999, including combat deployment for Operation Enduring Freedom. "I see Women’s History Month, like Black History Month and similar observances, as a means to educate and celebrate the many significant contributions traditionally underrepresented groups have made throughout history to make their countries, communities and families better. Too often, we see history as made only by top political figures, military generals, or senior business leaders, but history is made and curated by all of us. Simply put, representation matters. I am extremely indebted to and humbled by the many strong, talented, and intelligent women that came before me and I stand on their shoulders as I continue to serve."

Tech. Sgt. Ashley Gilbert

Eastern Air Defense Sector, New York Air National Guard

Gilbert joined in 2013 and her military occupational specialty is cyber system operations. "Highlighting the significant contributions of women is important, given that many women in the past were not afforded the same opportunities. This observance is a great way to highlight how our country has evolved and continues to evolve to support the dreams of Americans."

Senior Airman Valerie Gonzalez Portillo

156th Security Forces Squadron, Puerto Rico Air National Guard

Since joining the Guard in 2019, Gonzalez has served in Alaska, Wisconsin and Niger. In her civilian career, she is a nurse. "This observance demonstrates the evolution of women’s careers throughout the years, how we’ve accomplished big things in the workplace. Besides being mothers and doing household responsibilities, ultimately we can achieve any task we set our minds to. There are so many women recognized worldwide for their achievements, sacrifice and hard work. It is an honor to serve and to have the opportunity to be represented in this occasion for all the past generations and new ones to come."

Spc. Salma Hassan

347th Regional Support Group, Minnesota National Guard

Hassan joined the Guard in 2019 "to do something different." She is from Nairobi. Women's History Month, she says, "means that I get to hear about the stories of different women throughout history — brave, ingenious despite being in all sorts of different situations mostly unfavorable conditions."

Brig. Gen. Robin Hoeflein

Vice Director, Operations Directorate, J-3/4/7, National Guard Bureau

Hoeflein has served since 1989 and is a member of the California National Guard. A senior human resources officer, she most recently deployed to Kuwait. "The observance is a time to reflect on and recognize the contributions of women. For me, the observance is also a reminder to uphold the values of inclusion, respect and understanding for all."

Sgt. 1st Class Isaura Islas

Headquarters, 108th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, Illinois Army National Guard

Islas joined the Guard in 2007 and has deployed to Kuwait and participated in the Soldiers' Foot Pilgrimage in Poland. "Celebrating Women’s History Month means how each of the diverse women in the civilian and military bring their work and make organizations better. As a woman, telling my story shapes a better future for the next generation."

Sgt. 1st Class Erica Jaros

715 Public Affairs Detachment, District of Columbia National Guard

Jaros, a Guardsman since 2006, joined after college to gain experience in the communications field. She served in several U.S. Capitol response missions and training exercises in Belize, Saudia Arabia and Thailand. "Women’s History Month is a chance to reflect on those who paved the way as we find new ways to continue building the path forward. The first female correspondents covering WWII fought for the right to do their jobs. Now, female military photographers and broadcast journalists are assigned to units in every branch serving in all types of environments."

Senior Airman Savannah Jibben

126th Security Forces Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard

Jibben joined the Air Force in 2019 and then the Guard. This observance "is super inspiring! It’s like a big shout-out to all the amazing women who’ve broken barriers and paved the way for equality in the armed forces. Seeing their courage and dedication celebrated fills me with pride. It’s a reminder of how far we’ve come and the teamwork it takes to protect and serve. It’s about respect, recognition and celebrating the diversity that makes the military strong."

Sgt. Yinghao (Kathleen) Jin

144th Army Band, Illinois Army National Guard

Jin, a Guardsman since 2020, plays the French horn, is finishing college and plans to become a dentist. "I think that Women’s History Month serves as an opportunity to highlight the ongoing challenges that women face such as gender discrimination, unequal access to resources and opportunities, and other systemic inequalities that exist for many women today. It’s a reminder of the importance to take the time this month to find common ground with the people around you, promote understanding and empathy, and be agents of prosocial change. It’s a reminder to educate yourself, to confront and understand your own biases and prejudicial attitudes, to listen to others’ experiences, and to be honest with yourself."

Tech. Sgt. Raquel Jones

174th Operations Support Squadron, New York Air National Guard

Jones joined in 2014, continuing a family legacy of service. Her favorite part of serving is meeting and connecting with people while supporting the mission. Women's History Month, she says, is "the achievements made throughout the years of women in society and history. It’s a celebration of the hard work of the many women before us that worked hard to allow the women to be able to do what we do today!"

