Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Career Highlight: Women in the Military

*Note* Everything in this post is the opinion of the individual. In no way is this the opinion of the the military. All opinions are our own.  

This is hands down my favorite post I have ever had. It is a little different than normal, but it is a career highlight. If you did not know, I am an officer in the Army Reserves. I work 1 weekend a month with the Military and a couple of weeks in the summer. My job is in Human Resources. I wear the uniform and I essentially work in an office.

As a student I was in the ROTC program at Michigan State University, and that is where I met all of these amazing ladies. They do everything from Nursing, to part time in logistics, and even combat arms. They could basically run the whole country;) Anyways, this is a little career highlight of what it means to be a women in the military, as well as what the day to day looks like!
Can you state your name, and a little about yourself?
Christina: I'm Christina. Friends call me Christy, Chip. I'm originally from Plymouth, IN and I went to school at Michigan State University in East Lansing. I'm a nurse at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, TX. 

Emily: My name is Emily Fitton. I am in the Army National Guard.

Janelle: Janelle. From Southwest Michigan, youngest of 3 (brother and a sister). Grew up dancing, running cross country, marching band, cheerleading, shooting. Went to Michigan State for my BA in Finance and participated in ROTC. Graduated and commissioned May 2016 and started active duty in July 2016.
Can you tell us a little about how you ended up in a military career? 
Christina: I had two options in HS: find a way to pay for college or don't go. I had always been interested in the military. My grandfather graduated from the Naval Academy as a fighter pilot during the Korean War, so he had sparked that interest in me. An ROTC scholarship seemed like the best option - assist with paying for school while being able to live a (somewhat) normal college life.

Emily: My brother first sparked my interest in the military when he was applying for a slot in the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was so excited when he was appointed and I was so intrigued by why he wanted to join the military. When he told me his reasons, I started to think about how legitimate they were and why I never even thought about joining. I knew that I wanted to go to college and have the "college experience" that everyone talked about and even a civilian career. A military career never even crossed my mind, but that was because I didn't do enough research about the multitude of different ways to serve. I had no idea that you could go to college and join the ROTC program to become an Officer at the same time. After I started figuring out that being in the military could fit perfectly into the plan that I wanted for my life, I actually began considering it and getting advice from those who were actually serving. After some time, I realized I wanted to serve because of pride for my country, and as a way to gain leadership experience and protect our rights and freedoms as Americans.

Janelle: My dad had talked to me in high school about how he thought I would be good in the military. I originally wanted to go to West Point but did not get accepted, so I joined ROTC at Michigan State University.
Did you always know you wanted a career in the military?
Emily: I didn't realize that I wanted a career in the military until about my freshman year of college. It was something that had been at the back of my mind for a while, but I did not really consider it until I learned about the ROTC program and how practical it could actually be.

Janelle: No, I didn't really think much of it until my dad had mentioned it. Once I started ROTC I loved it. 
What is your roll in the military? Are you full time? What do you do if you are not full time?
Christina: I'm an active duty military nurse. I care for active duty Soldiers, their families, and veterans.  Surprisingly, a large veteran population in El Paso - retirees like to settle down here in the desert because it reminds them of their deployments???? (Editor Note: that was a joke)

Emily: Right now I am in the National Guard, which is more of a part time assignment. For my full time career, I am in a sales and event coordinator position.

Janelle: I'm an active duty Armor Officer in the 1st Cavalry Division, currently a platoon leader.

What was your feeling being in the first graduating class of women for armor BOLC?
Janelle: I don't think it is as big of a deal as some people make it but I understand it is a part of history. I was lucky to have been in the right place at the right time.

How would you describe the culture of the military?
Christina: It is hard for me to say. A lot of what I am exposed to is simply at the hospital -- I don't get line unit exposure often. But for a military nurse, the culture is different. You are expected to be a Soldier and nurse. It's a lot of hats to wear at times. There are lot of requirements expected out of you.

Emily: The military definitely likes to stick with traditions. "If it's not broke, don't fix it" is the best way I can describe the culture. Something that I am also realizing though is that the military also becomes your family. You have a special bond with the people you meet and the people you serve with. Not everyone can handle this can of lifestyle, and having people that understand this lifestyle and where you come from really helps build unforgettable friendships.

