RICKENBACKER AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ohio --
U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Tamara Gonzales, a First Sergeant with the 121st Air Refueling Wing, Ohio National Guard, participated in a Veterans panel discussion for women Mar. 10, 2017 at the Ohio History Center in Columbus, Ohio. The discussion was sponsored by the Ohio Department of Veterans Services in honor of Women's History Month.
Gonzales currently resides in Columbus, Ohio and has served in the military for 24 years. In addition to the Ohio Air National Guard, she also served for five years in the U.S. Army Reserve.
“Joining the military gave me a purpose, it gave me discipline, it gave me structure and it made me proud,” said Gonzales. “I'm a caretaker by nature – that's what I do. I love to lift folks up – that's why I became a First Sergeant.”
Gonzales is a Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and has served on numerous deployments, including to Turkey, Egypt, Qatar and Guam. As the Wing First Sergeant at the 121st Air Refueling Wing, she is responsible for the morale, welfare and conduct of all enlisted members in the Wing.
The panelists, who were all women from Ohio, discussed various subjects, such as their reasons for joining the armed forces and the unique challenges they faced as women in the military. Including Gonzales, there were six women who served on the panel and their service ranged from World War II to Vietnam to Operation Desert Storm and the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also serving on the panel was Ruby Gilliam of Minerva, Roberta Mershon of Canal Winchester, Elva Pounders of Akron, Angela Beltz of Reynoldsburg and K.J. Russ of Warren.
“It was an honor to be invited to speak on behalf of women Veterans and it was an honor to share my story,” said Gonzales. “Hopefully I can inspire another woman to consider the military or even to encourage their daughters to join.”