I Served, Too

The Struggles of Being a Woman Veteran

This week we celebrated Veterans Day. The one day set aside to honor those who have served. Facebook profile pictures will suddenly change to a day of you in uniform, you’ll enjoy your free Starbucks coffee, and lunch out somewhere.

With having children, this year we also ended up at their school for a special Veteran’s Day program, something we have enjoyed every year. But this year was different.

Heading into the school cafeteria, students were handing out programs and red, white and blue ribbons for the Veterans.

Student- “These are for Veterans.”

I hold out my hand.

Student- “You’re a Veteran? These just for Veterans.”

Me- “I am. Girls can be in the military too ya know.”

He reluctantly handed it over to me.

During the program there was a time where they asked all those who had served and are serving to stand up. With us currently being at what is considered a remote location, the Veteran population was your normal older generation of Grandpas and Uncles recounting their Vietnam and Korean War Days. With the simple request from the student on stage, my husband who is currently active duty and myself stood up.

A few rows in front of me there was another female Veteran maybe a few years older who turned to take stock of the crowd. We caught a look at each other with a shy smile and a nod of understanding. You weren’t alone.

On my own dealings with the VA, when I would arrive for an appointment at a new location I would usually at the front desk asking for the right directions on how to get to where I needed to be. It was usually answered with “Your husband will need to go down the hall…” before cutting her off with a “No, the appointment is for me.”

A common misconception of an innocent child that is often echoed within our mainstream society. The struggle of not quite knowing where we fit in sometimes, and how to handle those times when our service sometimes gets discounted.

I challenge my fellow female Veterans to continue standing up for themselves and others. I challenge my friends to reach out, hear their stories, and not forget about the 13% of the less than 1 that took an oath too.

Women Serve, Too.

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