Col. Lisa Firmin remembers when she joined the United States Air Force 25 years ago. It was a time when there were not many advantages to being a woman in the military.
But she has been an instigator in changing those conditions. Her efforts over the years have altered what the military has to extend to women these days.
Lt. James Nichols at Cannon Air Force Bases’s public affairs office works with the colonel. He said Firmin’s immediate staff nominated her for the Major T.H. Baca Award, a distinction that recognizes military women instrumental in advancing opportunities for women in the military by serving as their role model and contributing to improvement in the community, state or country.
Firmin was honored with the award on March 4 in Albuquerque during a “Tribute to Women in the Military” banquet.
In a narrative submitted for the award, the staff said Firmin is “always attuned to the needs of women” and the colonel, a first-generation college student and a proud Hispanic female, has addressed “tough issues” concerning the female population on base such as sexual assault and harassment in the military, among other matters.
As the 27th Mission Support Group Commander at Cannon Air Force Base, Firmin leads more than 1,600 personnel in providing base support and services such as housing, facility construction, law enforcement and others.
“My job is basically similar to what a city manager does,” said Firmin, who also created Cannon’s first Combat Symposium, a training center, to better prepare men and women for combat.
She was recently informed that her Air War College research paper, “Hispanics: An Untapped Leadership Resource,” was used as a basis for implementing a new Office of Strategic Diversity within the Air Force.
The narrative said the Air Force “is now seriously looking at the impacts and value of diversity on organizational effectiveness,” because of her position on equality among military men and women.
Firmin doesn’t take all the credit, however.
“I didn’t achieve these accomplishments by myself,” she said. “I have to give credit to the team of people who supported me and got me where I am today.”
Firmin, who joined the military to improve her leadership skills and expand her options in education, said, “we (women) have come a long way.”
Her educational background includes graduating from Texas A&M University in 1979, receiving her master’s degree from Chapman University in 1987, and advanced military training and education. She has served in a variety of key leadership command and staff positions. Firmin has received more than 10 major awards and decorations during her service and has been at Cannon since July 2003.
“Her accomplishments are many and certainly deserving of recognition as the Major T.H. Baca Award winner,” the nomination essay concluded.