Explosive: Former Theater Major, Now Navy Bomb Squad Leader, is Real-Life Action Hero

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When Hollywood makes movies featuring female soldiers and sailors, those characters typically have some improbable combination of strength, intelligence, grace and courage. Throw in a quirky backstory – She studied theatre! She plays clarinet! – and you have the makings of a perfect, albeit unrealistic, female military action hero.

But these women do exist. America’s Navy is filled with them, and few have a more interesting story than Ensign Brianne “Brie” Coger, a 10-year Navy veteran who was one of just 12 female enlisted Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) technicians in the entire fleet before earning her commission in 2018.

EODs are part of the Navy’s elite Special Warfare community. This is the territory of Navy SEALs – exceptional men and women who have the intelligence, physical fitness, and drive to rise to the top. It’s work that demands a state of mind marked by extreme courage and capability under fire.

Quirky background

Coger grew up in Staten Island, New York. She excelled in sports, particularly swimming, and still holds some swimming records at her high school. A talented musician, she also played clarinet with the school orchestra and marching band. Later, at the University of Miami (Fla.), she studied theater and dreamed of becoming a Hollywood stunt woman.

Coger competes in the 2013 CrossFit Euro Regionals in Copenhagen. Coger is a dedicated CrossFit competitor and has competed in individual and team CrossFit events at home and abroad.

Coger spent two challenging years after college working odd jobs back home in New York, trying to pursue an acting career. When the opportunities fizzled, Coger looked for a different kind of challenge and found it in the Navy.

Nothing typical

“What I love about EOD is that there is no typical day,” she said. “Whether we’re going out to do some diving and an underwater detonation, or we have to go to a remote location in the mountains to do some IED training, or just working a chemical or biological problem in a laboratory situation – there’s nothing typical about any of that, and that’s exactly what I needed in my life.”

EODs are the world’s ultimate bomb squad, trained to disarm conventional bombs, mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and chemical – even nuclear – weapons. They perform some of the most harrowing, dangerous work on earth to keep others from harm’s way — but that was precisely what appealed to Coger.

“I was really drawn to EOD because I wanted to be part of a protective force,” she said. “You still get to do all the cool stuff, but an EOD doesn’t go out and cause trouble; they’re there to make the situation better. That really spoke to me.”

Another competition, this time from the Epic Series in 2014. “Epic is like a like a strongman competition with multiple stations doing things like assault bikes, telephone pole tosses, sledgehammer smashing – stuff like that,” Coger says. “That was a keg race.”

Forging ahead

Coger says she’s never felt that her gender was an issue in her Navy career. In fact, she has enjoyed tremendous success in a relatively short time, rising to chief petty officer – a senior enlisted rate – in just eight years before being selected for officer training in 2017. After more than a decade as an enlisted Sailor, Coger earned her commission in 2018 after completing Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. Coger has since graduated from the exclusive Navy Dive School in Florida and is now in San Diego getting ready to deploy. Her first assignment as a new officer? Leading a platoon of EOD Techs – the same people she worked with as an enlisted sailor.

“People think that joining the military means giving up things, but I’ve never seen it like that,” she said. “You aren’t losing something; you are gaining opportunities. The biggest thing that has helped me in my career is saying yes; embracing whatever’s out there and keeping my eyes and ears open to what’s possible.”

Forge your own path. Go to Navy.com

10 Reasons to Work for the Federal Government

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Are you thinking of working for the federal government? If so, opportunities and benefits lie ahead. Check out these ten reasons to pursue a career in the field.

  1. Make a difference
    The work of government employees impacts the lives of every American and the lives of people around the world. Federal employees can play a vital role in addressing pressing issues, from homelessness to homeland security. Students interested in working in government can engage in high-impact work, such as helping disrupt the laundering of billions of dollars derived from illicit U.S. drug deals.
  2. Great benefits/competitive pay
    Average government salaries are competitive with the private and nonprofit sectors. Recent graduates can expect a starting salary from $32,415 to $42,631 a year. Pay can also increase fairly quickly for top candidates with experience and a strong education. Federal benefits, including health insurance, retirement and vacation, are extremely competitive with, if not superior to, other sectors.
  3. The government is hiring
    The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected an employment increase of ten percent through 2018 in federal employment.
  4. Location, location, location
    Federal opportunities are not only found in the D.C area. Eighty-four percent of federal government jobs are outside of Washington, D.C. If students are interested in international job opportunities, more than 50,000 federal employees work abroad.
  5. Jobs for every major
    Working in the federal government is not just for political science majors. In fact, 28.4 percent of federal employees work in STEM fields. There are federal jobs for every interest and skill, from art history to zoology.
  6. Opportunities for advancement and professional development
    Federal employees have many opportunities for career advancement in government. An internal Merit Promotion Program helps ensure that new employees succeeding in their job have easy access to information about job openings within government. The government also offers excellent training and development opportunities and has human resources personnel to help connect current employees with these opportunities.
  7. Interesting and challenging work
    Today’s government workers are leading and innovating on issues, such as developing vaccines for deadly diseases, fighting sexual and racial discrimination, and keeping our massive systems of transportation safe.
  8. Work-life balance
    Flexible work schedules, including telework, are a major plus for those with busy schedules or long commute. Competitive benefits also include generous vacation time combined with federal holidays and sick leave. All of these packaged together make government an attractive employer for students looking to successfully balance their work and personal lives.
  9. Job security
    Government work is steady and secure, an attractive selling point, especially during difficult economic times.
  10. The federal government can help pay for school loans
    Some federal agencies can help pay back up to $10,000 per year in student loans, up to a total of $60,000.