2nd Lt. Haley Keenan

108th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, Illinois Army National Guard

Keenan has served since 2011 and participated in the Soldiers' Foot Pilgrimage in Poland in 2018. "Reflecting on the achievements of women in the past provides inspiration and empowerment to women moving forward. Perfect example is the only female Medal of Honor recipient, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, as she was the only female surgeon serving on the battlefield during the Civil War. She was a prisoner of war, arrested several times for wearing pants, and had her Medal of Honor taken away before having it posthumously returned by President Carter. Celebrating and acknowledging stories like hers inspires me."

Maj. Jean Marie Kratzer

42nd Infantry Division, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, New York Army National Guard

Kratzer is the fourth generation to serve in her family. Since joining the Guard in 2007, she has deployed to Kuwait (2012-13), Kuwait/Iraq (2016-17) and Kuwait (2020) and State Partnership Program missions in South Africa and Brazil. "Nothing has given me more self-fulfillment than being there to support, help and mentor young Soldiers." She says it's gratifying to be part of an observance that recognizes women, "especially as a small military demographic, both as female and as an officer. I have spent most of my military career in an infantry division and am one of the few women briefing a two-star general, which has empowered me to keep thriving in my military career to keep pushing myself in challenging positions."

Sgt. Rachael Lamb

Joint Force Headquarters, Illinois Army National Guard

Lamb has deployed to South Korea, Jordan and Egypt since joining the military in 2012. The highlight for her is the many relationships she has built and the travel. She applauds this month's observance of the accomplishments of women everywhere. "The first woman to climb Mount Everest or the first to set a record at a local high school. Being a mother of two small girls, letting them know that their accomplishments, small or big, are enough to be celebrated."

Lt. Col. Viveca Lane

126th Air Refueling Wing, Illinois Air National Guard

Lane, a KC-135 evaluator pilot, has served since 2000. She deployed to Qatar in 2022 and was the first American woman to fly a Ukrainian MiG-29 while in Ukraine as part of a State Partnership Program exchange with Poland in 2018. "Participating in the State Partnership Program has increased my understanding of why we need to focus efforts on interoperability with partner nations. Developing these skills and opening these channels now prevents us from having to scramble to do so in the event of future necessity."

Senior Airman Carina Lawless

174th Medical Group, New York Air National Guard

Lawless joined in 2019 "to find purpose within myself and my life, to become a part of something great." She says Women's History Month "represents gender equality and recognition to me. It celebrates the accomplishments and sacrifices throughout history that women have contributed to our country from all walks of life regardless of societal status, occupation, sexual orientation, race or religion."

1st Lt. Lauren Legaspi

Echo Company, 1-106th Aviation Battalion, Illinois Army National Guard

Legaspi, a quartermaster, joined the Guard in 2015. She deployed to Kuwait in 2023-24 for operations Inherent Resolve and Spartan Shield. Highlights are the friends she has made and her recent deployment. "I am honored to be recognized. You do not see enough women in the military, but we are there and making a difference. We are creating futures and better opportunities for younger generations as well. I want to inspire other young women to know that they can do great things."

Tech. Sgt. Jessica Locci

174th Attack Wing, New York Air National Guard

Locci joined in 2014. "The Guard allowed me to serve my country and fulfill my other life goals." She deployed to Sicily in 2016 and trains and races barrel horses. "Women have come a long way. There was a point in history when women had little rights and were barred from serving in the military. To be a woman in the military today, we owe it to pioneering women like Opha May Johnson, Esther Blake and Loretta Walsh. We owe it to these ladies to serve with pride and honesty. To constantly offer our all each and every day."

2nd Lt. Zamia López

295th Quartermaster Field Feeding Platoon, Puerto Rico Army National Guard

López, a quartermaster officer, joined the Guard in 2019, has a master's degree and is working on her doctorate. "The absolute highlight of my service has been the incredible bonds I’ve forged with friends from all corners. ... I have a simple mindset to always get better. As a mom, as a professional, and as a leader in the PRARNG, I focus on the things I can control. I want to be ready when opportunities knock at my door and so can you. Focus on your health and fitness, focus on improving your knowledge, work on being the best at what you do, and inspire others to do so."

