SPRINGFIELD-BECKLEY AIR GUARD STATION, Ohio --
Col. Rebecca O’ Connor, the joint director of intelligence for the Ohio National Guard, was the keynote speaker for the Women’s History Month observance, March 28, at the Maj. Gen. Robert S. Beightler Armory in Columbus, Ohio.
O’ Connor fulfilled a family tradition when she first enlisted in the military in 1986 as an aircrew life support specialist. Now, after more than 30 years of service, O’ Connor is a brigadier general select. She reflected on how women’s role in the military has changed over time.
“Women’s role in the military has really opened up,” said O’ Connor. “There aren’t any jobs in the military anymore that a woman can’t do.”
O’ Connor discussed how women should take advantage of applying for job openings even if she thinks it may be a long shot as it will lead to more promotions and more prominent leadership positions over a career.
“The military has given me an opportunity to grow in ways I never imagined,” said O’ Connor. “I never dreamed of being a leader, or a commander, or a general and now these things are opportunities I have.”
O’ Connor broke down gender barriers in the military and in life while learning about herself along the way. She not only serves traditionally as the joint director of intelligence for the Ohio National Guard, but is a full-time stay-at-home mom, who is able to successfully balance service to her country with service to her family.
“I never envisioned myself being a leader when I was in high school; it was something that developed through my military experiences,” said O’ Connor. “Being a commander, being a leader is extraordinarily gratifying, and I absolutely love the job I’m doing.”
O’ Connor’s ability to overcome adversity and advance in her career sets an example for women to follow throughout the military, especially for those who may have been told they can’t have it all as a woman.
“I think the military that we have today provides an extraordinary opportunity for all women across all different types of mission sets,” said O’ Connor. “I think that there is tremendous potential for women in the military to exceed any expectation that might be placed on them.”