JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, NJ –
On March 25, the Chapter 211 of the Air Force Sergeants Association celebrated Women’s History Month on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, in highlighting achievements and contributions from women in history and contemporary society, especially those that served or serve in the military. To celebrate this annual event, AFSA hosted the Women’s History panel, virtually through Zoom and Facebook Live, created as a network for women who are actively serving within the Joint Base MDL community.
With a total of four panelists and 50 attendees, the hosts for this occasion were U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Adriane Pope, 87th Logistics Readiness Squadron Individual Protective Equipment section chief and AFSA Chapter 211 vice president, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Shaniayha Saunders, 87th LRS Command Support Staff noncommissioned officer in charge and AFSA Chapter 211 facilitator.
“The purpose of the event is to provide women in the military a platform to have an open discussion about the positive advancements that women, from the past to the present, contributed to modern-day society,” said Pope. “Implementing this event was tough but it paid off in its execution.”
Pope stated that the Women’s History panel was originally scheduled for February and to be held in-person but was postponed due to the continuation of the pandemic. According to Pope, she and the organization were fortunate to receive female volunteers willing to be panelists, whether actively serving, retired, or Department of Defense civilians holding senior leadership positions. The panelists wanted to share their life experiences to empower a younger generation of women serving in the military.
Saunders explained the AFSA’s involvement with this event.
“I believe that it is our organization’s duty to provide junior and senior Airmen women a great opportunity to have dialogue with each other, without feeling a hint of alienation or loneliness within the community,” said Saunders. “As a facilitator of the event, it was a great feeling to see all of these female attendees come together, set aside their own differences, and be a part of the conversation. To me, this is a wonderful achievement. The kind that AFSA strives for.”
Also, Saunders stated how “eye-opening” the panel was, hearing numerous responses from both attendees and panelists alike, about the challenges and obstacles that they overcame while serving in a male-dominated military organization.
In speaking of challenges, Pope decided to share one that she faced, and later overcame.
“Childcare was the biggest challenge that I faced during my years of military service. As a mother of two, having to balance professional and personal lifestyles, some days can be stressful and demanding, both physically and mentally,” said Pope. “Luckily, I surrounded myself with a loving husband and a strong support system filled with friends and families to provide me with some assistance in caring for my children. I have been through stressful times, but I remained confident and professional in handling those situations and didn’t let my personal business interfere with my military career.”
In conclusion, Pope and Saunders thanked all of the participants of the panel for attending the event, thus helping them not only to become better leaders within their squadron, but getting to know more about them as individuals, both military and civilian, who represent the Joint Base community.