Lt. FAWMA, as noted by her name tag, doesn't represent just one woman Army lieutenant; she represents all women soldiers both past and present.
Last week, the Army Women's Museum Association in Fort Lee, Va., unveiled the statue to woman veterans from World War II to the present.
The project was 14 months in the making for Nancy Dunn, an Eldersburg resident who is on the board of directors for Friends of the Army Women's Museum Association.
Dunn enlisted in the Army in 1968, when women in the Army were recognized under the Women's Army Corps, an auxiliary unit of women involved in the military. Dunn left college two years in to join the Women's Army Corps and receive a scholarship under the G.I. Bill so she could become a journalist.
At the time, Dunn said there were only three other women colonels, and not a single woman general in the Army. Enlisted women were cooks, typists and medics, she said.
"Their opportunities for advancement weren't really good because we were very small and we could only be assigned to women's units and could only be assigned to detail," she said.
By the time Dunn retired in 1997, it was a completely different world. Dunn became an officer in 1969, and by 1978, women were integrated into the rest of the Army.
Francoise Bonnell, the director of the Army Women's Museum Association, said advancement for women took off in the Army, particularly after Sept. 11, 2001.
Bonnell, who served between 1984 and 2006, said she was aware of a lot of change taking place over the course of the '80s and '90s, but because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, progress has been compressed into a shorter period of time.
"When you understand where your history is, you realize that change was happening on a continuous basis, and sometimes just a little bit slower or a little bit faster," she said.
In January, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta made a formal announcement to allow women to take part in ground-combat roles. Dunn said it's a great example to show how far women have come in the Army.
"Today [opportunities are] nearly unlimited, particularly in this year, when women have begun to train in combat support," she said.
While some may dismiss the military for being regressive regarding women, Bonnell said that isn't the case.
Approximately 10,000 women served overseas in WWII, she said. She said while some change for the role of women in the Army has come due to a push from society, at the start of WWII, it was the opposite.
The statue is meant to celebrate women who serve in the Army. It is the only figure or full-sized statue created on an Army base in the likeness of a woman, Bonnell said.
The funds were raised by the nonprofit organization the Friends of the Army Women's Museum Association, Dunn said.
"The Army does not build statues. It is private groups that do," she said. "In order to do this, you have to do it yourself."
Instead of undertaking the enormous expense of a marble or granite statue, the group chose a resin-based statue that mimics bronze in its appearance and has a life of about 30 years before it needs to be refinished. The statue cost $30,000, compared to hundreds of thousands of dollars for other options, she said.
The statue was modeled after several soldiers, who did everything from trying on their gear to showing the perfect bun that women with longer hair wear in combat. Once a mockup of the statue was made, male and female non-commissioned officers placed particular bands and pins in the correct areas.
The name was chosen as the acronym for the nonprofit that raised the money but also to create an easily identifiable name, Bonnell said.
"If it was named Lt. Smith or Barnes it might cast them to think of something or someone else," she said. "We figured FAWMA was unique enough that most people would be able to see her for who she was: a lieutenant, any lieutenant, any woman, any female soldier."

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