By Alexandra Shea, Fort Jackson Leader

“I entered the Army in 1995.”

“This was an Army that had just the previous year issued the direct ground combat definition of assignment role. Meaning that women were eligible to be assigned to all positions for which they qualified, except for units below brigade level whose primary mission was to engage the enemy in direct combat.”

“It was a step forward, a point of pride but true equality remained at an arms distance.”

Many people who think of women’s equality may think back to their high school history books and black and white Google images of women in long dresses carrying signs during the suffrage movement in the 1920s.These women were fighting for the right to vote.

As the United States made advances on and off the battlefield throughout the years, women have continued to fight for the nation’s freedoms and the right to equal treatment beyond the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that granted women the right to vote.

For Col. Tara Hall, Moncrief Army Health Clinic commander and guest speaker during the Aug. 26 Women’s Equality Day luncheon, a woman’s ability to fight for her nation and rights have been felt throughout the nation’s history, even today.

“Is being a woman a limitation?” Hall asked of the full-house audience at the NCO Club. “Nope. I was not convinced. I could tell that the Army wasn’t convinced either.”

“I could tell because women were breaking barriers and forging new paths every day, especially after 9/11,” Hall continued. “I served during a time where Gen. Ann Dunwoody became the first female four-star general in military history. I witnessed the end to direct ground combat exclusion rule and the integration of women in combat roles. I watched as Capt. Kristen Griest and Capt. Shaye Haver become the first women to graduate from Ranger School. I was privileged to work with the highest ranking woman to graduate from the United States Military Academy, Lt. Gen. Nadia West.”

Hall explained how proud she is to serve in a military that has recognized the need for change throughout the years and have afforded women an opportunity to demonstrate the skills and abilities they bring to combat and support roles on and off the battlefield. Though the struggle for equality continues, she is excited for the day where people celebrate the accomplishment of others based solely on their merit.

“Remember, the future is all of us and we bear a remarkable responsibility to find the points where the opposition is the weakest, create opportunities to further build the roads to true equality for all,” she said.

After the luncheon concluded, attendees mingled with one another and took the opportunity to view a wall displaying significant women throughout the nation’s history that had a direct impact on women’s equality. They also congratulated the Fort Jackson Leader Training Brigade and U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy staff who organized, decorated and participated in the luncheon.

U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy Commandant Command Sgt. Maj. Roosevelt Whetstone and Leader Training Brigade Commander Col. Joe Jackson presented Hall with a certificate of appreciation for speaking during the event.

Each year, the Army celebrates and remembers women and their continued fight for equality on Aug. 26. This year’s theme “The Future is All of Us, Equality is a Human Right” reminds us of the struggles women have faced throughout the years in the pursuit of equal treatment and having a voice in their organizations and government.

“We still have work to do,” Hall said. “I am very proud to be a part of the United States Army and the role that we continue to play in the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion.”