Patrice Melançon

As Interviewed by Cooper Roalson, March 19, 2018

Patrice Melançon: In Her Own Words

My name is Patrice Melançon. I sort of started out in the military in Air Force ROTC when I was in college. And I joined ROTC primarily because it was a way for me to get scholarship money that helped to pay for school. I came out of school virtually debt free, which was wonderful, and I had a job waiting for me when I graduated from college so I didn’t have to worry about looking for a job, or applying for a job, or interviewing.

Because I had done ROTC, I got introduced to what the military life was like before actually going into active duty, because I did have a uniform, and we did practice drill, you know, marching drill, and we took some military history classes. I had to go to a boot camp between my sophomore and junior year, I spent four weeks in Florida doing sort of traditional, you know, you have a drill instructor and you get up at, you know, five o'clock in the morning and you do PT in the morning, and then you’re marching and doing maneuvers and that was a pretty interesting time. But I really felt very comfortable in the military when I actually joined, in 1988, is when I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force.

I do think that there are some jobs that men are more suited to. Specifically things like Green Berets or pararescue or SEALs, some of those jobs that are very very physically demanding. However, I think that there are some women that probably can do that job just as good, if not better, than men can. And there are some men clearly that are not physically prepared to do a job that demanding. That said, I think that if women can prove that they are physically capable of doing a job, they should be able to do anything that they want to do.

I do think that the military has come a very long way in terms of giving women equal opportunity as men to be promoted. They have equal opportunity to do interesting, challenging jobs. There certainly are cases where some men who are not as open, and as willing to give everyone equal opportunity. There are some men that will default to selecting a man for a job. Generally speaking, I think that that is more of the exception than the rule in today’s military, I’m very pleased to say. In fact, in Air Force Reserve Command, our top ranked officer, who is a three star general, is a woman! And I’m very pleased about that.