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Tenn. Guardsmen support Ukrainian female empowerment forum

By 1st Lt. Kealy Moriarty | 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Tennessee Army National Guard | March 7, 2019

LVIV, Ukraine – U.S. and Canadian service members participated Tuesday in an International Women’s Day event, “International Forum Regarding Gender Politics in the Defense Sector,” to speak on their experiences in the workforce.

This forum took place in a small, intimate setting and highlighted on personal stories ranging from Ukrainian women in politics to war veterans, and personal stories from U.S. and Canadian officers. The audience included Ukrainian students from local universities as well as Ukrainian service members.

1st Lt. Caitlin Maguire, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment Officer, provided her 10-minute speech entirely in Ukrainian and discussed her journey as an officer in the Army National Guard.

“Every woman in here has her own story - a series of challenges and triumphs that define her and I’m sure some have struggled and toiled harder than others, but as women, there is a commonality,” said Maguire. “We’ve all faced people doubting us or judging us.”

“While I still have a lot left to learn in this life, and I’m far from perfect, there are a couple of things I’ve learned that I think are worth sharing with you all today.”

Maguire then discussed her decision to join the military and her journey becoming a U.S. Army officer. Her story was impactful and spared few details as she explained her struggles and triumphs through Basic Training and Officer Candidate School.

“Every time we reach beyond our comfort zone, step outside of our bubbles, we grow," Maguire said. "The things we experience outside of these safe zones can be difficult and sometimes miserable, but if we just keep swimming, we’ll get to the other side of the ocean.”

Throughout her insightful story, Maguire used Disney Pixar’s movie, “Finding Nemo” as an analogy to her experiences.

After the forum, several of the students approached Maguire, congratulating her and thanking her for her inspirational story. Many were astonished that she was able to deliver her speech in Ukrainian and some questioned her language background due to her authentic pronunciation. Maguire said she began learning the Ukrainian language just last summer.

This is the first forum held in Lviv dedicated to International Women’s Day and featuring the stories of women in leadership roles.

The 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment is deployed in Ukraine supporting the development and modernization of the Yavoriv Combat Training Center.