Janelle: Succeed no matter what. No matter the obstacle or struggle you are expected to overcome it. It teaches you to become resilient and dismiss excuses. 
What do you think it means to be a women in the military?
Emily: I think that being a woman in the military is something that I take for granted a lot. There was a time where we were not able to serve or were not recognized for serving, and now you see women taking over amazing leadership roles all over the country. I am so proud to be a part of this group of women that wants to go beyond the norm and fight for something that they truly believe in, which is the love for their country and the people in it.

Janelle: My experience is different than most because I work with so few females on a daily basis. I do think people subconsciously treat women differently and it has taught me to approach situations differently. I have become very close with the females I do work with and often ask them for advice or share experiences to learn from. 

How many women are there?
Emily: Right now I am in training, and there are eight females in a class of 35 people.

Janelle:I graduated BOLC with 13 other women. There were approximately 22 of us in the first ABOLC and IBOLC classes combined. There are probably around 30 Armor qualified women in the Army now (approximate guess). 

(editor note: this is the most asked question I get.)
What is a typical day in the life like?
Christina: A typical day for me at work: wake up at 0500, do my daily morning routine, arrive at work no later than 0645, receive report from the off-going shift, and patient care until 0700! Come home, eat dinner, face plant into bed, and do it all over again the next day.

Janelle: Garrison (on post in the office):Go to the office at 0600 for a sync meeting, PT from 0630 to 0730. Start work at 0900. Mondays we are in the motor pool conducting maintenance on our vehicles. The other days of the week we conduct classes over doctrine, train at simulators, counsel and develop soldiers, and plan future training. Usually get out of work around 5 or 6pm. 
Field: changes constantly. Working during the day and night, maintenance every day, shooting gunnery and running missions. 

What does your career path look like? 
Christina: I am going to complete my service obligation (4 years) but I am not going to make this a career. I think I will stay in for about 6-8. Allow the Army to move me one more time. Hopefully pay for grad school. I want to become a Nurse Practitioner or a Physician's Assistant eventually.

Emily:As of now my commitment is five more years in the military. I will continue to have a full time civilian career and a role in the National Guard for that time. After my commitment is up, I will decide if I want to continue serving or become a veteran. It's hard to know what my life will look like in five years and what my goals will be.

Janelle: I have a four year commitment to the Army which ends in 2020. I always liked to call the Army my 4 year delay plan (only partially a joke). After the Army I'll probably look for a corporate job in the hospitality industry. I'd also like to get my MBA eventually. 

Do you think there are any issues that have come up that are unique to you?
Janelle: I have very high expectations for myself and others and it has always been difficult for me to accept things being less than the standard or what the Army stands for. Learning to not let these things personally bother me is challenging because I care so much about my job and the soldiers I work with, I believe they deserve the best. 
What has been the hardest part in this career path?
Emily: The hardest part in this career path is proving that you are worthy of being in it. You will always come across people that will want to tear you down and tell you that you are not good enough or cannot succeed, and you just need to prove them wrong.

Janelle: Realizing that my time isn't my own. I don't come from a military family so I'm not used to missing family events and not being able to be around for big moments. 
What is the best thing that has come out of your military career?
Emily: My respect for veterans, especially those who have served overseas. It's not easy and you see some things that will change you for the rest of your life. To leave your family to fight for what you believe is right is not a task that just anyone can do. My respect for these people has grown considerably since I have been in the military.

Janelle: I've learned a lot about myself and have changed immensely from my beginnings at ROTC. I have learned how to be a leader, how important personal discipline is, and how to work through shitty situations.  
What is your overall job review?
Christina: I complain about my job a lot. But in all honesty, I do love to hate it. I have been able to move from school and create a new life for myself. I pay my own bills, rent my own apartment, bought my first car, started new friendships -- all on my own.  No assistance. El Paso isn't ideal but this new life is completely my own, and in our generation, not too many people can say that.  

Janelle: Right now my unit is really busy so we've been go go go! I've learned a lot in such a short amount of time but I also look forward to having some downtime to get to develop more of a routine and learn more about my area. 


  1. Thank you SO much for doing this post! I served 4 years Active Army and loved it! Not enough women get credit for their service. Thank YOU for your service!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And I love to hear that, thank you for serving!

  2. Wow. What a incredible stories. Honestly brought tears to my eyes. Thank you all for serving. This post is so needed, thank you!

    Marissa Baum

  3. Seeing woman in service and work side by side with men makes me super proud. Man and women can never be equal in my opinion, but we can be respected as much as men gets. Kudos to all the women in service!

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