MIA— Compassion and Respect

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

I am an Air Force Veteran. I am a woman. These two things should not be opposite sides of the time-in-voluntary-service, but unfortunately they are.

There are so many variants that shaped my personal military adventure. No two experiences are alike, but if I were standing next to my also Veteran, retired, husband— he is the one attention would shift to in interest.

I know this, because I have experienced this 99% of the time. We both can mention our enlistments, and mine is treated like it’s no biggie, but my husband— “Really! Thank you for your service!” with maybe a nod in my direction.

It’s like people don’t know how to process my being a woman in the military.

The military began “shaping” me to live in a man-shaped perspective, from day one.

I was 15 pounds under the expected weight-lifting limit to apply for a job I really wanted to do. You and I know it wouldn’t have been difficult for me to build up to that limit— I was determined and in shape to do that— but that was not an option. I believe this was an across-the-board decision, but I also believe that could, and maybe should, be changed.

The mindset of the military is always “military needs”, and volunteers are “property”.

The process for making me a military-minded person began by breaking me down, separating me into a group of 49 other women, limiting things like time to shower, privacy, time to eat, getting mail or calls from home, and dictating every moment of everyday.

Don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing experience, and I am proud of myself for success in making it through that.

But, for me— coming from an abusive past, it was also an emotionally difficult experience.

Additionally, it was a lonely experience— but that wasn’t a new thing for me. I have almost never had someone to talk to, or go through things with me.

That brings me to my point in writing this.

The military comes at everything from a man’s perspective. It just does. Sure there are videos, and training once a year to learn about being professional and demonstrating polite courtesy to not offend women, or make them feel threatened.

I think that is kind of a good thing, but it’s also kind of condescending.

It also does not work. I mean, just look at scandals way at the top concerning sexual harassment towards women.

Here is another perspective:

https://m.facebook.com/200999403407041/posts/1838927186280913/?d=n

My personal experiences of working in a man’s career field as a plumber (my 10th flowery-worded choice— Utilities System Specialist), in a man’s-perspective-d world are unique and don’t necessarily reflect or match another woman’s.

I get that.

But, men, and even some high-ranking women, certainly have a long way to go towards mutual respect and fair, rational, understanding and compassionate treatment of women— as individuals that are completely unique and separate from the way men are built.

With all the money poured into “research”, you’d think by now things would have naturally “evolved” from arrogant, chauvinistic, neanderthal-like behavior.

Recently, women have finally been provided with something many have needed all along! It took decades for that to happen! Why?

Because it’s a world based on men’s perspective that women are “allowed” to become part of.

Things are getting better, and yet, the latest response/reaction by civilian men to the mere mention of the newly available maternity flight suit just proves— men have a long way to go.

In the famous words of our current President— “Come on, man!”

You can, and should, do better.

Heard

heardYou know what it’s like to have something to say, but you just can’t be heard, right? Like at a rock concert , trying to talk over the music. Or when you have advice for someone whose shoes you have been in, but they just won’t stop and listen.

I have had some medical issues going on for quite sometime now. A couple of times in my life, I have dealt with edema and swelling. This most recent dealing has lasted 14 years.

Often when I go to the doctor, they have an agenda: find the quickest, easiest method to get me out of their office. Well, ok, that has been the majority of military doctors. One doctor pulled me into his office where his desk is, after I explained my reason for making an appointment: my arm hurt. Badly. So badly, I could barely move it. I didn’t know what I had done, except we had just moved back overseas, and I had to carry a lot of heavy luggage and 2 babies. He completely ignored my pain, and sat me down at his desk to counsel me. On what, you might ask? On the need to lose weight and exercise. I didn’t even bother to try to explain my problems with all over swelling and edema, he never would have heard me. He had an agenda. So, I fumed silently to myself, left, and NEVER made another appointment to see him again. I was sure that was the end of it. I was wrong. That following Sunday, smack dab on the front page of the Stars and Stripes was this doctor’s picture, and an article he wrote about  the spontaneous counseling session he forced on me. He didn’t “quote” me, didn’t mention my name in particular, but he used  our conversation along with some of the things I did actually say, and of course his “wise words”, putting me in my place. If he wasn’t military, I could, and would have sued him! But, I can’t do that. So, instead I chose to not trust military doctors again. I’ve had a few appointments when necessary, and especially when I was pregnant. I did try to deal with this edema again, years later, at a different military medical facility, and a civilian Naval doctor took my concerns seriously. He listened, but he was limited in how he could help.

About 2 months ago, I had some concerns about some things I am experiencing, so I hesitantly made an appointment. After the appointment, I wasn’t sure if I would actually be taken seriously. I thought she had put me in for some routine tests to look for my concerns. Then I didn’t hear from her again, but her office actually calls me every couple of weeks to check in with me.  That’s a new thing.

Because of some concerns with my blood tests, she had me referred to a Hematologist. I’ve seen him 2 times now. The first time I wasn’t sure what to make of him. He asked me some questions, did a short exam, and sent me to have my blood tested again. He had a nurse talk with me, and she is really friendly and helpful. Today, I had a follow-up, and the doctor asked more questions. He told me about my blood results, which are a bit scary. I don’t exactly know what’s going on with me, but he has explained what I can expect from him and the process he thinks I need to go through. I will see another doctor, and possibly a third doctor to find out what’s going on. And, more blood was drawn so he could look at it even more closely.

Today, I was heard. I was taken seriously. I was asked how I feel, what I think, what I am concerned about, and if I had any questions. I have a new faith with doctors that I have never had before.

Today was a new day, indeed.

As frustrated as I have been all these years, I can imagine how frustrated God feels when we just won’t listen to Him. Sometimes we value our opinion above what He has to say. We don’t want to hear what He’s saying because we don’t want to change something He wants changed. Or we don’t believe He is talking with us, we aren’t always very good listeners to God.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  Romans 10:17