NAVSUP Headquarters Celebrates Women's History Month

Story Number: NNS140321-01Release Date: 3/21/2014 1:30:00 AM

By David Rea, Naval Supply Systems Command Headquarters Public Affairs

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (NNS) -- Naval Supply Systems (NAVSUP) Command Headquarters sponsored a Women's History Month program for military and civilian personnel March 20.

This year's theme is, "Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment," which honors the extraordinary and often unrecognized determination and tenacity of women.

Rear Adm. Jonathan A. Yuen, commander, Naval Supply Systems Command and chief of Supply Corps, began the ceremony by reminding those who attended that, "We must recognize the victories, struggles, and stories of the women who have made our country what it is today." He added that it wasn't until his grandmother immigrated to the United States and put down roots that got his family started.

"I think looking back at America's history and seeing history made before our eyes in the Middle East brings this theme to life," Yuen said. "It does take the character, courage and commitment of women to put everyone on a path to success. Retired Supply Corps Rear Adm. Kathleen Dussault saw this firsthand in Iraq when she served as commander, Joint Contracting Command Iraq/Afghanistan, headquartered in Baghdad, Iraq.

While there, she worked tirelessly to help women-owned small business succeed," he said. "By holding symposiums where these women could garner the information they needed to be successful and educating them on a one-on-one basis about the power they had to help their families and country succeed, she contributed significantly to the success of stabilization in that region."

Yuen then introduced guest speaker Naomi Silver, founder of Alcyone Consulting, Inc., a small women-owned business which provides expertise in program, acquisition, and procurement management. The title of her speech was, "Women's history ... let's change the future!"

She said she conducted research on the Mechanicsburg area and a role it played in women's history. "The Navy recognized the need for inland bases before the start of World War II, and Mechanicsburg was the home of the Naval Supply Depot, including the Radio Material Office, Spare Part Distribution Center, Carlisle Barracks, Central Navy Disbursing Office, and Industry Cooperation Division Liaison," she said. "The workforce on the home front was beginning to face a labor shortage, and states in the highest bracket of GI mobilization, like Pennsylvania, had to rely heavily on female labor, which eventually made up nearly 30 percent of the national work force."

Silver said she remembered studying about Harriett Tubman in elementary school, and the role she played with the Underground Railroad. "She once said that, 'I was the conductor of the underground railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can't say, I never ran my train off the track, and I never lost a passenger.' Can you imagine the courage, commitment and character required to free more than 1,000 slaves?"

She then explained that she had a "real life influence" as well. Beth Gordon was one of 81 women in a class of nearly 1,000 men admitted to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1976, after laws changed in late 1975 allowing women to join the military academies. Gordon and Silver were from the same small town in West Virginia.

"I will never forget seeing her story in the local paper, and thinking that if she can go to the U.S. Naval Academy, I can certainly achieve anything I want to achieve," Silver explained. "I did not personally know Beth, but I knew so much about her. After all these years, I finally got to thank her for having the courage, character and commitment to forge this path for all women."

She also brought up that throughout her career, there times when she felt that her managers did not think she was the right person for the job, and was provided assistance by male peers, even though she was successfully executing the task. "When I pushed back, I was told I had sharp elbows," Silver explained. "This was by no means a positive assessment of my abilities. I even had a male supervisor take and receive credit for my work, and this is what led me to start my own business."

Silver added that she did not believe it would be hard to be successful, and felt that having a strong work ethic was 99 percent of what it took to be successful, "But I was definitely wrong," she said. She began her business during the economic downturn in late 2007, and was challenged by banks not lending money. "I had to leave a bank I had been with for 20 years to find a bank to support me," Silver explained.

In closing, Silver said that while women have made great strides in supporting courageous and committed women of character, "We can do more ... educate, communicate, and advocate," she said.

Yuen presented Silver with a plaque in appreciation of her speech.

The NAVSUP and Navy Supply Corps team share one mission-to deliver sustained global logistics capabilities to the Navy and Joint warfighter. NAVSUP/Navy Supply Corps' diverse team of more than 25,000 civilian and military personnel oversee a diverse portfolio including supply chain management for material support to Navy, Marine Corps, joint and coalition partners, supply operations, conventional ordnance, contracting, resale, fuel, transportation, security assistance, and quality of life issues for the naval forces, including food service, postal services, Navy Exchanges, and movement of household goods. The NAVSUP/Navy Supply Corps team forms a vast network of professionals who deliver unparalleled products and services to customers in the fleet and across the world.

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