I served in the U.S. Army from 1997 through 2001 as a medic. So it’s been 15 years since my transition from military life to civilian life. In that time, I have not joined any veteran’s organizations. Although I am very proud of my service and made lifelong friends, I did not want to be back in that male-dominated world of the military. VWV is appealing to me because this organization seeks to put together a community of women with military service as a binding experience.
I feel like I am again in a transition point in my life. When I was out-processing from the Army, my division (2nd ID) had a tradition of wearing a minutemen pin on your lapel during your last month in service. It was a symbol of your transition from military to civilian life. This pin has become a symbol in my life for all major transitions.You can see me wearing this pin in my wedding dress. I also wore this pin on my lapel during my PhD defense at UC Davis. At each occasion, I have taken a moment to explain the symbolism of my wearing a minutemen pin.
I believe that all of our experiences in life make us who we are. Some of our experiences feel very positive, while others we would just as soon forget. However, we cannot erase these experiences because the are indelibly written into our very beings. I wear this pin as a symbol not only of who I have been but also of who I currently am, and who I aspire to be in the future.
VWV is a community of women with whom I can openly share my experiences — with the expectation of understanding and acceptance. I do not have to explain what it feels like to be subservient to military authority, to wonder on a daily basis how you got yourself into this position while knowing that all civilians can see is the ‘noble’ choice to serve, or to feel the paralyzing isolation from leaving your military family behind. However, I do get to explore how these experineces have shaped my past and are continuing to mold me now and into the future, using writing as my form of self-expression and exploration. I hope you will join me in this transition from being a veteran who does not join groups to being a veteran that is part of a community. Together we can build a community of female veteran voices.
Looking forward to hearing from you!