A woman veteran never knows what is going to come her way. When she initially joins the military, she is proud to be able to do something for her country. When she returns to civilian life, she begins to question what has her country done for her.
I served 10 years in the the United States Arm Reserves and the VA, U.S Department of Veteran Affairs, says I am nobody. Despite being homeless and battling my own mental health concerns, I attended annual training. No matter what, I made sure I did my two to three weeks a year.
During basic, a drill Sargent told us that “females didn’t belong in his platoon”. He said “bitches belong barefoot and pregnant” in his kitchen. When I heard this, I laughed out loud and was immediately served a consequence. My consequence: Drop On Sight. This means that i had to do push ups every time I thought I heard my drill Sargent.
Aberdeen Proving Ground was the worst sexual harassment trap for women. I witnessed drill instructors and enlisted women have inappropriate relationships. Unfortunately, many women bragged about sleeping with drills sergeants. I did not support this blatant form of sexual harassment; sexual relations in hopes of favorable treatment or promotion. Aberdeen Proving Ground earned the nickname “Fuckfest” because of this behavior.
On one occasion, Another drill sergeant proposed we begin a sexual relationship. I told him that he was an E5 with 8 kids and had no money and couldn’t do anything for me. The truth is I was placed in a hostile circumstance: I refused the sexual advances of a superior.
Subsequently, I began to use alcohol to cope and get by. Rather then speaking with someone, I drank. The military teaches you how to drink and buff floors; Boy I could drink!
Years later, I had Gwendolyn, my second child. I became homeless as a form of tough love from my mother. I had my own issues I was dealing with such as divorce and looking for love and assimilation back into society.
I went to EAU and still wore that damn uniform there was no such thing as SSVF and people helping you look for apartments unless you include that housing specialist who was high on cocaine at Lenox family center. I vowed never to go through the shelter again.
It has been 21 years since this experience. I now have four beautiful children, a master’s degree, and a supportive husband.
Because of my experience, I am able to help veterans keep their homes. I vowed to help veterans achieve stability because they are my brothers and sisters in uniform.
While my experience was difficult, it affords me the ability to connect with fellow veterans in a way that makes them feel valid and heard. Do not be ashamed of your story. Use your story as fuel to improve your community.
For Veteran’s Assistance, please reach out https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/mobile/