By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The Wyoming National Guard marked a historic milestone this week when it named its first woman to command an infantry unit.
1st Lt. Alyssa Brenner is the new infantry commander and the second female to command a combat arms unit in Wyoming, joining Capt. Leslie Brazil, former commander of Alpha Battery, 2-300th Field Artillery Regiment.
Hailing from Marshfield, Wisconsin, Brenner first enlisted in the Guard when she was in college. After a year, she decided to seek a commission and completed the Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course.
She has been with Charlie Company, 1-297th Infantry Regiment in Afton, since July 2016.
According to the National Guard, the number of women serving in combat arms units has slowly grown since the ban on women in combat units was lifted in 2015.
“It’s a cool thing to see,’ Brenner said about when she sees fellow female officers starting to command other units. “To the women who want to do these things, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t.”
Brenner currently resides in Golden, Colorado, where she serves as a police officer with the Golden Police Department.
Brenner received command of the 1-297th on Nov. 5 from the outgoing commander, Capt. Spencer Jones, in the traditional change of command ceremony, which represents the formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding officer to another.
After the ceremony, Brenner shared some thoughts about military service with her soldiers.
“What you’re doing with your service is honorable, and the people of this country do appreciate it. It’s worth the sacrifice. It’s an honor to serve with you,” she said. “When things get tough, remember that it’s important what you are doing, and it does matter. Keep pushing.”
She followed with advice for her fellow leaders.
“Continue to set the example and never ask your soldiers to do something that you wouldn’t be willing to do as well.”
Brenner said she is excited for the opportunity to command the unit and feels lucky to be able to do so.
“I’ve worked with these soldiers for the past five years. We’ve been through all the training and deployments together. I know them, and they know me. They make the job easy,” she said. “It will be a big challenge, but I’m excited about it.”