Source: ourpublicservice.org

The Top 25 Highest Paid Federal Jobs

Did you know that the 25 highest paying government jobs all pay over $50,000 per year?

Below is a list of 25 of the most sought after federal jobs, ranked by the Office of Personnel Management as the highest paid jobs currently offered by the U.S. Government.

1) Astronomer – $116,072

2) Attorney – $114,240

3) Financial Manager – $101,022

4) General Engineer – $100,051

5) Economist – $94,098

6) Computer Scientist – $90,929

7) Chemist – $89,954

8) Criminal Investigator – $88,174

9) Microbiologist – $87,206

10) Architect – $85,690

11) Statistician – $81,524

12) Librarian – $78,665

13) Accountant – $78,030

14) Chaplain – $76,511

15) Ecologist – $76,511

16) Human Resources Manager – $76,503

17) Health and Safety Specialist – $73,003

18) Air Traffic Controller – $72,049

19) Budget Analyst – $71,267

20) Correctional Officer – $67,140

21) Nurse – $65,345

22) Technical Engineer – $63,951

23) Border Patrol Agent – $63,550

24) Medical Technician- $59,840

25) Customs Inspector – $59,248

Source: Office of Personnel Management

After Careers With U.S. Armed Forces And Fema This Couple Opens Their Own Business

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McDuffie,Sharron, Rodney, Lee's Summit, MO

After Rodney and Sharron McDuffie retired from long and successful careers that included both the U.S. Armed Forces and the U.S. Government, the Raymore couple was looking for an attractive business opportunity to bolster their pension income.

So on April 15, Rodney, “61 years young,” and Sharron, “59 years younger,” as they note, officially opened for business as franchise owners with Floor Coverings International, whose representatives visit customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Floor Coverings International Lee’s Summit serves customers throughout greater Kansas City.

Sharron retired after 30 years with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), where she was a Technological Hazards Specialist assigned to several nuclear power plants throughout Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. Rodney retired from the U.S. Navy with 25 years as a Yeoman Administrator before joining the Department of Immigration, where he spent more than a decade before retiring as an Immigration Supervisor this past February. “We had started talking about what we would be doing in life with retirement approaching and looking forward to living the lifestyle we were comfortable in after more than 30 years working for the government,” Sharron said. “And we were not sure that once we retired on a government pension, if it would be enough. We are still pretty young and in good health, so we started looking for a business we could purchase that also offered plenty of flexibility, such as being able to work from home when we wanted to.”

In Floor Coverings International, the McDuffies found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations.

The McDuffies are also very excited about having the opportunity for their children to play a role in the business. Their oldest son, who just earned his master’s degree in Public Affairs, is “more excited than my husband and myself,” said Sharron, while their youngest son, who just graduated from high school, is looking forward to joining one of their flooring installation teams where he will gain the necessary experience to later become a Project Manager or Design Associate. A daughter, currently a middle school biology teacher, might join the business as an office manager or Design Associate while her husband is assisting with local marketing. “Since we have been up and running, the whole family is seeing what a great opportunity it is by joining or just participating in this family business,” Sharron said.

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com.

What You Need to Know About WBENC Certification

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professional woman sitting at desk in office smiling

Not only is the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the United States, but it is also one of four organizations approved by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) certification, as part of the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program.

Each year, the federal government sets a goal to award at least 5 percent of all federal contracting dollars to certified Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs), particularly in industries where WOSBs are underrepresented. Becoming a certified WOSB and joining the SBA’s contracting program ensures your business is eligible to compete for federal contracts set aside for this program.

