(NOTE - I don't have many pictures from bootcamp/AIT... a lot of my military pictures come from my time in Iraq. Just FYI)
Let's start with bootcamp, shall we? Unlike most, I had a friggin BLAST! I LOVED bootcamp!!! <3 Maybe it was because I knew what to expect, having already heard stories from my parents (who are both prior service Army). Or maybe it's because I was one of the older "kids" (I was 23). Whatever the reason...I loved it. I had the respect of my drill sergeants because I didn't give excuses. If I fucked up, I owned it. I was competitive. I didn't let the fact that I was a woman get in the way, or be an excuse, as to why I couldn't compete at the level expected. I busted my ass until I reached the level of competency expected. I was nominated to go to the Soldier Board (where you go before the drill sergeants and answer a bunch of questions regarding military history, weapon stats, drills, customs and courtesies, et al). The obstacle courses were fun as hell. I think that my attitude, the amount of effort I put forth, and the fact that I didn't take shit from anyone, helped me in the long run. I was accepted by the men in my unit as one of the guys. I didn't get all "butt hurt" (aka offended) by the nasty jokes that the men would share. If you go in the military, you need to realize that this is par for the course and part of the day to day experience. I dished it right back to them if they had some snide comment to say. Yea...I got lots of comments about my physique (very curvy, hourglass figure)... but I took all comments with a grain of salt and was able to think of some kind of snappy come back at the time.
The hardest part for me, was being the mother that was away from her child and couldn't talk to him every day. I might have been able to use my phone once a week to call and talk to my four year old.
|Playing football at COS Kalsu|
When you're a woman in a man's world...in a world where we are just starting to gain the respect of our peers and being treated as equals... You have to learn to roll with the punches. To realize that it's not all going to be flowers and unicorns. There's GOING to be vulgarity. There's GOING to be rude, sexist jokes...sometimes at your behalf. There's GOING to be times where it's hard and sucks ass. But what sets you apart from the rest of the "sissies", is how you handle that adversity. Once you gain the respect of your fellow Soldiers, you have protectors and friends for life. While in boot camp, I never had to worry about someone taking advantage of me, or trying to assault me. My guys respected me too much, AND they were protective. Imagine having 30 big brothers, all willing to throw down any jackass that was giving you a hard time and/or hassling you.
On the flip side... if you try to go in there with the mindset that you're going to use your feminine wiles to get ahead and try to win everyone over.... flirt with everyone...cry at the drop of a hat...use the fact that you're a woman as an excuse for not completing tasks to standard... Then your time will be HELL. You WILL NOT be respected. You WILL be the butt of jokes and harassment. Is it right? No. But is it right for you to play the "but I'm a woman" card when you are training to be a SOLDIER? Ah HELL NO. As a woman, I had/have NO respect for someone trying to pull the wool over peoples' eyes and have an excuse for everything. In my mind, there is no male/female. We were all SOLDIERS. And that mindset, my friends, is what I believe helped me throughout my short military career.