History is a dynamic unfolding story, not just memories of the past. Recently, the long 244-year history of the Army opened yet another chapter in its long and noble history with the promotion of Paula Lodi to the rank of Brigadier General in the Army Medical Services Corps. She joins her sister, Major General Maria Barrett in the General ranks.
This is the first time in the 244 year history of Army that two sisters have risen to the rank of General.
According to USA Today, the two sisters were among five children in the Lodi family. Their father, Rustin Lodi, was an Italian immigrant who served in the United States Army during WWII. During his wartime experiences, he was awarded the Silver Star, but typically, did not talk much about his time in the service during the war within the family. Both he and his wife, Clara, became career educators and always made it a point to stress the nobility and the responsibility of public service to their five children.
It seems that that idea stuck particularly well with the two sisters.
Up until relatively recently, the Pentagon and Congress had always limited the roles of women in combat. That was changed in 2015 when all of the fields in the military were opened up to women. Today women make up 16% of the 1.3 million active duty military personnel.
When now Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett, 53, joined the Army she did not do so with the intent of staying in the Army. She says that her chief reason for joining was simply practicality, it was a way to pay for her college education. But now she says, “The reason I joined is not the reason why I stayed.”
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Barrett enrolled in ROTC at Tufts University and when she graduated in 1988, she was commissioned a 2nd Lt.. Her original intent was to serve her time and then join the foriegn service, but in time, she found the Army suited her better. She was in the Signal Corps and rose through the ranks steadily. She found that she had a real passion for leading soldiers. Barrett served over time as a commander at the company, battalion and brigade levels.
She is presently commanding the Army’s NETCOM, in charge of managing and defending the Army’s information networks.
Barrett’s sister, Paula Lodi, 51, remembers, as a ten year old girl, being impressed while watching a documentary about the first women accepted at West Point. When she finally went to college, though, it was not to West Point but to Rutgers University. Like her sister before her, she too joined ROTC program. When she graduated she received her commission as a 2nd Lt. in the Army Medical Services Corps. She thought at that time that she would put ten years in with the Army then become a dietician in civilian life. That was the plan, but, like so many of our best laid plans, it didn’t work out that way.
Lodi says, “I don’t know at what point probably four, maybe five years in, it just occurred to me, I absolutely loved what I was doing in the medical service corps.”
Those who have served with and under the commands of these two sisters have great respect and admiration for them. Their own brother, Rus Lodi, is not surprised by their successes in the Army. He has noticed over the years that when the two sisters got together they never tired of “talking about leadership, the right ways of leading, the right ways of motivating” those under their command.
He calls them “leadership junkies.”
The Veterans Site wishes to add its congratulations and its respect to Maj. General Maria Barrett and her sister, Brigadier General Paula Lodi, on both their history making promotions and for their ongoing, dedicated and experienced leadership in the United States Army. We thank you for your long and successful service to the nation.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.