Reynolds chief nurse recalls 'first' for women
Col. Janet Kropf, chief nursing officer at Reynolds Army Health Clinic, provided her unique take on Women's History Month when she spoke at a luncheon hosted by Fort Sill Medical Department Activity (MEDDAC) on post Thursday.
In planning her speech, she decided she has two qualifications: She's a woman, and she has more history than many in the audience.
"I've even made a little bit of history. It's not in the books, and it's not even recorded. But back in my high school days, I worked for the vet who tended to the dogs that ran at the racetrack next to my hometown," Kropf recalled.
That was at Sodrac Racetrack near North Sioux City, S.D. The track is no longer there, but that's where she had a job selling programs and chairs when she was a high school sophomore. One night, a male teenager decided not to show up for work.
"It was one of the guys who walked dogs. So I became the first female in the United States to show greyhounds before a race," she said.
As minor a breakthrough as that may seem, by the end of that summer there were no restrictions, and males and females both were walking greyhounds before the race.
"But what I did is not even historical. It's not even great, given the context of what the women featured in the brochures have done. And even some of the stories that I've read that have never made the history books. In that context, what I have done is not even great.
"You know, I've done a lot of reading and research about nurses, and especially about Army nurses, and especially about those who have shattered glass ceilings that allow me to wear the rank that I do today. But I don't know much when it comes to women's history, only what I've read in the history books, and that isn't much. And that's why the Women's History Month is here to address that deficit," she said.
This year's theme is "Honoring Trailblazing Women Who Have Paved the Way for Future Generations."
The very word "woman" conjures up an image of a mother, a wife, a daughter or a sister, Kropf said.
"Women make up 51 percent of the American population, so it's likely that you know a few," she quipped.