Tag Archives: army

a look back at some photos five years ago

7 May

everyone,

i can hardly believe in am saying this, but on friday i signed out on terminal leave from the army. it’s been an interesting ride, and i am thankful for the people i have met and the places i have been sent to – but i am eager to begin the next segment of my life! so to celebrate many years in uniform, here are a bunch of photos of me from five years ago…

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may 2012 – west point – graduation parade rehearsal

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after the actual graduation parade and we walked across the plain for the last time!

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may 2012 – west point – kitty and i at the graduation banquet with our moms!IMG_2039

a photo of me after graduation ceremony trying to be a rebel.

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and here are kitty and i shaping our berets for the first time. and now both of us have served our commitment and are done with the army!IMG_3042

and now here i am at fort gordon during BOLC nerding out with some signal equipment ! july 2012.

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and then at BOLC learning some radios!

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and here’s a good one of me stretching before combatives haha aug 2012.

and now five years later i am done! it still hasn’t totally hit me. but i do know that in ten days we are driving to washington state to begin our new life!

xoxo,
annie

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feisty me

11 Apr

written while watching “the collection” on amazon (i am obsessed. fashion design + paris + beautiful garments + murder and intrigue)

hello! today i “graduated” from the program i have been in for the last four months. if you’re curious, here is a link to their page. the department of commerce supports this amazing program (hiring our heroes) which gives veterans leaving the service a chance to pad their resume with some real job experience and prepare us for our big transition (and has led to job offers and leads within my cohort)! i loved my time with amazon, and am feeling much more prepared for what comes next (even though it won’t be with amazon since i am headed to grad school).

IMG_0878 anyway, with this program finished, i have 23 days left in the army. time to get all of my stuff in order!

the other day, i was out with one of my friends who has recently joined my army unit. i’ve never before had a friend join whatever unit i am part of, which has allowed me the free reign to lead and act as i feel necessary at work without people hearing about me or hearing what other people have said about me. you know how people can talk – and in an army unit full of primarily men, i’ve sometimes wondered what people said about my leadership style and actions behind my back. not because i’ve done anything wrong, but because i think i act much differently than the status quo of male military man. i am passionate and loud and full of opinions, and i’ve learned over the years not to let a conflicting opinion stop my train.

anyway, he is working with a man who i once worked with, and our paths used to cross often. when i asked my friend what said man thought of me, he said he said “although we didn’t agree on everything, she certainly is feisty.

i’ll go with that. my legacy to the army will be my feisty actions. and yes, i will focus on the positive connotations of that word haha.

xoxo,
annie

a few anecdotes

9 Mar

hello everyone!
i am excited to say that there is only a week left on my diet! it’s much easier now that i’m on the tail end. i’ve gotten good at resisting random temptations and haven’t had any killer cravings. actually, i had my first intense craving yesterday before lunch. i wanted a big bowl of boxed macaroni and cheese with ketchup on top. basically hits all of the food groups i can’t eat haha – pasta, cheese, and sugar. but then i ate my lunch and the craving dissipated.

anyway, i wanted to share a few little anecdotes from last week:
1) so last week i pulled jumpmaster duties for the first time (for those that don’t know what that is: as part of my job, i jump out of airplanes. well, i’ve passed the course where i can inspect parachutists before they jump (JMPI) and also make sure everything is safe in the airplane, inspect the airplane, and actually run and orchestrate the jumps and drop zone, etc). i walked up to a group of people who had just donned their parachutes and yelled out, “does anyone need to be JMPI-ed?” a small soldier, a private actually, tentatively raised his hand. i looked beside him where his NCO was standing who quietly said, “he’s a cherry” (army term for “it’s his first jump at the unit”) so, i walked up to him and told him a little bit about how we jump here (off of the tailgate instead of out of the airplane’s side door) and asked him how he was feeling. he said fine, and i started to inspect his parachute and harness. i noticed he was watching my hand motions very closey (which isn’t common among experienced jumpers) and i said to him, “i’m going to explain to you why i’m doing what i’m doing and why it’s important” because he seemed nervous and unsure of all of the tugging and swiping i was doing on his equipment. it took a little longer than a usual JMPI, but when i walked away, i heard him saying to his buddy, “i’ve never had a nicer JMPI experience” and it made me feel so proud!

