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She joined the Army as a teen. Now she's making sure other women thrive in uniform.

Posted at 5:30 PM, Mar 21, 2024

PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Va. -- Staff Sgt Iyana Burwell was a 17-year-old high school graduate when she signed up to join the U.S. Army. More than a decade later, Burwell is stationed at Fort Gregg-Adams in Virginia where she serves as an Army Parachute Rigger.

"We ensure that our jumpers can get into the fighter and where they need to be much quicker," she said.

Burwell said military jobs can sometimes be tougher on females. She hopes to set a positive example as both a military leader and a mentor.

"Being a mentor to young females will be, sometimes, the difference of them thriving in the Army and just barely getting by," Staff Sgt. Burwell said. "So everything that I know, I try to pour into the young female soldiers."

Staff Sgt Iyana Burwell
Staff Sgt Iyana Burwell

"Being a female in the Army, you go through some adversities," Staff Sergeant Krystal Campos said.

Campos said she was grateful for the military women who came before and helped blaze the trail.

Staff Sergeant Krystal Campos
Staff Sergeant Krystal Campos

"Those ladies were tough, I can tell you that," she said. "Obviously they’ve paved the way for me to even have the opportunity and privilege to serve in the United States Army."

Captain Melissa Chizek has a special connection to the first women who served.

"My great-grandmother, on my mother's side, was one of the first 100 women in the Navy," Chizek said. "So that’s a point of pride for me as well.”

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Captain Melissa Chizek

More than 2 million women were active duty service members in 2022. That's more than 17 percent of the total U.S. Military. That number jumps to nearly 22 percent once female reserves are added to the total.

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