Women of the Military

Pros and Cons of being a Woman in the Military

Episode Summary

What are the pros and cons of being a woman in the military? Check out the real-life stories of military women on the Women of the Military podcast. In this episode, I have pulled pieces of advice from some of the last 137 episodes with women sharing the advice they would give to young women considering military service.

Episode Notes

This is the second round-up advice so check out episode 100 to see even more advice from military women. 



Check out the full transcript here.  

Thank you to my Patreon Sponsor Col Level and above:
Kevin Barba, Adriana Keefe, Lorraine Diaz

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Episode Transcription

Amanda Huffman00:00

Welcome to Episode 138 of the women in the military podcast. I'm sharing the advice that military women gave when I asked the question, what advice would you give to a woman considering joining the military? I did this episode back for the 100th podcast episode and it is the most popular podcast episode. So it made me think I should do another one. And this Saturday is June 12, which is women's Veterans Day in some states. It's the day that President Truman signed the women armed service integration Act, which enabled women to serve as permanent regular members of the army, Marine Corps Navy and the Air Force. So I want to celebrate women's Veterans Day by reflecting back on the advice from women about what advice they would give to women join the military. So I hope you enjoyed this episode. I really loved creating it. And we'll probably do another one like this in the future. So stay tuned. You're listening to season three of the women on the military podcast Here you will find the real stories of female servicemembers. I'm Amanda Huffman, I am an Air Force veteran, military spouse, and Mom, Women of the military podcast in 2019. As a place to share the stories of female service members past and present, with the goal of finding the heart of the story. While uncovering the triumphs and challenges women face while serving in the military. If you want to be encouraged by the stories of military women and be inspired to change the world, keep tuned for this latest episode of women on the military. Before we get started with all the advice, I wanted to let you guys know that I launched a product line for women of the military. And I'm really excited to share with you because I've been playing with it behind the scenes. And I've been ordering shirts, and stickers and mugs. And I've been really excited with not only the quality, but having a women in the military line of clothing, shirts, mugs, and other products. And I'll continue to add more products to the store. But I just wanted to let you know that that's available. And you can go to the link in the shownotes. But you can also type in women dash of dash, dash, military dash podcast creator dash spring to go check out all the different products available. And right now I'm running the code AIRMAN5 to save $5 on your first orders. Thanks so much for the support. Now let's get started with this week's episode,


Tiye Young02:49

Do it now, do it right now. And if you want to show that you can be a better person that you can support your country or your state, do it. Now, the more you wait, the more you prolong your goals. And if you have to think about something so much to see if you're the right fit for it, then you need to look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what you really want to do with your life. I want to be a part of the greatest fighting force in the entire world. And once you say that to yourself, go to your recruit station right now. And know that this is not about you being a girl, this is not about you being a female, this is about you being a soldier and officer and a leader. And if you think you're capable start now, 


Ashley Metesh-McCoy  03:31

This is a tough one. I mean, in general, I tell people, girl or boy know that there's a possibility I'll get deployed. I mean, people join and they're like, you know, doing it for the glory doing it for school money. And for some reason, even in this day and age, they don't think they're going to get deployed. And so they try to get out of a deployment don't do that you're not ready to just go over there and do what the purpose of the military is doing. For women in particular, it's a cool time to be joining because of the changing rules around being able to fight in combat roles. And as many women who have come before you that weren't necessarily tagged as combat troops that have been in combat situations, you know, we know we're capable of it, we know we can handle it when we need to. It's a very cool time to join. I encourage people who are serious about service to their country and serious about, you know, the prospect of being deployed to join but also don't worry too much about forsaking or sacrificing your femininity. You don't have to I know it's so hard. We get into this point where we're like in the military, and we like we said have to feel like we have to prove ourselves and for women a lot of times and I'm guilty of it myself, we have to sort of masculinize ourself in order to feel like we're respected or fit in. You don't have to do that. I'm not saying you You walk around with like 10 inch fingernails and lots of bling and makeup, but you don't have to become someone you're not to be successful you can be you and you can still do it. Because if you try to be someone you're not, it's not sustainable. And people see right through that when