  
2) i voted on super tuesday!! i’ve never voted in a primary at all, and the last time i voted was for president Obama the first time around. and this election season was really the first time i’ve ever followed any of it. i wasn’t even planning on being so invested, until ages ago when my brother sent me some quiz you can take to see which candidate you align most with. i was assuming i’d align most with hillary, but i matched like 95% with bernie. i had never heard of him. but once i started researching his platforms on different areas (this was back when he only had four listed on his website and he was polling in the single digits), i knew he was my man. my brother got me a bernie shirt, and i ordered two stickers for my car. he values the things i value: the environment, women’s autonomy over their body and decisions, equality, caring for everyone in the country not only the ones with money, getting money out of politics, and generally being a stellar human being. so this is all fine and good, but imagine my day to day life being in the army and living in a very country town – it’s an uphill battle ALL THE TIME. but, this is a very easy exchange to win at work:
person: “ma’am, i saw the bernie stickers on your car…”
me: “that’s right!”
person: “but didn’t you graduate from west point?”
me: “uh, yeah??”
person: “how could you want a ‘socialist’ to be president?”
me: “well, i’d much rather have that then a racist, bigot, sexist, or racist!”
(then i walk away, since there isn’t much to say to that. also, everyone assumes everyone in the army/from west point is super conservative – which discounts the like 5% of us who aren’t)

ANYWAY, so i was so excited to go vote in my tiny town of pleasant view’s city hall (which really is just a super sized trailer home). i went on my way to work, right after it opened at 0700 in my uniform. i was surprised to see the number of cars there! i had to park in the grass (it’s in the country, remember)! i also had to drive around and dodge trump yard signs, like 10 of them (in hindsight, i wish i had taken them down).  i excitedly walked into the city hall where there was a line (!!!!!) and there were also young people (!!!!!!!), in fact, the guy in front of me in line checked the “democrat” block on his sign in sheet (!!!!!!! yes i realize that is nosy and bad). when i signed in, the kind older woman at the desk saw my uniform and first thanked me for my service (i still don’t know how to respond to that, especially because i don’t feel like i’ve really done anything worth thanking) and then she went to say “i wanted to be in the army when i was younger, but it was harder back then…” and i told her that the women of today have her back. i’m unsure if she was surprised when i checked “democrat” but i also like to break down stereotypes, so i’m glad of it. anyway, the voting machines were super old, i voted for bernie* and i got two “i voted” stickers which was a highlight for me haha. unfortunately, Hillary won for democrats in Tennessee, but unlike everyone who didn’t vote and is whining, i at least did my part.

  
3) last anecdote: i was driving home last week and was stuck in some strange traffic in oak grove. a man drove around to pass me, after he had been stuck behind me for a little bit. it was an older gentleman, and as he drove around he stuck his thumb out his window giving me a thumbs up! i’m going to assume he liked my bernie stickers in this staunchly republican area.

that’s about all i have to say for now.
i hope everyone is having a great day!

xoxo,
annie

*me voting for bernie sanders does not represent the views of the united states army, only my personal views (this is apparently something required by army law to include… don’t want to get in trouble lol)

the first ever female rangers

19 Aug

Dear world,

I can very honestly say I don’t know exactly how to put into words all of the emotions I have surrounding the impending graduation of the first two female graduates of the Army Ranger School OF ALL TIME (oh and by the way, they both graduated from my alma mater!). So, I will start in list form and see how it takes us:

