Brigadier General Evelyn “Pat” Foote is a retired U.S. Army general. Her groundbreaking achievements include being the first female Deputy Inspector General of the Army, being the first female brigade commander in Europe, being the first female faculty member of the U.S. Army War College, and being the first female commander of Fort Belvoir, Va. She is a champion for women’s advancement in the armed forces and extinguishing sexual assault and harassment within its ranks.
Foote was born in 1930, in Durham, N.C. She graduated from Wake Forest University with a degree in sociology, working her way through college, in part, as a file clerk for the FBI. After graduating, she held a series of jobs in Washington D.C., including again at the FBI, at the Washington Daily News, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Grayline Sightseeing. Continually frustrated by the glass ceilings and pay discrepancies in these positions, she joined the Women’s Army Corps at the age of 29, lured by the equal pay for men and women.
Foote rose through the ranks and, in 1967, she was sent to Vietnam to be the first female public relations officer in Saigon. During her 30-year career she commanded at the company, battalion, brigade, and major installation levels. She lobbied hard for the recruitment of greater numbers of women into the armed forces after the draft ended in the 1970s, and commanded one of the first sex integrated training battalions. In 1986, she became one of only four female generals in the armed forces.
Ever since her retirement in 1989, General Foote has stayed involved in military life as an advisor, non-profit board member and public speaker. She was temporarily called back to duty in 1996, to serve as the Vice Chair on the Army’s Senior Review Panel on Sexual Harassment. She was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the American Battle Monument Commission and served on the original committee charged with the site selection, architectural competition and construction of the National World War II Memorial on the National Mall. In 1998, she became the founding president, now President Emerita, of the Alliance for National Defense, a non-profit formed to be a reasoned voice for women serving in the armed forces. She also serves on board of the Army Women’s Foundation and is a founding member of the National World War II Memorial Foundation.