Charlotte Richter/Staff Writer
Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Dr. Lynn Soots, Army Management Staff College quality assurance director, spoke about her experiences as a female service member and how the military can better support women in the future at the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth Women’s History Month Observance March 28 in Marshall Lecture Hall at the Lewis and Clark Center.
Soots recalled the remarks of then-705th Military Police Battalion (Detention) Commander Lt. Col. Corrie Hanson, guest speaker for the 2021 Women’s History Month observance. Soots said she remembered how Hanson offered solutions and challenged the audience to “lean in” — a generational culmination of progress made by people choosing to learn about and help others — and be vigilant of normalized issues for women in the military.
Soots said she sometimes feels the need to defend her achievements as a female veteran; she said no woman should need to argue for her place, nor should the signs for inclusion be necessary.
She shared a story from her first Air Force assignment in 1985 when she worked in radar maintenance in Höfn, Iceland. She said six months into the assignment, one of the radars she was assigned to broke and her team’s initial troubleshooting was ineffective. After more than 10 hours of trying to repair the radar, Soots found the switch on the radar was wired backward and quickly fixed the machine. Later that morning, her supervisor informed her that she had also won the maintainer of the quarter.
She said she was buoyed by her successes and chose to make coffee cake for her team. Soots said in the kitchen, a team shift lead walked by and said, “Now this is where a woman belongs; smells great, don’t forget to bring me a piece.”
“In that five-second utterance he shattered my adrenaline high and he took away everything that I felt at that very moment,” Soots said.
Soots said other women have experiences similar to hers, and she offered two ways to overcome such issues: having the self-determination to choose a path forward and having a team that embraces female achievement.
“Insulate, don’t isolate. Make no mistake; women have worked in and do work in contested environments. Women’s right to vote, women’s right to serve in combat, women’s right to fly, fight and win. Yet we feel like solid soldiers using the power of alignment and connection, and we never let anyone who wants to be part of either the warrior or crusader go unrecognized.”
Soots encouraged the audience to push for change, encourage diversity, challenge ideas and support women.
“We are in a new place, we are in a new era, a springboard for a better place for all of us,” Soots said. “We become something bigger, better and stronger when we crusade and heal together.”