Read the latest article of BPW Foundation’s every-other-week Joining Forces feature that brings us the voices of women veterans telling it in their own words. If you are a women veteran who would like to share your perspective, please contact us through our Joining Forces for Women Veterans Facebook page, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
By Danielle Corazza
As a woman veteran, I am surrounded by stereotypes. Things I ought to be, things I ought to say, things I should have done – seems everyone has an opinion on where I’ve been, where I should go, and of course, what I should do next as a female vet.
Sad to say, I’m used to it. I’m immune to either the blank stare response when a stranger inadvertently finds out that I am a veteran, or the smirk/leer that men offer when they imagine me with a big gun strapped on my back and mud-wrestling with another woman in uniform.
I mean, what kind of real woman wants to play in the dirt with guns?? Ha.
The problem I do have is that the media has decided all of our stories (and therefore my story) must be tragic. Females who volunteered to serve our country must be poor, pitiful, defenseless creatures who should be patted on the head and sent to therapy. I do know that women veterans are more likely than their male counterparts to be homeless, or to have been subjected to sexual trauma or harassment, but even those women are strong and seeking solutions, often while raising children at the same time.
Even if you recognize the media’s need to seek the negative or sensational for ratings, women vets are still getting the short end of the stick.
When reporters ask for your story, it seems they only want to hear about the victim – a women who has suffered endlessly at the hands of men, or who has not found the help she needs to make the necessary transition back into the civilian world. Stories about women veterans only seem to deal with the sexual harassment, the mean boys, the depression, and PTSD. All sadly real, but not the whole picture.
The media seems much more interested in the fall, not the fight or the success.
This flies directly in the face of the reality I live in – the one where female veterans are not only better equipped and prepared for everyday life than many of our civilian counterparts, but much more used to standing our ground, defending our turf, and fighting (ahem, negotiating) for everything outside of the equal pay the service gave us.
I’m not saying that there aren’t sisters among us who need a helping hand or a strong shoulder – there definitely are, a glance at those headlines will give you the horrifying specifics. (For details on how BPW Foundation is helping women veterans navigate the transition, visit our website.)
I am just saying that celebrating the successes doesn’t take away from those who are working on getting there. And maybe, just maybe, by portraying our strengths every now and then, we can offer a bit of inspiration for those still on the path.
If you’d like to share your story of inspiration, send me a note at email@example.com .