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible for WOSB certification, your company must:

  • Be at least 51 percent, unconditionally and directly, owned and controlled by one or more women, who are U.S. citizens.
  • Be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with the SBA’s size standards for that industry. Use the SBA’s Size Standards Tool to check your industry.
  • Have women manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions.

What Are the Benefits?

Becoming a certified WOSB and participating in the SBA’s WOSB contracting program allows your business to compete for federal contracts within a more limited pool of other qualified WOSBs, thereby increasing your chances of winning business.

These contracts are for industries where WOSBs are underrepresented. Check out the SBA’s list of eligible industries and their NAICS codes.

How Do I Get Started?

If you are already a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), you can easily apply for WOSB certification as part of your recertification process at no additional charge.

Before starting the application process, please review the criteria for certification and ensure you meet the SBA’s size standards for your industry. When you are applying for recertification, select “Yes” to the WOSB certification question and upload the documents labeled “WOSB Applicants.”

If you are a women-owned business and not yet certified by WBENC, take a moment to read about the benefits of WBENC Certification to see if it is a fit for your business. WBENC is the nation’s largest certifier of women-owned businesses and our world-class certification standard is accepted by more than 1,000 corporations representing America’s most prestigious brands. If you choose to apply for WBENC certification, you can apply for WOSB certification at the same time.

It’s important to note that once you receive your WOSB certification, you still must complete additional steps to participate in the WOSB Federal Contracting program, including providing proof of certification information through certify.SBA.gov, and updating your business profile at SAM.gov to show contracting officers that your business is in the women’s contracting program. Check out SBA.gov for details.

Where Can I Learn More?

  • Visit wbenc.org/government for details on the WOSB certification process, documentation required, and frequently asked questions.
  • For more information about the SBA’s WOSB Federal Contracting program, visit SBA.gov.

Explosive: Former Theater Major, Now Navy Bomb Squad Leader, Is Real-Life Action Hero

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When Hollywood makes movies featuring female soldiers and sailors, those characters typically have some improbable combination of strength, intelligence, grace and courage. Throw in a quirky backstory – She studied theatre! She plays clarinet! – and you have the makings of a perfect, albeit unrealistic, female military action hero. 

But these women do exist. America’s Navy is filled with them, and few have a more interesting story than Ensign Brianne “Brie” Coger, a 10-year Navy veteran who was one of just 12 female enlisted Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) technicians in the entire fleet before earning her commission in 2018.

EODs are part of the Navy’s elite Special Warfare community. This is the territory of Navy SEALs – exceptional men and women who have the intelligence, physical fitness, and drive to rise to the top. It’s work that demands a state of mind marked by extreme courage and capability under fire.

Quirky background

Coger grew up in Staten Island, New York. She excelled in sports, particularly swimming, and still holds some swimming records at her high school. A talented musician, she also played clarinet with the school orchestra and marching band. Later, at the University of Miami (Fla.), she studied theater and dreamed of becoming a Hollywood stunt woman.

Coger spent two challenging years after college working odd jobs back home in New York, trying to pursue an acting career. When the opportunities fizzled, Coger looked for a different kind of challenge and found it in the Navy.

Nothing typical

“What I love about EOD is that there is no typical day,” she said. “Whether we’re going out to do some diving and an underwater detonation, or we have to go to a remote location in the mountains to do some IED training, or just working a chemical or biological problem in a laboratory situation – there’s nothing typical about any of that, and that’s exactly what I needed in my life.”

EODs are the world’s ultimate bomb squad, trained to disarm conventional bombs, mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and chemical – even nuclear – weapons. They perform some of the most harrowing, dangerous work on earth to keep others from harm’s way — but that was precisely what appealed to Coger.

150506-N-CW570-290
AQABA, Jordan (May 6, 2015) Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Brie Coger, assigned to Commander, Task Group 56.1, discusses anti-improvised explosive device techniques with Jordanian and United Arab Emirati military personnel at the Royal Jordanian Naval Base in Aqaba during exercise Eager Lion 2015. Eager Lion is a recurring multinational exercise designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships, increase interoperability between partner nations, and enhance regional security and stability. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Arthurgwain L. Marquez/Released)

“I was really drawn to EOD because I wanted to be part of a protective force,” she said. “You still get to do all the cool stuff, but an EOD doesn’t go out and cause trouble; they’re there to make the situation better. That really spoke to me.”

