SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Makin Island (LHD 8) Sailors joined the nation in celebrating women's history during the month of March.
This year's theme, "Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government," promotes recognition of women's roles and accomplishments in the armed forces, as well as the achievements and contributions women have made throughout the nation's history.
Makin Island's First Class Petty Officer Association coordinated the month-long celebration.
"It's important that we recognize the women who have served in all of the armed services and pay homage to those who have served before us," said FCPOA President, Yeoman 1st Class Lequisha Shines, from Compton, California.
Throughout the month, large format photographs featuring prominent women of the armed forces decorate the mess decks, and MKI Sailors share the women's biographies with the crew over the ship's 1MC each morning.
"It's great to learn about the women who have served previously, and to celebrate the paths that they have created and the milestones that they have achieved," said Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Sheila Olsen, from Glenns Ferry, Idaho.
Women have served in military engagements for centuries, but it wasn't until 1901, with the establishment of the Army Nurse Corps, that women were officially incorporated as U.S. service members. In 1908, the Navy also established its own Nurse Corps.
Many crew members find inspiration in women's accomplishments in the military.
"It's important to recognize the vital role that women's dreams and achievements play in our lives," said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Chanel Newsome, from Los Angeles. "We draw strength and inspiration from those who've come before us and from the remarkable women serving among us today."
More than 59,000 female active duty and more than 9,000 reservists serve in today's Navy, and in January 2016, the armed services opened all military specialties, including all combat and special forces roles, to women.
"The observance celebrates the strength women have displayed in our armed forces and provides hope and drive for women to accomplish any goal," said Newsome. "They put an emphasis on positive role models and the importance of women from all backgrounds that make a positive contribution in today's world."
Female officers also attended a mentorship session with Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, March 21, where they discussed women's career advancement in the Navy, maintaining a healthy work-family balance, and emerging opportunities for women in all branches of the military.
"With Vice Adm. Tyson's 37 years of experience and several billets in challenging leadership roles, I felt reassured when she focused the discussion on today's Sailors and their well-being," said Ensign Kayla Inouye, from Indian Trail, North Carolina.
Makin Island's celebration culminated with a commemoration ceremony in the ship's hangar bay, March 22, featuring 30-year Navy veteran retired Master Chief Petty Officer Kathleen A. Hansen, as guest speaker.
"It's important to continue to celebrate the accomplishments of women," Hanson said. "Encourage each other, and when one woman is successful, we are all successful. So whoever you are and whatever your job is, do that job to the best of your ability and you too will be successful."
For more news from USS Makin Island (LHD 8), visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lhd8/.