Has the military been all I thought it would be?

During the Olympics, while I worked with the military as part of the security force, my friends and I spoke on a radio show about our experiences in the military. The explanation wasn't as simple as I'd expected.

This blog photo is my military “hero shot” with my C7 rifle that I named Betsy. When I look at it now, I realize how hilarious it is. I was only 18 years old and I felt a need to look very angry and intimidating. My helmet strap is dangling like Rambo and my lips looking ridiculously glossy. But my Dad remains proud that my fingernails were dirty, as though it was proof I was really into the whole working in the field thing. But what you can’t see, since I did some cropping, but a daisy is peeking out of the bottom of the photo. Sigh. There we go. My attempts at appearing to be Hard-Core Army Chick had been dashed. But at the time, this is what I thought the military was: All “HUAH” (a little military spirit saying that still makes no sense to me) and field skills. I know now that it is so much more.

So when I was out in Vancouver during the Olympics, a radio host discovered that my friends and I were in the military and she wanted to interview us on air. It was short and sweet and we could hardly hear her for the crowd cheering because there was a Canadian hockey game going on at the time! But I do remember one particular question. She said; “Is the military all you thought it would be? Like the movies?” My friend Joe and I looked at each other and sort of smiled. It is never what you think it will be like. But in the end, it’s turned out to be better.

I answered something like this: Basic training is pretty much what I thought it would be. Yelling. Shooting weapons. Cleaning the weapon over and over and over. Running. Exercise. And more yelling. And the military isn’t full with glamour. There’s a LOT of office work and behind the scenes action that is required to make it all work. But ultimately, what I didn’t expect was the friendships I’d made with so many great people. Here Joe and I were, after years of not really seeing each other but now we were working the Olympics together! Last week, I saw a friend from Logistics training and it was as though no time had passed. When you walk away from the military eventually, those are the things you remember. The friendships. Not the glory.

So I’m about to go out to Vancouver again for the premiere of a documentary, “Sisters in Arms”, about women in the military but more specifically, in combat roles. I’ve written about the documentary before and I’ve been invited out to be part of a discussion panel about women in the forces. Who knew I’d become an expert! So I’m excited to be a part of a film that really matters, about a topic so many people know so little about. I’ll be back Sunday to write all about it.

Vancouver…you seem to be a place where things happen to me. I’m crossing my fingers for yet another trip that serves as another reminder of why I love the military so much.


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