ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Judy Leone’s career in the Army started in September 1968. She ended up at Fort Sheridan in Chicago, working as an office manager with an Army Criminal Investigations unit. She later became a criminal investigator, one of the first females in the service to hold that position, spending most of her time in West Germany.
“Well, I was the only one in Germany. I was the only one in Europe,” Leone said.
Leone says she did dozens and dozens of cases, and worked with all branches of the military. It was work that helped keep American troops in Germany safe, but also hold them accountable. And working as a woman in uniform, Leone says — no surprise — she worked with men constantly. But the tensions you might be imagining, just weren’t there. Her work environment, ahead of its time. General George Patton IV even called her into his office to recognize her work.
“And they were very respectful. They really were. I have to say that they respected me as a criminal investigator,” Leone said.
Depending what demographic figures you look at, the military’s ranks are about 15% female today. Leone says she sees herself as a trailblazer for women in the military. She helped usher local women into the service, some of them making careers and retiring.
After leaving the service in 1972, Leone earned a master’s degree in theology and worked for the Diocese of Rochester for 40 years. She’s now at the Veterans Outreach Center helping veterans obtain permanent housing. She says her Army enlistment, always a source of strength for herself and others.
“It helped me in the fact that it allowed me to be who I am. It opened doors to let me know that I could do anything that I wanted to do,” Leone said.
Her message for women, especially in 2020: Anything is possible.
“But I think it’s very important that our women step forward and they know that they are not below anybody.”