AFRICOM International Women’s Day Celebration 2014, Non-fiction Essay Winners
The Daughter Who Inspires Me, By Colonel Melvin Jones
LaTrisha Allen is a powerful and inspirational woman. Although only 21 years old, LaTrisha is a trailblazer and an inspirational leader. This story explains why she is an inspiration to others.
Since birth, LaTrisha continually overcame adversity. She grew up in a German-American family with German as her first language. Although she had trouble dealing with mathematical concepts, it was not until late in her early childhood, she was diagnosed with a learning disability which significantly impacted her ability to deal with numbers and mathematical concepts. At ten while attending German school, her teachers administered a fitness test where she long jumped over 17 feet. Her teachers encouraged us to get her on a track team. Research later revealed this performance was two feet beyond the U.S. age group record. Next she was accepted in a German sports school which was part of the Olympic development program. LaTrisha’s grades improved as well as her achievements on the track, winning top honors and ultimately placing 8th at the German championships in the heptathlon. Working hard and wanting more, LaTrisha transferred to American school at Ansbach Middle High School for the 9th grade.
LaTrisha’s success continued at Ansbach. In her first two years, she won three European track titles. There she discovered her real passions – the military and the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program. She blossomed in the JROTC program as she went from being afraid to ask questions to becoming a company commander and the Command Sergeant Major. LaTrisha became an honor roll student, rifle team captain and led the squad and platoon drill teams to several European championships. Adults and Soldiers always commented on her presence and leadership. Earning every possible JROTC award, LaTrisha literally became the model cadet and to this day is a poster on the wall. Under her tenure, Ansbach JROTC program numbers skyrocketed to over 70% of the school population with many of the younger cadets wanting to become the next LaTrisha. After graduating in 2012, LaTrisha enrolled in Valley Forge Military College. In 2013, six years after the first female entered the college, she became Valley Forge’s first female Regimental Sergeant Major. LaTrisha Allen is also an African American.
Although her life story is not done being written, LaTrisha Allen inspires me because she continues to overcome adversity while achieving inspirational results. She remains a change agent and inspiration for all.
Women: Parts of a Whole, By C. Simone Rivers
The question is, what one woman inspires me? What a difficult question this is to answer for my life. There have been so many women—my mother, my aunt, my teachers, Oprah Winfrey, Hilary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Katie Piper, Angela Merkel, Isabella Baumfree, Henrietta Lacks, and in our Stuttgart community, Harriett Loney—and so many others. They all inspire me to do more, to be more, to want more and to give more of myself. However, I realize that I am less inspired by one of them but rather by the whole of them—womanhood. Women inspire me!
Women are like quilting squares. Alone they do very little covering, but together, with other pieces, we create a beautiful tapestry of warmth and covering for the world! From a biblical context, Christ left on earth his bride, a woman—the church. Why? It was because he didn’t need brawn; he needed influence on earth. We as women have been given influent power and the ability to cultivate, multiply and expand worlds. We are incubators of thought energy breeding people, communities, governments and nations with idea’s seed. We nourish, nurture, educate and develop worlds. We are women—inspired and inspirational.
Raising Awareness about the Contribution of Women Veterans, By Major Tamara Schoon
I would raise awareness about a cause that affects a small population in the United States but should touch a large number of Americans. That cause is women veterans, especially wounded women veterans.
When our fellow citizens see a man with a missing limb, they may assume he was a veteran and be inclined to ask what happened. On the other hand, when a woman has an injury, most people would never assume or ask if they were a veteran and just assume it was a car accident or anything other than combat.
A friend of mine started a business making women veteran figurines and I’d like to join her, as she’s asked, but I’d like to start a new line of clothes specifically for women veterans with sayings like “Ask me what I did in Afghanistan” or “Let me tell you all about my time in Iraq” or for the more discreet I would make an emblem or pin that represents women veterans to bring more awareness to our role in the military.
It’d be a great opportunity to inform other Americans about what female military members are doing these days. People already support “veterans” but generally think of men when they talk and think about “veterans”. I’d like to change that.
Congresswoman and double leg amputee, Tammy Duckworth, is one of the most well-known or visible wounded women veterans. As of August, 2009 over 220,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 121 have died and over 620 have been seriously injured. The numbers are even higher today.*
Next time you see a woman, please consider that she too may be a veteran. For further information about this cause, please look up PhD Janet Cater’s “Traumatic amputation: Psychosocial adjustment of six army women to loss of one or more limbs.” The women she interviewed all said they had a desire for respect as an individual and as wounded warriors.
* “Women make up about 15 percent, or nearly 202,400, of the U.S. military’s 1.4 million active-duty personnel. Over the past decade, more than 280,000 women have deployed in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 152 of them have died.” – General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in an article published on Defense.gov, January 24, 2013.