Forging ahead

Coger says she’s never felt that her gender was an issue in her Navy career. In fact, she has enjoyed tremendous success in a relatively short time, rising to chief petty officer – a senior enlisted rate – in just eight years before being selected for officer training in 2017. After more than a decade as an enlisted Sailor, Coger earned her commission in 2018 after completing Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. Coger has since graduated from the exclusive Navy Dive School in Florida and is now in San Diego getting ready to deploy. Her first assignment as a new officer? Leading a platoon of EOD Techs – the same people she worked with as an enlisted sailor.

“People think that joining the military means giving up things, but I’ve never seen it like that,” she said. “You aren’t losing something; you are gaining opportunities. The biggest thing that has helped me in my career is saying yes; embracing whatever’s out there and keeping my eyes and ears open to what’s possible.”

Forge your own path. Go to Navy.com

Navy To Launch First All-Female Flyover To Honor Pioneer Fighter Pilot Rosemary Mariner

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Capt. Rosemary Mariner, one of the first female fighter jet pilots, died last week of ovarian cancer.

For the first time in military history, the Navy is deploying a ceremonial flyover with only female jet pilots to honor the death of retired Capt. Rosemary Mariner, the Navy’s first woman to fly a tactical fighter jet.

The flyover will take place during Mariner’s funeral service in Maynardville, Tennessee, on Saturday. The aeronautic display is known as a missing man flyover traditionally held in honor of pilots or military personnel.

Mariner, 65, died Jan. 24 after a five-year fight against ovarian cancer.

An aeronautics graduate of Purdue University, Mariner joined the Navy in 1973 after being one of eight of the first women to be admitted into military pilot training. During her military career, Mariner made history as the first woman to fly a tactical fighter jet ― specifically an A-4C and A-7E, according to her obituary ― and the first woman to command a military aviation squadron.

She earned a master’s in national security strategy from the National War College in Washington, D.C., and went on to serve in the Pentagon with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Her obituary noted that Mariner was grateful to the pioneers who paved the way for her career to flourish.

“My role models were African-American men who had led the vanguard in integration of race in the armed forces and studied many of the lessons that they had to pass on,” Mariner once said, according to NPR.

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

Kamala Harris Joins Democratic Presidential Field

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Senator Kamala Harris, the California Democrat and barrier-breaking prosecutor who became the second black woman to serve in the United States Senate, declared her candidacy for president on Monday, joining an increasingly crowded and diverse field in what promises to be a wide-open nomination process.

The announcement was bathed in symbolism: Ms. Harris chose to enter the race on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, an overt nod to the historic nature of her candidacy, and her timing was also meant to evoke Shirley Chisholm, the New York congresswoman who became the first woman to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president 47 years ago this week.

In addition, Ms. Harris will hold her first campaign event on Friday in South Carolina, where black voters are the dominant force in the Democratic primary, rather than start off by visiting Iowa and New Hampshire, the two predominantly white states that hold their nomination contests first. She will hold a kickoff rally Sunday in Oakland, Calif., her hometown.

For the first time, the Democratic presidential race now includes several high-profile women, with Ms. Harris joining two other prominent senators who have announced candidacies, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New YorkRepresentative Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat, has also said she is running, and more women could enter the race in the coming weeks.

Ms. Harris made her announcement on “Good Morning America” and also released a video aimed at supporters and other Democrats.

“The future of our country depends on you, and millions of others, lifting our voices to fight for our American values,” Ms. Harris said in the video. She also debuted a campaign slogan that played off her background as a prosecutor: “Kamala Harris, for the people.”

Continue onto The New York Times to read the complete article.

‘Si, Se Puede’: With Inauguration, Latina Legislators Make History In Congress

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Congress’s youngest member, its first two Texan Latinas and first South American were sworn in on Thursday.

The youngest woman ever elected to Congress, first South American and first two Latinas from Texas: With their inauguration on Thursday, a group of Hispanic women made history in the 116th Congress.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., enters the Congress as its youngest woman elected and its current youngest member. Ocasio-Corterz, 29, of Puerto Rican descent, beat a veteran Democratic incumbent in the primaries with a grassroots campaign focusing on progressive policies such as “Medicare for all” as well as free higher education or trade school for all. She has publicly said she willoppose her own party’s rules against deficit spending if it takes money away from areas such as health care.

On Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted out a picture of her and other incoming women legislators with the phrase “Si, se puede,” (Yes, we can), the words that were coined by labor activist and United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta and then immortalized by President Barack Obama during his campaign.

Another women in the picture is Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, one of two Latinas who are the first to represent Texas in Congress.

Escobar takes the place of Beto O’Rourke, also a Democrat, in representing Texas’ 16th Congressional District, which includes the heavily Latino border area of El Paso. She was previously a county commissioner and county judge.

