US Army, August 17, 2015 - CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea by Sgt Jesse Smith - The room was silent as an Army chaplain walked to the front of the room to where the podium was located.
He welcomed everyone and began a prayer. Once he had finished a panel of guest speakers made their way to the stage and sat at their respective places and waited for the seminar to begin. The topic was women’s equality.
First Lt. Sarah Jeon, an AH-64 Apache helicopter pilot from the 4th Aerial Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, was one of the guest speakers on the panel.
“I believe that it is extremely important that we hold these events where Soldiers can speak freely about gender equality in the Army and on the civilian side,” Jeon said. “It is a great way to educate both men and women.”
Each of the panel members were asked questions and answered them with experiences from their own lives including ranger school, deployment and in the work place.
“No matter where you go you just need to keep pushing through and driving on,” Jeon said. “There is nothing holding you back but yourself.”
Jeon talked about her experience at ranger school and how women have come so far from where they used to be.
“It was difficult, but as long as you carry your own weight no one can bring you down,” Jeon said.
Capt. Maria Torres, the operations officer for the 602nd Aviation Support Battalion, 2nd CAB, was another member of the panel.
“Regardless of race or gender, we all contribute to the Army,” Torres said. “I have been doing this for 20 years, and every day I put on my uniform and truly love it.”
Torres went through the enlisted ranks before deciding to commission. Right after which she was deployed to Iraq with an infantry unit.
“I experienced things I hope other females won’t have to experience in the work place, but after I showed that I knew what I was doing, they accepted me though,” Torres said.
She shared some of her stories from being with the infantry and also how she feels she has never been hindered by her gender when it comes to her opportunities or advancements in the Army.
“I haven’t personally felt I encounter too many problems, but I know that they are there,” Torres said. “It is disheartening to know that females still have to prove themselves in the work place.”
She talked about one of her female Soldiers who reminds her of her younger self. She said she tells her that the Army gives everyone an opportunity. She just needs to set her mind to it and she can do anything.
“If females came together and lifted each other up, we would be a force to reckon with,” Torres said.
The seminar saw several different points-of-view and many key life experiences. Jeon said the event was a success and wants to participate in more just like it in hopes of one day reaching true gender equality.