Staff Sgt. Darlene M. Long

105th Maintenance Squadron, New York Air National Guard

Long, a crew chief aircraft mechanic, joined in 2017. She is deployed to Iraq. "Being deployed has given me a greater sense of purpose. It has shown me a new perspective on how the job I perform is so important on such a large scale." This month's observance, she says, "is a way to commemorate, recognize and celebrate the vital role that women have played throughout history. Through their sacrifice and efforts, they have paved the way for women such as myself to excel and continue their work."

Lt. Col. Linette A Lugo-Miranda

156th Medical Group, Puerto Rico Air National Guard

Lugo is a dental officer who has served since 2000, including in the Dominican Republic during the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/Continuing Promise 2022 humanitarian mission. "Since the beginning of times, women remained in a hidden place in society and were often limited to household chores. With the efforts of brave and skilled women throughout history in various areas of technology, science, social development, military service throughout history, to mention just a few, new opportunities have arisen for other women to express their own contributions and put themselves forward for the benefit of global society. This observation honors the struggle of those women who took the first step in demonstrating their ability and keeps their efforts current."

Capt. Elizabeth Mead

1844th Transportation Company, Illinois Army National Guard

Mead has served since 2003, when she joined on a dare from her brother. She has deployed to Germany, Jordan and Guatemala. This observance means "that women are freaking awesome. We can create humans and fight the good fight with the best of the best. It’s remarkable."

Spc. Destiny Medrano

139th Mobil Public Affairs Detachment, Illinois Army National Guard

Medrano, a public affairs specialist, joined the Guard in 2019. "Women's History Month is an opportunity to reflect on all the extraordinary advances women have made in a society that wasn't created in their favor."

Sgt. 1st Class Erica L. McCrary

Joint Force Headquarters-Joint Staff, Illinois Army National Guard

McCrary has served for almost 25 years, including a 2003-04 deployment to Iraq and a 2008 State Partnership Program exchange in Poland. She says the highlight of her time in uniform is seeing Soldiers she has mentored get promoted and mentor other Soldiers. "Women’s History Month empowers young women and young girls to see their fullest potential and that nothing is unattainable."

Airman 1st Class Sharymel Montalvo Velez

156th Wing, Public Affairs Office, Puerto Rico Air National Guard

Montalvo Velez joined the Air Guard almost two years ago. "I have always been curious about the military, the training, the experience, but I never considered joining until I found out that it was possible to work on what I love to do (Public Affairs)." This month's observance, she says, "means highlighting the efforts of thousands of women that wake up every day to make the world theirs. Women that aren’t waiting for somebody else to give them the world. They just go after their dreams and don’t let anybody decide what’s meant to be for them or not. In a world where women die every day violently for not being what society expects us to be, this is a proof that women can be whatever they want to be."

Master Sgt. Fabiany DeSouza Mozdziak

106th Rescue Wing, New York Air National Guard

Mozdziak came to the United States from Brazil at the age of 15. Since putting on the uniform in 2004, Mozdziak has deployed to Jordan and Iraq and she serves in the same unit as her son. "Women's History Month is a time to celebrate and honor the achievements of women throughout history. It's a chance to recognize their contributions in various fields and to inspire future generations. It's about acknowledging the progress we've made and continuing to advocate for gender equality."

Spc. Latisa Mucene

1225th Higher Headquarters Company, Michigan National Guard

Mucene, a unit supply specialist, joined the Guard in 2017. She works for the state of Michigan and is pursuing a master's degree in social work. "This observance is truly an honor as I have never been chosen to be recognized in this way before. I am very grateful and appreciative for it."

1st Lt. Katherine Mullins

105th Airlift Wing/137th Airlift Squadron, New York Air National Guard

Mullins, a C-17A mobility pilot, has served since 2012. She deployed to Qatar for Operation Inherent Resolve this year. Her great-great-grandmother was arrested in 1917 with 41 other women demonstrating at the White House for the right to vote. "Thanks to people like my great-great-grandmother, women in our great nation have been able to continuously break barriers and pave the path for the future generations of women. Women’s History Month is important to share women’s stories and to write them back into history."

Staff Sgt. Christina J. Navarro

105th Force Support Squadron, New York Air National Guard

Navarro has served since 2015 and is assigned to Stewart Air National Guard Base, where her grandfather retired. "This observation gives me the chance to share my stories to all the younger girls I encounter and allow them to see that they are, in fact, capable of doing anything they put their hearts into. We need to be grateful and appreciative for how far us women have come and continue to go. We will continue to use this month to celebrate women, our history and uphold the honor of serving our country."

