My grandfather was a war hero of the Second World War. I loved to sit with him and hear intense and dramatic stories about how he crawled on his stomach down the hill at the Battle of the Bulge and translated German to English because he was fighting our ancestors, how he corresponded to one of the German guards in a Concentration Camp who was in fact his uncle. He helped stamp out the atrocities of an entire nation of people. I remember the pride I felt that my grandpa was brave, a man of honor.
My father did not fight in Vietnam, but he made the decision to enlist and to do whatever his country called him to do. I admired that bravery, and I always looked at the military as a place where leaders went to show their nobility and love for their fellow man who were being persecuted or oppressed. I remember feeling that strong pull to be one of these brave souls.
My husband also put on a uniform by his own choice and was willing to sacrifice himself so that I could enjoy freedom. I admire these three men in my family so much for the unselfish choice they made to serve in the armed forces. There are times where I feel a bit envious that I can't tell others that I made the same choice. However, I realize that this is just about me wanting recognition, and these three guys didn't want that. That is true sacrifice and honor.
I have learned that the purpose for my life is to work behind the scenes, as a civilian. God desires humility in order for Him to get the true glory. I can receive honor from Him, and I don't need the accolades of the world. My contribution to helping others comes from a much darker place; there is another side of the military that I must tell.
I always admired my father's drive to succeed. There are a lot of ways my dad hurt me, but this is truly one way he graced my life. He encouraged me to dream big dreams and instilled in me the notion that there was not anything I could not become. He knew my heart for honor and integrity and strength, and so he encouraged me during high school to set my sights on attending the United States Airforce Academy.
I was confident that I could overcome the high bar of receiving entry to the Academy. I was at the top of my class, an athlete, involved in lots of volunteer organizations and school clubs. I knew people in high places. However, when one of my teachers shared a catalogue of the coursework with me, I knew it was not the place for me. It was so heavy on the hard sciences. I didn't want to be an astronaut; I wanted to help people.
So, I set about looking for a way to be a part of the military elite without having to be a mathematician or scientist. I found out that the ROTC offered a scholarship, and that upon completion of college, I could become a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. That sounded rather appealing to me at the time. I completed the interview, and I was awarded the scholarship. However, the scholarship was for nursing, and I knew dealing with bodily fluids and needles was not where my heart was at. So, I declined this opportunity.
At first, I beat myself up emotionally over my decision not to enter the military. I thought, not many people would ever get the chance to receive this award or the chance at such a bright future and I turned it all away. I thought about turning down the chance to attend Tulane Law School or to save souls as a Chaplain on the battle field. It sickened me that I would never be a hero.
And then, as time passed, tragic event started to unfold. Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. I thought wow, I would have been right in the middle of that hurricane if I was in Law School at that moment. A female cadet reported her rape at the Air Force Academy. Again I thought, maybe that wasn't all I thought it was. And then, the war. Did I really want to kill people unless I absolutely had to? Not at all. I realized that God had saved me from myself. His grace and mercy had led me down a different path.
I appreciate all of the men and women who have fought in our armed forces so that I have the ability to write this blog post today. But, I must tell a very sad side of the military. The military is brutalizing young women. The Pentagon itself reported that in 2012, there were 26,000 sex crimes in our United States Military, 70 sexual assaults EVERY DAY!
The majority of these crimes against women were never reported because of fear of retaliation or further abuse. Today, I thank God that he saved me from this, where instead of honor, I might well have been laden with shame. I pray for those women who are serving, and I stand with them to fight dishonor that is being brought on females who are there to serve you and I.
May God Bless and protect our women in the armed forces until they win their own battle against their allies. Please join me in helping them win. No one may ever see us in a uniform or know our names. But, together, we can get the word out, we can advocate. And that, is also a true hero.