What the hardest part of being a female veteran?
People don’t get you.
Most people who meet me don’t know that I am a military veteran. Why would they? I just look like a normal girl, like you. I don’t tell people when I first meet them, it just doesn’t come up in conversation. And when it does, normally because someone other than me brings it up. People often don’t know what to say.
There is often an awkward pause and then a “thank you for your service.” And really what else is there to say. I even find myself strangely unable to talk when I meet another female who has served. Normally we are standing in a room full of people and it is hard to ask the questions you really want to ask.
Are you lonely too?
Do you miss the military?
Where did you go?
We don’t speak up
Maybe it is because we don’t talk to people about our service. It is a hidden part of ourselves that we don’t quite know how to deal with. We have done so many things most people haven’t done and it is hard to relate. For me, I can’t always talk about my deployment experience. And to stop and answer questions about any of my past military life requires me to stop and think and look into a side of life I don’t normally visit.
It is easier to just just pretend like you are normal as you attempt to fit in. Maybe if they don’t find out in the beginning about the secret I’m hiding they will still want to be my friend.
We have been hurt
And maybe the not talking about it is a way to protect myself. Allowing me to forget the past. The hurts hidden deep inside of me. The one person I try to forget the most from my deployment is a girl who wasn’t even in the military, wasn’t even on our team. But she attempted to make part of my life a living hell. And as females often do, she knew where to dig in to make it hurt. It wasn’t until I wound up in tears that she finally decided to back down.
Women like her, who hate me for no reason except for the uniform I wore. Looking back into my past and remembering. I’d rather just bury it inside.
And even some of the good parts of military life are easier to ignore. Like forgetting the look of awe and amazement when a little girl saw you dressed up in uniform. And knowing that you were having an impact right then to show her that she could do anything she wanted to do.
Military Spouses are not an ally
My husband is still in the military and you might think that military spouses would be the next best thing to finding another female veteran friend. It isn’t like the are hard to find. But military spouses don’t enter the military in the same way military members do. Part of it is the oath you take when you become a military member. A willing participant to the military lifestyle and what it represents.
Military spouses join the military family through marriage, not through sweat and tears. They often have misnomers about women in the service from rumors they hear. The typical stereotypes about females serving in the military are not good. So, there is a rift between these two groups. As our paths rarely intersect.
Both part of the military culture, but hardly able to understand the other sides’ woes. Until you walk the life of each part you can’t understand what is going on. But we can work to change that. Military spouses should be female military members greatest ally. While female service members should work to empathize with military spouses who just don’t understand.
Female Veteran – Military Spouse Caught in the Middle
So, here I sit in the middle. Hearing both sides of the story and knowing they are both right and wrong. Is there a way we can find to understand each other a little better and close the rift between us instead of letting our differences drive us apart?
I hope so. I’m taking the risk that if I share my story. The real story. The story I swore I would just keep to myself. If I can help open up the lines of communication and start to bring some healing then I know it is worth it.