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Another Day in the Office

In my “former life,” I was a soldier. For some reason, there is a stereotype that all, or at least most, female soldiers serve behind a desk in an office. While I don’t see why there’s an issue with that, seeing that they raised their right hand and took the oath, truthfully there are also males in office positions as well.

For the longest time, I witnessed this stereotyping, mostly among male soldiers, but as I get more and more involved within the spouse community, I find it so disheartening to see some of that group starting to do the same thing.

With women in combat being approved only “recently,” it’s easy to see where there might be a misunderstanding in the civilian world. The surprise for me came when I talked to a number of spouses whose soldiers had been strictly in ground units that were all male. They asked me what it was like for me with my husband working around females.

The fact of the matter is, females have been around in positions that are attached to these ground units, but they’re simply not acknowledged.

As of 2012, well before anything was passed, more than 800 women had been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan; 139 of those resulted in death. If you look up some of these female service members you will find turret gunners on humvees that went on patrols, MPs that went out to search female prisoners, aviation pilots and crew chiefs, medics that were attached to infantry units—those who didn’t sit behind a desk.

For my job, I did sit behind a desk, for a very short period of time, but then I manned a machine gun on a Blackhawk for the majority of the rest of my time in.

I won’t forget the night we were going out on an air assault and the timeline was bumped back. We shut down, and I took my flight helmet off only to baffle a platoon of infantry guys who didn’t think that was a job females were “allowed” to do.

Also in my memory are the “Hero Missions” I was a part of—the first leg of a service member’s final flight home. Many times, this meant cleaning out an aircraft afterward while trying to fight tears back. How I wish I could tell the families of those fallen that their service member was given the utmost respect. Or that even now, as I write this, 10 years after my last Hero Mission, I still fight tears over the extreme honor we were given in those few short minutes.

For me, most of my time wasn’t behind a desk, it was in the day-to-day of transporting passengers. It was in getting used to being shot at, being involved in air assaults and Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown missions. It was hearing MEDEVAC-MEDEVAC-MEDEVAC on the duty radio.

It was the Hero Mission.

I ask that, out of respect, out of the moments that are carried within, assumptions not be made that because I happen to be a female I must also be in a certain line of work.

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