Women on the Rise in the Ranks

Women’s Past and Present in the Military

Anna and George Van Laethem circa 1981

Anna and George Van Laethem circa 1981

Anne King, Editor

It is no doubt that throughout history women have been left out of many things. But as the years go on and laws have been or a law has been put in place to allow women the same opportunities as men.

“There were a lot of closed rates for us because of the female thing,” Mrs. Kauffman said, “obviously no submarine work and flying, those were closed to us.”

During World War I only about 35,000 women served in the military they primarily served as support staff and nurses which later increased to 140,000 in World War II with jobs differing from nursing to serving in the Women’s Army Corp.

“When I first joined we needed 30 girls in our group in order to do Bootcamp,” Mrs. Kauffman said,  “and I sat there for like a month before we had enough women.”

June 12, 1948 president Truman made changes to the military when he signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act. Then in 1990, almost 40,000 American military women were deployed for desert storm and desert shield.

“We had to set the standards and pave the path for the female Enlisted personnel as well the female officers that would follow us,” Ms. Van Laethem said. “We all felt we had to work twice as hard as the men so we would not be overlooked.”

Numbers kept rising and continue to rise, over 700,00 women have served in Post-9/11 war such as operation enduring freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“I’m glad the Navy has changed a lot because it was hard to see my daughter go into the navy with all the harassment and challenges that were in my way,” stated Mrs. Kauffman.

In 2018, the Air Force calculated the most number of women. Women made up 21 percent of officers serving and 20 percent of enlisted members serving. While the Marine Corps. has the least amount of women with only 8 percent of officers being women and only 9 percent of enlisted members being women. 

“Being a pioneer for women in the Army, I never thought of myself as a trailblazer, however, looking back, that is what my peers and I were doing,” Ms. Van Laethem said. “We were showing we could do the same things men could do. We showed we could command respect and lead just as well as men could.”