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Luncheon honors women

A volunteer committee, comprised of female Airmen from various units around base, recently hosted a luncheon honoring Women’s History Month, March 29. With the month of March being steadily observed as Women’s History Month since the late 1980s, the luncheon served as an informal gathering at which guests could contemplate the positive impact women have made to the country -- through public and government service.  (U.S. Air Force graphic by Jan Kays/Released)

A volunteer committee, comprised of female Airmen from various units around base, recently hosted a luncheon honoring Women’s History Month, March 29. With the month of March being steadily observed as Women’s History Month since the late 1980s, the luncheon served as an informal gathering at which guests could contemplate the positive impact women have made to the country -- through public and government service. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Jan Kays/Released)

Members of Team V gather for a buffet-style luncheon honoring Women’s History Month, March 29, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. With the month of March being steadily observed as Women’s History Month since the late 1980s, the luncheon served as an informal gathering at which guests could contemplate the positive impact women have made to the country -- through public and government service.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Phipps/Released)

Members of Team V gather for a buffet-style luncheon honoring Women’s History Month, March 29, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. With the month of March being steadily observed as Women’s History Month since the late 1980s, the luncheon served as an informal gathering at which guests could contemplate the positive impact women have made to the country -- through public and government service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Phipps/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Schultz, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron NCOIC of emergency management, presents Donna Rathbun, 30th Space Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, with a certificate of appreciation for being the guest speaker at a Women’s History Month luncheon, March 29, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. In addition to being the wing’s SARC, Rathbun also happens to be one of the Air Force’s first female firefighters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Phipps/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Schultz, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron NCOIC of emergency management, presents Donna Rathbun, 30th Space Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, with a certificate of appreciation for being the guest speaker at a Women’s History Month luncheon, March 29, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. In addition to being the wing’s SARC, Rathbun also happens to be one of the Air Force’s first female firefighters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Phipps/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A volunteer committee, comprised of Airmen from various units around base, recently hosted a luncheon honoring Women's History Month, here, March 29.

With the month of March being steadily observed as Women's History Month since the late 1980s, the luncheon served as an informal gathering at which guests could contemplate the positive impact women have made to the country -- through public and government service. 

"This year's theme focuses on women who have shaped our country's history, and future, with their contributions to public and government service," said Tech. Sgt. Jessica Bundles, 30th Space Wing Judge Advocate NCOIC of civil law, and member of the luncheon committee. "Some of the honorees this year are, Daisy Bates, a civil rights organizer, Ella Grasso, the first woman governor of any U.S. state to be elected in her own right and Barbara Milkuski, the longest serving woman in the U.S. congress."

In addition to a buffet-style lunch provided by the Pacific Coast Club, the luncheon included a speech by the 30th Space Wing's Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, who also happens to be one of the Air Force's first female firefighters.

"I ended up joining when I was still a senior in high school, (in 1979)," said Donna Rathbun, 30th SW SARC. "The recruiter told me they had just began allowing women into the fire department. He asked if I wanted to be a firefighter and asked if I could lift 40 pounds. I was able to do it no problem, and soon the first lesson I learned in the Air Force was how to run into a burning building - instead of away from one. Now as the SARC, I really run toward people who may be emotionally compromised, when some people tend to run away from that, so in many ways my original training has served me well."

For event organizers, the selection of a speaker who has persevered through a time of gender integration and paved the way for others, was an essential component to the overall experience.

"It's critical for all members to learn from women's roles, struggles and successes," said Bundles. "We can all draw inspiration from the women who came before us and those remarkable women who are working among us today. These lessons are an opportunity for Airmen to see that excellence is not bound by gender or ethnicity."

Rathbun concluded her speech by emphasizing the importance of overcoming fear and challenged the audience to stand together, regardless of gender, to make a positive difference in the Air Force.

"Fear stops us from making progress," said Rathbun. "Fear stops us from doing what we think and believe to be right. So, why did I join the Air Force when I was 17? Because I (thought I) was too 'stupid' and too 'poor' to go to college, yet I stand here before you with a master's degree, and I'm here today because of education -- which I knew I had to have. So, my message to all of you is don't let fear win. I'm still in service to the Air Force and it's because I know I'm making a positive difference. Are we going to let fear guide us, or are we going to say, 'we can do this'? Because together we can. Male or female - we can make the changes we need to make in our Air Force."

Committee members deemed the event a success and hope to continue to honor women by making it an annual occurrence.

"This was Team V's first Women's History Month luncheon and we were very excited to be part of the beginning of something big," said Bundles. "We hope to make this an annual event and use it as an opportunity for Team V to showcase the importance of our diverse history."