Booker Talks Female Mentorship, Success in Speech to USAMRDC
As a general rule, strong leaders constantly search for opportunities to strengthen those around them. This is clear in the leadership of Command Sergeant Major Rebecca Booker, of the Regional Health Command-Atlantic, who hosted a female mentorship discussion at Fort Detrick on March 9. The opportunity allowed both Fort Detrick and U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command female senior noncommissioned officers a chance to engage in an open and honest dialogue with Booker, the senior most Army Medical Department female Command Sergeant Major.
As a key part of her almost 3 hour-long talk to more than a dozen Soldiers at the Fort Detrick Auditorium and virtually on MS Teams, Booker explained these types of focused, team-building events are important to make sure female Soldiers know how to advance their careers in and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.
"Sometimes it's nice to just get a female forum just to see what the concerns are," said Booker. "We don't do them often enough, to mentor, teach and guide, as females, as to where you should be."
Booker shared the details of her Army career, the decisions she made along the way, and how all the obstacles she encountered allowed her to arrive at the place she is now. Originally joining the Army with intention of serving only four years, she has now served for more than a quarter-century. Her desire to become a Command Sergeant Major is an achievement that came with great struggle and personal sacrifice.
Central to Booker's presentation included pointers on ways to balance stress, the importance of earning respect and trust, tips and motivational tactics, and why she recommends staying in the Army (especially right now) versus becoming a civilian. The theme of the discussion seemed to be constant encouragement for each women to find a mentor.
"There is power in empowerment," said Booker. "Find your mentor".
Booker has participated in similar types of mentorship events over the years, including participation in the Army's "Sisters in Arms" program. The Sisters in Arms program is utilized at military bases across the U.S. and serves as a mentorship program to support women in the Army.
She explained how the standards are now the same across the board for all Soldiers regardless of gender. This opens limitless possibilities, but "you have to fight for your career".
"You have the control," said Booker, imploring attendees to take an active role in determining their military futures. "Educate yourself, ask for courses. Ask yourself 'What do I want to do in the Army?'"
That the event was held in March is appropriate, given that March is when the country observes Women's History Month. With recent legislation designed to improve access and equality, barriers that once existed for women in the military are slowly being eradicated. To wit, women have been accepted into Ranger School since 2015 — a move that has, in many ways, signified a new and more inclusive military. To that end, there can be little doubt that Booker's career — along with the careers of a number of other accomplished female Soldiers — will continue to inspire others, and continue to spur to the advancement of our female Soldiers and develop our women's history.
With broken barriers comes the journey of treading into new territory. Luckily, there are leaders such as CSM Booker who take the time to teach and mentor other women, a move that can only help develop a stronger, more effective Force overall.
Said Booker, in an effort to urge attendees to both set and achieve their many goals, "Don't let anyone stop you from doing what you know you can do."