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NEWS | March 17, 2021

Chief Settle Sets Example for What Women Can Achieve

By Spc. Quinton Ryerson Missouri National Guard

When she explored joining the Air Force, Jessica Settle hit a road block. Her recruiter did not support women in the Air Force so Settle stopped pursuing entry. That was until a female recruiter, then Master Sgt. Judy DeVu, showed the effect a good senior noncommissioned officer can have.
“If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Settle.
Twenty-four years later, Settle now serves as the Missouri Air National Guard State Command Chief Master Sergeant. She is the senior enlisted leader of the Missouri Air National Guard and is the vice president of the Missouri Women’s Mentorship Council.
“When I was junior-enlisted I didn’t see any women in this high of a role,” Settle said. “So for them to see me here now, they know there is a chance for them to experience greater success in their career.”
In both of her roles, Settle works hard so that the Guard, and by extension the entire military, can continue to be a place where women can find fulfilling and meaningful careers. During Settle’s career, she witnessed and worked for significant changes in policy and culture to increase female service member retention rates.
Settle says often times when women begin families that is when many of them decide to leave their military careers due to competing priorities. Policy changes have been implemented to fix this problem includes the authorization of soft soled shoes for pregnant women, twelve weeks of maternity leave, changes to the physical fitness regulation and, most recently, the establishment of facility lactation rooms.
Settle believes the council offers opportunities to mentor and empower other sisters-in-arms. The council addresses resources that are available to women in uniform and concerns specific to female service members such as balancing motherhood with military service, career progression, and developmental opportunities.
Settle says her primary goal is to be an active, visible and caring leader. She takes pride in the fact that she might inspire young people to join and stay in the Guard for a prolonged career. Settle has three children, two of whom have served in uniform: a son in the intelligence career field and a daughter who is an aerospace medical technician.
Captain Kalonie Taylor, a fellow Women’s Mentorship Council member views Settle as a professional mentor. Settle has been supporting and encouraging to Taylor and numerous other airmen, and often times sends inspirational or congratulatory texts to those that she mentors, shares information and resources, and fosters involvement at all levels.
“When I ask somebody to be my mentor, it is because I see something in them,” said Taylor. “The moment I knew I wanted her to be my role model was when she introduced herself and made the effort to get to know everyone else. That’s an example of a good leader who cares.”
During the course of Settle’s military experience, she has witnessed positive changes in policy that have created an openness in culture within the Air National Guard and across all branches of the military. Recently, the 101st Air Force Uniform Board enacted changes to hair policy that give women more options concerning hair standards. As of February 25, Army grooming standards in AR 670-1 also made similar changes in regard to female hair length and styles.
 “The National Guard has provided me an excellent opportunity to succeed personally and professionally,” said Settle. “There is structure, planning, empowerment, direct honest feedback and ways to challenge myself. There has been professional military education to help me further evaluate myself and tools to assist with my weak areas. There is an amazing support system and Guard family that I can 100 percent count on no matter what.”