Wednesday, October 17, 2018

We don’t talk about what is painful.

March 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Bras & Boots, Most Recent Posts

Travelling through Pennsylvania on the turnpike, I came to a pay booth and the young man there noticed the base sticker on my windshield. He thanked me for my husband’s service. You see, I’m 62 year old woman and most people don’t think of me as having been a soldier. The young man quickly apologized for his assumption and was obviously embarrassed, but I thanked him for his thank you and asked him to please continue thanking service members and their families for their service.

For a long time now, I’ve believed that the major problem with the public’s perception of women in the military, is that women who served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the first Gulf war, and now OEF/OIF just haven’t talked about their experiences. Many have had problems with divorces, threatened loss of children while deployed, PTSD and other issues. We don’t talk about what is painful. I believe, as women we’re much more likely to say something like, “I was just helping out”. Men say “I served” while women are much more self deprecating. We are reluctant to own our experience.

One way I’ve fought back about this is to put a “Veteran” license plate on my vehicle. I too salute the flag when the National Anthem is played or sung. I’m going to be joining a local Veteran’s organization very soon.

If all of us who have served take even baby steps forward in owning our service as women soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, we will promote a much more public and positive image of women in the military.



14 Responses to “We don’t talk about what is painful.”
  1. cw3kk327 says:

    young man there noticed the base sticker on my windshield

    This happens to me just about every time I visit the Navy base near where I retired as a Army Chief Warrant Officer. The blue sticker is on my windshield my retired ID card is blue… obviously I am a retired officer yet a salute is not rendered until sailors are corrected. Very disrespectful.

    Still today you call VA, DEERS, DFAS and you are asked for your sponsors or husbands social security number.

  2. Cori Braswell says:

    This story touched me as no other one could. I am so tired of saying I am not a dependent wife. I served for twenty years and wish we would start being recognized as the veteran!!!

  3. lynn krogulski says:

    I disagree. I am a 20 year vet and in no way do I describe my service “as well I helped out a little”. I describe my service as being 100 percent self sacrificing and equal to any man’s accomplishment. I describe in full detail the hell I went thru on many occasions….no way in hell would I down play my role….are u kidding!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Bob Ford says:

    Please believe me when I state that I know, FIRST HAND, what it is like to be rejected by the VFW. Notice I did not state “FEEL” rejected. During and after Viet Nam, the VFW did not want the “…long haired, hippy, drug, freaks from Viet Nam. So, I speak from experience.
    Fortunately, many things have changed and not just the fact that the dinosaurs have died. Much of the change came due to the need of the organization needed to evolve. Much of the change came as a result of younger Veterans joining and becoming involved.
    Women Veterans need to join and become involved in the VFW, American Legion, Marine Corp League and other service organizations. Women Veterans need to be heard; locally and nationally. Women Veterans need to cause the EVOLUTION; hopefully without REVOLUTION.
    The VFW has something to offer Women Veterans who have been deployed.

  5. Pattij says:

    Thank you for your comments and your service. I too served though I didn’t retire from the military. I am proud of role that I and other women have played.

  6. Kathleen Blair says:

    I was actually slandered and libeled by our local Yamhill County Oregon Republican Party operatives who publicly accused me of lying about my military service. I finally resisted the urge to punch them, and went down to the County Clerk’s Office and recorded my DD-214s from the Marine Corps and the Air Force.

  7. Pappy Hickman says:

    I have had the honor to have served with many Women Marines and Sailors for over 20 years and have nothing but high praise for their performance. They knew as I did that we could always trust and rely on each other. I thank you and them for their Service.

    Gysgt Hickman
    U.S.M.C. Retired

  8. Lisa DesRosiers says:

    One of the best steps I ever took was to attend a women’s veterans’ celebration a few years ago. We spent the day at a VA office and compared stories from WWII to the present. It saddened me to learn that the same problems I encountered were still going on with our returning vets. But in the end it was tremendously encouraging to meet other women who served with the same sense of pride as I felt.

  9. FormerWM says:

    Someone asked why I was so much more “loud and proud” about my service in the Marine Corps even though I spent less than a full enlistment (we were expecting, an OUT in the early 80s) and the husband spent 12 years. I replied that when we go to events, people assume he’s the service member and I basically have to “try harder” to be recognized as part of the brotherhood.

    Hence the bumper sticker “Women Marines. Fewer. Prouder.” At least they don’t ask when I’m in my vehicle. 🙂

    Semper Fi to all of us who answered the call.

  10. Rosamary Lindsey says:

    I too was not considered a Veteran for a long time or that I did anything while in the WACS but I always set everyone stright. I first applied for Veterans Status at the unemplyment office back in 1962 and they looked at my name and said you are a Veteran. I said yes and proud of it. I always said Veteran on all forms I filled out. I might not get the job but I did get the interview.

  11. Sandra Krusa Gillaspie says:

    I was a Viet Nam Era Army veteran from ’65 to ’67 pushing paperwork for AIT grads at Ft. Dix, NJ. Hidden, invisible until 3 years ago when I started going to a women veterans group which took me out of the closet and deal with my sexual trauma PTSD issues. I never took credit for my work excellence in the base mission but I do now. There is something unique in all us female veterans for being warriors and survivors. You go, girlfriend!

  12. Jane Weissner says:

    I agree, as a woman veteran in 1982-1988 USAF, I find todays times that there is no relief for the woman veteran benefits of this era. I have missed out in back to school programs sponsored for women vets, when today it would be a great opportunity. I was lucky enough at the end of my years to work side by side with Vietnam Vets & POW’s who truly believed we all worked together. There motto was if we work together we play together. They were the last of a dying breed!

  13. Lila Spurgeon says:

    I too am a retire USAF veteran, 1976-1996. I have an Air Force Retired sticker on my truck and Air Force License plates and get the same thing, “Oh your husband’s retired”. I am proud to have served and I am a lifetime member of the VFW and proudly let them know that we are there to stay and to be a part of these organizations. More organizations are holding Women Veteran Luncheons. The last one I went to in Crystal River, Florida, there were 40+ women vets from all branches and one was in WWII. What a proud moment that was to listen to her story. Hang in their women…Keep serving proudly.


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