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U.S. Marine Corps Col. Morina Foster, commanding officer of Wounded Warrior Regiment, presents an award to Yanira Holguin, a Semper Fit Dietician with the Marine Corps Community Services, during the Women’s Health Symposium 2024 at The Clubs at Quantico on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, March 18, 2024. The symposium covered a range of topics, concerning women’s health with the intent to educate and generate awareness to uniformed and civilian personnel. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. David Brandes)

Photo by Lance Cpl. David Brandes

Leaders, spouses, civilians learn to support, promote women’s health

27 Mar 2024 | Sgt. Miranda DeKorte Marine Corps Base Quantico

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. – The Wounded Warrior Regiment hosted the Women’s Health Symposium at The Clubs at Quantico, March 18 with the intent to not only increase awareness about valuable resources, but to also identify opportunities to approach women’s health issues in and outside of military service.

“Our bodies are not like men’s bodies, and it is important to understand what that looks like as leaders and supervisors,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Morina Foster, the commanding officer for the Wounded Warrior Regiment. “We have different stages of life that we experience,” she stressed.

“Understanding the different facets and assets that these women face is crucial to the workforce,” Foster continued. “We are asked to perform in so many ways; it’s important for leaders to understand the different milestones female servicemembers experience as their bodies change.”

The symposium emphasized how women experience a range of health milestones, such as pregnancy, menopause and, of course, the monthly shedding of the uterine wall. These milestones can also provoke complications, like post-partum depression, fatigue, and pelvic floor activity.

“The best way to support the women of our Armed Forces is to train and educate [our senior military leaders],” said Foster.

According to the U.S. Naval Institute, 228,966 women represent 17.5% of Department of Defense active-duty service members. With this number rising each year, it becomes more important for military branches to educate leaders about resources and the health of women service members.

U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Karen PajaroTorres, a staff noncommissioned officer with Security Battalion’s Installation Personnel Administration Center, believes her leadership is setting a great example in this area.

“I can say that I have had great leaders,” she said. “I see a lot more support of great female leaders amongst each other.”

This symposium and the discussions it fostered enable the Department of Defense to continue assessing and improving policies and procedures that support and consider the women’s health issues; one such example is the increased maternity leave of absence.

PajaroTorres personally experienced the impact of these changes and appreciates how they’re affecting the force.

“When I joined, I had a kid and received a six-week maternity leave with six months to get back in shape to be back in [Marine Corps physical] standards,” she explained. “Now there is consideration in how our bodies need a little more time to recover postpartum with a one-year time period.”

U.S. Marine Corps First Sgt. Orlando Freeman, the acting sergeant major for Marine Corps Base Quantico Security Battalion, attended the symposium to gain a better understanding of how to further the leadership support for female service members.

“It is important to understand that men and women are different,” he said. “There was a lot of information to understand the nuances that women have to go through – unlike us males.”

Women have increasingly become more prominent within the military branches of service; most branches see a higher ratio of women being retained than men, according to the Pentagon’s Defense Advisory Committee. Currently, the Marine Corps leads the DoD in retention of women service members, retaining 90% of female officers and 33% enlisted in 2023.

“Women’s health is important in our modern-day environment as female service members need advocacy and to be seen,” said Foster. “It is important to highlight and to focus on the women and leaders within the workplace.”

With this growing number of women service members, there too has been more emphasis on understanding the male counterparts across the DoD.

For additional resources regarding women’s health, visit For updates on Marine Corps policies, visit; and for more information regarding family-specific resources, visit

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