Two sisters have obtained the rank of general for the first time in the history of the U.S. Army.
USA Today reported that Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett, 53, and sister Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi, 51, both reached the accomplishment in their separate fields.
“Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett and Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi represent the best America has to offer,” Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthyRyan McCarthyTwo-star general at Fort Hood cleared after internal investigation Vice News promotes Micheal Learmonth to editor-in-chief Trump appointee endorses Christine Wormuth as Army secretary MORE told the outlet. "However, this comes as no surprise to those who have known them and loved them throughout this extraordinary journey. This is a proud moment for their families and for the Army.”
Women account for more than 16 percent of the military’s 1.3 million-strong active-duty force, and make up 69 of the 417 generals and admirals.
The 244-year-old Army first allowed women into the ranks in 1901 with the establishment of the Army Nursing Corps. Before that, women served unofficially.
In 2015, the Pentagon opened all military combat roles to women, and since that time more than a dozen women have graduated from the Army’s Ranger School.
Barrett said she joined the Army to largely pay for school and attended the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at Tufts University. She was interested in joining the foreign service afterward. But Barrett stayed in the service and steadily climbed the ranks, commanding a company, then a battalion, then a brigade.
Now a two-star general, she leads the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, which is in charge of managing and defending the Army's information networks.
“When I talk to younger officers, I tell them the reason I joined is not the reason why I stayed,” Barrett told USA Today. “Our democratic experiment, even on its most imperfect day, is worth defending.”
Lodi, meanwhile, attended the Rutgers University ROTC program, received her commission in the medical services corps and planned to be a dietitian as a civilian. But she stayed beyond the 10 years she planned to spend in the service.
She excelled in the medical service corps and is now the deputy chief of staff for operations in the office of the Army's surgeon general.
“The fact that we're sisters, not brothers, I think it's a huge illustration of how far we've come as a service,” Lodi said.
Army chief of staff Gen. James McConville said Barrett and Lodi “are exceptional, proven leaders who’ve distinguished themselves over the course of their careers at various levels of command and during multiple combat tours.”