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NEWS | March 25, 2013

Military police women: History in the making

By Tech. Sgt. April Wickes 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

March marks the time to reflect on the struggles and triumphs women have gone through, allowing them to feel pride for their accomplishments.

Women's History Month is not just about the past, but also about the future.

"Women of our past have been trailblazers for us," said U.S. Army Capt. Samantha Hoxha, 221st Military Police Detachment company commander. "Today we are looked upon to set the history for our future."

Women's History Month has been celebrated annually since 1987, when Congress expanded national Women's History Week. This year, five female Service members from 3rd and 221st MPDs at Fort Eustis, Va., sat down together and reflected on what women's history means to them.

"Everyone wants to be recognized and appreciated," said Spc. Selene Savarina, 221st MPD military police patrolman. "The fact that there is a month dedicated to women is a pretty big deal."

According to a Department of Defense population summary from fiscal year 2011, female Soldiers make up 13 percent of the enlisted force and 18 percent of the officer corps. This number is even smaller within the predominantly-male police corps.

Due to this disparity, Spc. Adrianna Williamson, 221st MPD military police patrolman, feels she has to work twice as hard as her male counterparts.

"As a Soldier, you should always be a step ahead and hungry for your career," said Williamson. "As a woman, you should be two to three steps ahead. Be humble, know your job to the best of your abilities and lead the way."

Women in the military continue to make strides and fill critical roles now more than ever. This year, the Department of Defense lifted the ban restricting women from military combat roles in order to allow equality in service.

Many of the females from the 3rd and 221st MPDs have deployed to the Middle East, taking on many missions, including detainee and convoy operations, base security and acting as host-nation mentors.

"I take pride in knowing we have great women Soldiers, especially in the military police corps, who are able to step up and accomplish the mission," Hoxha said. "There is still a stigma in wondering if a female can handle military police responsibilities; as a commander, I can see they do."

As a testament to this, Sgt. Melinda Storsin, now a patrol explosives detector military working dog handler for the 3rd MPD, has worked in two predominately male police positions. She served as the only female on a Special Reaction Team (equivalent to a civilian SWAT team), and now through hard work and dedication, has landed her dream job as a military working dog handler.

"It's one of those jobs you don't want to lose," said Storsin. "You work 10 times harder to not mess up in any kind of way so there is nothing that can take your job or position from you."

As Women's History Month draws to a close, Pfc. Roxanne Cavezuela, 3rd MPD patrol narcotic detector dog handler, hopes to see a day when men and women are seen as completely equal.

"Women are showing just how strong we have gotten through the years and how strong we can get," said Cavezuela. "I want us to be just as great as men so we can show how capable we are at all times, not just during (Women's History Month)."