BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Women Veterans Speak Out: Dog Tags

Posted by YWM on October 31, 2012

Returning guest blogger, Elizabeth McLean, an Air Force Academy graduate who has transitioned into the civilian world in search of fulfillment after serving on active duty for four and a half years continues to tell her personal story of life after the military.

The following is a monologue that I wrote and preformed  for the Ms Veteran America contest. I was speaking a homeless veteran on the streets of San Francisco. In the scene I leaned against a bench in tattered military garb, with a blanket wrapped around me. Starting out…singing to myself.

 “hello darkness my old friend…I’ve come to talk with you again. While the vision softly creeping..plants the seed while I as sleeping…”

Sleep. Right. I am sure that is exactly what you all think I am doing here. Curled up in a fetal position against the graffitied wall with tatterered garbage blanket I found on the curbside—hell, I haven’t slept in months!

Do you have any idea just how cold it is before the sun comes up? I can’t even feel my own toes in these combat boots. And not like it really matters anyways cuz’ I’ve got everything I need right here in my bag. Canteen, compass, my son’s stuffed animal you threw back at me for you took him away for the final time. And then..I have these dog tags.

{STAND} Oh I see you walking by with you half eaten deli sandwich, thinking you can just toss it at me and I might give you these tags. Well that is not how it works. These tags are the only thing I have left in this world that reminds me that I once made something of myself. I am not anything now!

I used to be this beautiful girl. Poised, sophisticated, hair pulled back neat in a bun. But I didn’t mind getting dirty with the rest of those guys in the Wild West. Sure I HATED when the bombs when off. And I hated those convoys probably more than ANYTHING else in this world. But there was something about being out there…petrified with all of them. That beat the hell out of being alone out here like this!

I thought one day…I might be able to tell my war stories. But it really doesn’t seem like anybody wants to give me a chance. I knew it would be a rough transition when I got back…but I never in million years thought I would end up like this. Tired, filthy, freezing..so incredibly alone.

All I really wanted was for someone to listen to me. To call me a war hero, or at least recognize the fact that I was out there serving too. But instead you just walk by, kick the can and call me another homeless BUM underneath your breath.

Well sir I can tell you….this homeless VET; she fights more battles in a single day then you will probably ever fight in your life time. But she is…tired. You took away my home, you took away my money, you took away what was left of my family….and right now, the only thing I have left is the freedom that these dog tags represent [grasp tags]….and NO SIR…you will not ever take that away from me!

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4 Responses to “Women Veterans Speak Out: Dog Tags”

  1. I cried when I read this, very moving! And I am sharing on my facebook fan page. This is exactly why we are doing what we are!

    I just wanted to let you know what it is we are doing for our women heroes and for MI. https://www.facebook.com/OurHomeTransitional
    The plan is to acquire & renovate a large 10 bedroom house for our first transitional home to be known as OUR HOME TRANSITIONAL. It will be a place where our female vets and their kids come to when they are facing challenges & are in need of a place to call Home. The women who need services are not limited to the Flint area. As long as we have a room available we will take in any woman hero from anywhere in the US who may be in need of our services.
    While here, they will be provided various types of assistance in efforts to transition to civilian life and self- sufficiency. As home one is up and running successfully, we will be acquiring several others on the block/area to provide a haven for our family. Training and assistance programs to be provided by the Local, County and Federal Government will include: Job training/placement, mental and physical health, educational training, vehicle, and home placement assistance, to name a few.
    According to the MI Homeless Coalition, there are over 150 homeless or about to be homeless female vets, some with children, from Saginaw on down to Detroit, right now! The need is there!
    We have a Board of Directors (one of which is a 10 yr male Veteran who wears many hats in the success and progress of OHT and a female vet with 7 yrs Military service!), a fantastic group of experienced volunteers, many active and retired Military, VA reps, and an Advisory committee, all working hard to see this program succeed. We are registered as a nonprofit in the State of MI and we have filed for our 501c3 status via our lawyer. We are supported by Kettering Entrepreneurial Society and UofM Flints Innovation Incubator as well as many other local and national orgs! http://www.ourhometransitional.org/supported-by
    We are currently working with Genesee Co Land Bank, HUD, LISC and Salem Housing for a donated or low priced house for each veteran completing our program! This should be acquired within the coming months. Land Bank has committed to giving us some homes that are completely stripped as long as we have the funding/ability to rehab and upkeep which is where SV MAP comes in. They will need to be renovated to a huge degree as most of these empty homes in Flint have been stripped completely. We have DE Recycling and many Flint residents ready to volunteer! Also, donations and grants along with other funding will help as well. http://www.ourhometransitional.org/apps/donations/
    We have our DUN’s and CAGE #’s to apply for Govt grants and contracts and we have a professional doing our Business Plan! We also view this as an opportunity to revitalize & beautify the local area, as the ultimate goal is to have several houses within Genesee County that our vets will transition to, some urban and others located in a rural setting to give our transitioning women a city or country choice. We will all work together and partner with other neighborhood organizations to keep the areas clean, beautiful and safe, while bringing in federal funds to MI as these heroes successfully transition to civilian society and self-sufficiency.
    If you could please join our page and share it as well as it takes a village! If you would like to be listed on our site as a Supporter and/or Resource please let me know! http://www.ourhometransitional.org/veteran-resources

    I hope to gain your support via sponsorship/donations/volunteers/word-of-mouth/exposure/etc!
    View local coverage of OHT here! http://www.ourhometransitional.org/media
    Thanks!
    Carrie Miller
    Executive Director
    810 309 9822
    http://www.ourhometransitional.org Copyright © 2012 Our Home Transitional. All Rights Reserved.

  2. […] Women Veterans Speak Out: Dog Tags. […]

  3. macdoodle said

    Are you getting help for a HUD/Vash certificate? A claim filed or passed? I’m just very short timer older vet did little i am multi-disabled and was homeless or in unsafe about a decade. IT IS HELL. It should not be. How do we find out where you are and what you need to get the help to change this?

  4. macdoodle said

    How can I help? Are you on a list for HUD/VASH? Have a claim for PTSD or other in or for other assist as appropriate? Going to a vet center or the VA ? I was homeless or unsafe near a decade and multi-disabled – IT IS HELL and should not be.

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