A few weeks ago, I had the honor of being a speaker at the Roseville American Legion Veterans Day celebration, with fellow VWV facilitators Kathleen Taylor and Katy Campi. To say that I was nervous would be an understatement. As I prepared for the presentation, I wondered to myself, “Am I really the kind of Veteran they are looking for…thinking of…expecting?” I worried about how they would perceive me but, at the same time, I couldn’t help but notice how I perceived me. I worried that I wouldn’t feel like enough of a Veteran. I worried that my experiences wouldn’t translate…wouldn’t be relatable to real Veterans that had gone through real military experience.
I won’t sugar coat it; I still felt that way when I arrived, when I spoke, and when I left. But had to take a step back and self-check myself enough to realize that all of these worries and concerns were my own. They were part of my insecurities that say that as a woman, I didn’t have a real military experience. That only those who have gone to war are real Veterans who deserve to be honored. As I thought about it, I felt like (even though I felt a bit like a fraud) my willingness to be there spoke to every other person who also does not feel like a true Veteran.
My speaking at this event was not so that others could hear the wisdom of my words (I hope to God that’s not what they expected) but rather, my speaking there showed people the different faces of a Veteran. Perhaps there was someone in the crowd that felt like they didn’t fit the stereotypical mold of a Veteran. Perhaps there was a young child in the crowd that didn’t know that Veterans came in all shapes, sizes, genders, and races. Perhaps, I gave one person solace, that all experiences are worth writing down and worth reading.