Thanks for Your Service
Veterans Day celebrates those who have served their country and lived to see another day. Veterans are a unique group of people that are organized, punctual and loyal to family, employers, coworkers, and friends. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point.
I am a Veteran of the U.S. Army. My military service was filled with men telling me that I couldn’t do something because I was a woman. To me, this was a challenge. I accepted the challenge. As a result, I graduated at the top of my AIT class, I was the first female “Opfor” (Opposing Forces) team member in the history of Ft. Riley and I became one of a handful of females that ran their own section in a combat
heavy unit. I was certainly in a very select group of women who held an E-6 slot as an E-4! I think it is safe to say that I loved to be in charge. I loved to test people. Being a soldier gave me to structure to satisfy that need. I was fierce, I was mean, and I was demanding. I was perfect for military service.
It’s interesting that the events that I remember the most are the ones where I rebelled against authority and was rewarded for it. I wanted everyone to know I was in charge. It was something that was understood with the women who served during that time. We had to be better at everything, be more squared away, than the men we served with.
I served with my fellow soldiers in Desert Shield/Desert Storm. At the time, I was leaving behind my sweet little two year old daughter. I was in charge of two pretty young male soldiers in my section that were hesitant to go to war. The long and the short of it, I told them, is that you raised your hand and swore to defend this country. They reluctantly conceded and went to work preparing equipment and supplies to take with us. In the end, my soldiers were an asset to my section and to our unit. They
stepped up in some very harsh conditions. They listened to what they were told by leadership and they followed through with every order I gave them without hesitation. They were good soldiers who knew that I had their backs no matter what. The three of us worked well together and I wish that had not lost track of them after I left the service behind.
Being a Veteran is sometimes difficult. It is not an easy thing for some to repeat stories from wartime deployments. For example, my stepson did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was shot at and he was, at times, forced to discharge his weapon. He doesn’t really tell many stories about his time in these places. Likewise, many Veterans who have been deployed to these areas are generally silent about the things
they experienced in these places. I think that is largely due to the memories and emotions that are stirred up.
Many times, Veterans feel out of control with what is going on around them, so they shut out those experiences. I can relate. It is important that we learn from Veterans before there is nothing to tell. Veterans often develop PTSD and other physical and emotional problems that leave them just as
out of control as they felt during their wartime deployments.
I am proud to say that I served. I look back fondly on those days and the memories that eventually come back to me. I am different now. I am not as mean or demanding as I was back then.
The lessons I learned along the way as a soldier have stayed with me. Being a soldier has made me a better person, wife, mom, employee and friend.
Army Strong! Hooah!