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Historic observance celebrates the achievements of women

A flyer of three women in three separate pictures smiling Dr. Sharyn Potter, Dr. Julie Cruz, and Ms. Leslie Joseph joined DHA's virtual observance as guest speakers on a discussion panel on 17 March 2021.

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"If there's a first...then there can be a few and then many. A first is a signal that [anything] is possible!"

On March 17, Leslie Joseph, staff director for the deputy assistant secretary of the navy (civilian human resources) stated that we must celebrate when a woman becomes the first in history to occupy a position -- consider our current vice president, Kamala Harris, the first female voted into that position.

Joseph, along with Dr. Julie Cruz and Dr. Sharyn Potter participated in a panel discussion on women's history during the Defense Health Agency's virtual observance honoring Women's History Month.

They shared their experiences of serving in the nation's workforce and offered advice for women on finding success in life.

Women Are Connectors

As Director of the Technology Career Field in the Army's Civilian Career Management Activity, Cruz enhances civilian competencies, increases career satisfaction, maximizes employee engagement and retains talent for the Army's 15,000 IT/Cyber workforce.

In discussing her civil service career in the departments of the Army and the Air Force, she offered curiosity, positivity, and having the ability to connect with people as important characteristics of successful leaders.

"I choose to be positive and...to be a connector," said Cruz.

Cruz encourages women to support other people in their careers. "Make a decision on how you can uplift people...How do we try maximize people's strengths?"

Women Provide a Voice for the Voiceless

Dr. Sharyn Potter is a co-founder of and executive director of research at the Prevention Innovations Research Center: Ending Sexual and Relationship Violence and Stalking at the University of New Hampshire. Potter supports community efforts to reduce sexual violence throughout the nation.

When discussing her experience as a volunteer on a crisis hotline, Potter remarked, "The powerlessness described by the victims and their appreciation for having someone to listen to them...cemented my dedication to help end sexual violence."

"When talking about Women's History Month, we need to ensure that women can pursue their dreams and expand their opportunities for themselves and their families."

Older flyer of a woman with the American flag in the background with the words "We can do it and she did. Women's history month" across the top and "honoring the past, securing the future at the bottom
Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (Image courtesy of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute).

Women Dare to Be Different

Joseph is responsible for the administration of enterprise human resources for more than 200,000 members of the civilian workforce. "When talking about women’s history," said Joseph, "we must mention the women who have dared to do things differently."

Joseph believes that success comes to women when they dare to challenge stereotypical gender roles.

"I am blessed that my parents didn't embrace traditional gender roles because that was a sign that I could do something different," explained Joseph.

"Don't hold yourself back," she added. "Take a risk and bet on yourself." She credits this attitude as the reason for her accomplished civil service career.

Women Are Great!

Women's History Month celebrates the accomplishments of women throughout our nation's history, and honors the potential that women have for greatness.

Joseph said her parents "worked too hard for me not to be great. Greatness is the ability to have a self-sustaining, self-sufficient life."

"Think of your life as great," she encouraged women.

The DHA offers its gratitude for the women who participated in our virtual discussion panel and to all women who have courageously served our nation.

While Women's History Month is officially celebrated in March, we must continue to recognize the achievements of women each and every day.

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Pregnancies and live births among female service members

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Women have been able to serve officially in the U.S. military since 1901. Both the number of women serving in the active component and their occupational roles have steadily increased and expanded. Currently, almost one in seven active component service members are female and more than 95% of military occupational specialties are open to women. This infographic summarizes data on the demographic and military characteristics of women including women of childbearing potential (WOCBP) in the active component of the U.S. Armed Forces during 2012 – 2016. Data on pregnancy-related care and birth rates are also presented. FINDINGS •	In 2016, WOCBP comprised the vast majority of active component service women. •	202,849 women served in the active component of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps. 197,947 (97.6%) were WOCBP. Pie chart displays depicting this information. •	In 2016, 13.1% of all WOCBP had at least one pregnancy-related event. Pie chat displays depicting this information. Female stick figures display to show visual of the largest proportions of WOCBP. Breakdown of WOCBP by service: •	Army (32.9%) •	Air Force (30.0%) •	Navy (29.7%) •	Marine Corps (7.5%) Pie chart displays to visually depict breakdown of WOCBP by service. The largest proportions of WOCBP were: •	In a communications / intelligence occupation (32.3%) •	Junior enlisted rank (46.5%) •	Non-Hispanic white (43.4%) •	20 – 24 years old (34.3%) Live births: •	There were 63,879 live births during the surveillance period. •	Overall live birth rate was 64.9 live births per 1,000 person-years (p-yrs). This rate of live births decreased steadily from 69.8 per 1,000 p-yrs in 2012 to 59.7 per 1,000 p-yrs in 2016. Line graph displays this information. Rates of live births were highest among: •	Women who were 30 – 34 years old •	Enlisted or junior officer rank •	Army •	In healthcare / intelligence occupations •	Married Access the full report in the November 2017 MSMR (Vol. 24, No. 11). Go to: www.Health.mil/MSMR