Spc. Janet Navarro Tenorio

Forward Support Company, 682nd Engineer Battalion, Minnesota Army National Guard

Navarro, the first woman in her family to serve in the military, joined in 2020 to secure a better future for her family. The petroleum supply specialist says basic training at Fort Dodge, Iowa, was the highlight of her service so far. "As a first-generation military woman in my family, it means paving the way for others and encouraging others to step out of their comfort and step into something that could change their life and the lives of others. It means that we are more than gentle beings; we are strong, intelligent, and reliable, and we are Soldiers."

Master Sgt. April Neibacher

174th Attack Wing, New York Air National Guard

Neibacher, a material management supervisor, has served for 17 years. Her mother and grandmother served in the Army. Women's History Month, she says, is "a time to reflect on and honor the contributions and achievements of women throughout history, especially those who have served. It's a reminder of the progress we've made and the challenges we've overcome, as well as a call to continue striving for equality and recognition. Women have played crucial roles in the military, often facing unique obstacles and stereotypes, and it's important to recognize and celebrate their bravery, resilience and dedication. My high school Spanish teacher recently became the first female command chief master sergeant at our wing. It is an honor to serve with her and to follow in my grandmother's footsteps."

Capt. Kanesha Newport

Recruiting and Retention Battalion, Illinois Army National Guard

Newport is a chemical officer who has served since 2011 in Indiana, Alabama and Illinois, in addition to a deployment to Guantanamo Bay and a State Partnership Program exchange with Slovakia. "I celebrate the legacy of women who paved the way, those standing with me, and those who will follow our footsteps. As a proud member of an underrepresented group, I find strength in excelling beside my male colleagues, even at five months pregnant. This month is a tribute to our accomplishments and a reminder of the importance of women’s inclusion in every mission we undertake."

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jean Isaac O’Dell

46th Millitary Police, Michigan Army National Guard

O'Dell has served since 1989, including a 1997 deployment to Latvia. "I am honored to serve, and to be celebrated and recognized for that service is an honor as well. It is important to honor the contributions of women serving in the military. I am a private, behind-the-scenes Soldier, but this is an important celebration that I am happy to be part of."

Staff Sgt. Dialymar Ortiz

Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3678th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Puerto Rico Army National Guard

Ortiz joined in 2015 and says she knew she wanted to work full time in the Guard when she completed her advanced individual training. A unit supply sergeant, she has participated in disaster response missions after hurricanes and earthquakes. "This observance is a very important achievement for women. Through the years, we’ve seen the progression of women's rights for equality in many areas. It’s important to recognize every achievement, and this observance is an opportunity to keep letting the world know we have the power and value the same as others."

Senior Airman Keysla Ortiz Gomez

156th Security Forces Squadron, Puerto Rico Air National Guard

Ortiz has served since 2019 and considers basic training the highlight because of the physical and emotional challenges. "This observance is very important to me because it recognizes us women and all the hard work we do and it captures our ability to achieve extraordinary things. Women continue to demonstrate that we are not only capable of taking care of a family and a house but also that we can do different types of work."

Tech. Sgt. Vicki Ortiz

105th Airlift Wing, New York Air National Guard

Ortiz joined in 2013 and served in Qatar in 2019. "Woman are just as capable as men! We are strong and brave. I have done so much in my career while pregnant and not. Women can do extraordinary things!"

Spc. Jessica Parrott

Bravo Company, 129th Regional Training Institute, Illinois National Guard

Parrott joined the Guard in 2018, gaining "a sense of purpose and confidence that I will carry with me forever." The highlight for her has been the friendships and camaraderie. "Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on how far women have come, especially in the military. Women being able to join the ranks has been a major milestone in women’s history and we keep growing. Seeing women in leadership and pushing through barriers is inspiring."

Capt. Nancy Peterson

Eastern Air Defense Sector, New York Air National Guard

Peterson joined in 2009 and is married to a Guardsman. Her military occupational specialty is cyberspace operations. "Celebrating women’s heritage is still imperative, especially in the military, and especially to me, in a male-dominated career field (officer). I often find myself to be the only woman in the room; just being cognizant of this highlights that there still is a disparity."

