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While women have served in the Army since its incarnation, women Soldiers have been missing from the army of children’s imaginations.Until now.The little green Army man, who faces combat in backyards, bedrooms and backseats will finally be joined by the little green Army woman.
A toy manufacturer recently announced that his company will be producing little green Army women figurines. He was inspired by a 7-year-old Arkansas girl who sent him a letter asking why there were no women in her package of little green Army men.Lt. Col. Elizabeth Behring was an early patron of the Kickstarter campaign which funded the little green Army woman. Behring, formerly of Army Materiel Command Public Affairs, is chief of public affairs for the 75th Innovation Command, Army Reserve in Houston, Texas. She shared why the project was personal for her.“I heard about the little green Army women initiative through a news article in November 2019 and immediately went to the Kickstarter page to read more details on what exactly it was all about. I think I waited a day to decide what reward package I wanted, but that was just semantics, I was backing this project! For what it’s worth, this was the first and only time I’ve ever backed anything. I am number 411 out of 1,238 backers who pledged a total of $55,401 to get the project off the ground. Of course, many, many more people have contributed since it was funded, but I’m delighted to say – humblebrag – that I helped made it happen in the first place.“The project was officially backed Dec. 17, 2019, which, incidentally, is both the 20-year anniversary of when I graduated advanced individual training at the Defense Information School and the 15-year anniversary of when I graduated from the Chemical Officer Basic Course at Fort Leonard Wood (Missouri).
“Why did I contribute? Well, my dad is a retired Air Force officer, and we come from a long line of those who served, from the Revolutionary War through Korea – my direct ancestors came over on the Mayflower. So, my brother and I were very fortunate to grow up in places where we were free to play outside until the streetlights came on and then tag or hide and seek with the neighbor kids during the summer after dinner. My parents were big on letting kids be kids, so my brother and I built, in retrospect, extremely shoddy forts and treehouses from scrap lumber, one of which was deliberately yet terribly hidden in the woods; ambushed each other and the neighbor kid who wouldn’t share his Nintendo, from behind the azalea bushes; and ran around with the only weapon my mother would let us have: a very obviously fake orange rifle.“But that was only part of it. Inside, I was all about my Barbies and would play for hours with them, and of course my one Jem and the Holograms doll would tag along. My brother, like many boys, had dozens upon dozens of these green sets. I didn’t know a single girl who had them, and anyway, I was pretty much indifferent to them because what can you really do with those when you’re eight? Line them up? Knock them down? Whee. I was a girlie but liked to play outside, so it was all about the outfits, my handmade shoebox houses, and posing — actively playing, not combat. But for his birthday once, my brother got these GI Joes that were roughly the size of Barbie. I found myself infuriated there were no women dolls, and he certainly would not let me play.“I think that’s around the time I noticed the injustice. I’m pretty sure most his green troops came from my beloved grandpa, who was a Merchant Marine during WWII, as a sort of nostalgia thing from the five and dime.“I wasn’t the kid who was ever going to join the military. It sincerely never crossed my mind. I was a yearbook editor and in drama and musical theater. I didn’t ‘do’ ROTC; but at 17, I found myself raising my right hand, and my Reserve unit randomly ended up being the first Army unit to deploy to Afghanistan after 9/11. The Rakkasans,101st Airborne Division, 3rd Brigade, actually arrived in the middle of a firefight. My battle buddy and I have the distinction of being the very first female Soldiers from any country to arrive in Afghanistan … but I got off the plane first. We lived in a GP Medium Tent with a pot-belly stove and no electricity or running water long before Kandahar was a fortified base with fast food restaurants and hard-stand quarters, escorting the dozens of embedded media we had at the time past the shallow foxholes the guys ‘at the front line’ were in. And yet, just two decades ago, green Army women were just a flicker in the gentlemen’s eyes who ultimately made them. I was living it.“Women have served for far longer than they’ve actively been given credit for, but today, there is no mistaking our contributions, despite best efforts of some. I’ve deployed three times. I go to the VA for some of my healthcare. I have an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran plate on my cars, and I’m part of several veterans’ organizations. And, of course, I am in the Army Reserve. Yet, I still get told military discounts and events are ‘not for me’ and my bearded husband has lost count how many times he’s thanked as he gets out the car — he served in the German Navy, so they’re not wrong, but they’re incorrect.“Today, my brother has three smart and strong young daughters. They are a sunny glimpse on what the future looks like and it’s exciting. The middle one, who’s seven and shares a lot of my personality, loves seeing photos of me in uniform and telling everyone her aunt is a Soldier. Every day is women’s history month to her — or squirrel month, whatever. I don’t know what they will do with their powers, or if they’ll join, but what I do know is it is vital that children see the reflection of society in their toys and activities, and that includes the military. So, the next time I can see and hug them in-person, post-COVID, they will be getting their very own Army women, plus a couple Rosie the Riveters, for good measure.”
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