5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Joining the Army
Five things I wish I knew before joining the army: 1. You will encounter a lot of sexism. Sexism is very much alive and it is in full force while being a female service member! Often times, before my deployment I would use this to my advantage and get out of doing certain physical tasks, which at the time I figured it to be harmless. As time went on, I started noticing that some of my male battles were starting to view me as weaker? Which to me, I found to be completely insane! I can do anything that these men could do, and often times I could even do it better! I would start seeing these men get chosen to be on special op teams that I wanted to be a part in, and in the back of my head I always had a feeling it was due to my sex, but never spoke up. I learned very early on that you need to hold your ground from the beginning, it's much harder for a female to gain respect in the military field (especially being a military police) than it was for a man. It wasn't until we had deployed and my staff sergeant was ONLY putting me in office positions (I am a military police! Not a desk/officer person!) that did I speak up. I told my sergeant I am smarter than these men, more levelheaded and just as capable, IF NOT MORE, than these men you are putting out in the field, I am competent in everything that I do, I want to be doing the job that I trained for! So, after that they started putting me with the rest of my male battle buddies, which I was super excited for! I thought "YES I WON! THEY SEE ME AS A SOLDIER, NOT A FEMALE!" After the momentum of that win went away, it went to the same thing. Granted, I was never put in the office again, but I still wasn't being given the same jobs as the rest of my battles, but I didn't make a fuss about it, didn't want my "female hormones" to bother any of my male counterparts. But then Osama Bin Laden was killed, and our FOB was being rioted and they needed reinforcements from our unit (The rule for our unit was if anyone needed reinforcements, the first five people to our equipment room was the Force Team for that job)! So naturally, I would always make sure I was RIGHT NEXT to this room so when the time came I would be there! The time came! I was the first person in this room and started gearing up for battle! I was so excited! My sergeants and the men in this room were quiet, and looking at each other, then looking at me. Another male was disgusted at the fact that he wasn't on the team because I took HIS place. The rule was set, fair is fair. So finally, I looked at my battle buddies and told them "I went through basic training, JUST LIKE ALL OF YOU. I graduated, went through military police school JUST LIKE YOU. I went through combat training and passed everything with flying colors JUST LIKE YOU. There is NO REASON why I can't do this, I have trained for this. You can NOT tell me NO!" I was just upset! This was so insane! My sergeant just replied " You understand? They want to kill you, its not games in there." I responded "They want to kill us all. It's no different." So they let me go, and the mission went without issue. You encounter a lot of this in the military and you need to stand your ground from early on or it will become who you are. You are a strong soldier and no one's opinion of you can change that. Don't fall into the stereotypes.