Celebrating Women's History Month 2016 Published March 31, 2016 By Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran 145th Public Affairs CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- What started as a national celebration in 1981, when Congress authorized the president to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as Women's History Week, has now become a month-long celebration bringing a unique opportunity to take time to honor the hard work and contributions made by women serving in our military, both past and present. During the 1900s, answering phone calls, maintaining records and providing minor health care were just some of the roles women were permitted to have in the military. Jobs that were left open because men left for war gave women the opportunity to step up and volunteer on the home front. A century later, women across the Department of Defense have responsibilities such as maintaining multi-million-dollar aircraft, leading troops on battlefields and serving in higher leadership positions. They are leaders and warriors with heritages as diverse as our nation. On a daily basis, women of the North Carolina Air National Guard provide intelligence, safeguard control centers, keep skies safe as air traffic controllers, file records and maintain secured communications capability, serve as defenders within security forces and are first responders in cases of emergencies or natural disasters. They serve as maintainers and aircraft pilots but most importantly as wingmen in all areas of a Total Force. Over the last decade, more than 280,000 women have deployed in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Women have shown great courage and sacrifice while experiencing both challenges and opportunities to accomplish the mission. Airmen like Capt. Lisa Dodge knows first-hand the work it took to train and fight in what used to be a man's world. After being commissioned in 2008, Dodge began her training to become a C-130 Hercules aircraft navigator. Since then she's deployed in support of Operations New Dawn, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. In addition to navigating, Capt. Dodge serves as the Executive Officer for the 145th Operations Group. "My family history in the military dates back to my grandfather who was in the Army in WWII, my father as a Marine and my stepfather in the Navy served in the Vietnam Era. My brothers in the Army and Air Force served during Desert Storm. Although I have many family members in the military and married a fellow Airman, I'm the first woman to serve and couldn't be happier with my career path," said Dodge. Women of the 145th Airlift Wing see themselves as being part of a Total Force, leading and working to improve the quality of life for all Airmen. It has been said by many that being a good wingman is not about gender, it is about leadership and taking care of your people. "Leadership is not defined by gender. It is believing you can make the future better. I don't believe leadership is standing up saying look what I've done but more of your people saying look what we've done," stated Col. Barbara Doncaster, the first female vice commander in the history of the 145th Airlift Wing. Women have played a vital role in the military since the first female entered the Air National Guard in 1950, a role and commitment that continues today as more and more women take the oath to serve and protect their country, which is on a mission to fly, fight and win.