We serve, too

By Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Kaufmann
Medical Readiness NCO, 64th Troop Command

(Editors note: The Department of Defense is honoring women throughout the month of March as part of  Women’s History Month. The story below comes to us from a Soldier of the Wisconsin Army National Guard who shares some perspective on what it means to her to serve in the military)

I had the pleasure to join other veterans for a Women Veterans Luncheon at the Madison Vet Center March 8. The event recognized women’s achievements and roles during wartime.

During the lunch I learned that women have served in every American war. Dane County has 2,100 women veterans — 185 over the age of 85. Women are the fastest growing segment of the veteran community.

I knew a few other women veterans there — Kaye Olson and her husband John, Carolyn Morgan and Pamela Kreisler — as well as meeting and making friends with other veterans. Everyone jumped right in talking to each other.

I picked up some flyers with different information and opportunities offered to women to take back to my unit, as well as some bumper stickers with the message “She served too.” I also learned about several projects and fun things for veterans to take advantage of. I will be taking 10 weeks of free guitar lessons with a free guitar after I complete my lessons; Yvette Pino will be contacting me to do the veteran print project where you meet with an artist and they paint your story; another opportunity is the Women Veterans Week getaway in Lake Tomahawk, and going horseback riding at LUVS Morgan rescue farm.

I also did an interview with Therese Hughes, who is working on a book titled I am a U.S. Veteran: Military Women Project. She flew from California to do several interviews on some of the women that attended the luncheon. She was so excited and just very pleasant to speak with. She asked questions about career support, advancement, women’s leadership and leadership styles and addressing the gap between retention and leadership growth opportunities for women in the military.

As I left the luncheon I felt happy that I attended and very proud to be a women veteran. I have served in various states as an active duty Soldier, a National Guard Soldier, and an AGR (Active Guard Reserve) Soldier; I have held multiple MOS’s (Military Occupational Specialty), and served one 18-month deployment and one year in Iraq. I have learned so much from my military career; I have worked with some great people that I admire, many of whom are women and veterans and I would not trade my 24 years of experiences, travels, joy, tears, fears for much of anything.

My life as a Soldier, veteran and woman has had sacrifices as well that some people may take for granted — missed birthdays, family events, holidays, school events, your child’s first tooth falling out, their laughter and tears, and even a broken arm. God bless our veterans, and may they be safe where ever they are serving, healing and retired.

How about you? If you are a woman veteran, what has your service meant to you? What do you want people to know about your service to our country?