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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Women and Others: Whys and Wherefores of Joining the Military

I thought this story from a woman soldier was interesting because it explains why women (and many others) might choose a military career. Thank you, Terry!

Guest blog by Terry Spear, Retired LTC, USAR

Why join the military?

From a many great-grandfather, who was a German mercenary, ordered to fight the Americans on the side of the British during the American Revolution, but fled the country and became a Canadian militiaman (he was so impressed by George Washington, several of his descendents were name GW), to my French-born great grandfather who was a Teddy Roosevelt Rough Rider, to my grandfather, a doctor in the Canadian Army, WWI, and my father, who was in the USAF, a prisoner-of-war of the Germans for 19 months when he was 17 during WWII, my mother, who joined the Army to get her US citizenship earlier (she was Canadian born), and a sister, also an Army officer, I joined the military because it was in my blood.

Service to country is really important to me. I was one of the first women commissioned in the US Army Reserve Office Training Corp who had been through the basic summer camp. After graduating as a Distinguished Military Graduate (DMG), I served as a personnel officer, and then as a mobilization officer, retiring as a LTC in the USAR.

When I first was commissioned, women were members of the Women’s Army Corp. But that soon changed and we were integrated into the all man’s Army. Our uniforms changed like the seasons. When I first arrived at my Personnel Officer’s Basic Course, we wore “cords,” a green and white striped blouse and skirt. Men wore khakis. This soon changed to a one-piece mint green dress for women. Civilians seeing me in uniform thought I was a Girl Scout Leader or an airline stewardess. True, it didn’t look anything like a uniform! Then shortly after that, we wore green pants, turtlenecks, white shirts, green skirts, which didn’t last either. Believe me, for the female officers, it was costing us a fortune! Next, they decided on a green skirt (couldn’t keep the one we already had) and a green blouse, which is still in use today.

Why join the military? I met people from all over the world, made friends from all over, enjoyed serving my country and my fellow soldiers, and now belong to a retired officer’s group locally. I’ve written about my father’s WWII experiences for the Ex-POW Bulletin, trying to keep the history alive, because our veterans are the ones who made us free.
War. Peace. Tolerance and Our Soldiers is a blog by Carolyn Howard-Johnson. She wrote the foreword for Eric Dinyer's book of patriotic quotations, Support Our Troops, published by Andrews McMeel. Part of the proceeds for the book benefit Fisher House. Her chapbook of poetry won the Military Writers Society of America's award of excellence.

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