Major General Jeanne Holm, USAF (Ret.) was a driving force in achieving parity for military women.
After enlisting during World War II as a truck driver in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, Holm graduated from Officer Candidate School and, after the war, received a regular commission in the newly formed United States Air Force. There she held a variety of positions in the United States and overseas, including landmark work with NATO. From 1965 to 1973, as Director of Women in the Air Force, she worked tenaciously to enhance the status and expand the roles and opportunities for women in the armed services. She led efforts to remove outdated laws and policies that discriminated against women in the military. She advocated opening ROTC to women and admitting women to flying programs.
In 1971, Holm became the first Air Force woman to be promoted to Brigadier General. Two years later, she became the first woman in all the armed forces to achieve the rank of Major General. Among her military awards are the Legion of Merit and two Distinguished Service Medals. She is also the author of two books detailing the history of women in the armed forces during World War II and throughout history, the most noted being Women In The Military: An Unfinished Revolution.
Upon her retirement from the military, Holm served President Gerald Ford as a Special Assistant focusing on women’s issues. She initiated a Justice Department review of all laws and policies discriminating against women. As a member of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, she advocated the need for the removal of artificial barriers to military women’s careers. She continued these efforts during the Carter Administration as a consultant on military women to the Under Secretary of the Air Force. During the Reagan Administration, she became the first chairperson of the Veterans Administration’s Committee on Women Veterans, successfully advocating parity for women veterans, their benefits, and needs.
General Holm is recognized as the driving force behind the successful movement for women achieving equal opportunities and equal rights in the military. Her challenge to the military leadership to utilize the talents of military women was the foundation for sweeping increases in the numbers of, and opportunities for, women in the military.