~By Sharon Czerwien
As it is Veterans Day weekend, I wanted to take this opportunity to honor Veterans. I am grateful for all of them (plus, I am married to one of them!).
For last year’s post, I was blessed to interview military children. This year, I was privileged to interview three female Veterans.
I recognize that all Veterans have had an integral role in America’s freedom and safety. Since I am not necessarily a tough or brave female, though, I am especially in awe of the ladies who have been brave enough to serve in the military.
Below are nine questions that three female Veterans willingly answered for me. I know one of the ladies from my college years. One lady is the momma of my friends from high school, and I am privileged to know another one from my current circles. Each one has a fabulous story to share.
Here is a special thanks to the Veterans whom I interviewed:
In what branch of the military did you serve?
Miranda: United States Marine Corps
Katie: US Army
Approximately how long ago did you serve?/For how long did you serve?
Miranda: 4 years
Katie: 3 years active duty
Jeanne: I enlisted 50 years ago. I served for 4 years.
When you served, what was your family situation? (Were you married yet? Have kiddos yet?)
Miranda: I joined straight out of High School so I was still single without any children.
Katie: Single, unmarried. I was a 17 year old high school graduate when I joined, then came to college (BBC) after.
What was the most exciting part of being in the military?
Miranda: The most exciting part of being in the military was being able to travel and see different parts of the world and to experience how other cultures went through life on a daily basis. It opened my eyes to the privilege we have to live in a country full of comfort and opportunity, and still reminds me daily to be grateful.
Katie: I was assigned to the 2ID Band and Chorus for a 9 month special duty. I auditioned and made the chorus and traveled all over South Korea as a part of the 2ID General's chorus with the Band.
Jeanne: The sense of fulfillment that comes from being a part of something much bigger than myself, something that benefits others, patriotism. Also, the opportunity to go places I’d never been before and meet people from many other places. I had wanted to serve my country in the military since a 4th grade field trip to a military installation, so my enlistment was a dream realized.
What was the hardest part of being in the military?
Miranda: The hardest part about being in the military was navigating being a woman in a male dominated environment while learning how to be strong and have boundaries around what people expected of me because of my gender.
Katie: The hardest part of being in the military was the daily physical soldier tasks as a soldier assigned to 2 infantry units during my 3 years active duty. I was a Unit Supply Specialist attached to the 2 infantry units. The hardest thing I ever did physically was an 18 mile road march in 4 hours at Ft. Benning. I was one of 8 females in a unit with 220 males.
Jeanne: Having a feeling of disconnectedness during those times when like-minded peers were reassigned elsewhere. Sometimes working 12+ hours a day for an extended period of time.
Did you have a favorite Bible verse/passage that comforted you the most while you served?
Miranda: My time in the military was a time of questioning my faith so I was very determined to do things on my own and in my own strength. I’m someone who typically has to learn lessons the hard way, so I’m still very thankful for this season in my life because I have a clear view of what my life looked like without the presence of God.
Katie: Psalm 27:11
Jeanne: Not a specific passage, but an awareness of God’s presence.
In what way(s) was your faith stretched the most while in the military?
Miranda: I made the intentional choice to reject my faith during the majority of my young adult years including my time in the Marine Corps. I questioned why good people died and why bad things happen to people who didn’t deserve it, and I also so badly wanted to be my own god. I wanted to do what I wanted, when I wanted and with whom I wanted so I strayed as far away from what I actually knew was Truth.
Katie: I found the Lord while I was in the military. Or I should say the Lord found me when I was a 19 year old soldier. I accepted Christ and committed my life in service to Him.
Jeanne: Trying to remain faithful to God and to my values while in a social environment that was very foreign to me.
Do you have an example of when God provided for your needs in a BIG way while you served?
Miranda: Even when I questioned and strayed and rejected, God still waited patiently. He continued to cover me in my mess. I made poor decisions that could have drastically changed the trajectory of my life or even ended my life, and he continued to stand by me and protected me. He took me out of circumstances I didn’t want to be taken out of at the time, and I often fought Him on it, but He was a faithful father constantly present with gentle correction and discipline. I often look back and wonder how I survived many of my choices, and the only possible answer is God.
Katie: The Lord protected me from so many situations, and I am thankful for His grace through it all.
Jeanne: This may sound a bit off-track, but God arranged a pathway so that I could move out of the barracks when my two roommates started smoking weed there. Not only did it make me nauseous, but if they had hidden any weed in my part of the room and it was found by the military police and their dogs during their unannounced inspections, I would have been in great legal jeopardy and not able to prove my innocence. I only had my word against theirs.
Do you have any advice for someone whose loved one may be enlisting in the military? In your opinion, what are ideal and specific prayer points to pray for anyone who is serving?
Miranda: The rate of suicide in both veterans and active duty military is astronomical. Even if service members never enter a war zone, there is a certain level of trauma experienced that civilians can do their best to try to understand, but ultimately just can’t. Pray that they are not afraid to ask for help when they need it and that the help is readily available when they ask (via chaplains, counselors, health care professionals, friends and family). Pray that they are heard and understood when they are struggling and offered valuable resources. Pray that they know who they are in Christ, that God’s plan is ultimately bigger than our understanding and that they have a purpose and place in His Kingdom.
Katie: Pray for their physical safety and if they are a believer for their hearts and eyes fixed on Jesus. Pray for the soldier to be delivered from temptations of the world delivered from the evil one.
Jeanne: Don’t take things personally during training. Persevere. Be true to yourself and to your faith. Don’t let the social environment change you. Seek out others whose beliefs and values mirror yours. The military is a cross section of society, so there ARE others like you. If your installation has a chapel service or group that aligns with your beliefs and practices, get involved. Pray for guidance.
As for prayer, ask for wisdom and discernment for the service member. Ask that godly people make themselves known to him/her. Ask for God’s strengthening and protection physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Let the service member know you are praying for him/her and stay in touch.