By T.M. Beller, Army Public Affairs Specialist

Fort Hamilton, N.Y. – A Washington Heights native and Harlem-based Army recruiting center commander won a prestigious recruiting award March 3, 2016, during the final rounds of the competition at Fort Meade, Md.

Sgt. 1st Class Yanitza Betances-Leger, the 34-year-old recruiting center leader for the U.S. Army Career Center Harlem, earned the U.S. Army 1st Recruiting Brigade’s Center Leader of the Year Award, edging out nearly 210 other center leaders across the northeast.

Although her occupational specialty as an Army career recruiter has been open to females for several decades, the announcement of her win comes during the national Women’s History Month and on the heels of Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s recent decision to open all military occupational specialties to women during this era of full integration.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, who leads the Army’s recruiting command, stated in an Oct. 4, 2015, memo to his senior recruiting personnel officer that he wanted to improve the recruitment of females for Army service by boosting the number of women recruiters by one percent, according to USA Today online.

US ARMY logo“Women are 23 percent better at recruiting women than men, and increasing the number of females on recruiting duty will improve the effectiveness of recruiting women,” wrote Snow, who assumed command of Army recruiting since 2015.

“Women make up about nine percent of the Army’s recruiters while they are 15 percent of its nearly 500,000 Soldiers,” Snow wrote. They are clearly underrepresented compared to the rest of the Army.

As a Hispanic female on recruiting duty who recruits qualified men and women to join the strength of the Army, Betances feels the path to success in achieving both Snow’s and the Department of Defense’s personnel goals is believing in her craft and being a role model.

The ceremony of the U.S. Army 1st Recruiting Brigade’s Center Leader of the Year Award.

The ceremony of the U.S. Army 1st Recruiting Brigade’s Center Leader of the Year Award.

“I believe what I do as an Army recruiter changes women’s lives for the better,” said Betances charismatically. “And showing men, and especially women, that they can achieve more than what they expected is not only my duty but also a true reward for me as an Army recruiter.”

Leading by example by being the example is what Betances believes a good role model is, and that ethos has taken her quite far in the Center Leader of the Year competition; this ethos also punctuates her personal life, too, where she serves as a coach for her daughter’s 12-and-under softball team, selflessly dedicating her time to mentoring young female athletic achievement.

“As the Army expands (military occupational specialty) availability to women, a large, qualified and under-recruited segment of the population will become more available and likely more interested in service,” Snow wrote. “The Army needs to provide more role models to assist in relaying Army opportunities to qualified females.”

With strong females like Betances serving in our local communities as role models for today’s youth, she remains personally dedicated to the future of bettering women’s opportunities in the U.S. Army.

Women have served in the Army since 1775 from Molly Hatchet, who fired her husband’s cannon after he fell, to the female engagement teams in 2010 in Afghanistan who leveraged their gender to help them build relationships with native women.

It could be said, then, that the best place in the Army for women is everywhere.

The U.S. Army is proud to support the national Women’s History Month and is proud to recognize the achievements and contributions of women Soldiers like Betances whose ethos parallels the 2016-year themed “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.”