On Twitter, Escobar took on Trump’s insistence on $5 billion for a border wall — which has led to the current government shutdown — by writing that “the border has never been more secure” and “immigration is lower today than it was a decade ago.” Escobar instead argued for the need to work with Central American countries to address the root causes of migration.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Lauren Underwood is the youngest black woman to serve in Congress

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The 32-year-old registered nurse is one of three Democrats from Illinois sworn in to the House on Thursday.

Lauren Underwood, a Democrat from Naperville, Illinois, became the youngest black woman in history to be sworn in to the House of Representatives on Thursday afternoon.

Underwood, 32, a registered nurse with two master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University, began her political career as a policy professional in the Obama administration in 2014. Two years later, she became a senior adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services where she worked to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Underwood announced her candidacy in Illinois’s 14th Congressional District in August 2017 on a platform of expanding job opportunities, investing in infrastructure and improving the ACA. She defeated the incumbent Republican, Randy Hultgren, in the Nov. 6 election, garnering 52.5 percent of the vote.

“Are you excited to make history?,” Underwood was asked Thursday afternoon as she posed for pictures on her way to the Capitol.

“A moment in history,” Underwood responded, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Underwood is one of the three Illinois Democrats who were sworn into the House on Thursday; the other two are Sean Casten and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Her appointment means that Democrats now have a 13-5 advantage over Republicans in Illinois’ House delegation.

For her, losing was never an option.

“I learned to be a black woman in this community,” Underwood toldThe New York Times in July. “This is my home, and the idea that I might not be a good fit is an idea I never gave a lot of consideration to.”

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Dr. Gladys West, Who Helped Develop The GPS, Inducted Into Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame

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This “hidden figure” is finally getting her due praise.

A “hidden figure” in the development of GPS technology has officially been honored for her work.Mathematician Dr. Gladys West was recognized for doing the computing responsible for creating the Geographical Positioning System, more commonly referred to as the GPS.

On December 6, the 87-year-old woman was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame by the United States Air Force during a ceremony at the Pentagon.

The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority member, born in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, earned a full scholarship to Virginia State University after graduating high school at the top of her class. Gwen James, her sorority sister, told The Associated Press she discovered her longtime friend’s achievements when she was compiling a bio for senior members of the group.

“GPS has changed the lives of everyone forever,” James said. “There is not a segment of this global society — military, auto industry, cell phone industry, social media, parents, NASA, etc. — that does not utilize the Global Positioning System.”

Dr. West spent 42 years working on the naval base at Dahlgren, Virginia. During this time, she was one of the few women hired by the military to do advanced technological work. During the early 1960s, she was commissioned by the U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory to support research around Pluto’s motion. From the mid-1970s to the 1980s, her computing work on a geodetic Earth model led to what became the first GPS orbit.

“This involved planning and executing several highly complex computer algorithms which have to analyze an enormous amount of data,” Ralph Neiman, her supervisor who recommended her for commendation in 1979, said. “You have used your knowledge of computer applications to accomplish this in an efficient and timely manner.”

Continue onto Blavity to read the complete article.

America’s first female Soldiers on screen for WWI centennial

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When Jim Theres first read about the “Hello Girls” of World War I, he knew the story of America’s first female Soldiers needed to be told on the silver screen.

So the Veterans Affairs employee set out on his own time to produce and direct an award-winning documentary, “The Hello Girls: The Army’s Special Weapon in World War I.”

The film was shown Saturday as part of activities surrounding the grand re-opening of the Army Women’s Museum at Fort Lee, Virginia.

Prior to that, the film won best documentary feature last month at the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

Broadcast journalist Cokie Roberts also introduced the film Oct. 8 at the Washington Convention Center during the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition.

“I had never heard of the ‘Hello Girls’ and I write women’s history,” Roberts said. “That shouldn’t be.”

UNTOLD STORY

In 1918, the U.S. Army Signal Corps sent 223 women to France as telephone operators for the American Expeditionary Forces. They donned Army uniforms and swore an oath of allegiance. They often operated near the front lines, connecting calls between trenches, and they endured artillery barrages. Two of them died and were buried in France.

Yet, when the rest of the women returned to the states, they were told they were not eligible for veteran’s benefits, until an act of Congress changed that in 1977.

Now their story has finally been fully documented.

Theres had already produced one documentary film when he decided in May 2017 the time was right to look for a World War I story because the 100th anniversary of America’s participation in the war was coming up.

“I Googled by accident … I meant to do World War I men, but I accidentally typed World War I women and I looked at the screen.” A webpage popped up about Elizabeth Cobbs’ book published last year: “The Hello Girls — America’s First Women Soldiers.”

Continue onto The Army to read the complete article.