NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, NY – The Gallagher Center multi-purpose room was filled with members of the Niagara University ROTC and students alike as they prepared for the upcoming Women in the Military Panel.
The Office of Veteran Services collaborated with The Women’s Committee to host a presentation on the history of women in the military followed by a discussion with a panel of five Niagara University female veteran students.
“We wanted to help the student population become more aware and be able to hear the stories that these women have to tell,” said the Director of Veteran’s Services Robert Healy.
Healy, a 30-year member of the United States Air Force, gave a presentation on the history of women in the military and shared how their roles have changed throughout the history of America’s wars.
“In the Revolutionary War women had to disguise themselves as men if they wanted to fight,” said Healy. “Today about 15 percent of the military is made up of women, with over 165,000 enlisted.”
The veterans on the panel, Jade Thomas, Grace Husk, Kathryn Marotta, Dottie Sisler and Ashley Mosles, answered questions from the audience and addressed how their gender effected their time spent in the military.
“It was definitely one of the top ten reasons I got out, I was sick of having to re-prove myself in every new deployment,” said Thomas, “The second you slip up, you stick out.”
Sisler also joined in and described how no matter how hard she worked or how excellent her results were, she was still constantly passed over for certain jobs that were given to men instead.
“I got passed up for a lot of classes, there is definitely sexism,” said Sisler, who also added that she believes that having women in prominent roles in the military is still something that people are not used to.
The mood was not all negative however, as the panel of veterans offered their advice to the future officers that sat in the audience as current members of Niagara Universities ROTC program.
“We have to make sure that both sexes respect each other,” said Thomas. “There are plenty of women who can do the job, and every female should get the opportunity to prove themselves.”
Seeing as how this was a rare opportunity for students to hear stories of the military from a female perspective, Healy felt that the event was a success.
“Any time future officers can get perspective from enlisters it can help them for the future,” said Healy. “They can know what to expect.”
The night was an eye opening experience and a great way to raise awareness towards women’s experiences in the military, but conversations like this are only the beginning of making things more equal between genders.
-Jamie Magone, PRSSN