Staff Sgt. Ammary Phonelath

105th Maintenance Squadron, New York Air National Guard

Phonelath, a heavies aircraft integrated avionics technician, joined the Air Guard in 2018 and is deployed to Qatar for Operation Spartan Shield. "The most rewarding aspect of serving in the Air Force is flying as mission essential ground personnel on the C-17. It's great to see and experience full circle all the avionics systems I’ve worked on being used to accomplish the mission." She says Women's History Month "is an opportunity to pay homage to those who’ve served before me and highlight individual women who make strides on a daily basis that help make the mission possible."

Staff Sgt. Anhtuyet H. Phung

Joint Forces Headquarters, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 347th Regional Support Group Headquarters, Minnesota National Guard

Phung, a unit supply specialist, joined in 2014. She says Women's History Month "means celebrating the women who were ostracized, discredited and forgotten in the history books. Celebrating the women who decided to go against the grain and thank them for enduring such hardship of social structure and standards of the past."

1st Sgt. Violet Plaza

719th Composite Truck Company, New York Army National Guard

Plaza has served since 1998, including deployments to Afghanistan in 2012-13 and Kuwait (2016-17 and 2023). "This observance makes the world conscious of how important it is to empower women in all aspects. This day reminds the world to respect and protect women’s rights and guarantee that women can reach their full potential. Although we are in a modern world, there are many women who are still facing discrimination and inequality."

Sgt. Sierra Reuther

Charlie 1-119th Field Artillery Battalion, Michigan Army National Guard

Reuther, a cannon crew member, joined the Guard in 2019 to honor her grandfather and his service. She participated in a State Partnership Program exchange in Latvia in 2022. "Women’s History Month to me means recognizing and celebrating the achievements, contributions and struggles women have had to face throughout history. Without the past, there would be no future!."

Spc. Adalis Rivera-Aviles

124th Headquarters Headquarter Detachment, Military Police, Puerto Rico National Guard

Rivera-Aviles is an intelligence analyst who joined the Guard in 2022. "My favorite part of serving is the constant learning." She says she doesn't like being recognized for being a woman. "We just need opportunities and we can achieve great things. We are part of a force, a community and I believe in equality and respect."

Spc. Yomaris Rivera Santiago

482nd Chemical Company, Puerto Rico National Guard

Rivera, a Guardsman since 2021, is a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist. She is scheduled to deploy to Kuwait this year. Rivera says this month is "a time to appreciate the remarkable achievements of women, particularly in the military. It reminds me of the strong women who played a vital role in shaping the armed forces. This observance inspires me to overcome challenges, question stereotypes, and excel in my service. I aim to contribute to the legacy of strong women and improve conditions for those who follow."

Lt. Col. Janisse Rivera

113th Force Support Squadron, District of Columbia Air National Guard

Rivera, "fascinated with the Air Force mission," joined in 2000 and deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom. "Women's History Month has a special significance for me as a woman, military and as a Latina. I always reflect on the many contributions that women make every day — in their day-to-day life, their homes, in the professional areas, everywhere. In all areas: corporate, government, nonprofits, etc. Especially those serving in the military. I recognize the many sacrifices they made and the progress made toward gender equality in the armed forces."

Capt. Crystal Rodrigues

Joint Force Headquarters, Illinois Army National Guard

Since joining the Guard in 2016, Rodrigues has served on the COVID-19 response mission and in Kosovo. She also directed the Illinois Army Guard's State Partnership Program with Poland. "The best part about serving are the opportunities to work with people across the country and around the world who are also committed to service and maintaining global safety and security." Rodrigues considers Women's History Month an important observance. "Without those that came before me, such as the brave and pioneering women of the Women’s Army Corps who proved that women could successfully serve in the Armed Forces, I would not be able to serve my country in the way that I have been able to. ... Although my contributions may be small, together with the other amazing women I serve alongside of, our efforts will make waves and spark change to policies that make it easier for those that will come after us to serve and protect our country."

2nd Lt. Stephanie Rodriguez

156th Comptroller Flight, Puerto Rico Air National Guard

Rodriguez wanted to serve without leaving her home, so she joined the Air Guard in 2019. "One of the most rewarding moments of my military career has been feeling the respect people have for those who serve, reminding me of the significance of service." She says this observance "means celebrating and acknowledging the diversity and contributions of women throughout history to include those who have served in the armed forces, strengthening our sense of unity and mutual respect."

Command Sgt. Maj. Sarah Roman

634th Brigade Support Battalion, Illinois Army National Guard

Roman has served for 21 years, including a 2008-09 deployment to Afghanistan and State Partnership Program exchanges with Poland. She loves mentoring younger Soldiers. "To me, celebrating Women’s History Month means recognizing the sacrifice of women in the military. We all choose to serve and can face different barriers than our male peers. I can’t wait to see what the next generation of female leaders achieves."

