FORT MEADE, Md. -- –
MEADE, Md. – Opening her closet, her clothes are
split in two—professional business attire and heels on one side, uniform and
combat boots on the other.
“I carry both ID cards at all times. Whether it’s
during the week or the weekend, I’m still the same person, and I’ll treat you,
whether you are a civilian or Soldier, with the same respect,” said Shyella
Lisbon, human resources officer for the 200th Military Police
a U.S. Army Reserve Soldier, Lisbon is also the personnel sergeant major for
the same command, one among many women who serves in dual capacities at the
civilians, these women support the core readiness needs of the command. These
include things such as individual and collective training, administrative,
maintenance, recruiting and more. As Soldiers, they serve in a wide range of
military occupational specialties across all ranks, from supply specialist to
the command’s personnel sergeant major.
The extent of the impact women have in the armed forces has
grown over the years. “There are more doors available for women now. It was
very challenging when I made sergeant major,” Lisbon said, proud of her
achievement and the opportunities she is seeing growing in the Army. “I was the
first African American female to make sergeant major in the 311th
[Theater SignalCommand]. Up until then, there was nothing but males. I
couldn’t believe that I actually made it.”
Anysia Gray, who works as the unit
administrator for the 200th MP Cmd. and serves as a paralegal
noncommissioned officer, also saw the scarcity of women when she initially
joined the Army Reserve in 2004.
Gray said that in her first unit,
less than 10 percent were women. Those numbers have steadily grown as she advanced
in her Army career and moved from unit to unit.
Spc. Amanda Knaus is a supply and
logistics specialist for the 200th MP Cmd. while wearing the uniform.
During the week, Knaus works as a civilian budget analyst for the finance
office. She’s a single mother with three children, dedicated to her job and the
“The military has definitely made me
a (better) person. It has given me a lot of skills … (but ultimately) I’m the
same person in uniform and in civilian status—I just look a little different,”
For Knaus and other women like her,
it’s important to stay true to themselves. They support one another to progress
individually while improving the Army. That same support they provide the 200th
is seen and appreciated by those in command.
honoring women in public service and government, Wesley D. Huff, command
executive officer, 200th MP Cmd., said, “Our female work force in
the 200th MP Cmd., both military technicians and Department of the Army
civilians, are top notch! From the women
of the 200th, we draw pride, comfort, courage, and a long-range vision for the
MP Corps, our Army and our Nation.”
Karen Goodwin, Sexual Assault
Response Coordinator for the 200th MP Cmd. and an Army Reserve sergeant
first class Equal Opportunity Leader, said, “I have seen a change where women
are taking more leadership roles now. It has changed drastically in the recent
past, which is great.”
Leadership is about mentoring, it’s
about teaching others, these women have said.
Knaus credits that kind of
mentorship in her own personal success. She still remembers a female sergeant
major who mentored her at the beginning of her career. “I found her mentoring
and her guidance very instrumental in helping me see the differences in being
Ms. Knuas and Spc. Knaus,” she said.
These women have the opportunity to
impact the Army in both capacities.
“Whether they are Soldiers or
Civilians, it’s important to know what makes them tick. They all need direction
and a purpose. I treat my Soldiers and civilians the same, I’m here to empower
them,” said Lisbon.
If given the opportunity to speak
directly to young women, Gray would say, “Be comfortable in who you are and
confident in that person.”
Each of these women said they have used their own
experiences to motivate themselves and achieve their goals.
in school for engineering, I had a professor who said, ‘Why don’t you try
cooking or something?’ That just tore me down. Now, I don’t let anyone tell me,
‘You can’t.’ I press forward and make it a point to finish what I’ve started,” said
Gray, she looks back to her first deployment in 2004 as a time that shaped her
outlook as a woman.
a huge feminist,” said Gray. “A woman should not be held back from anything she
wants to do solely because she is a woman. My deployment made me examine things
and the world in a different way, and it opened my eyes to a lot of double
standards and women being marginalized.”
Times have changed since then, even
if only a decade later. In her twelve years of uniformed service and three
years as a military technician, Gray has seen the Army change its perception of
women. “The military is definitely trying to go above and beyond in addressing
the equality issues. [The Army is] actively trying to grow the role of women in
the military,” Gray said.
Gray hopes to leave an impact on the
Army, as a Soldier, civilian, and as a woman. “I hope I’m showing them how to
lead and to treat people how you want to be treated. I also hope that I’m
showing that I’m not a cookie cutter woman, that we are not all the same. That women
can be strong, that women can stand up for themselves and others,” said Gray.
In spite of their segregated closets, with uniforms and
civilian attires hanging on separate sides, these women have been working hard
to keep their double lives in balance. In their dual roles in the Army, they have
truly proven themselves as twice the citizens.