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Women's Veterans Conference held

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by Heather Hauswirth

Guam - "We've come a long ways and I'm very proud of our services and the Department of Defense. Looking around the room today, my heart just swells and it's just a good feeling," said Lieutenant Colonel Ly Fectau with the U.S. Marine Corps.  Women in service from all branches of the military listened closely to her heartfelt words at the 44th Women's Veterans Conference this afternoon.

As the current commander of Defense Distribution Depot Guam, Marianas Islands. Lt. Col. Fecteau reflected on the challenges and strides women have made in the military since she enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1988. 

Despite these challenges, women like Lt. Col. Michele Rocco, a career pilot of the U.S. Air Force, has never allowed being a woman to stand in the way of her dreams, saying, "It is a commitment and gender doesn't play into that commitment level. Obviously, being a woman has had significant impact on my abilities to achieve in certain areas until I figured out a way to do that achievement."

For a younger generation of women in service it's not always smooth sailing. For Lt. Rita Lynn Anderson, who works as a medical detachment in the Army National Guard, there are still times when she feels her gender is an obstacle.  "As a female, maybe people are wanting you to fail so you feel like you have to prove yourself more so than you need to, because you don't want to show you are weaker or cant handle what males can do," she said.

But Kentucky native Lt. Jg Tara Fuller who does search and rescue with the U.S. Coast Guard, says it's been a rewarding experience overall.  "Historically, women were not involved in it, but I wouldn't say it's the only way I feel empowered because I'm a woman in the military, but it's contributed to some of my confidence," she said.

And after spending the first part of her career working alongside men on Wall Street while studying at New York University,  Lt. Jg Allison Wagner, an intel officer in the Navy, says she's grateful to be part of something larger than herself and to have the chance to serve.  "I knew joining I'd be in the minority, but at least I go into work every day and I'm proud of what I do and proud to serve with the men and women I have the opportunity to serve with and I hope me and other women can inspire other people along the way who want to be part of something bigger than themselves," she said.

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