Lt. Col. Elizabeth Roxworthy

Headquarters, 34th Division Sustainment Brigade, Illinois Army National Guard

Roxworthy, a Bronze Star recipient, has served since 1993. She deployed to Iraq in 2006-07 and Djibouti in 2022. She says the highlight of her service is "diversity in all facets: people, experiences, education and challenges." This month's observance "means celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of women. In relation to the military, I love to reflect on the progression of the equality and inclusion of women in the 31 years I’ve served. It’s been an amazing experience to witness the growth firsthand, to serve alongside phenomenal and inspiring female leaders, and to pave the way for the next generation."

Staff Sgt. Stephanie Sanchez

710th Medical Company Area Support, Illinois Army National Guard

Sanchez joined in 2015 and loves the responsibility of being a platoon sergeant mentoring Soldiers. "As a female Soldier, Women’s History Month is profoundly meaningful to me. It’s a chance to commemorate the contributions and accomplishments of women across history, particularly those who have served in the military."

Sgt. Maj. Rebecca L. Santana

42nd Infantry Division, New York Army National Guard

Santana has served since 2005, deploying to Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and Kuwait. Her father was in the military and her son also serves. "It is very rewarding to be part of an observance that recognizes women from the past and present that were able to break barriers and open doors for future leaders within the organization. As a leader, I strive to set the example for future women to look up to and continue to strive to be better."

Staff Sgt. Sara Schreiber

174th Operations Support Group, New York Air National Guard

Schreiber joined in 2012, continuing a family tradition of service. She participated in the 2023 Austere Challenge in Ramstein, Germany, and enjoys helping people during disaster response missions. She considers this observance "a way of honoring history or historical figures so that important moments of change aren’t forgotten and they are carried down from generation to generation. As the saying goes, 'Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.'”

Maj. Kenyatta N. Shanks

Medical Readiness Detachment, Louisiana National Guard

Shanks says she joined the Guard in 1995 for the education benefits and considers it an honor to serve the citizens of Louisiana. "Women’s History Month reminds us to reflect on the many women whose shoulders we stand upon proudly. I am encouraged to celebrate the gains and contributions that female pioneers have made in American history. Women’s history plays a vital role in teaching females of all ages the importance of standing up for women’s rights, resilience and perseverance in a male-dominated world. Representation matters more than we know."

Airman 1st Class Claire Sherry

105th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, New York Air National Guard

Sherry is a C-17 crew chief who joined the Air Guard in 2022. She is deployed to Qatar. "I joined the Air Force with the dream to fly and the ultimate goal of becoming a pilot, along with the calling to serve my nation. Being a crew chief helps me know my airplane from the inside out." She considers this observance a reminder to chase your dreams. "No matter who you are, if you have the will and determination, you can do it."

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jennifer I. Smith

Alpha/1-224th Aviation Regiment, District of Columbia Army National Guard

Smith, a UH-72A helicopter pilot and licensed social worker, joined the Army in 2005 and the Guard in 2018. She has deployed to Afghanistan and South Korea. "This is a month of meaning and impact — a time to recognize the different roles women have served in our nation’s history. Today in aviation, for example, women serve in crucial roles because of the pioneers and sacrifices before us. We’re in every visible space executing the mission and continuing a legacy. It’s imperative that we recognize the significance of women who are still breaking barriers, shattering stereotypes, and changing narratives."

Lt. Col. Sara So

51st Weapons of Mass Destruction – Civil Support Team, Michigan National Guard

So, a Bronze Star Medal recipient, joined in 2006 and served in Afghanistan in 2012-13 and on State Partnership Program exchanges in Latvia and Liberia. "I joined during the Global War on Terrorism, at least partially due to my memories of fear and grief in the adults around me on 9/11. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I wanted to be the kind of person there for my community during those moments." She says this month "should showcase to our brothers and sisters in arms that it's not about making things better for only women; it's about making things better for all of us and the progress that we've made in the last 50 years supporting that has contributed to our nation's readiness and the health of our service members and their families."

Master Sgt. Diane Solmo

139th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 109th Airlift Wing, New York Air National Guard

Solmo joined active-duty military in 2006 and the Air Guard in 2008. She has deployed to Qatar, California and Antarctica. "This month provides an opportunity for us to intentionally recognize and celebrate women, both past and present, and their contributions that have afforded us the opportunities we as women have today."