  1. I am over the moon proud of these women. While attending West Point, I have seen some incredibly strong, persistent, and brave women join the teams and ranks of clubs and teams generally noted as “male only” teams and hang with them all the same. I’ve always held the belief that there are some women out there (not me, by any means) that can keep up with the guys physically, and that women should be allowed into all Army schools – so long as the standard isn’t lowered or changed. Sure, we have different muscle percentages and body build, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work twice as hard to be able to run the same pace or carry the same ruck sack. I take pride in my muscles and body, and can say for a fact that I can out run/lift/ruck about 65% of my company at this very moment in time. And I know these women took it to the next level, and made history. I am SO PROUD of them and I know that they maintained the same Ranger standard that has existed since its founding. The only difference is the school finally officially allowed women to attend. Good work, Army! But better work to these two incredible women.
  2. So, after seeing the news on Twitter on Tuesday morning, I headed out to formation to see my Soldiers for the first time since the weekend and I was even more excited to share the great news – especially to my female Soldiers. I currently have four female Soldiers under my command, which is four more than my last unit – so I was extra excited to talk about all of the opportunities they will grow up into the Army having and get to fill their minds with rainbows and butterflies of happiness for the equality we were finally being extended. Imagine the disappointment and rage I felt when one of my senior leaders began to espouse his beliefs that “they must have changed the standards” “women shouldn’t be allowed to be Rangers” “it’s all a scam” and a bunch of other things that set me off my rocker. Excuse me? Have you been to Ranger school? If no, you have no right to even have an opinion. And it makes me sad that many of the men (and women!!) I have heard talk down on this huge accomplishment have daughters and sons. I will always praise my father for constantly telling me that I can be/do whatever I want when I grow up. He always told me growing up as a gymnast and athlete “you could beat my Soldiers on an APFT!” and when I told him recently that I ran a 5 mile route with a pace under 8:00 the whole 5 miles, he said “that’s the Ranger standard! You could get into that school!” even before these two amazing women made the cut. My dad is an old-army retired green beret Colonel and a Ranger to boot. Maybe my dad believes women should be allowed to become Rangers because he’s seen the rigors I’ve put myself through, or maybe because my dad believes in the future/isn’t a misogynistic jerk. The Army can figure out how to integrate these Rangers and women into combat roles later, for now can we just honor and cheer on all of these current Ranger class graduates? Including the first two females ever?
  3. And then this morning it was even worse than yesterday because I had to sit in the shower room of my building and listen to a field grade officer (who is also a female) explain how women shouldn’t be allowed to serve in all of the positions men do. I’ll let you know she preceded this line of argument with telling me her husband is a “good ole southern boy” (WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!?!?! DOES THAT EXCUSE HIM OF BEING SEXIST? IS HE POISONING YOUR MIND WITH OUT OF CONTEXT BIBLE VERSES AND CONFEDERATE FLAGS???) and he thinks that our country isn’t in such a sorry state where we should send our women to war. I quickly explained (awkwardly because I was trying to take a shower while she was standing outside of the shower) that if a woman wants to serve in a combat war and is able to meet the already prescribed standard, she should be allowed, and cited other countries where women serve in combat roles. She countered with it being unfair that men are the only ones who are called on in the draft and serve in combat roles when women are able to serve in support roles. I countered with there isn’t anyone in the Army right now who was called to fight through the draft. Then she went on to the archaic argument that “women’s bodies aren’t the same as men’s, you can’t argue with that.” I just told her she was right, our bodies were different but if someone wanted to work extra hard to fulfill their dream of being a Ranger, there shouldn’t be road blocks. She went on to say some other disappointing things, and I had to sit there and just realize I had lost a mentor and someone who I looked up to, and who I couldn’t argue back with since she outranks me. What a shame that not even all women are supporting this huge accomplishment.
  4. This afternoon I finally read an article one of my classmates sent me last night which was written by a West Point graduate/Infantry officer/Ranger school graduate/Ranger school instructor: http://rhinoden.rangerup.com/time-to-welcome-a-new-era-of-rangers-army/ . It gave me so much hope and happiness to hear that not all opinions of these women/the incredible struggle they went through are not all awful and full of backwards/old school/sexist remarks. And then the identities of these two superstars were finally released (although we’d been speculating/guessing all of these months): https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/08/18/these-are-the-armys-first-female-ranger-school-graduates/ . I was glowing with happiness in pride, recognizing both of these beautiful and resilient faces. Kristen was in my Company (a year ahead of me) my plebe and yuk years at West Point, she helped me prepare for parades when my team leader was off competing in lacrosse competitions, and was always an amazing role model for me in my formative plebe days. We would cheer her on during the Sandhurst competition, when we knew our company, the Crusaders, would win Sandhurst overall because Kristen was our female team member – and the normally considered “weak link” was stronger than the strong links of the other teams. And we won Sandhurst in 2010! Shaye is one of my classmates, and although we were never close, I would watch as she would beast through all sorts of athletic and military endeavors. Tough as nails. I can say without a doubt, that their graduating Ranger school was just a matter of time. They are tougher than probably 95% of the men I know.
  5. I sent these articles to my Company Commander, who is also a grad/ranger/green beret, to see his opinion. He just recently married a feminist, so we have thought provoking conversations often, and he knows my opinion on this sort of thing. He told me to be glad I’m not on Facebook right now because it hasn’t been so crazy since South Carolina pulled down their Confederate flag. And I am so glad I don’t have to willingly see all of the hate and sexism that this issue is bringing to light. I don’t like having to lose faith in humanity and I very much don’t like hearing that all of the men (and women!!!) who surround me are secretly harboring vile stands and ideas on concepts, such as equality, that I hold so close to me – because it makes me want to leave the Army even more. But, I will continue to try to positively impact those around me until my ETS date.

In conclusion, I am over the moon proud that these women are now part of history and opening up the military, and in time, the whole wide world to men and women. I just simply wish that people would allow these women to celebrate their accomplishments, and I hope so much that the rest of their Army careers they won’t be surrounded by people who rub dirt in their ranger tabs, because those women (and all of those men who survived the school with them) earned it fair and square

I’m proud to be part of a generation who is continuing the fight and push towards an equal world. So proud of you two, Kristen and Shaye. I hope I can hug both of you soon!

Xoxo,
Annie