Dina Farmer05:16

I was going in, I told you that I was in a rush to get in. Ultimately, the reason I retrained to bio is because I wasn't happy and calm, whatever you do, don't rush to come into the military. Like, if there's a specific job that you want, I would definitely make that known to your recruiter because I was in a big rush. And then ultimately out, I wasn't really happy with what I got. Another thing is, it's kind of hard to be a female in the military only because there's a lot of men, even in the Air Force, we're still a minority, as far as being in the military goes. So there's a lot of men that can make it difficult. I know when I was going out for airman below the zone, and I got it, a lot of the men in my office were really ticked off at me for making it because I worked hard. And my supervisor at the time cared a lot about me. So he put in a package for me. And you know, you can't do anything about what your supervisor does for you. I think I experienced it wasn't like I wouldn't call it sexism, I would just call it well, maybe that's the right word. I just felt like they felt like we were getting handouts, I guess, because we're female, I would just be aware of that. I guess that would be the correct term, because I got a lot of that in the military. But just because that happens, don't be afraid to stand out above the rest,


Christina Youngblood  06:33

I think is something that if you truly feel is in your heart to do, you should do it. But I highly recommend timing a plan, once you join, there's going to be a point where you know, okay, this is what I want to do for you know, the rest of the time, I'm going to do my 20 years, or there's a point where you're like, no way, I can't do this anymore, I need to get out. So having a plan is essential to that I didn't do my schooling while I was in. And I should have because while you're in, you can utilize tuition assistance instead of your GI Bill. So I'm now trying to finish my degree and fit it in the GI Bill timeframe, which is another thing that for most has changed, they have forever to use it, I do not have forever to use it, I have my 10 year limit to use it, I just think it's essential to have a plan in case once you join, it's just not what you want to do for the 20 years. You know, for me, it wasn't what I wanted to do for the 20 years, and for my husband, he's gonna stay on as long as they tell him he can. So it's not for everyone. So just have a plan.


Ashley Gorbulja-Maldonado  07:38

If you want to do it, do it. There are no limits. We've constantly talked about our societal roles. and nice to say that's harsh, harsh. If you want to join the military, do it, there are so many opportunities, you'll find a sense of empowerment, you will come out of your basic training, realizing how strong and versatile you are. And whatever job you choose, you're going to do well at that job. You got to crush those anticipated negative thoughts, you got to stop putting limits on yourself and letting other people make decisions for you, as a woman, you got to be confident. And if that's the decision you want to make, you got a whole asset, not half asset, you got to commit and do it. And as a young woman that constantly you know, in a mentoring role when I have younger, I have younger female cousins and I mentor Girl Scout troops and I have conversations I go to the LeBron James I promise school and I show them by example that anything is possible that you are the only person that can put limits on yourself. If you say, Oh, I can't do the military. Oh, I can't have anybody yell at me. Oh, nonsense. So your mom and dad yells all the time. You know, they're always gonna be somebody telling, you know, there's an equation of events, responses and outcomes. I always joke you know, my dad used to tell me no, he always used to kind of fall in line just kind of go with status quo. Don't push it. Oh my gosh, out your mouth. You're doing too much. Ah, and you know, I always say I'm like, you know what, Dad, I'm glad I was defiant. And I said no. And I just chose to be myself. Because one e4, I use my VA home loan to buy a home, I debt free with three degrees, I was able to start a business at 20 you know, 25, write a book, start my memoir, you know, do all the things that I want to do. I don't strive to be mediocre. And I don't encourage anyone to do that, you know, continue to be your best self every day. And as a young woman know that there are other trailblazers out there and find a mentor. If you want to join the military, do it. 


