FORT McCOY, Wis. –
A trio of women hold the top leadership positions in the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 88th Readiness Division, here, reflecting the ideals of Women’s History Month.
The contributions and achievements of these women illustrate the strength of a diverse Army.
Let’s meet the leadership team.
Major Bonnie Hilt is the HHC commander. Individual readiness is one of her top priorities. “My job is to ensure our Soldiers are trained and ready so they can be available to support the overall mission of the 88th RD,” Hilt said. She does this by making sure they have access to the personnel, training and logistics support they need to do their jobs.
Captain Zheily Ramos is the HHC executive officer. She serves the Blue Devils as a point of contact for various personnel actions. “I work to ensure unit readiness and the accountability of Soldiers. I also assist the commander with administrative duties,” Ramos said.
First Sgt. Ann Mais is the HHC senior enlisted advisor. She’s responsible for the health, welfare, morale, professional development and training of the unit. In her role, she “advises the HHC commander on enlisted matters, promotions, monitoring and enforcing standards, personnel accountability, and compliance with regulations,” Mais said.
Two of the women acknowledge the importance of an all-woman leadership team for the unit.
“Having an all-woman leadership team for the HHC, 88th RD, signifies that there are no boundaries to what women can do if in the right environment,” Hilt said. “I acknowledge that there are still areas within our Army where we need some growth in this department, but here, at the 88th, it tells me that being a woman is not going to hold me back from achieving my goals.”
Ramos takes a slightly different view on the importance of the female leadership team. She sees it as a mechanism to empower women to be successful and serve as a role model for other women.
Mais takes another perspective. She believes, “our senior leaders chose us for our knowledge and experience.”
The Soldiers are proud of being women serving in the Army Reserve.
Hilt acknowledges that “as a woman in the Army Reserve, I feel that I have faced many challenges throughout my career. I feel that the Army has come a long way since I joined almost 23 years ago when it comes to equality and respect for women.
“… from my current position today, I’m filled with hope and a sense of accomplishment. The chief of the Army Reserve is a woman and one of our deputy commanding generals is a woman. I’m in great company and have no shortage of women leaders to look up to,” Hilt said.
Ramos feels that her military service has given her the ability to persevere through both professional and personal challenges.
“’I’ve been given the opportunity to serve with other women who have mentored me throughout my career to be the best that I can be,” Ramos said.
Hilt feels the Army Reserve has helped support her career trajectory into a leadership role.
“The personal and professional development I’ve acquired in the Army has contributed greatly to my success both in the military and as a civilian,” Hilt said. “I’ve served at multiple levels as a leader to include squad leader as an E5, detachment sergeant as an E7 and HHC commander of a division now for the second time in my career. Each position has been unique in its challenges and opportunities, and I have grown through every experience,” Hilt said.
For Ramos, “The Army has been supportive in my development from an enlisted Soldier to an officer by providing positions that require resiliency, sacrifice, and experience.”
The women see themselves as role models for other young women – and men – looking to possibly serve their country.
“I do see myself as a role model for other young women or really anyone who is looking to serve our country,” Hilt said. “I’m a hard worker, I live to serve others, and I don’t shy away from challenges. I model the Army Values in all areas of my life. I feel that my actions and accomplishments show that one can be successful in the military while successfully balancing family and other priorities.”
“I see myself as a role model … because I take pride in discipline, leadership, and treating others with dignity, respect, and fairness; thereby, influencing young women to do the same,” Ramos said.
Mais tries “to mentor all young Soldiers and help them and guide them in any way I can,” she said.
The leaders give their advice to other women who wish to follow a similar career path.
Hilt offered: “I would say that not every day is easy, but you’ll grow through the challenges you’ll face. I’d encourage them to seek out and find a mentor to help them on their path. I’d say that the sky is the limit. The path has been paved by the many women who have served before us. Write down your goals, write down the steps needed to achieve those goals, and get to work.”
“The advice that I would give other women who wish to follow a similar career path is to stand for what they believe in, and to never give up or stop trusting in God when their goals seem impossible to achieve,” Ramos said.
“I would tell anyone – male or female – that with hard work and perseverance you can do anything in life that you want and if you think your calling is the military to go for it,” Mais said.