My Coast Guard
Commentary | March 4, 2022

Message from the Commandant: Celebrate women who provide healing and hope in March

By MyCG Staff

Capturing the spirit of the times, the 2022 theme for Women's History Month, "Providing Healing, Promoting Hope" recognizes the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers, and recollects the innumerable ways that women of all cultures have discovered and contributed to therapeutics that alleviate despair and solve world health problems. The annual observance, authorized by Presidential Proclamation since 1987, encourages activities throughout the month of March, and spotlights achievements by women to our Nation.

Clara Barton, long before founding the American Red Cross, had already dedicated her life to healing and hope. One of the first women to work for the federal government, she was a recording clerk in the U.S. Patent Office. Shortly after the start of the Civil War, Barton recognized the need to assist soldiers. What began as providing supplies to the soldiers of the Sixth Massachusetts Infantry housed in the unfinished U.S. Capitol, later led to her being known as the "Angel of the Battlefield" as she treated troops at other locations including Fairfax Station, Chantilly, and Fredericksburg, Virginia, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and Antietam, Maryland. Following the war, Barton managed the Office of Missing Soldiers and in 1871 founded the American Red Cross, which continues to provide emergency assistance and disaster relief today.

Women in the Coast Guard also act as healers, caregivers, and providers of hope both on and off duty. Coast Guard Medal recipient Petty Officer Jolyn Williams responded to victims of a landslide while hiking in a park in O'ahu, Hawaii in 1999. She established a makeshift triage area, assisted the injured, and helped prepare them for transportation. Williams supplied water to victims and rescue workers and comforted an injured child.  Today, RADM Dana Thomas, Director of Health, Safety, and Work Life, engages our workforce weekly through the "Wellness Wednesday" series that delivers impactful conversations on physical, mental, and spiritual topics.

Captain Julie Kuck, Chief, Office of Leadership, and her staff established the Coast Guard mentoring program to offer expanded opportunities and connections for our active duty, reserve, and civilian workforce. Petty Officer Third Class Cassandra Castillo, Sector Columbia River, followed her dream of working in the medical field by becoming a Health Services Technician. Like so many others, the dedication and selfless acts of these women affirm that the Coast Guard workforce truly is "United in Service."

All units and individuals are encouraged to participate in events commemorating this observance by organizing programs that highlight the extraordinary achievements of women throughout history and honor women in all facets of life, particularly those healers and caregivers. Conducting activities that honor special observances such as Women's History Month helps us achieve our objectives for promoting equality, dignity, and respect for all members of our workforce. 

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