Olivia Nunn09:24

The opportunity to do well in the Army today is far more than the opportunities that I had or my predecessors had in 2016 to D open up all career fields, right. There's nothing in the army that a woman cannot do. You want to be in artillery, you got an want to go be a tanker, you've got that you want to be a ranger that is open to you. So I think that is a really cool opportunity to be able to capitalize on that your gender is not going to stop you from achieving what you want. But you have to put in that hard work. You have to be willing to come in Do the work that is necessary to be successful, I would also say that I would highly recommend young ladies to look at the army as an opportunity, it does not have to be something that you decide to do a career like I have, but you can absolutely use it as a launching pad is a great resource for you to one come in, get some worldly experience, get some leadership experience, understand a little bit about you and how you think and act and how you can be part of the whole and then get your education paid for. It is also an opportunity on the backside when you take off that uniform, because everybody transitions, everybody takes off their uniform at some point in their life. And when they do, because they walked through the doorway called the army, the opportunities on the backside are going to be far more than if they didn't walk through their companies, there are schools and their agencies looking for those people that have served because they understand that a service member comes to them as a valuable member of their team, they get what it means to serve, they get what it means to be a team member, they know dedication, they have great ethics and values. And they're going to be a great team member for any organization. And that's what they're looking for. And they know that they're going to be a better student, if they choose the student route, they're going to have a higher grade point average are going to give back to the school. And so I think that's what we've got to tell these young ladies is that the opportunities exist in the army. And it's a great place to find yourself, it's a great place to dig in, see what you're capable of, and then just exploding from there.


Sherry Eifler11:29

It's a wonderful opportunity for them to grow into who they are, and to gain skills and confidence in their life journey. I really think the military as a unique way of just pushing you professionally, emotionally, physically and personally. It really helps you rise to the challenge and it opens your eyes to a wider worldview. Because for me, I came from a little town I didn't experience much it was a farm town, we were kind of an offshoot of a big city. And if I had never left my hometown, I wouldn't have had the experiences that I've had now. So I always encourage young women to go for it because they will do things that they never thought they could do. And they will see their opportunities just come wide open for themselves and and for their family. If they happen to already have a family


Jamie Chapman12:25

Don't do what I did. This coming from the gal who walked into the lot in Fort Sill Oklahoma mall and enlisted. No. But on a more serious note coming from a career person just as with any career, the military is not going to be for everyone. So no, I loved it when I first enlisted and went through a bad situation. And that's ultimately what kept me from from thriving. Some people enlist in the military and they never thrive because it wasn't right for them in the first place. Research the military research this life, talk to people who were a part of it and research the jobs. I enlisted as a petroleum supply specialist, which couldn't be the most wrong job ever on the whole entire Big Planet. For me, I'm sharp as a tack, I could have done any of the jobs. But I just took the first one I could have commissioned, it could have been an officer, I have a master's degree. At the time I was in college, I'd vocal scholarships to college, I could have joined the choir, you know what I mean? There's jobs where you can be a radio DJ in the military, there's so many jobs I could have done. But I didn't do my research. I didn't know I just took whatever they told me research the jobs. Also, if you're going to commit commit, don't drag it out instead of testing the waters. And then you like, you're not sure if it's right for you. So you join the reserves like I did. That's a longer contract. That's the six year commitment. If you want to join commit, do one or two years active duty is my recommendation. Totally immerse yourself in it get good at what you do, then you'll know at the end of that shorter contract, if it is the right fit, if you want to do it long term and get a deployment under your belt before you have a family. I think that's super important, especially for women, because it's tough to leave babies do your research. If you are a smart cat and you're as bad as low, take your ASVAB again, study your butt off, get your score higher, it opens up more job options for you. No more currently talk to service members see what their jobs are like, and then really search seriously and talk to service members for you make a decision. Because if you talk to them, they make it sound great. They make it sound like it's the best thing ever. And you just don't get a true representation of what it's like to join the military. I guess my last words of wisdom is truly the military is not for everyone. So if you're considering joining, take the decision heavily weigh your options, look at other things as well look at other industries that aren't the military. And you'll know if you do your research, well you'll know if it's the right fit for you or not.


