MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE N.C. --
For hundreds of years across the globe, women have been fighting for equal rights. Today, women in the armed forces continue in their footsteps, fighting to defend the nation’s freedom.
During Women’s History Month, it seems fitting that numerous women recently returned to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune from a deployment to Afghanistan. There are many female service members, from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, who fight every day with no complaint, in a predominately male work environment.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Sinthia M. Gomez, a hospital corpsman with Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, is the first in her family to join the military, which paved the way for her younger brother to join the Army.
“If you look back and see how women have progressed, especially me being here in a male unit. It’s nice to be recognized and be held to that same standard – and break that glass ceiling,” said Gomez. “My brother joined the Army because of me. I definitely feel proud.”
In Afghanistan, Gomez worked at an aid station helping the sick, giving over the counter medications and even helped organize a pizza party for wounded warriors.
“It was Father’s Day and we wanted to do something for the wounded warriors,” said Gomez, with a smile.
Gomez is not the only female in her unit. Petty Officer First Class Jennifer R. Avila, leading petty officer, followed in her father’s footsteps, when she joined the Navy as a single mother who could not afford college.
“It was the best option for me,” said Avila, who has deployed three times to Iraq and recently returned from Afghanistan with Gomez.
In Fallujah, Iraq in 2005, Avila assisted Marines at security check points by searching women before they entered the city.
“We were out there working 12-hour days in flak (jackets) and Kevlars carrying a rifle, just like the guys, doing patrols,” said Avila.
Avila explained, throughout her career, she has witnessed some good changes including the increased amount of opportunities for women.
“It’s absolutely changed since I came in (the Navy). They, now, allow women on submarines, they allow female corpsmen more so in combat – so I see a change in that. I think it’s great that we honor women.”
Both Gomez and Avila are happy with women’s roles in the military and have words of wisdom for young women thinking about enlisting.
“I would say that they have to come in with an open mind, be strong and proud of being a woman and accept any challenges and know their limits,” said Gomez.
“I believe as females we need to show people that we’re strong, that we can do the job just as well as a man. Never allow the excuse, ‘I’m a female’ to stop you from doing your job. Yes we have limitations but we’re just as strong as a man and can do a job just as good as any man. That’s why I have high expectations of females in the military,” said Avila.