Good afternoon, everyone. The video for the Chandler Public Library’s America in Times of Conflict: She Went to War panel I served on March 11th is now posted. I consider myself still somewhat of a beginner when it comes to public speaking and as such, have not watched the video yet. I think if I do and see how nervous I was, I might not be willing to share it with you all today. (I love written storytelling but I am dipping my toe into the territory of oral histories.)
I agreed to be a panelist to show support for my dear friend, Nancy Dallett. She is the Assistant Director of the Office of Veteran and Military Academic Engagement at Arizona State University and she is quite passionate about oral histories. She knew a past misstep with another oral history project left me somewhat reluctant to take on another but the way this project was shaped is what changed my opinion on the matter. What I do like about a panel is the interpretative distance the moderator plays with the panelists. She directs the conversation and keeps it in check, but her influence on what is stated via certain questions is tempered by the panelists.
I am quite proud of the types of questions asked of my fellow panelists and I. Often times, I feel it is hard for us as women to be asked truly valuable questions outside the context of victimization. I get stuck with questions that tiptoe around or center on the issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault within the military service branches and while I think it is important not to minimize those social problems, I think it is quite valuable our society continues to also see the professional opportunities for women in military service and the opportunities they can have post-servicing to enhance their lives and their family legacies. Situations like the recent nude photo sharing being discussed in the news can impact the willingness of women to join and/or to have their families’ support when considering service in one of our military branches. (The ‘Marines United’ nude photo sharing scandal came up as one of the questions asked by our audience.) As a female veteran, I want people who hear and participate in these conversations to understand any person (man, woman, or child) can be victimized at any point in his or her lifetime; it is more imperative we look for ways to make our society safer through education and awareness for everyone, not just groups of people or individual persons, and to instill appropriate punishments on the perpetrators so as to give the best measure of justice to the victim(s) of heinous deviant acts like this photo scandal.
Again, I want to reiterate the questions asked were quite considerate so as to not give you the wrong impression the panel was skewed far to the victimization spectrum of women’s issues. General themes included our motivations for service, expectations of what Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam were prior to serving overseas, the reality of our living/working situations abroad, and concern over whether we thought our service had a positive impact in our lives.
Fair warning, the video is lengthy. At almost two hours, you might want to set aside time to listen to it in its entirety or skip around for shorter conversations. My daughter asked a question of me near the tail end of the audience Q& A section (proud Momma moment here!) so I hope you her piece of the presentation. I didn’t expect she would actually have something to ask although she did ask before the panel began if it was necessary.
Take care and enjoy.
(If you have any tips on how to improve my presence as a panelist, I’d love to hear back from you.)