Maureen Elias14:51

My advice would be to go about it very thoughtfully. There are inherent risks that you take when joining the military as a woman and I'd be lying if I didn't address that and If you're choosing on having a family soon, you know, having a family while on active service poses some challenges. They're not quite completely prepared for women in the military having having families, it can happen, you can make it work. But it's just something to think about, you know, if that's your dream, are you going to be able to leave that child for a nine month deployment, you know, are you going to be able to leave that job with your parents, if both you and your spouse are in the military and deployed, however, the opportunities for growth and development that you get from serving in the military, you might never have in the civilian world, you have the opportunity to serve, to serve in capacities that you never thought possible doing things that just 20 years ago, we're not even options for women in the military, the doors have opened up for us immensely. That doesn't mean you're not going to have a battle to fight to prove that you deserve to be in that space, because there are still leadership out there who don't believe women should be serving in the military. And I would also say, similar to my experience, while you're a mess, do not be afraid to say no, if they're trying to force you into a job or an opportunity that you don't want or that you're not interested in while you're at maps, they tried and try for me. And I kept saying no, make sure that everything that you want, or that you're promised while you're at maps that you have in writing, and that you have a copy of because sometimes those things don't always translate when you arrive at basic training. But if you haven't in writing, they have to uphold it. And then don't be afraid to ask what bonuses are available. When I joined. They didn't have a whole lot of bonuses out there. But I I just asked, I was like, Hey, you got any bonuses, and they came up with like $7,000 worth of bonuses, just because I'd asked about it, if I hadn't asked they wouldn't have said anything about it. So go into it with your eyes wide open. And then if you do join the military, try to find a mentor or sponsor, because sometimes things will happen and you're not quite sure if it's appropriate, or if it's the you know, just the way things are in the military or what you should do about it. And like for me when I had that incident where I needed help because no one was training me to do the job I wanted, I went to a senior woman personnel, and I asked for her help. And she was absolutely there to help me know that like, hey, this isn't Okay, we're going to take care of this. So having, you know, senior level women or women veteran to help guide you through that career can make a huge difference. 


Trina Martin17:04

I would say do it. And I say that because not only have I met people, I have traveled the world I have been everywhere. But it also may it defied my character. I think if I had joined the military as that young, naive nineteen year old who recruiter sucker, I don't think I would be where I am today or be the person that I am today. Growing up, I was very, I came from an abusive mother. So my childhood was kind of traumatic, I was very introverted, I was shy, I had low self esteem, and the military shaped me and for me, and that brought me out. And I believe being in the military made me know my voice to speak and to do the things that I'm doing now with my business. So if you're thinking about joining the military, by all means, do it. It's a great opportunity. Whether you make it a career or whether you serve a few years, I think it's definitely a great decision, you will change as a person. But not only that, you'll be able to travel the world and you'll meet people who you normally wouldn't have come across in your daily life.


Mari Eder18:11

Go for it. Make sure you know, do enough research, do enough research to know if you're right for the airforce. If you're right for the Coast Guard. If you're right to go in the army, which one offers you what will work for you, I'll say this about the army is there's something there for everyone. If you want to be a cook, want to be a chef go in the army, and they'll send you to a advanced school and at some of the work with some of the best chefs in the nation. If you want to be a warrior, you'll be that no matter which service you go into, but each one has a culture and each one is culture is different. So pick the one that fits you that you think fits the way you like to work and how you get along with people, how you make decisions and where you want to go. I would say go do something at the age of 18 or 19 that gives back now that is a gap year or two or three you don't have to stay forever just go have the experience of travel, do something different challenge yourself


Jennifer Pacanowski  19:04

I I can just speak to the truth of what I what I already do when I'm approached by a woman that wants to join the military and I just give her all the truth that I can because when I joined in when many of us join we get the recruiter golden ticket they promise you everything even if you're like me and was thorough and got it in your contract, they breached the contract Anyway, you know, rape in the military or the civilian culture happens all the time to women there is that do you want to roll the dice? Do you want to see if it's going to happen to you? Or do you want to try to find another path and then also I discussed with them very clearly when you join the military you give up all of your work rights and you are property you are government issued and if you're okay with that, if you're really okay with that, then I would say move forward if you're not okay with like, you know, being penalized for a sunburn because you've damaged government property. Pretty, maybe the military is not for you and to explore all your options and potential. It's just truth in recruiting that I hoped for. And more than anything, be truthful, if I'm gonna be exposed to something like I need to know. And that's not always the case. But I'm willing to talk tourists and recruiting for sure.


