Why do we become war fighters?

Since January, I’ve been a part of a new course exploring women warriors.  We’ve discussed the label ‘warrior’ and its application to causes we agree and don’t necessarily agree with and the women who participate.  Repeatedly, we discussed the difference between masculine violence and feminine violence.  As peers, we discuss, almost equally, how society accepts male violence as a natural experience (for a lack of a better term).

I cannot speak for all societies but American media have target demographics for films, videos, video games, and television shows.  Spongebob Square Pants (a cartoon my daughter is not allowed to watch), Archer (which my husband and I watch) and American Sniper (which neither my husband or I have seen, nor would we let our daughter watch) are but a few examples.  While they are not equally comparable, they are well known to the general American public.

I just thought of mentioning Archer creators were probably regretting naming the spy agency ISIS (International Secret Intelligence Service) but I’m so far behind the times, it’s already no longer in use.  No one wants to be associated with the bad guys (and women).

So, on our side, why do we want to be war fighters?

I won’t say why does someone want to join the [military] service because there are a lot of privileges with this career choice.  Education benefits (on different scales), a steady paycheck (when you don’t have a ‘no pay due’–which can happen, sometimes), health insurance (for those planned and unplanned babies…or martial arts injuries), and so much more.

I speak playfully about military service because I know the ‘warrior’ side but I also know the young warrior side.  There is a great amount of sarcasm and camaraderie behind the uniform, especially for the 18-30 year old group (and those still wishing they were 18-30).

On a serious note though, it’s easier to bring a war to someone else’s front door than for it to be on our own.  The Boston Marathon Bombing trial is a reminder terrorism costs lives, not just those who choose service but those standing (literally) on the sidelines.  Whole futures were trampled, families are broken and while justice will be served, the damage cannot be undone.  This loss and the desire to prevent the future deaths of innocents is why people become war fighters.

It’s not why they join the service, but why they join the fight.

A child should not know this kind of fear.
A child should not know this kind of fear.

Time Management

Thank you again for your patience while my blog entries are a bit spaced out from one another.  April is crunch time for me this semester.  This semester, I’ve tried harder than the last to implement backwards planning (back) into my life.  Last semester, I took on the task of two graduate level courses while fulfilling a typically 40 hour week, which at times, extended into 45 hour weeks.  Offhand, I don’t have the total number of hours I completed overtime, but between semesters, I accrued an additional 21 or 22 hours.  The challenge this semester was taking 9 credit hours.  I DO NOT recommend such drastic actions for anyone, but there were three objectives behind this reasoning:

1.  Immediately earn more income (i.e. a higher rate of pursuit means a higher Post-9/11 housing  allowance.)

2. Reduce the overall time it takes to complete my Master’s degree.

3. Complete Master’s degree before my husband starts law school.

Whereas money is concerned, we’re doing well enough for ourselves.  We are, by American standards of living, potentially average for our age group.  Originally, we were very eager to earn more income to draw us one step closer to a home purchase.  We still are several steps away from  taking that leap and I, more than my husband, must remind myself a home purchase is truly not an essential accomplishment in life.  Many people do not own their own home, but they find happiness through other means (spiritual, social, academic, and so forth).  However, earning more money has enabled us to move out of ASU’s family housing, which no longer fit our lifestyle.

We found a 1,434 sq. foot home with a modest yard and a two-car garage that suits us perfectly.  In nine years of marriage, this is the first residence we’ve rented with a garage! It’s quite a life-changing moment for us.  Other Americans might scoff at our “tiny” residence but it’s a lot of house for us given how well the floor plan was designed.  We have more than sufficient storage.  It’s a safe, friendly neighborhood close to our favorite amenities, and we have the space to add a dog to the family in due time.

Adding a not-entirely planned move to our schedule fit (for me) because I’m trying to use backwards planning on my other objectives and rearranging my plans as necessary.

So, some goals/projects on my plate are as follows and their associated tasks.  I’ve specifically left out the timeframe it took to accomplish these objectives and the days that they were planned.  What worked well in my favor is I had my goals and assigned dates for the mini-assignments.  The smaller assignments gave me other timeframes in which to backwards plan.

1. Final Paper/Presentation due April 28th

  • Prepare topic
  • Get topic approved
  • Scout primary and secondary resources
  • Submit preliminary draft
  • Submit final paper
  • Present to fellow classmates and instructor

2. Graduate Research Conference on April 24th

  • Consider topic (originally presented in December 2014)
  • Review instructor feedback
  • Refocus efforts on public (versus social) pedagogy
  • Scout for additional resources
  • Restructure position
  • Receive feedback from academic advisor
  • Present on April 24th

3. Receive the AZ Humanities Grant Fall 2015 for the Office of Veteran and Military Academic Engagement

  • Consider grant writing organization for grant writing graduate level course
  • Consider mission
  • Submit needs statement for class
  • Submit goals and outcome objectives for class
  • Submit methods for class
  • Submit budget for class.
  • Submit final grant proposal for class
  • Network with Nancy Dallett on a weekly basis
  • Submit intent to apply on April 24th
  • Submit application June 5th

Some things are easier to accomplish than others, because I have a built-in support network.  You can never discount the assistance of your team to accomplish your goals or the goals of your organization.

