Who Is Laura Yeager? New Details On The First Woman To Lead An Army Infantry Division

Photo: Joint Task Force North
Who Is Laura Yeager? New Details On The First Woman To Lead An Army Infantry Division

Well this is super-cool! Brigadier General Laura Yeager will be the first woman ever to command a U.S. Army Infantry Division. On June 7th, the 40th Infantry Division announced in a Facebook post that Laura Yeager will be their new leader. She assumes her new role in a ceremony on June 29th at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, California. Yeager brings an impressive background to her new position. She enlisted in the Army in 1986. She flew UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters in combat in Iraq. She was promoted to Brigadier General from Colonel in 2016. She is the fourth female general in the history of the California National Guard. Who is Laura Yeager?

1. Impressive education

Laura Yeager got her bachelor's degree in psychology at UC Irvine. She got her masters in psychology from Southern California's Chapman University. She has an MSS in strategic studies from the United States Army War College. She is married to retired Lieutenant Colonel Curtis Yeager. They have four adult sons.

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2. The 40th Infantry Division

According to Army Times, the 40th Infantry Division that Yeager will lead was formed in 1917 during World War I. The division's troops have fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, and other key combat locations. Laura Yeager will become the first female leader of the 102-year old infantry division.

3. She was inspired by her father

Retired California National Guard Major General Robert Brandt is Laura Yeager's father. He served two tours in Vietnam and is also a helicopter pilot. In 2016, Yeager told the Defense Department News Service that she looks up to her dad: “My father has been a tremendous role model to me, both as a parent and as an officer and I have benefited immensely from his mentorship,” Yeager said. “He always had high expectations for me but I was given a lot of independence to pursue my own path.”

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4. Her dad was surprised when she enlisted

In a 2017 interview with USA TodayLaura said that even though she had always looked up to her dad, he didn't expect her to have a career in the military . “I walked by one of those recruiting posters and said, ‘I can do that,’” Yeager said. “I think my father was more surprised than anyone that I joined."

She told the Defense Department News Service that her dad was surprised she became a helicopter pilot. "Though my dad was a pilot, I had never really considered becoming one myself but once I decided to join the military, I wanted to do something that would be vastly different from anything I could do in a civilian occupation. Once I had a chance to fly in a helicopter as an ROTC cadet, I was hooked and became obsessed with going to flight school. To this day, the sound of a helicopter is music to my ears and I never get tired of being on one or even seeing one in flight.”

5. She hasn't faced any gender discrimination

Even though women are very much in the minority in the military, Yeager reports that her time in the service has been positive. She told the Defense Department News Service: “As a female, I have found the military to provide opportunities and benefits unmatched by any profession.”Clearly, females are in the minority within the military yet in every assignment I have held, my mostly male peers, subordinates and superiors have supported me, treated me with respect, coached, mentored and advised me. At the same time, I have been inspired by the incredibly strong and amazing women I have served with and for." 

Yeager also said that she often forgets she's in the minority, especially in the higher ranks of military service. She told USA Today:  “Every once in a while, I’ll be in a meeting and will notice I’m the only woman in the room. I realize, ‘Wow, there aren’t that many of us’.” 

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6. She thinks being a woman gives her an advantage

In 2017, Yeager became the first woman to command Joint Task Force North, which offers Department of Defense support and resources to fights against drug trafficking and criminal organizations. At the time, she told Texas' KFOX 14 that her education and gender give her an edge. “My education is in psychology and in counseling. So I’m very focused on the families. At the end of the day, we don’t get the mission done without the support of our families and the community. She went on to say: “I think that as women, we are used to juggling a lot of things in our lives. Trying to manage packing school lunches, doing homework with the kids, paying the bills and doing the job. So I think we bring an ability maybe to multitask to a job that maybe sometimes men lack." 

Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. She is deeply devoted to her chocolate Labrador and an avid long distance runner. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.