Ben Killoy20:16

Well, I think there's one thing that when you think of anybody joining the military, I would really look at who do you want to be on the other side. And so a lot of these ties to my transition advice that I have to give like people that transition out like, Oh, this is my I'm going through a transition I'm getting out of the military, but people never really look at the first transition getting out is actually the second transition is when you first became part of the military, that was your first transition, and you had goals and objectives, you had dreams, and you had something you wanted to get out of that military service. And I would challenge you to really go understand what that moments going to be when you transition into a military branch. Because you want to understand we want this to we want what do you want this vehicle to help you transform into? What do you hope to come out of it? Are you going and just kind of because you're lost, and you're maybe hoping that they help give you some direction, which isn't a bad idea, because sometimes you get exposed to a lot of different life in a very short amount of time through the military. So that can also be a way where you get to see the world exposed to new ideas. But overall, again, it goes back to who he wants to be on the other side of that military service, I would really focus on that, because then when you get out of the military, you're going to know when it's time, because you're not going to be like hiding in the military, because you never knew why you're joined. Or maybe you joined on an instinct to maybe join to the withhold to all of that goes back to you have to know really what you want to get out of it. And for me, I joined because I'd never done anything hard my life. And this was a major test of whether I could do it. And I would say it was extremely difficult the entire four years. But that really gave me the foundation of the core of things. I'm just now on accurate. Like I'm now going back and figuring out things report on me because I wasn't this intelligent on this topic. And they didn't have this advice at me when I was getting out. So I had to figure it out my own self and listen to other people in hearing what they're saying. But really challenge what do you want to do on the other side of your military service and see which one which branch may be aligned to get to there? And what resonate? Like, do you feel called to be that person the other side of military service, think of them because that gets you excited. And that should get you excited when you think about leaving military service, because you're gonna be left a different person, you want to make sure that the right person you want to be,


Jodie Grenier22:17

I would say, get the easy stuff out of the way first, like your physical fitness, don't let anyone question that, you know, if you're strong in your physical fitness that buys you credibility elsewhere. So make sure that you're up to snuff in terms of your physical fitness, you know, take some advice from from great stoics you know, don't take anything emotional, and people will attack your label or your role before they actually know you. And so I would say physical fitness be a bit of a stoic, but also, I think I was in a position way back in the day where there was like this idea, there could only be one woman. And that seldom offer the opportunity where you could pick up and support other women. And I see that drastically changing. So I would offer go in the in the military and do your absolute best. And make sure that while you're doing that, like you're mentoring and helping another woman along the way, and if you don't know, if you don't have one sequence out,


Hana Romer23:17

If you made it through boot camp, and you're there, you're worthy of being there, and you're no less than the guys that are there. And you don't have to do anything more or extra to prove yourself to them unless they're doing something more in extra to prove themselves to you, which is rarely the case when it comes to work. You are equally as deserving and worthy to be there and just as badass as everybody else who has made it through that training. And so I would say just be you and do your job.


Janell Hanf23:48

I would say go for it. I have a little story I want to share here because one of the things that I got to do last year was run the Camp Pendleton Mud Run. And it was the first time that I'd run that 10k course since I was in high school. So I had this really cool book and experience of Wow, the last time I was on these trails, everything about the Marine Corps was still a hope it was still a future. And then last year, I got to run it with a team of my Marines who were wearing, you know, boots, and Utes, so our camouflage trousers, our boots running through the course as a team and just reflecting on that at the end of the day. It was like, you know, the Marine Corps was what I wanted it to be for me, I got to do the things that I really wanted to do. I got to deploy, I got to go to Afghanistan, I got to learn and grow and meet amazing people up and down the chain of command and I really became the woman that I wanted to be by joining the military and it wasn't an easy journey by any means like I was I was counseled in my entry level training for lack of confidence the me that I am at the 10 year mark is not the same me that joined you know in one When I started out at the Naval Academy, and it was not even the same me when I was, you know, before I first got injured it at the basic school, so you know, there will be challenges and there will be failures. And there will be those times where you're just like, How the heck did I get here? What am I doing, but you just have to keep pushing and just take another step and reach out for help when you need it, and you'll grow and you'll look back and be grateful for the experience. So I think if any girls or young women have an interest in the military, they should not just like squash that curiosity. It's like chase it and see where it leads. Because the adventure that you might have, you know, you don't want to like close the door on that, because you might have an incredible opportunity.


