Life of a Female Veteran: U.S. Army Combat Pilot Veteran Erica Courtney (part 5 of 6)

It had been some years now since I got out of active duty. I had ‘transitioned.’ However, it was obvious to me that my veteran community was suffering and struggling to adapt to this new world on the outside. As I travelled the country on business, I would frequently end up sitting next to veterans on a plane. Once the veteran connection was established, when they could get past my gender and realize I was in the fight alongside them, they would offload their personal stories. Many had never shared these things with their own families. I would listen and advise if possible. 

After years of this, it became apparent that something wasn’t working. Why was I constantly being bombarded with this heavy stuff? I tried ignoring it but then started dissecting the events. Veterans want to talk to veterans— not white coats, not federally-funded programs stemming around entrepreneurship where they handle hundreds of people led by a non-business owner, and not corporate America attempting to give them a job. They wanted connections with people who understood them. Perhaps being a female was also non-threatening and these guys could be vulnerable? 
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Women Veterans: The Challenges They Face & a Way Forward

Although not officially recognized as members of the armed forces until 1901, the involvement of women in the military dates back to the Revolutionary War.

Each year, the population of women veterans grows steadily due, in part, to the increasing number and proportion of women entering and leaving military service. Most women veterans possess those traits that are valued in military service and beyond: steady nerves, sound judgment, courage, tenacity, patriotism, and sacrifice. The question is, how much should we as a nation allow them to sacrifice once they leave the military? Do we adhere to what President Lincoln said so many years ago? With the words, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan,” President Lincoln affirmed the government’s obligation to care for those who serve. Clearly he wasn’t expecting to add women to his speech but here we are, serving right beside our male brethren as a force multiplier adding value in ways never expected.

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