If it’s one thing that 2LT Tracci Dorgan-Bandy can appreciate about her career with the Army National Guard, it’s the chances she’s had to try different things.
In her 16 years of service, her military occupational specialties (MOS), or Guard jobs, have taken her from repairing radio systems to recruiting to becoming a photojournalist and community relations specialist – all because of the number of opportunities available.
“The Guard has opened so many doors for me, so many opportunities. I’ve never had anybody shut a door in my face in the Guard.”
2LT Dorgan-Bandy recently opened a door that had been previously closed to female Soldiers. In 2014, she became the first female Artillery Officer in the South Carolina National Guard.
The U.S. military has been opening up more combat-oriented roles to women since 2013. In December 2015, Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter announced that all military jobs would be open to women, including Special Forces, such as the Army Rangers and Navy SEALs, as long as they qualified for those positions.
With two war zone deployments already under her belt, 2LT Dorgan-Bandy, a Fire Direction Officer, is undaunted by the potential for danger in this more battlefield-oriented MOS.
“I guess it’s like any job, really, nowadays. You can be in the line of fire in any position. So, now I’m just delivering some fires also – big ones.”
As the person in charge of the Fire Direction Center, “It’s my job to finalize the safety of the round before I let my gun fire.”
Her Unit operates paladins, essentially large howitzers on tracks.
One of the most important things 2LT Dorgan-Bandy brings to the job is leadership skills, which she feels she already had – they were just enhanced by the Guard.
“I was always quiet, so the Guard definitely made me not quiet,” she says. “I always had strong direction, but the Guard made me louder.”
2LT Dorgan-Bandy does not expect the integration of women into combat jobs to be without its challenges. Her advice is for female Soldiers to be aware of and fully prepared for the physical and mental requirements, or else, “you’re going to look like a fool if you’re not ready, or somebody’s going to be tempted to bend the standards so that you can make it through, and that’s not right.”
“It needs to be standards-based, not gender-based.”