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Women in the military: Shaw Air Force Base panelists share experiences with community

Four women from Shaw Air Force Base shared their perspectives and experiences with their community at the See Her Empowered Seminar on Wednesday morning.

SUMTER, S.C. — It’s Women’s History Month and Sumter is celebrating the women in its community and highlighting different perspectives. On Wednesday, four women from Shaw Air Force Base spoke with their community to share about what it’s like to serve.

"It is a very unique community and it’s one that you don’t really understand unless you’re in it," Major Evin Greensfelder shares.

Greensfelder is the commander of the 20th Component Maintenance Squadron at Shaw AFB.

"Sometimes it feels like taking care of my squadron and taking care of my family is in a balance or a scale and it constantly kind of tips back and forth and it’s never truly balanced," Greensfelder shared to the room full of women at the See Her Empowered seminar hosted by the Sumter Chamber of Commerce.

Ultimately, Greensfelder says the sacrifice is worth it. She shared about women’s role in the military along with three other panelists, including Chief Master Sergeant Sonia Lee.

"I’ve been married 10 years and in 10 years, we’ve moved 6 years," Lee says about her family.

Lee and the other mothers spoke about the constant moving, and how their families learned to adjust. 

Seminar attendee Gail Lemmon says she learned a lesson from this discussion.

"I think the biggest takeaway is probably how to get military students involved in our community, make them feel welcome," Lemmon details. "So I’m definitely going to take that home to my children."

Each woman on the panel shared about the unique struggles they face, the leadership skills they value and the messages they would like the civilians in their community like Robyn McLeod to know

"It gives us a really good perspective of what they’re dealing with that’s different from what we’re dealing with everyday and it makes us appreciate them more," McLeod explains.

Not only does it help the community appreciate women serving, but attendee Kimberly Richens says it shows how much progress there has been since she served.

"Just to see generationally from when I was in and how it’s going today and just the differences and the similarities but just to have the women up there, because back when I was in it wasn’t quite so many women, so I thought that was good too," Richens tells me.

While civilians walked away with a better understanding of what the military is like for women, the panelists walked away feeling supported.

"Sumter is so supportive of it’s military. Of course, 'uncommon patriotism' being the slogan here is a phenomenal slogan, I think, because I truly do see it every single day and the support that we get and that everybody’s just rallying behind us. But I will say that what we need more of in the world is women supporting women. Doesn’t matter what you wear or what you do, we just need more of that in general," Greensfelder smiles. "Whether you work in a civilian organization or a military one, there’s probably going to be a lot of similarities in terms of challenges or struggles or things that you need to overcome and we can really gather here today to talk about those leadership and teamwork perspectives that will be able to put us all on the same page and maybe we can learn a little bit of something from each other."

Along with the perspective of women serving, panelist Bridie Hicok spoke about her role as a military spouse and shared what it’s like getting to support her husband and the lessons she’s learned.

"I loved hearing a whole different perspective for the military spouses and for the military active members and how they juggle their family and work life," attendee Heather Bass shares. "We all have families at home and careers and so it’s really great to hear that perspective for the military perspective."

Captain Juliana Schroeder also added to the conversation about her experience serving as a single woman, moving from different communities for work.

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