How Women Strengthen the U.S. Military

With Rangers, women’s opportunities in the army are changing. What does this means for the military as a whole?

WDET’s Sandra Svoboda talks with Donna McAleer, West Point graduate and author of Porcelain on Steel: Women of West Point’s Long Gray Line, and Sarah Sutherland, former U.S. Army officer and current federal agent in Detroit, about women in the army and the two women who will graduate from Ranger School Friday. 

  • Small steps forward: Sutherland says that this graduation is a small step forward for women in the military, but the real step forward will be when female rangers are normal and we do not have to talk about them in terms of gender.
  • Expanding talent base: McAleer says that female rangers are part of expanding the military’s talent pool to as many creative, skilled, mentally and physically strong people as possible. She says this is a milestone that proves what we already knew, that tenacity and leadership qualities are the same between men and women.
  • Why join? McAleer and Sutherland both say they joined the army to serve their country. Sutherland says she wanted to help make a better world for future generations, and McAleer says she felt a personal debt to America because her mother and grandfather immigrated from Hungary during World War II.
  • Diverse roles: Sutherland says that the military now has no set front lines and women serve in combat situations.  She says that she served in the military police, which was very similar to infantry.  She emphasizes that women in the military are taking the same risks as men and doing phenomenally. 
  • Lost opportunity: McAleer and Sutherland both say that they would have liked to have the opportunities women have today when they were going through military training.  They say that many of the high-status achievements, such as becoming a ranger, were not open to women. Sutherland says that when she was in the army, it was hard to watch her boyfriend take advantage of opportunities she did not have.
  • Excitement for future: McAleer and Sutherland say that they are proud of the women who will be graduating tomorrow.  Sutherland says that she is excited, and hopes that her two-year-old daughter will have every opportunity open to her in her career, in the military or otherwise. 

Click the audio link above to hear the full conversation, and click here to see Donna McAleer talk more about the graduates and women in the military.