This is my first post on the blog. It may be a little odd, but most of the material I’ll be discussing comes from a blog one of my fellow mass communication specialists wrote a few years ago.
As a woman in the Navy, I saw women around me every day. I worked with them. I ate with them. On deployment, we even shared living accommodations.
So, once I retired, my daily circle shifted. Sure, I still see women veterans at the Veterans Services office where I work at Frederick Community College, but I am also around teachers, students, people at stores, people at parties, and so on. Wasn’t I surprised to learn that a lot of Americans don’t have a full understanding of what women are doing in the military?
When someone thinks of a soldier driving a truck in Afghanistan, they aren’t picturing a woman. They aren’t picturing them as doctors or nurses. They aren’t picturing them as wounded warriors being flown into the medical facilities where medical personnel do everything they can just to keep this woman alive.
Most of all, when they see photos of coffins, draped in flags, coming off a plane, most people don’t consider that some of those coffins could be carrying women.
My friend, Jen Blake, wrote a blog for All Hands magazine about her experience escorting a fallen soldier home to her family back in 2014.
In her post, Jen talked about all the emotions she went through, as well as what she was doing, from picking up the remains, to going through airport security, getting off the plane, and all the way up to presenting the remains, in an urn, to the family.
I’m going to be honest here. Her post left me in tears. I still don’t know how she did it. I admire her for her strength in saying, “Yes,” when she got the call asking her to escort this soldier home.
You might wonder why she was asked to do this in the first place. After all, people don’t just randomly get calls to do this difficult duty. For Jennifer, it stemmed from the people she had met previously when doing a story about the Navy liaisons at Dover Port Mortuary at Dover Air Force Base.
One of the people that Jen talked to during her first story was a woman serving in the Navy as a mortician.
Throughout the blog post, people around Jen paid their respects to the soldier she was escorting. The urn was still in a box. All the people knew is that a soldier had paid the ultimate sacrifice. Even the woman sitting next to Jen on the plane told Jen she was honored to have flown with them both. At this point, it didn’t matter if it was a man or a woman inside the box. The only reason the reader even knows is because of the feminine pronoun.
As Jen’s blog post comes to an end, she talks about what it was like handing over this soldier’s fallen remains to her mother.
It was then that I put together all of the women in this story, and all the different roles they played in or out of the military.
The storyteller: Not only shared this story, but tells the story of both men and women serving everyday.
The fallen soldier: Paid the ultimate price.
The mortician: Spends her days preparing those who have sacrificed their lives to be interred with dignity and respect.
The woman on the plane: Saw firsthand and paid her respects to strangers who give their all to the military.
The mother: Faced a loss that no one should in losing her daughter.
All of these women are all part of weaving the military fabric.
That is what I hope to do with this blog. It’s not to disrespect the men in uniform in any way. I just want people to see the women and the many roles they play in the military.