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Women In The Military???

As much as I really would love to breach another subject, this is the one that is first and foremost on my mind these days.  My eldest daughter, Cynthia, is going into the Marine Corps.  This is not something that we were super excited about at first, to be honest with you.  Not because we don’t support our military, nor because we don’t have military experience in our family, and not even really because it’s far away. The reason was simple. That’s MY daughter!

The thought of her waking up at wicked hours with little sleep already exhausted just to have people screaming in her face telling her she is nothing terrified me!

When she first told us about it, it was easy because it wasn’t a sure thing and we had plenty of time to do some soul searching. I thought it was a phase at first, due to her passionate involvement with our Marine JROTC at her high school.

Over time, however, I started to see a great change in my not so little girl. I started to notice some really great habits developing.  Earlier waking hours, less makeup, more confidence.  I watched the relationship between her Gunnery Sergeant and the Lieutenant Colonel and the kids and saw what I had always loved about the Marine Corps family.  Honesty, pride, trust, honor, encouragement and love.  The more I watched, the more I realized, that my problem was that I was afraid of things that didn’t just happen in the military.  My fears were rape, judgement, conflict, failure and injury.  The problem with this fear, is that these things could just as easily happen if she went to work at a grocery store!  The enemy always sneaks in the back door.

So, I had to sit down and really think about this decision.  I could either encourage it and regret it if something happens to her, or discourage it and always wonder if she would have been okay.  In the end, it’s not our decision, obviously.  It’s got to be her decision, but lets face it… when our kids are making these huge decisions, we really do have to make a choice to either support them or encourage them in another direction.  I still wasn’t sure what I should do and I just started praying like crazy.  Not like you would think, but I was praying for God to find a way to make me see this as a good decision if she was supposed to go.

The following week, I brought up Cynthia going into the Marine Corps to several people and boy, were the responses contradictory!  The first response I got was, “I would freak the hell out if my kids ever wanted to go into the military!”  I thought for a minute and said to myself, “Do I feel the same way?”  The answer was honestly, no.  When I thought in general whether I was against my kids enlisting, the answer was, no. Another response is “You aren’t going to let her go, are you?”  Uh… she is 18… Okay, moving on.

Just a day later, Cynthia calls me from school, so upset I could barely understand her.  She informs me that upon informing the staff at her school at that time, that she was going into the military and therefore wanted to focus more on JROTC at the other school more than their ‘University based’ diploma, that they shut her down with comments like, “I can’t believe you are taking the easy way out” and “Joining the military is what people do when they don’t want to put in the effort of college”.  My favorite was “Cynthia, you know what your problem is?  You’ve had it easy your whole life and just can’t handle it.”  Are you freaking kidding me? I won’t go into detail about my daughters NOT so easy life, but it hasn’t been a piece of cake, by any means. One of the staff even referred to her as going into the ‘F’ing military.  I can’t even tell you what was building up inside of me at this point. When I asked her what her response was, she said, “Yeah and thanks to the military, you have the freedom to say that.”  I was SO VERY proud of her!  That is exactly what I would have said.  The following weeks until the semester ended, the staff not only treated her with indifference but they also made it difficult for her to transfer by delaying her final grade postings.  I was sick to my stomach, and felt my ‘ All American’ roots reaching out all over the place! Moving on.

Finally, I just asked Cynthia, honestly and truly why she wanted to join the military.  Her response was so quick and so relaxed, yet passionate, that I just knew it was where she needed to be.  We never once had to wake her up for PT.  She never complained about doing her chores after an exhausting day at an event.  She was serious when she said, it is just what feels right. “It’s where I belong.  I want to be there when our country needs help.  I want to travel the world. They are family to me. It makes me feel proud.  I want to serve my country and if I’m going to serve, I want to be with my family.  I want to be a part of the best.”  These are the things that just blew me away.  It wasn’t about so and so doing it or “I just want to be cool” mentality and it sold me.

Then, something terrible happened.  A friend said to me, “I don’t believe women belong in the military.”  Okay, I had to ponder this for a moment because I had always been kind of on the fence about this one.  Not because women aren’t capable of doing amazing things but because there are some no brainer things that need to be openly considered. Of course, all these things are things that I had only given little thought to in the past. Just some of these things came to mind.

  • Woman + PMS + Gun = ?
  • Woman vs Man physical strength
  • Woman vs Man mental strength
  • Woman vs Man respect
  • Woman vs Man risk

Okay, so considering the first one… Even though it still gets a giggle out of me, this was my biggest concern. Who on earth is going to trust a pms’ing and ‘unstable’ hormonal woman with their life when she is in a panic?!  Not me!  Unless of course, she had top of the line training that taught her not only to control herself when she wanted to love everyone, but also when she wanted to shoot everyone else.  Come on.  This is something, that even me, a woman, bought into.  Of course you are going to deal with hormones, but testosterone is a pretty healthy competitor! These women are trained how to function even in their ‘dis-functional’ times!  There is no worry here.

Women vs men physical strength.  Men are typically stronger physically, but even a fellow Marine will tell you that female Marines are a force to reckon with.  They are taught the same intense fighting skills as the men that if put in the position would allow them to not only defend themselves but be productive in protecting their brothers and sisters in uniform just as easily as a male. There will never be any doubt that physically, men tend to be stronger, but skilled individuals are on a different scale in my opinion and not all men are stronger than all women.  Therefore, we must also admit that not all women can be weaker than all men.

Mental strength?  Well, I will be honest with you.  I think that this area completely depends on the individual.  I don’t think either side is stronger as a gender in this area.  I think that anyone that trusts their gender to be stronger than the other mentally is playing with a ‘loaded gun’. It could go both ways and there are waaaay too many crazies out there to rule out any gender as more stable than another.

Woman vs Man respect.  This one is difficult.  I think generally, women tend to receive less respect but I’m not really sure that I notice this so much in the military from the outside.  Never having been on the inside, I don’t really feel that I am knowledgeable enough to really express an educated equation, but my opinion is that women are WAY less likely to be respected out of the military as they are in it.

Risk… ah… the consideration that freaks me out the most.  Is the risk of rape higher for women in the military than it is for men?  Absolutely! Is the risk of rape higher for women out of the military than it is for men? Absolutely!  I’m not being candid about this at all.  I have to be honest with you… if this act was taken against my daughter in OR out of the military, I would pity the SOB that did it because he would never sleep again without wondering if that night was the night we found him.  Just sayin’.  Anyway, I totally understand that the risk is higher.  An even better the reason for her to learn these intense life saving skills! Hellooooo!

So, anyway, when my friend told me she doesn’t believe in women serving in the military I said, “Not all women can, but then again, neither can all men.”

I am so proud of our daughter and am really looking forward to the day that she can proudly say, “I did it! I’m a Marine!” We are excited to support her along with all the other troops.  I am so grateful to know that she is going to be out there making sure we can all sleep at night. I’m thankful that God laid this on her heart and that she is so proud to join such an elite group of men and women! I guess I AM okay with women in the military…

Way to go, Cynthia!  Oorah!Image

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