Darlene M Iskra

Commander Darlene M. Iskra retired from the U.S. Navy in April 2000, after 21 years of service. Taking advantage of the opportunities the Navy had to offer in the expansion of women’s roles that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, She was one of the first female line officers to graduate from the Naval School of Diving and Salvage in Washington, D.C. in May 1980, before attending Surface Warfare Officer School and reporting to her first ship, the USS HECTOR (AR-7) in December 1980. She served on four salvage ships, as Operations Officer on USS GRASP (ARS-51), Executive Officer on USS PRESERVER (ARS-8) and USS HOIST (ARS40). She assumed command of USS OPPORTUNE (ARS 41) in December 1990 in Naples, Italy, becoming the first woman commander of a commissioned naval vessel. She also served on several Navy staffs. Her highest award was the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. She has Master of Arts degrees in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, and in Sociology from the University of Maryland. In 2002 she worked for Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington state as a Women’s Research and Education Institute (WREI) Congressional Fellow. During her fellowship, she helped staff and pass an amendment to the 2003 Defense Authorization Bill, which forbade the Department of Defense from requiring U.S. servicewomen to wear the abaya garment while stationed in Saudi Arabia. For this work, she was awarded the University of Maryland, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Phillips Award in 2005. This award recognizes graduate student excellence in research most likely to affect public policy. She was also awarded the Center For Teaching Excellence, Distinguished Teaching Assistant for Academic Year 2003-2004 and the Charles H. Coates Graduate Research Award, University of Maryland, 2000-2001, for her Master’s thesis, which documented the continued negative discourse regarding women in the Navy over time. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2007. She studies the military and gender issues. Darlene is the author of the award winning book WOMEN IN THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES: A GUIDE TO THE ISSUES. She is an adjunct professor at Columbia College of Missouri, teaching in the Military Studies programs.

Articles from Contributor

Battleland Battleland

Breast-Feeding … in Uniform

Breast-feeding while in uniform has suddenly become a hot topic since two Washington Air National Guard moms were photographed in uniform while nursing their babies.

The photos were posted by the group Mom2Mom to promote World Breast-feeding Week coming in August. The group, founded by a military wife on Fairchild Air Force Base, was …

Battleland Battleland

Gender-Blind Fleet, Huh?

The Navy Uniform Board is messing around with uniforms again…this time to make the uniforms “gender blind.” In other words, the women will now be wearing men’s uniforms and covers. Won’t that be swell? This is in response to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus’ commitment to service where opportunities are gender blind, according …

Battleland Battleland

Sexual Assault Awareness Month…Revisited

Last week I wrote about the Navy’s plan for a stand-down to “communicate the service’s policy of zero tolerance for sexual assault while encouraging sailors to work harder to prevent attacks.” I had indicated a bit of skepticism about the leadership’s buy-in of the program…

The day after my blog was published I was invited …

Battleland Battleland

21st Century Fragging: Sexual Assault

Navy Times reports this week that “Navy leaders are calling for educational standdowns in April to communicate the service’s policy of zero tolerance for sexual assault while encouraging sailors to work harder to prevent attacks.” It’s part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, an effort to raise awareness of the issue and what can be …

Battleland Battleland

A New Kind of PT: Female Vets Running…for Congress

Four female veterans are making history by running for Congress this year. While women make up more than 50% of the population, they are severely underrepresented in public office. It’s about time that started changing.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Colonel Martha McSally (USAF, ret) announcing her intention to run for …

Battleland Battleland

Women’s History Month: You Go, Girls!

I have been thinking about Women’s History Month since March began. Then, I saw that March 8 was International Women’s Day, an event that has taken place worldwide since the early 1900s. According to its website, it began amid the turbulence of the industrial age when women started realizing their oppressed and subordinate …

Battleland Battleland

A Heroine…Of a Different Kind

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“We are sad to report that Lt. Cmdr. Regina Mills, Nimitz‘ Handler, died Jan. 23 following a multi-vehicle accident on State Route 16 in Kitsap County, Wash….Regina was a great leader and officer. She was a leader and mentor not only to the Sailors and officers in the Air …

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