This past week, I had the pleasure of hearing LTC Ingrid Parker as she addressed the community of Women in Business within the Morris County Chamber of Commerce. She is the Garrison Commander at Picatinny Arsenal, the first female to hold that position. For those of us who live and work in Morris County, this military installation plays a significant role in the economy of our region.
Her current assignment is only one of many significant roles she has played in her stellar, highly decorated twenty-year career. Commissioned as a military intelligence officer, and a leader in counter-terrorism at the National Security Agency, she has served the Department of Defense at strategic, tactical and force providing levels. And, she has served three tours of duty in Iraq. Impressive indeed!
In addition to her military achievements, LTC Parker has earned an MBA and masters in military art and science, completed her coursework for her PhD and is in the process of finalizing her dissertation. All of this has been accomplished as a single mother of an extraordinary young woman. Wow!
What makes LTC Parker even more distinctive is the work she has done in helping Iraqi women who want to make their world a better place. As she described, “everyone has a war story—here is mine” and she played a video depicting the war most of us don’t get to see. Its impact is weighty and memorable.
LTC Parker’s message that despite our differences with the Iraqi people on the other side of the world, and there are many, we are also the same in many ways. We are similar in what we want and hope for in life: a happy, healthy family, safety from harm, opportunity to learn, grow and contribute and a brighter future for our children.
It is LTC Parker’s humanity in the face of adversity, her fierce sense of service to her country and her willingness to work side by side with these women to make improvements in their daily lives despite danger and [for most of us] unimaginable circumstances, that make her a live American hero in my book.
Her message truly inspired me and filled me with pride for the unique contributions and incredible sacrifices that our military women are making in the world. We certainly owe these women a debt of gratitude for paving the way with an innovative and remarkable style.