Staff Sgt. Jordan Spreitzer

2nd Battalion, 129th Regiment, Regional Training Institute, Illinois National Guard

Spreitzer started her military career with the Florida Army National Guard in 2009, "looking for hands-on tangible skills I would take to the workplace." She now serves alongside her husband in the Illinois Army National Guard. Spreitzer considers this observance a "recognition of the knowledge and skills women bring to the table. In some ways, women in the force have really been embraced (new parental leave, better fitting uniforms, etc.). However, in many circumstances, we are still the minority. Women serving goes back many, many years, and it seems like it's often looked at as a novelty. So I think we still have a ways to go despite huge strides in recent years."

Staff Sgt. Megan Stutzman

174th Attack Wing, New York Air National Guard

Stutzman, a firefighter, joined the Guard in 2018 and deployed to Kuwait in 2023 (shown there beside a mural she designed and painted). "This observance is a great opportunity to highlight and recognize women in the military. No matter what we do, we all chose this lifestyle, and to be able to recognize women is very empowering."

Airman 1st Class Gisselle M. Toro Caraballo

156th Wing, Public Affairs, Puerto Rico Air National Guard

Toro, a public affairs specialist and first-year law student, joined the Air Guard in 2021. She loves taking photos "to document different events and interact with different people and units not only from our base but from abroad." She says this observance "provides the opportunity to highlight women throughout history and in the military that have achieved great things and serves as a reminder that women can accomplish anything they want. I am proud to wear this uniform and represent women and Latinas everywhere."

Capt. Zaida L. Torres Vazquez

Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3678th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Puerto Rico National Guard

Torres has served since 2002, enlisting as a motor vehicle officer. As a lieutenant, her military occupational specialty was ordnance and, as a captain, a logistician. She says this month's observance of women "means that women are capable of greatness."

Senior Master Sgt. Colleen Tripp

174th Logistics Readiness Squadron, New York Air National Guard

Tripp joined in 1999 and, after a seven-year break in service, re-enlisted in 2013. She deployed to Antarctica and Greenland in 2018 and participated in the Military Reserve Exchange Program in the United Kingdom. "This is an opportunity for women in the service to describe their career, accomplishments and goals in the military. This observance also highlights the importance of diversity and how women have impacted and contributed to the success of the military."

Staff Sgt. Tiffany Truesdell

1644TH Transportation Company, Illinois Army National Guard

Truesdell says joining the Guard in 2009 was the best decision she ever made. She deployed to Iraq in 2019-20. In civilian life, she is an emergency room clinical nurse director in Chicago. "WHM, to me, is a day to honor the women who were/are comfortable with being uncomfortable. Each year, I learn about a woman I’ve never heard of who inspired change in her community. That, to me, is incredible. To know that there were women like me, who struggled through this life to make the next generation better than their own. It’s also a chance to recognize the profound beauty in the plight of a woman. It’s quite poetic if you think about it. The hardness we are all destined to endure; like a right of passage into womanhood — juxtaposed with the softness we are capable of providing to ourselves and everyone who comes into our lives."

Col. Jenniffer Vargas

Medical Readiness Detachment, Puerto Rico Army National Guard

Vargas has served in the Guard since 1996, commissioning as a medical service officer after ROTC. "This observance is very important for spreading knowledge of the many great achievements of the women in the National Guard and around the world."

Staff Sgt. Yarleen M. Velez Velez

Joint Force Headquarters, Puerto Rico Army National Guard

Velez joined the Guard in 2016 to have a better future. Women's History Month "makes me feel like my sacrifice has been worth it. I can be a spokesperson for other women by empowering them never to give up and always fight for their dreams and aspirations no matter how big they are."

Spc. Vizmaris Vizcaino Diaz

130th Headquarters and Headquarters Company Engineer Battalion, Puerto Rico Army National Guard

Vizcaino joined the Guard in 2016 for the education benefits and to serve her country. She says Women's History Month "is a great opportunity to commemorate the myriad of contributions women have made in our history, recognizing and celebrating those female leaders who have encouraged us and inspired us through generations."

Officer Candidate Grace Watkin

B Company, 129th Regional Training Institute, Illinois National Guard

Watkin, a combat medic specialist and civilian EMT, joined the Guard in 2020. She loves to travel, including missions in Estonia and Poland. "Observing Women’s History Month, especially in a male-dominated organization such as the military, provides young girls with positive role models that they may not get elsewhere in the media. As a young female lower enlisted Soldier, I am inspired by the accomplishments of the women around me."

