Many of Female soldiers who made history as the first women to complete Ranger School are still in the Army, making history a second time as some of the Infantry’s first female officers.
Captain Kristen Griest and Captain Shaye Haver are currently on their way to being some of the Army’s first permanent female infantry officers, crediting chance decisions, hard work and the ability to handle backlash from many who didn’t want them to succeed.
“So West Point was an opportunity that I saw, if I just performed well and did everything I could to set conditions to join the infantry whenever it did open – and West Point seemed like the place to do that,” Griest said.
For Haver, being in the infantry was never the first option. Originally wanting to fly, she took a chance at Ranger school after her commander told her her physical fitness was well above average.
“And his first question to me was if I wanted to go to Ranger school,” Haver said. “And I was shocked, I had never thought about it before.”
Greist, who finished in the top third of many events prior to Ranger school and became an Military Policewoman after completing it, was initially put off that she was not able to join the infantry after earning her tab- until a colonel told her not to give up.
“He really flipped the switch for me, in terms of thinking I was just this woman trying to do these things, and everybody expecting me to fail,” Griest. “Whereas he was like, ‘No, I expect you to do these things and I expect you to succeed.’ If I didn’t want to go to Ranger school, I was wrong.”
When an opportunity came, Greist took it. From beating men in physical fitness to going to Jumpmaster School and becoming a Ranger Instructor, the young officer was determined not to fade into obscurity- not to let the chance at being an Infantryman slip by.
“Realizing that every unit I go to, to them I am what women in combat arms looks like,” she said. “And any mistake I make suddenly completely discredits all of the women that are going to come after me.”
According to the Army Times, both Griest and Haver eventually got their chances, joining a pilot program for female infantry officers with the legendary 82nd Airborne Division.
Shortly after, the two ladies continued to push themselves in order to earn the respect of their troops.
“As soon as you take an [Army Physical Fitness Test], the conversation stops. If you beat everybody on the APFT, they cannot say anything to you,” Griest said. “And a lot of guys came up to me afterward and said, ‘You know, ma’am, I wasn’t sure about this, but you smoked me on the APFT, so I guess I can’t say anything.’ “
“When we’re willing and we do the same things with them every day, that’s what they want to see,” Haver said.
Haver is currently due to take on command of a company next month.
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