“It’s been almost 15 years since I wrote this on the eve of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. I was a young lieutenant in the Air Force, a single mom and a friend of many awesome military women with so many different background stories. I suppose I was a little upset when I wrote it because at the time so much was being discussed– even among my own civilian friends– about the men ready to go off into another war. All the women I knew were proud volunteers absolutely ready to do what what was required of them, yet I didn’t see much written about them. So I wrote a few lines about my military women friends, not meant as complaints but to show their strengths. Each line is about an actual person I knew or worked with. As I dug this out today it was pretty cool thinking about where they are now and all that they have accomplished since 2003. I’m proud to be associated with them.”March 2003
I received an email today describing “today’s military.” It bothered me because it never once mentioned a woman. I have seen tough, brave people in the military, and lots of them are women. I thought I’d introduce some to you.
According to recent statistics, almost 90,000 of us are single parents. We raise our children alone. Our exes are Marines, Airmen, civilians.
We can shine a boot, change a tire, cook dinner, drive a carpool to baseball practice and then take apart an M-16 in 45 seconds flat.
We work 12 hours a day. We don’t remember what make-up is or the last time we wore a dress.
When the phone rings at 0500, we hear “This is recall message #4. Report immediately to work with your mobility bags. Do not shower. Do not shave.” We panic. Day care doesn’t open early for us for exercises. We scramble to wake our sleeping babies and find a neighbor who will answer their door that early in the morning.
We are women on our fourth last name. We are women who have left 2 young boys home alone all night so we could work the night shift. We are women who married hastily a month later so that would never happen again.
We are single twenty-somethings who were told single military men don’t date military women. (“It’s too complicated.”)
We are pilots in Bahrain. We have been to the Sari club in Bali. We are truck drivers and nurses.
We are melancholy. We are hard core. We’re tattooed and pierced.
We are commanders of chemical companies who have deployed to secret locations and left our 5 year old son with in-laws in Texas. We missed his birthday. We don’t know when we’ll see him or our husband again.
We may not want war, but we are Americans and will obey our commander in chief.
We are medics in Korea. We have seen things that will turn your stomach.
When helicopters crash on training missions, we hide our faces and cry.
We are separated from the ones we love more than we have ever been near them.
We are veterans of Desert Storm.
We are wives of fighter pilots.
We are wives of cops.
We are fighter pilots.
We are cops.
We are dentists who deploy and pack heat to war-torn East Timor.
We are munitions flight chiefs who know better than any man how many JDAMs and MK-84s are in our bomb dump.
We are daughters of soldiers, daughters of Airmen, daughters of immigrants. Our ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War.
We danced to INXS in the 80’s. We are college educated. We used to be poets.
We drink Crown Royal and Wild Turkey. Sometimes we go to church.
We Scuba dive. We boonie stomp. We own dogs named Princess. We have torn ACLs. We are crud players.
We have a top secret security clearance. We wonder if there’s a full moon in Iraq tonight. We would gladly board a desert-bound C-130 right now to be worth our stripes, our bars, our oak leaves.
We’ll continue to leave our children with strangers, with grandparents and with neighbors so you can continue to live in peace.
We are Marines, we are Soldiers, we are Sailors, we are Airmen.
Some of us will die for you.