I walked into the Microsoft office in suburban Washington, DC, with the attitude that I—the soldier named Susie—wasn’t really there. Instead, I was Joan of Arc—a young woman who found herself called to fight for a noble cause and who’d have to be an equal to men to do so. Playing this little mind game [...]
My name is Mary Kay Riccardi. I wanted to join the Army for a while, but chickened out many times before I finally decided it was time. While I was in basic training, I was harassed by all my fellow soldiers. I was “too slow.” I was “too weak.” I never gave up, even when [...]
It seems like a long time ago when I joined the Army. I was naïve, didn’t have any ideas about what I could do and wow, the army wanted me. Man, did I feel important. No one back then told me how smart I was, or how I could make it in college and this [...]
Dear Oldest Friend, It’s been a few months since your husband left again for Afghanistan. The last time he was gone, something bad happened, but it was the kind of bad that could have been worse. He was lucky to have escaped with minor injuries, and you were fortunate to not receive that visit. In [...]
Saturday, January 16th, I attended a memorial service for my friend, Captain Mariah Kochavi. I hesitate to use the term “friend”, because I am not sure I knew her well enough to claim that title. However, I think Mariah is probably comfortable with it, and considering that she gave me something of considerable value, no [...]
In September of 2010, I was up late as usual and typed the following words into google: US + veterans + organizations + women. This was a search that I had done off and on over a period of six years. Previously, it had led me to fabulous groups such as the Army Women’s Foundation, [...]
This letter is written to my son, Luka. I published a book and the cover has a photograph of a solider who lost his life fighting in Iraq. This is my explanation to Luka about who this man was and what the military is. Dear Luka, I love that every time I get on Facebook [...]
I will never regret my service and if I ever did get well, I would go back to Afghanistan in a heart beat. I just wish the DoD would admit something is happening over there with our health and look for the causes. I believe this is Gulf War Syndrome all over again…
If a Marine wasn’t measuring up to standards, it was my job to get them back in the game. If a male
peer was harassing a female subordinate, it was my job to correct him. I had to be unwavering in my
conviction. I had to be a woman and a leader. I grew isolated. I grew strong. I slowly grew into more of
the woman I idealized when I was younger.
The recruiter was great, not pushy. He explained everything. And, perhaps because I had mentioned growing up in the military I did not get the sugar-coated version of basic training. There was no mention of time on the beach, trips to Disney World (basic training for Navy women was in Orlando at the time), fancy condos, parties.