2nd Lt. Dearest Welwolie

1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery, Minnesota Army National Guard

Welwolie, a fire direction officer, joined the Guard in 2018 "to show other women that are like me that they, too, can do what I can do and go even further." She says this month's observance "means recognizing and celebrating women that are defining social norms in all professions. Honoring the dedication and hard work of all women that has and will pave the way for more women in the future. Women are breaking barriers every day, and it’s important to recognize that. It’s also to help younger females by showing them that they can do whatever they set their minds to."

Chief Master Sgt. Sonja Williams

174th Attack Wing, New York Air National Guard

Williams, a high school teacher, joined in 1997 to fulfill a childhood dream and help pay for college. She deployed to Kyrgyzstan in 2011. "For so long women have had to take a back seat although always accomplishing amazing tasks and achievements. This month allows these women, and those who came before and after them, to be rightfully recognized for their contributions to society."

Sgt. Maj. Melissa Wong

42nd Infantry Division Operations Company, New York Army National Guard

Wong joined the Guard after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has deployed to Iraq and Kuwait. The highlight of her time in uniform is serving alongside her sister, who is in the Air Force. "Women’s History Month is a big deal for me, not only as a woman and a mom but also as a female Soldier. Women have had such an impact on the revolution of the world that celebrating the history is very important."

Maj. Alanna Wood

Joint Force Headquarters, Illinois National Guard

Wood joined the Guard in 2007, attracted by the educational benefits and the idea of serving her community in homeland defense and fighting for our nation overseas. She deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2015-16, and participated in a State Partnership Program exchange with Jordan in 2017. "This observance gives the chance to be proud to be a woman unapologetically and reflect on the accomplishments of women. It is also a time to recognize there is more to be done to further women’s rights and there is always opportunity to advance positive change."

Sgt. Benjalyn Yambó

Joint Force Headquarters and 1011th Engineer Vertical Construction Co., Puerto Rico National Guard

Yambó, an automated logistical specialist, says she became the first woman in her family to serve in the military to honor her grandfather, who served during World War II. A highlight of her time in the Guard was serving her community during the Hurricane Maria response mission. "This observance gives the importance and honor for all the contributions that women have in our history and society."

Sgt. 1st Class Alicia Young

Recruiting and Retention Battalion, Michigan Army National Guard

Young, a marketing noncomissioned officer in charge, has served since 2008. "I love the state of Michigan and I am proud to serve my community, state and country in the National Guard. The fact that I can serve in my home state was a huge selling point for me. I love wearing the uniform and being able to do that while not being far from my family the majority of the time."

Master Sgt. Jennifer Zamudio

113th Wing, District of Columbia Air National Guard

Zamudio joined the Guard in 2008 after four years of prior service. She grew up in Oahu, Hawaii. This month "is a special time to celebrate all the amazing things women have done and continue to do. It's not just about the famous women we hear about in history or the news. It's also about the everyday women who support their families and friends, especially those who have tough jobs like being in the military or other stressful work. This month is a chance to think about how women are really good at doing a lot of things at once and handling tough situations. Women play a big role not only in jobs and schools but also at home and in their communities. They are strong, smart, and can adapt to many challenges."

Sgt. 1st Class Rachel Zoerner

Bravo Battery, 2-123 Field Artillery Regiment, Illinois Army National Guard

Zoerner, a gunnery sergeant, enlisted in 2008 and will deploy to Poland this year. "Throughout my journey from a young private first class to my current role, witnessing women in leadership has been profoundly meaningful. Now, being entrusted with the leadership responsibilities in a field artillery unit is both an honor and a challenge. I aspire to not only uphold the standards set by those before me but also to surpass them, paving the way for future generations of women in the military."

Lt. Col. Bridget Zorn

264th Combat Communications Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard

Zorn joined the Air Force in 1994 and has served in the Missouri and Illinois Air National Guard. Her most recent deployment was to Germany. "Early in my career, I thought that true equity meant we shouldn’t highlight our differences via these special observance months. My drive to leave our ANG better for the next generation means I need to be engaged in eliminating barriers to service and individual success. When you don’t recognize the differences, you cannot recognize those challenges. Policy and program changes we’ve seen in the last few years have dramatically advanced inclusion and shown us the value in noticing the things that make us different."