Leigh Ann Hester, now a police officer in the suburbs of Nashville, Tenn., is the first female soldier since World War II to receive the Silver Star medal for valor in combat. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption David Gilkey/NPR

Left: Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught during her time serving in Vietnam; when she joined the military, she received training on how to put on makeup — but not how to fire a weapon. Right: An illustrated poster of Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, the first woman since World War II to receive the Silver Star for valor. Both women are profiled in this series. Courtesy of Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught; David Gilkey, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught; David Gilkey, NPR