Raise the flag for a first: Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett and younger sister Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi have become the first two sisters to attain the general’s rank in the Army’s 244-year history.
“Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett and Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi represent the best America has to offer,” said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, according to USA Today. “However, this comes as no surprise to those who have known them and loved them throughout this extraordinary journey. This is a proud moment for their families and for the Army.”
Their father, Ruston Lodi, an Italian immigrant, served in World War II and was the recipient of a Silver Star.
Diversity is making headway in the military, as women represent 16 percent of an active-duty force of 1.3 million, accounting for 69 of the 417 generals and admirals, USA Today reported.
Women were first accepted in the military in 1901, when the Army Nursing Corps was established, the newspaper noted, citing the U.S. Army Women’s Museum to add that women have served unofficially since the Revolutionary War.
The sisters grew up in Franklin, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, and shared a bedroom as children.
Barrett, a two-star general, leads NETCOM, the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command tasked with managing and defending the Army’s information networks.
She joined the Army to pay for school, enrolling in ROTC at Tufts University.
“When I talk to younger officers, I tell them the reason I joined is not the reason why I stayed,” she told USA Today. “Our democratic experiment, even on its most imperfect day, is worth defending.”
Lodi, the deputy chief of staff for operations in the Army’s Surgeon General’s office, graduated from the Rutgers University ROTC program.
“My dad passed away when I was a senior in high school, so I may not have been on the most solid footing after high school,” Lodi said. “And I knew the army was the end state. So I would say going through ROTC, staying focused on that end state was really what kind of pulled me through college.”
Lodi is a Distinguished Honor Graduate of the Naval War College and has master’s degrees in public administration, military arts and science, and national security and strategic studies.
Adding to her distinction, the brigadier general has two daughters in the Army.
The Army is proud of its diversity and actively promotes women joining the service.
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— U.S. Army (@USArmy) August 23, 2019
Gen. James McConville, the Army’s chief of staff, praised the sisters’ success.
“Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett and Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi are exceptional, proven leaders who’ve distinguished themselves over the course of their careers at various levels of command and during multiple combat tours,” McConville said. “These officers serve in critical career fields and lead organizations essential to the Army mission. Their success showcases how talented people can find multiple pathways to success serving in the Army.”
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