A native of North Dakota, Carolyn Becraft has spent her entire career working with the military community, primarily on family and personnel issues. One of her main concerns has been the role of women serving in the U.S. military.
After graduating from the University of North Dakota in 1966 with a BS in Home Economics/Nutrition she served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. She left the Army with the rank of Captain after she became pregnant with her first child. At the time, women could not remain in the service once they started a family. Accompanying her Army husband to Germany, she received a master's degree from the University of Southern California. Her thesis topic was "The Effects of the Women's Movement on Wives of Military Officers."
After returning to the U.S. in 1980, Ms. Becraft focused on issues pertaining to Army families. As the Chair of the Army Family Action Committee, she designed the Family Action Planning Process used today by the Army to identify and prioritize family policy issues. In 1982 she was hired by the Women’s Equity Action League (WEAL) to direct the Woman and the Military Project that focused on advocacy for military spouses and women serving in the military. The grant was funded by the Ford Foundation. She later took the project to the Women's Research and Education Institute (WREI). During this period she worked extensively with the media, Department of Defense, Capitol Hill, Congressional committees, and testified before Congress on women's issues. As a result of her advocacy numerous laws and policies were adopted by the Department of Defense that dramatically improved conditions for military women and military families. She has also served as Director of Communications for the International Center for Research on Women.
In 1993, Ms. Becraft was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy), where she was directly responsible for all community support policies that govern military services. She also had direct responsibility for the worldwide Commissary and Exchange systems and the Department of Defense Dependent Schools in the U.S. and throughout the world. In 1998 she was confirmed as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs), a position she held until 2001. Upon leaving the Defense Department Ms. Becraft assisted numerous organizations with Strategic Planning and Executive Coaching Services.
Throughout her career, Ms. Becraft has been a passionate advocate for women serving in the military as well as for improved quality of life for military families. Some of the accomplishments she achieved include leading the effort to repeal combat exclusion laws that restricted women serving in the military from being assigned on ships and from flying fighter aircraft; establishing spouse employment assistance programs; instigating changing the use of word "Dependents" to "Family Members" when referring to military family members; establishing policy to standardized tuition assistance service wide including military spouses; establishing a preventive new parent support program; and sponsoring conferences addressing military families' concerns.
The Carolyn Becraft Papers have been divided into five series as follows:
Series 1: Biographical
Series 2: Writings
Series 3: Media Coverage
Series 4: Organizational Records
Series 5: Miscellaneous