She’s A Veteran...One of 2+ Million
As we all go about the mundane business of our everyday lives, we sometimes get an unexpected jolt that stops us in our tracks and demands that we reflect. This is exactly what happened to Air Force veteran Mary Claire Caine who served in Kuwait when she returned to her car in a “Reserved Veteran Parking” spot after grocery shopping. A note on her windshield anonymously signed “Wounded Vet” read:
“Maybe [you] can’t read the sign you parked in front of. This space is reserved for those who fought for America….not you. Thanks, Wounded Vet.”
Her reported reaction, confusion and hurt, was quickly followed by: “For a split second I thought, ‘Am I a worthy enough veteran to park in this spot?’ And, then I got very angry at myself for even considering that,” Caine recalled.
It’s safe to say that within a span of a few minutes, Mary affirmed her and her family’s pride in service while acutely understanding women’s military service is not yet affirmed by all in the nation she serves. Her “military veteranship” wasn’t likely on her scope of concerns. She, like all women who served in the U.S. military over the past few centuries, was a volunteer. Entering under the All Volunteer Force recruiting concept in place since 1973, she signed the same dotted line as her military colleagues. She committed herself to sacrifice her life, whether consciously or unconsciously, in the call of duty. It wasn’t an issue…it was a choice.
March is “Women’s History Month,” an opportunity for women with military service to join others in nationwide community and online events. Today there are over 2 million women veterans from all eras of peace- and wartime military service (World War II, Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars), 201,400 serving on active duty (9,200 currently deployed), and over 150,000 Reserve and Guard servicewomen. Their heritage is rich and flourishing as 16% of the armed forces are women serving in 90% of the military occupations.
If you’re interested in women’s military heritage, consider visiting these 2015 sites: