JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CHAPMAN TRAINING ANNEX, Texas – Courage and resiliency are part of day-to-day operations here, so a strong mentality is nothing new for five female security forces specialists assigned to the 37th Training Support Squadron Combat Weapons Flight.
Jessie Ramirez, Tech. Sgt. Cameron Ashe, Staff Sgt. Barbara Walker, Staff Sgt. Chloee Lamb, and Staff Sgt. Jessica Biroscak bring expertise and drive to a predominantly male career field and demanding environment.
"I think it is just as important for the young men coming through to see that women are just as capable of doing a job that is usually done by men,” stated Ramirez, a Combat Arms Training and Maintenance Instructor. “I do not take the opportunity of being the first impression of a woman in a male-dominated career field lightly.”
Whether training or deploying Airmen or accounting for weapons and rounds, the five women ensure that fellow Airmen and mission partners are ready for combat.
Ashe, Noncommissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) for the armory, adjusts to each situation in stride.
“In my role, I have learned to trust my instincts and to be assertive in any decisions that I make. Things are not always going to go as I would like, therefore it’s important to go with the flow and roll with the punches,” Ashe said.
As CATM instructors, these Airmen average training 46,000 members a year.
Daily inventories for over 1,000 weapons, supporting training for six wings and seven higher headquarters missions, and servicing more than 6,000 weapons is only a small part of what they do, explained Walker, CATM Instructor and Armorer.
With the largest armory available steps away, ensuring training weapons are ready to be fired requires diligence and proficiency.
“Know the nitty gritty of your job because you’re going to need it,” Walker said.
Teaching and training Airmen to use weapons gave Lamb, a greater understanding of what it means to be a teacher, further developing her skill set.
“I have learned how to train and coach all different types of students with all different learning styles,” Lamb said.
Even with a strong foundation in combat arms, being a woman in the career field brings its challenges.
“The key to success is being strong-willed and capable. Don’t fall into the stereotypes and then cry about it after,” said Biroscak, CATM Instructor and NCOIC of Standardization-Evaluation and Unit Deployment Manager.
Sometimes there are assumptions that females are not mechanically savvy, able to pull their weight, or handle the physical workload, Ramirez said. However, these misconceptions do not hinder her ability to move forward.
“I take it as a personal challenge to always be better, to strive to exceed standards, to work harder, to take the initiative to always gain more knowledge,” Ramirez stated.
A personal life is just as important as the job and making time for activities outside of work.
“It can be hard not to allow yourself to get consumed with work or to bring home work-related issues. However, it is crucial that they are separate. I had to realize my kids and family deserved all of me. Having a healthy balance and enforcing boundaries are important,” Ramirez said. “Prioritizing self-care and time to de-stress is important not only for yourself and family, but also for your work environment.”
Biroscak echoed Ramirez’s comments.
“It’s all about give and take. And don’t expect it to happen all at once. There’s an art in time management that doesn’t come easily. It’s a practiced skill,” Biroscak said.
The five female Airmen also leave room for professional development.
“Because it is a male-dominated career field it is important for the few of us women that are around to stick together,” Ramirez said. “I am not perfect and there is always room to grow, from my own experience it is more rewarding when you’re helping others grow as well.”
The accomplishments of these women have not gone unnoticed.
“Strength is not in numbers but in mind, passion, and work ethic. Seeing these five women today in a field that is both highly competitive and challenging allows all members to recognize the sacrifices of our female Airmen,” said Col. Joyce Storm, 37th Training Group commander. “I’m honored to have these women serving by our side every day and inspiring those who will one day follow in their footsteps.”