I was only 17 when I joined the Navy.  Those who know me now might laugh to hear it but I had zero leadership skills or experience just out of high school.  I always felt the need to make everyone happy and avoided conflict at all cost.  I didn’t have any strong desires or designs for my future.  It was the events of 9/11 that created a patriotic pull convincing me the military was a noble way to spend four years figuring out what “I wanna be when I grow up.”

Looking back at my 20-year career, I was lucky enough to have LPOs, Chiefs, Senior Chiefs, some stellar LDO/CWOs, and a particular Captain that saw something in me.  They allowed me a shot at a leadership position or gave me responsibilities with which, especially early in my career, I was incredibly uncomfortable.  In hindsight, these positions gave me experiences and the knowledge I needed to find and grow into my leadership style.  I would be remiss not to thank these leaders for their trust and guidance through the years.

Throughout my time I have witnessed and been exposed to instances of unfair treatment targeting women in the Navy. I have personally been targeted with unfounded accusations of using friendly or inappropriate relationships to gain positions of leadership.  Behind closed doors, there were whispers of me “sleeping my way to the top.” I’m human, so naturally I felt hurt.  But as much as these accusations hurt, I found that the only way to help myself was to prove to everyone I earned what I have.  Regardless of how I got a job, be it by virtue or by seniority, I was driven to EARN that job every single day.  I never wanted any of the people I worked for and with to doubt why I was chosen for the position.   While I’m sure these negative experiences have helped shaped me as a person, I know what I dealt with (and what my sisters have gone through) will remove discriminating obstacles for the Sailors that follow us.

I believe it’s important to recognize the unique nature of a woman’s struggle.  In February of 2019, U.S. courts ruled that there exists a persistent and pernicious stereotype that women advance in workplace not based on their skill and competence, but based on their sexuality.  While our brothers and minorities also struggle with instances of unfair treatment or common workplace struggles, it is almost unheard of for a man to be accused of engaging in sexual favors to get ahead or wearing a tight uniform or get attention in their career.  Having people try to taint your accomplishments with the idea that your successes are only due to sexual activities is a terrible feeling that no other woman should feel in the workplace.

Over the years, I’ve learned stories of amazing women who have suffered daily acts of degradation and even sexual harassment just to honorably serve our nation. I can’t express how grateful I am to Station Hypo for taking the time to share these stories and give women a platform to both recognize how far we’ve come and also identify progress that needs to be made.

 The Navy is a microcosm of America, so societal problems naturally carry over to our culture.  The primary difference is we have the tools to be better.  Obviously, we’re not yet perfect but I can tell you my experiences are nowhere near as severe as those who served before me.  Prior to 1994, women weren’t allowed to serve on surface combatants while today even submarine duty has been open to women for over a decade. This proves the Navy has corrected processes and developed programs to help level our playing field.  We’ve come a long way, but we all stand on the backs of the strong, fearless women who have gone before us.  It was their force and determination that led to calmer waters, and I consider myself lucky to travel in their wake.

Any great change worth fighting for comes with its challenges but like those who came before us, we are strong, tenacious women who stand ready for that challenge.  I am proud to serve alongside every one of you.  Just remember, putting on a uniform everyday is a privilege that someone earned for you.  What will you earn for the Sailors of the future?

LT Alicia Oberholtzr’s biography:

LT Alicia Oberholtzer, USN
Cryptologic Warfare Officer
IWTC Corry Station Department Head
CWOBC Instructor

Lieutenant Alicia Oberholtzer is a native of Arlington, Texas.  Her naval career began in 2003 at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois.

While enlisted, LT Oberholtzer completed the Basic Serbian-Croatian, Spanish, and Persian-Farsi language courses at the Defense Language Institute and served tours at Naval Security Group Activity Medina, in San Antonio, Texas and Navy Information Operations Command Georgia.  Her assignments included; Watch Supervisor for the Balkans Counterterrorism mission, Direct Support Surface Operator deploying with the USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge for NSA Georgia’s largest military mission, Lead Linguist for 104 Combat Mission Team, and was hand-selected to fill gapped billets as the Command Career Counselor and Command Fitness Leader for a command of over 1,200 Sailors.

LT Oberholtzer received her Bachelor’s degree Cum Laude from Excelsior University in 2015 and was commissioned as an Ensign through the Limited Duty Officer program in August of 2017.  She redesignated to the Restricted Line, Cryptologic Warfare Officer (1810) Community in March of 2022.

In February of 2018, LT Oberholtzer reported onboard USS San Antonio (LPD 17) to serve as the Information Warfare Officer.  While onboard, she ensured the successful accreditation of the SCIF and revitalized all cryptologic, electronic and undersea warfare systems throughout an extended availability period.  LT Oberholtzer then reported to Commander, Naval Information Forces in Suffolk, VA to serve as Officer in Charge of the Cyber Unit Level Training and Assessments Team.  She led a team of highly skilled military and civilian members in the planning, development and execution of United States Cyber Command directed operational certifications for 20 Cyber Mission Force Teams.  LT Oberholtzer is currently serves as a Cryptologic Warfare Officer Basic Course Instructor at Information Warfare Training Command, Corry Station, and is Department Head for two departments.

LT Oberholtzer is a qualified Cryptologic Warfare Officer, Information Warfare Officer and has earned the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist and Enlisted Information Warfare Specialist qualifications.  She has been awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3), Navy and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (4), and various campaign and service medals.  In addition, she is currently pursuing a Master’s in Organizational Business Management and has been married to Brian Oberholtzer since 2013 and is the proud mother of Bryce.