My military service made me an active participant in history and a witness to world events. When I think of that decade of my late teens and early twenties, I do so in the context of my military service: where I was stationed when this event happened or to where I was deployed when that event happened. That’s an experience that not many people can claim.
Immediately after boot camp, I experienced this connection to history, to the world, and to others that the military would create for me. I returned home for a brief vacation between boot camp and language school, and my parents threw me a party and invited family, friends, and neighbors. At one point, I joined several relatives and neighbors around a large table in my parents’ backyard. All of them had served in the armed forces. My grandfathers served in World War II, my uncle served during Vietnam, and our family friends and neighbors had served as well. As we shared hilarious and often humiliating stories about boot camp and training, I felt so lucky to be included among these people that I so admired and loved. It was also not lost on me that I was the only woman among them.
For the most part, I enjoyed my time in the Navy. My rating was a Cryptologic Technician Interpretive or CTI. I studied and learned Arabic at the Defense Foreign Language Institute in Monterey, California. After a few schools in between, I had the great fortune to spend almost six years stationed in Rota, Spain in an aircrew billet flying on board the EP-3E Aries II reconnaissance aircraft. In the Navy, I met some of the smartest and funniest people in my life.
I shipped out for boot camp almost twenty years ago and my decision to enlist has come full circle. Now I serve as the Deputy Secretary for Women Veterans Affairs and am honored to advocate for Women Veterans of the state of California. This too has been a great adventure, and I’ve had the incredible fortune to meet men and women who accomplished incredible feats of bravery, intelligence, and sacrifice during their military service.