By Cpt. Phoebe Sisk, 1st Brigade, Texas State Guard
DALLAS, Texas -- Ten Texas State Guard females of varying ages, experience, rank, and duties came together on March 15, 2021, at the Texas Army National Guard Armory, in honor of Women’s History Month. The meeting was led by TXSG Brig. Gen. Robert Hastings, the 1st Brigade’s Commanding General, and focused on various topics to include, retention, recruiting, and employment, specifically for women in the Guard.
Such considerations are every day, but the recent celebration of International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women offered the perfect catalyst to meet, celebrate, and brainstorm, bringing the best ideas to the table.
“Today, women comprise approximately 15 percent of our brigade,” said Hastings. “We have three female company commanders and one first sergeant. That is not what it could be, what it should be, or more importantly what we want it to be.”
Hastings explained his goal is to double the statistics by this time next year.
During the opening remarks, Hastings expressed one of his goals as a leader is to empower women in uniform and promote an equal force for the future.
“My perspective is anchored in my experiences – those of a middle-aged white male,” Hastings explained. “I can’t change that, but I can learn from your perspectives.”
Through the open dialogue approach, servicemen and women were able to discuss tough topics such as sexual harassment, with mutual respect and understanding.
The movement of conversation was fast and the key substance of real issues was discussed: Was sexual harassment an issue, and if so, did the women in the room feel comfortable and empowered to address it? Did they know how to report inappropriate behavior and seek assistance if necessary?
From the discussions, it was determined that sexual harassment was not an issue in the brigade, across the board, including those new to the TXSG and those with extensive experience. “It’s just a non-event throughout all of the time that I’ve served,” offered TXSG 1st Sgt. Mary Wilson, who added that she makes it a point to keep her ears open to all happenings up and down the chain of command as the most senior enlisted female of the unit.
Recruiting was a big first topic, with key insights offered by TXSG Staff Sgt. Angela Scarborough, a recruiter assigned to the 1st Brigade, who was recently recognized as TXSG Recruiter of the Year.
“Women want to speak to other women”, explained Scarborough. Scarborough and others in the room recognized that recruiting and retaining women is important in order to reflect the nation’s population and ensure strong military leadership.
The team discussed innovative ways to increase awareness of how women can serve, as well as educate local citizens on the Texas State Guard as a whole.
Reaching the market of those who have never served is key, letting potential candidates know that age is not a prohibitor, that skills of being an informal community leader, and most of all, possessing a servant’s heart, are some of the best indicators of success in the TXSG.
Texas State Guard’s 2nd Lt. Kylie Green, who entered the TXSG to offer skills as a licensed RN, reflected on her moment of realizing that she could balance service with parenting and other life duties. “Understanding that we don’t deploy outside of Texas and that the training is part-time was important because it meant that I could be a mom and still be part of the TXSG.”
“It was wonderful to get to know General Hastings and meet some of the other ladies in the Texas State Guard,” said Pvt. Jerah Hutchins, a recent enlistee. “They are all so selfless and accomplished!”
March is a time to celebrate the contributions and honor the sacrifices and accomplishments of women who not only shape our military but our nation as well.
Through the use of the female-focused meeting, and by providing the opportunity to network with peers and participate in group discussions, the Texas State Guardsmen are able and empowered to stand ready to serve--they are “Texans Serving Texas.”
For more information about the Texas State Guard, please go to www.join.txsg.state.tx.us.