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WASHINGTON - Lt. Gen. Karen E. Dyson made Army history Aug. 12, becoming the first female finance officer to achieve the three-star rank.
During her promotion ceremony at the Pentagon, Dyson lauded the teamwork and the shared satisfaction in "supporting something bigger than what we can ever achieve on our own."
Dyson, now the military deputy for budget to the assistant secretary of the Army (financial management and comptroller), was most recently the director of the Army Budget Office. She served there during sequestration and other tough fiscal challenges.
She is now one of five women in the active Army serving as a lieutenant general. She said she is greatly honored by the promotion and appreciative of the opportunity to continue to serve.
"As I stand here today, I am truly inspired by this characteristic of selfless service and service to others," she said.
She referenced the newest Medal of Honor recipient, former Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts; and Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, who was killed last week in Afghanistan.
"To serve along with Soldiers like these two leaders, to be in a profession with such grave consequences and in a profession that has such a rich history of contributions to meeting our nation's demands is incredibly humbling for me," Dyson said.
It is a tremendous achievement to rise so high in the Army, said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, who hosted the promotion ceremony.
"Karen's diversity of assignments has really grown her and allowed her to be considered for and selected to be a senior leader in our great Army," he said. "We're very proud of her."
She has had a distinguished career, commanding at all levels and doing the jobs expected of great leaders, he said. She will continue to make outstanding contributions to the Army, Odierno said.
"We need somebody who's not afraid to understand that, and who will help to lead us through that change over the next several years, and Karen Dyson is the person to do that," he said.
Dyson, who was commissioned through the ROTC, has a bachelor of science from Missouri State University, a master of business administration from Austin Peay State University, and a master of science from the National Defense University.
She has commanded at all levels through brigade with command of the 266th Finance Command. She has deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
The experiences have given her a great appreciation for the "contributions of our Soldiers, of our leaders, and of our civilian workforce," Dyson said.
"My career evolved over time; what I learned very early on is the power of teamwork, from the perspective of the support role that I have always played as a finance officer," she said.
Financial management, she said, is critically important to the Army and the nation.
"We talk about accountability, audit readiness and enabling commanders through resource allocation. I'm very proud of our record," she said.
Dyson comes from a Family with a strong military tradition.
"As I often say, my career began when I decided to enter the Family business," she said, recalling that her father was a Special Forces officer who served two tours in Vietnam.
"Our home was truly wherever the Army told us to be, and that took us to many, many places around the world," she said.
Dyson thanked her parents, and the many Family members and friends who traveled from throughout the United States and even Germany to attend the ceremony.
Her husband, retired Air Force Col. James C. Chamberlain, along with Odierno, affixed the new rank on her uniform. Her brother, who is a chief warrant officer in the Army National Guard, and her nephew, who is a senior airman in the Air National Guard, uncased the three-star flag during the ceremony.
Dyson joins the ranks of the other female three-star generals currently serving in the Army: Judge Advocate General Lt. Gen. Flora Darpino; Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho; Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence Lt. Gen. Mary Legere; and Deputy Commanding General of Army Materiel Command Lt. Gen. Patricia McQuistion.