My instructor, Dr. Nakagawa, encouraged my classmates and I to submit our papers for the Graduate Research Conference.  I was incredibly hesitant to do so; while I love learning, educating others, and talking, I do not enjoy public speaking.  Yes, the irony is not lost on me.  As I get older though, I realize I do not like being the wallflower.  I don’t want others to represent me.  If I want my actions to be more visible in my community, I quite literally must be more visible.

With regard to my research paper, I have a slew of resources not typically available to non-recruiters to support my position on the Marine Corps’ recruitment of female applicants.  I have two recruitment dvds (2008 and 2011) featuring commercials, films, and videos plus the Marine Corps Enlisted Opportunities Book because my husband served as a recruiter.  I will also pull information from the Marine Corps’ Facebook page to help support my position.

Lastly, my grant writing class and rapport with Nancy Dallett, the Assistant to the Director of Veteran and Military Academic Engagement, are crucial to the work for the application for the AZ Humanities Project Grant.  My instructor and the TA give me feedback from my class submissions.  Winning this grant would be a wonderful opportunity for the Office of Veteran and Military Academic Engagement, my office (as the partnering office, if not one of the partnering offices), and our veteran students.  Wish us luck!

Lastly, another crucial area of backwards planning are the multitude of opportunities I’ve taken off my schedule to focus on my academic goals and our recent move. I missed out on Laverne Cox’s recent speaking engagement at ASU.  I decided to not apply for this round of the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative.  I think my idea for the initiative will gain momentum but right now my plan isn’t established well enough to be competitive.  I am not taking late summer courses so I have the time to commit to idea development starting at that time.  On the social realm, I bowed out of a friend’s wedding.  Financially, and with my work commitments, it isn’t possible to afford an out-of-state commitment.  As well, like last semester, my gym attendance has struggled.  I’ve put on some weight this semester, which I can easily lose once I resume my fitness habits.

I feel my GPA may not be as stellar this semester, but I will learn from my mistakes and my decisions.  9 credit hours is a bit too much to take on.  However, this choice has brought unique rewards in the form of unexpected opportunities.  We have a great rental home to enjoy.  We are building a financial cushion for ourselves.  I’m honing my grant writing skills and tomorrow, I’m talking to the Veteran Vision’s Project’s Devin Mitchell over the phone.  The world is an exciting place if you get out of your comfort zone (and plan your achievements)!

Chemical Munitions In a Post-9/11 World

When I considered prospective military occupational specialities back in 2003, there were a number I instantly ruled out.  I don’t recall the specific conversation details except informing the recruiter I didn’t want a supply or admin job.  So many women join these fields; I wanted to do something different.  Communications didn’t interest me either.  I liked the idea of combat camera because combat illustration appealed to me, but I didn’t have a portfolio created at that time.  As a woman, infantry was not an option back then but the repeal of Direct Combat Exclusion Rule in 2013 opened the option for testing.  I am proud of the female enlisted Marines who graduated School of Infantry training November 21, 2013.  These women will not be infantry Marines, despite their accomplishments, but they are I will have a serious discussion with you all another day about my beliefs, curiosity, and encouragement for women’s expanded military roles.  I don’t feel the repeal of the Direct Combat Exclusion Rule would mean so much to me had I not served my country.  However, I found a relatively good path for myself as a 5711, Nuclear, Biological, & Chemical (NBC) Defense Specialist. (Note: When I got to my first unit, 1st Marine Division, I found out NBC was changing to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear or CBRN to more accurately reflect the myriad of threats.)  My title was then CBRN Defense Specialist.

Like always, I will be honest in my self-assessment.  I was not the best Marine to enter this field, but I was significantly challenged by this path instead of taking easier options available to me.  My timidness got to me on numerous occasions, particularly in the realm of public speaking.  This issue is problematic because CBRN Defense Specialists teach other Marines how to use their chemical defense gear, clothing, and decontamination procedures.  Adding to my personal stress over public speaking was my discomfort wearing a gas mask .  I have quite the irrational fear of drowning and suffocating to death, so the gas mask’s restrictive qualities create an additional layer of anxiety.

I am a better public speaker now because I challenged myself in the Marine Corps.  I’ve developed better critical assessment skills because I know my strengths and weaknesses.  I know it’s my responsibility to seek self-improvement and to not set low expectations.  I have great rapport with supervisors and many of my peers from 1st Marine Division.  We are a privileged group of individuals to do such diverse training.  This work is and always will be important to protecting the lives of the Marines under our care.

Chemical munitions pose significant health consequences, up to and including death.  The New York Times March 25, 2015 article about the Army’s apology to veterans with chemical injuries is worth reading.

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 8.00.34 PM