The first female enlisted Soldier to lead in a brigade command was the guest speaker at White Sands Missile Range’s Women’s Equality Day luncheon held at the Frontier Club Aug. 26.
“I’m so proud to stand before you today as a Command Sergeant Major from New Mexico National Guard,” said guest speaker New Mexico National Guard 93rd Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Elizabeth Bryant.
“The road is hard, rocky and unsure and yes it’s lonely…but I had the opportunity to pave the way for the future. When given the opportunity, we can overcome any challenges before us.”
The event began with an invocation from Chaplain Lt. Col. Donald Carrothers, a poem recital by the director of the Logistics Readiness Center Mickey Mumfreys, and a reading of the presidential proclamation by the Three Crosses Chapter, Federally Employed Women Vice-President Maria Cristina Foster.
After an introduction by Sgt. Keri Rivera, Bryant took to the podium. Bryant, who began her career in the National Guard in 1980, shared her story on the rocky road she traveled to get to where she is today. She said the road to obtaining her leadership position was difficult at times but she knew she couldn’t give up because of the significance for women in the military.
“There were days that I did feel that I couldn’t go that extra mile, but I had to. I wanted to make sure that my performance was exceptional, even more so because I was a female,” Bryant said. “President Barack Obama stated that value knows no gender. Just give us the opportunity to shine and we will shine.”
Bryant said being the first female in such a leadership role was rewarding in itself but what she feels is more rewarding is being able to serve her fellow service member. Bryant said the hard work and dedication really pays of when you know you did your job right and that you made a difference in a service member’s life.
“When I put on my uniform it is for each and every one of you that I truly serve. I can’t describe the feeling I have when I’m able to assist a service member at the end of the day,” Bryant said.
During her speech, Bryant provided examples of recent and local pioneer women like the two females who were the first females to graduate from Army Ranger School and Susanna Martinez who became the first female governor for New Mexico.
“We have proved time and time again that when given a task we accomplish it,” Bryant said.
Before leaving the podium, Bryant asked the audience to remember a couple of points from her presentation and attempt to live life by these points.
“Encourage and challenge yourself, set your mind on the goal, pull up that person next to you who feels like quitting, and never be afraid of change,” she said.
“We were an invaluable and essential part then as we are today,” Bryant said.
The ceremony ended with an award presentation by WSMR Command Sgt. Maj. William Maddox and WSMR Executive Director Paul Mann. Awards were presented to those who played a role in the ceremony. Bryant was presented the final award, a WSMR plaque and a poster collage of WSMR’s key missions.