Military Matters: Celebrating successful women

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LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Miss. (WTOK) - March is Women's History Month. To celebrate, we spoke to successful women in our military community.

Men and women serve side by side in all branches of the U.S. military, but it hasn't always been that way.

"It has changed a lot, where females are in almost every career field out here," said Senior MSGT Joan Goodin (Retired). "And they do a great job and there are a lot more women than when I first got in."

Goodin served at the Air National Guard Base at Key Field for 27 years. When she joined in 1979, she was a pioneer, one of just a handful of women in full-time active duty roles.

"Nothing like it is today," Goodin said. "There were a few women out here but it is really growing and more women are getting in, seeking all the education benefits and all that the men used to reap the benefits of."

Chief MSGT Lynn R. Cole is the first female State Command Chief of the Mississippi Air National Guard. She's responsible for overseeing 2300 airmen and women across the state.

"There are so many career opportunities open to us now that were not in the past," said Rushing. "And as I continue as a State Command Chief, I hope to expand more opportunities for females in the military."

Col. Lauralee Barnes has had an impressive career. She has deployed several times and worked as an air battle manager. Most recently she became the first female to achieve the rank of colonel at the 186th Air Operations Group.

"I just think that I do have a different perspective by virtue of being a woman," said Barnes. "I'm not saying that I'm better or worse but it opens up a diversity that maybe wasn't there previously."

Both she and Cole say the support of their co-workers has been vital in their success.

"My biggest achievement is the position I hold now, to be the state command chief for Mississippi is a great accomplishment; however, I didn't get here by myself," said Cole.

"I couldn't have done it without the people who supported me and I couldn't have done it without the people who were naysayers to me because those people I was happy to, not necessarily prove them wrong, but to forge ahead and do what I needed to do regardless of them and maybe in spite of them a little bit, too," said Barnes.

"We don't want a special opportunity. We want an equal opportunity," Cole said. "Just give us the opportunity and it's our responsibility to do what we need to do to succeed in that role."