Veteran Vision Project: Walking Through Two Identities

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I have what I feel amounts to a small amount of photos from my service. As such, I enjoy seeing the Veteran Vision Project for restructuring the conversation about what it means to be a veteran. In these photos, we get a small glimpse of the dual identities veterans navigate.

I found one of the issues I struggled with in my own life was who do I want to be after having the honor of wearing Marine Corps uniforms for four years. When I started working for Kay Jewelers in 2007 after leaving the Corps, I adopted a new “uniform” of New York and Co. button down shirts, slacks, the occasional skirt, pantyhose, and kitten heels. My employment there ended in 2009 with our move to Wyoming and I quickly reverted back to my comfort zone of hoodies, shirts, jeans and sneakers. It’s an easy enough wardrobe to maintain and not look out-of-place back there.

I always found it a bit funny to see people primp themselves to take a trip to Walmart; however, it started to make sense when I realized you’ll run into just about anyone there. And I do prefer someone caring for their appearance (even a little too much) as opposed to someone walking down the aisles dressed in pajamas. Seriously, it’s not that hard to at least throw on a clean shirt and jeans.

I feel most comfortable in a t-shirt and jeans, but I also want to feel comfortable dressing my body as I age. My civilian work doesn’t require I be physically fit and as such, I’ve put on weight by adopting excuses for not maintaining fitness standards. Not much weight, mind you. My most comfortable weight as a Marine was 108 pounds and now I hover between 113 and 115 pounds. It’s not a drastic difference, but I’m certainly softer than I’d like to be. I am steadily forcing myself to fit exercise back into my schedule to drop my weight back to 108.

As I further own and find comfort in my civilian identity, I understand I owe myself grace on accepting the “new” me. I take on different responsibilities now and have different demands made of my time. This fact rings true especially as an employed person who is also a mother, wife, and graduate student.

However, I do want to share with you all photos that show the other side of me. I’ve been blessed to grow up in a time where print and digital photography collide. I had (and have) other people take my photo and from time to time, I also enjoy taking the occasional selfie. I am neither too shy to be photographed but not too vain to solely rely on selfies as a form of expression. I have a beautiful record of my existence as an American, my veteran status unknown to others in the my proximity when the photos were taken. While I cling more to my status as a veteran, my civilian side deserves recognition, too.

The two sides of me make up my whole person.

~Cheryl

My favorite female Marine, Sarah Kravitz (formerly, Cabell).  I love this girl.  She is my sister through and through.  She is the best roommate I ever had in the Marine Corps.  We still keep in touch.
My favorite female Marine, Sarah Kravitz (formerly, Cabell). I love this girl. She is my sister through and through. She is the best roommate I ever had in the Marine Corps. We still keep in touch.
Our wedding day 2006
Our wedding day 2006

2008

2007

2008 or 2009 photo, Frank Lopez, photographer (Oceanside, California)
2008 or 2009 photo, Frank Lopez, photographer (Oceanside, California)
My daughter and I when I had my "graduation" celebration.
My daughter and I when I had my “graduation” celebration.
We did a belated photo session in 2012 with Melissa Thompson from Pistachio Alley.  I am behind on ordering my prints.
We did a belated photo session in 2012 with Melissa Thompson from Pistachio Alley. I am behind on ordering my prints.
Spartan Race 2014 with my husband
Spartan Race 2014 with my husband
Marine Corps Scholarship Fund Dinner 2014
Marine Corps Scholarship Fund Dinner 2014

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