This infographic summarizes data on the demographic and military characteristics of women including women of childbearing potential (WOCBP) in the active component of the U.S. Armed Forces during 2012 – 2016. Data on pregnancy-related care and birth rates are also presented.

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Pregnancies among female service members, Active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012 – 2016

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With the increasing numbers of service women and the expansion of roles available to women within the military, understanding the epidemiology of pregnancy is important for both the health of U.S. service women and the readiness of the U.S. fighting force, two closely related issues. Between 2012 – 2016, 344,536 unique women of childbearing potential (WOCBP) served at least 1 day in the military, and of those, 132,466 spend at least 1 day as a recruit trainee. Of the 224,718 WOCBP who served at any time in 2016, 13.1% had at least one pregnancy-related event during that year. A “pregnancy-related event,” refers to a health care encounter (visit) for which the record contains a diagnosis code for either pregnancy or a positive pregnancy test. In 2016, the highest prevalence of pregnancy-related events was among service women 30-34 years of age (16.8%) and among senior enlisted women (13.7%). Pie chart displays depicting the information. The annual prevalence of pregnancy-related events decreased slightly, from 14.2% in 2012 to 13.1% in 2016. Line plot graph displays this information. FINDINGS •	Prevalence of pregnancy-related events was approximately evenly distributed among the race/ethnicity categories and military occupation groups. •	A slightly higher percentage of WOCBP in the Army (14.5%) had pregnancy-related events compared to WOCBP in the other services. •	A higher percentage of women who were married (21.4%) had a pregnancy-related event, compared with those in the single (5.7%) or “other” (8.8) categories. •	Only 0.2% of women who served during a recruit training period in any given year had a pregnancy-related event. Access the full report in the November 2017 MSMR (Vol. 24, No. 11). Go to www.Health.mil/MSMR.  Graphic on infographic shows a pregnant service member.

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Tdap vaccination coverage during pregnancy, active component service women, 2006 – 2014

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Pertussis, commonly known as “whooping cough,” is a vaccine-preventable illness more common and more severe in children than in adults. Infections during the first few months of life can be particularly severe, with almost all deaths from pertussis occurring in infants less than 6 months of age. A vaccinated mother’s antibodies against pertussis protect the baby during pregnancy until it can receive the vaccine at two months of age. Approximately 400 probable and 50 confirmed cases occur annually among service members and other adult beneficiaries of the Military Health System. In 2012, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended Tdap for every pregnancy to reduce the burden of pertussis in infants. This surveillance study assessed Tdap vaccination coverage among pregnant service women during 2006 through 2014. FINDINGS: •	There were records of a total of 137,133 live birth deliveries to service women •	Only 1%  – 3% of service women received a Tdap vaccine during pregnancy from 2006  – 2011 •	Tdap vaccination coverage increased substantially  – 8% in 2012 to 54% in 2014 •	Navy women had the highest  annual proportion of vaccine coverage at 65% in 2014 •	First deliveries had the highest vaccination coverage at 57% in 2014 •	Fourth or subsequent deliveries had the lowest coverage at 41% in 2014 More education and attention by military physicians and pregnant service women about the benefits of Tdap vaccination are needed to bring coverage closer to 100%. Learn more in MSMR Vol. 22 No. 5 May 2015 at Health.mil/MSMR  Images on graphic: •	Baby icon to depict live birth deliveries •	Pie charts showing the findings in visual form •	Line graph showing the percent vaccinated among Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard The line graph shows the annual percentages of active component service women with a live birth delivery who received a Tdap vaccine during pregnancy, by year of delivery and service, 2011– 2014.

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