News: Female soldier affects change in her community and beyond
Story by Sgt. Ida Irby
FORT BLISS, Texas - Women in the armed forces have come a long way from the Women’s Army Corps since the branch was disbanded in 1978. For Pfc. Caitlan Romanowski, serving as an armament repairer is rewarding and she hopes to pave the way for selfless service in the community and all over the world as troops fight to keep this country safe.
The 30-year-old began her journey as an active duty soldier last February. With eight months of training under her belt she added to the 14 percent of women in 1.4 million active duty personnel. As part of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, she is trained to conduct maintenance and repairs on weapons systems, vehicles, and artillery.
“I love my job,” admitted the shy soldier who grew up in North Stonington, Conn. “I believe each day I make a difference where a difference needs to be made.”
After years of waiting tables as a civilian, the soldier now spends her time in the community. She judges science fairs, volunteers at the El Paso children’s hospital, works concessions at events and assists in local community gardens.
After locating Sgt. 1st Class Derryl Haidek, equal opportunity advisor 4th BCT, 1AD, and point of contact for the brigade Audie Murphy Club, Romanowski informed him of her desire to do more community service and asked to support the Audie Murphy Club as a volunteer.
“Romanowski has done miscellaneous projects with the club,” said Haidek. “She is an awesome volunteer because she is willing to commit her time until the task is complete.”
Romanowski assisted in planting trees and moving more than five tons of rock at the local middle school.
“This is really, really enjoyable,” said Romanowski as she buried her bare fingers into the dirt to remove weeds from the garden.
“Whatever the club needs, I am more than willing to assist. I volunteer each weekend because it makes me feel good. It is rewarding because the club does so much in the community … it is a great organization,” said Romanowski. “I am grateful that [club members] keep me in the loop.”
She created her own love story by marring a U.S. Marine she met through the “Adopt a Hero” program for deployed service members. After mailing snacks and hygiene items to one of many heroes, she became friends and decided to meet the Marine who she was falling in love with.
“Supporting troops overseas is about so much more than sending stuff, but keeping up their morale plus keeping them connected during a long tour overseas,” said Romanowski. “I would try and provide the troops with whatever they needed: from correspondence for morale, to hygiene products and snacks.”
Progress for women is progress for everyone. Women in uniform share the responsibility of supporting their families and the nation.
“Genuine care for the community is what being a soldier is all about. Everyone should strive to take care of soldiers and their families,” said Haidek. “Women in the military add to our armed forces with their dedication and hard work.”