PHOENIX – While growing up in rural Montana, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Pamela Higgins said, she remembers watching the Montana Guard members helping with community activities and admiring their sharp uniforms.
Higgins is the second woman to serve in the Arizona National Guard’s senior enlisted position. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Karen Craig held the post from 2002 to 2009.
“I just recently went over 36 years of service, and have always served for the Army National Guard,” Higgins said. “I have been a traditional Guard member my whole career, which included a deployment to Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010.”
Women have come a long way in the armed forces, Higgins said, and now can be assigned to some combat arms duties. “Allowing women to serve in combat jobs is a huge change,” she added. “Training and testing the women for these positions must be exactly the same as the males, and if the women meet the standards, then they deserve the position.”
Since the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948, the progression of allowing women into service, Higgins said, recognizing them for their service and creating more military career growth for women has become more prominent.
“Since I have been in the military, women have gained the respect of their brothers in arms,” she said. “That is all we ever wanted: to be treated and respected the same as our counterparts.”
As the nation observes Women’s History Month and celebrates this year’s theme, “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment”, Higgins said the theme applies perfectly to women serving in the military.
“[It] describes every female that signed on the dotted line to join the armed forces,” she said. “Women in the military have deployed, fought in battles and have come home to deal with the same issues as their male counterparts. Honoring their courage and commitment will hopefully inspire girls and encourage young women to follow in their footsteps.”
Being only the second woman to serve as state command sergeant major in Arizona, Higgins said, it’s important for her to set the standard and to encourage her sisters-in-arms to continue to pursue their dreams.
“The door is wide open for females in the military, so maintain your commitment, courage and character in all that you do,” she said. “Continue to challenge yourselves and develop strong leadership skills. Apply and compete for positions of leadership and you will have a very successful and rewarding career in the military.”