Tag: black female soldiers

Lt. Gen. Nadja West Confirmed by Senate as First Black Army Surgeon General

naja west (lt general)
Lt. General Naja West is the Army’s first black Surgeon General (Photo: John G. Martinez, Photojournalist to the Secretary of the Army)

Falls Church, VA  – The Senate confirmed Thursday Lt. Gen. Nadja Y. West to serve as the new Army Surgeon General and Commanding General, U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM).  This makes West the Army’s first black Surgeon General.

Additionally, with the appointment as the 44th Army Surgeon General, West picks up a third star to become the Army’s first black female to hold the rank of lieutenant general.  West was sworn in as the Army Surgeon general on Friday by Acting Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning. She most recently served as the Joint Staff Surgeon at the Pentagon.

The Army Surgeon General provides advice and assistance to the Secretary of the Army and Army Chief of Staff on all health care matters pertaining to the U.S. Army and its military health care system.  West will be responsible for development, policy direction, organization and overall management of an integrated Army-wide health service system and is the medical material developer for the Army. These duties include formulating policy regulations on health service support, health hazard assessment and the establishment of health standards.

Dual-hatted as the MEDCOM commanding general, West oversees more than 48 medical treatment facilities providing care to nearly 4 million active duty members of all services, retirees and their Family members. MEDCOM is composed of three regional health commands, the Medical Research and Materiel Command, and Army Medical Department Center & School.

West holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a Doctorate of Medicine from George Washington University School of Medicine. She has held previous assignments as Commanding General, Europe Regional Medical Command; Commander of Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, N.C.; and Division Surgeon, 1st Armored Division, Army Europe and Seventh Army, Germany.

West hails from the District of Columbia, and she finished high school at the Academy of the Holy Names in Silver Spring, Md.

While West’s promotion to lieutenant general is already effective, she will “pin” on the rank in a formal ceremony in early 2015.

article via eurweb.com

Archive of African American Women Soldiers’ Letters Donated to Harvard University

Myraline Morris Whitaker (Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer)
Maryline Morris Whitaker (Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer)

Maryline Morris Whitaker is the founder of the Sister Soldier Project, a grassroots organization that provides hair care products to African American women soldiers to help them comply with the militaries requirements for hair. “If hair is longer than your ears, it has to be pulled back and tucked under, and as a Black woman I just don’t understand how that happens without the right product,” Whitaker says.

In 2008, Whitaker raised enough money and donations to send 1,000 packages of hair care products to African American women serving in combat areas overseas. She received a large number of thank you letters from the women soldiers. “These women never complained,” said Whitaker, commenting on the letters she received. “They just talked about their lives in the service. They were happy to be there. They talked about the families they left behind, and they’d send pictures of their children.”

Whitaker realized that she had a treasure trove of letters documenting the experiences of African American women serving overseas in the armed forces. She volunteered to donate the archive to the Smithsonian museum but the museum was not interested.

But Whitaker found a home for her archive at the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. The Schlesinger Library holdings date from the founding of the United States to the present and include more than 3,200 manuscript collections, 100,000 volumes of books and periodicals, and films, photos, and audiovisual material. The library holds many collections from African American women including Mildred Jefferson, the first Black woman graduate of Harvard Medical School, author June Jordan, civil rights activist Pauli Murray, and author Dorothy West.

article via jbhe.com

Pentagon Reverses Course: Black Soldiers won’t be Punished for Popular Hairstyles

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel released a statement that “conservative” hairstyles popular among black female soldiers will be acceptable according to military grooming standards, Army Times reports.

Last March, the Department of Defense issued new regulations that many African-American servicemen and women claimed were racially biased, especially against black women, who would be forced to use heat or chemical straighteners to achieve an acceptable hairstyle. A number of black women wrote to the Congressional Black Caucus urging them to put pressure on the Department of Defense to change the regulations — and three months later, that is what Chuck Hagel has done.

In a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus notifying them of the changes, Hagel wrote that “[e]ach service reviewed its hairstyle policies to ensure standards are fair and respectful while also meeting military requirements. These reviews were informed by a panel of military personnel of mixed demographics reflective of our diverse force. Additionally, each Service reviewed its hairstyle policies to ensure standards are fair and respectful while also meeting our military requirements.”

The review concluded that the terms “matted and unkempt” when used in reference to African-American hair were “offensive” and eliminated them from the guidelines. The Air Force also determined that the word “dreadlocks” was offensive, and changed the prohibited hairstyle to “locs” in official grooming literature.

Congressional Black Caucus chair Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) responded to Hagel’s decision to expand the range of acceptable hairstyles for black female soldiers by saying that “[t]hese changes recognize that traditional hairstyles worn by women of color are often necessary to meet our unique needs, and acknowledges that these hairstyles do not result in or reflect less professionalism or commitment to the high standards required to serve within our Armed Forces.”

“Secretary Hagel and the Department of Defense not only show they are responsive to the individuals who serve within our military, but that he and his leadership respect them as well,” she continued. “The Congressional Black Caucus commends Secretary Hagel for his leadership in addressing this issue.”

article by Scott Kaufman via rawstory.com