Ranger School grad 'wanted to prove that women aren't so weak'

Ranger School grad 'wanted to prove that women aren't so weak'

by Glynn A. Hill
Houston Chronicle
She had been out of active duty since 2007 when the Army's challenging Ranger School opened to women last year.
Then an engineer for Shell in Houston with a husband and two children, Lisa Jaster laughed at the idea of putting a uniform on again. She thought it wasn't realistic.
A year later, a 37-year-old Jaster graduated from Ranger School -- considered one of the most grueling military programs in the world -- as just the third female graduate and the first female Army Reserve officer with the distinction.
On Saturday, Jaster addressed the 75th training command during the final day of their Commanding General Summit at Ellington Field in southeast Houston. She shared her story and spoke about her experiences, challenges and fondest memories from the past year.
Jaster said many were supportive of her effort to attend Ranger School, but some suggested she consider worrying more about raising her children and forgoing whatever goals she may have for herself.
"That was a gut punch, but how could I leave my family?" she remembers thinking.
But she said her family gained something when she left.
She uses it as an example of why officers should strive to plan and pursue becoming the best they can be.
Wed to a Marine, Jaster previously served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
She described herself as an active person, a trait that factored into her decision to go to Ranger School.
She said her initial reason was to prove that she could match her male counterparts and to set an example for her children, until her purpose took on a greater meaning.
"I wanted to prove that women aren't so weak," she said, joking that not every man is cut out for everything, like the NFL.
She wants to leave a message that people should be afforded opportunities because of their merits and not looked over because of their skin color or personal preferences.
"The hardest part about Ranger School has been understanding the impact of people I've never met," Jaster said, noting that her accomplishment re-opened the conversation about how others, whether distinguished by race, orientation or religious beliefs, can reach certain heights if they're shown the same opportunities.
"It's been a very educational process for me," she said, adding that she hadn't anticipated the intersectional nature of her achievement.
"The No. 1 message would be 'Delete the adjective,'" she said. "But don't be your own worst enemy, so for women that means go out there and be your best and show your worth. Be a part of the solution."
James Young, commanding officer of the 75th training command, found Jaster's story inspirational.
"It's a great story about resiliency, intuitiveness, overcoming obstacles, and I think it's important for anyone in the Army or wherever to hear it," he said.
(c) 2016 the Houston Chronicle. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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