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U.S. Army first: Two sisters achieve rank of general

2019-09-06

Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett (left) and her sister, Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi are making U.S. Army history. (Flick)

The U.S. Army has seen fathers and sons, husbands and wives and entire families rise to the rank of general. But never, until now, have two sisters accomplished that goal.

For the first time in the army’s 244-year history, a pair of sisters — Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett and younger sister Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi — have been named as generals, according to USA Today.

“Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett, 53, and Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi, 51, represent the best America has to offer,” Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told 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.”

Women were not even accepted into the military until 1901, when the Army Nursing Corps was established, noted USA Today. The Army says they’ve served since 1775, the onset of the American Revolution, in Overseas Contingency Operations.

They have a lot of catching up to do. They make up just over 16% of the 1.3-million-strong active-duty personnel, women account for just 69 of the 417 generals and admirals, USA Today said. They’ve been allowed into combat since 2015.

“For both men and women increasingly normalizing women in leadership positions matters,” said Melissa Dalton, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former Defense Department official, to USA Today. “The fact that it comes from same family is an incredible accomplishment.”

The two serve in separate fields, Lodi in medical service, where she has risen to serve as deputy chief of staff for operations in the Army’s Surgeon General’s office, and Barrett commanding NETCOM, managing and defending the Army’s information networks, according to USA Today.