Corinne Devin25:47

Know your why what is your reason that you want to join the military? Is it to get your education paid for it? Is it to be part of something bigger than yourself? Know that ya know, that goal, and I want you to write it down and have it on a post it note, you look at your mirror every day, or maybe it's a vision board, it's certain words where it's challenged, conviction capturing extraordinary have that so that when you have the good days, and also when you have the rough days, you have that thing to push you because I will be honest, the military will use you. But guess what it is your goddamn right to use them as well. And I would definitely tell you, I mean, I would be in so much student loan debt, I wouldn't have the experience. Yes. Is there things about the military that I don't like? Absolutely. But I would think that's true with any job in any profession. And any place you live, there is no perfect, but you know, at the end of the day, if there's three things that you can be grateful for three things that your why, and you focus on that, guess what you are going to move further, stronger and much farther and be a much better person along the way. Because your mind can only hold one type of thought and it might as well be positive,


Sarah Maples26:50

I would say it's going to be the best times and the worst of times, you're going to do things that are great, you're going to do things that aren't great. But if I had to look back at my adult life and put my finger on the one thing that's had the biggest impact on shaping it, it would be the military. And I wouldn't trade it for anything, no matter what happened or even deployments, Afghanistan, it all of it together is the most exhilarating and exciting things and showed me so much about how much I am capable of and introduced me to the most amazing women ever in my life, who were still some of my very best friends and I but I would also say just, you know, do your homework and be prepared. There are so many other women who like, you know, the two of us who've gone before and are eating now much more easy to find than they used to be and can give advice on which branch or you know which career field or how to deal with a guy who doesn't think he should be there. And so, you know, go for it, but you know, be prepared. 


Allie Braza27:44

Do it, definitely go and join the military, it will change your life, for sure. But I would say always, always maintain your moral high ground, there's going to be a lot of temptations out there. And as long as you maintain your moral high ground, you'll do great. The second one is stay authentic to yourself. Don't change yourself for anybody. And the third one would probably be if you see something, say something, I know that that sounds so cliche, but if you see someone getting assaulted, or if you see behaviors that just don't seem right, say something, say something, say something because it could really it changed the course of my career. It saved me from God knows what my you know, situation could have turned into had that sailor not said something after he had seen something and heard something. So that would be my top three pieces of advice,


Tiffany Martschink  28:38

I would tell them to do it. You never know until you try it. And I would tell all young women who are looking at joining the military, I would not try to swayed you to do a certain job or join a certain branch. Because at the end of the day, it's all the US military. So I would challenge them to do their research to find the branch and the job that fits what their desires and goals are because their needs can be met in all of the branches. And it's again, it's all the US military. So I would tell them to you do the research and then pursue it. And once they get in, I would just challenge them to go full force and make the best of themselves that they can while they're serving and take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way.


Carol Eggert29:26

I will always speak to women about you know their next steps and their choices. When it comes to the military. I think the advice is very similar to what I'd give any woman considering anything. College job is do your research. Don't go off unprepared. Understand what you're getting into and go in with knowledge. Talk to people like you read your book, understand why you're doing because, Amanda, you know it's challenging, basic training is challenging. Also, stay fit. Gotta stay fit. The military does want folks who can't run a mile or can't do a couple of sit? Not a couple, but you know, sit ups and push ups and even not change? So I would tell young women, do your research, understand your options, talk to other veterans. Now, you have the chance to do that, when I joined that you think I could have talked to a fellow female that was joining the military? Absolutely not. And any guidance counselor would advise me not to join the military, I'm sure. So I think women today who are considering joining the military have so many options now. And they have so many women they can reach out and talk to and then be committed and let yourself go don't get up in arms about basic training. And because really, the military is trying to kind of change your culture and your outlook to become a team. And so if you take it like that, rather than personal tie, they're trying to control me and I can't take this but get why they're doing it if you're in combat or have to work together. So that whole thing about there's no I in team is is true in the military. So women need to get rid of that and be willing to give it their all.


Amanda Huffman31:10

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