I served two enlistments in the United States Marine Corps and faced many challenges and adventures. I always sought out higher responsibilities and competed against the best of the men in every aspect of the job. If I knew something was wrong, I stood up and fought for those who did not fight for themselves.
But being in a male dominated force, there was a great amount of judgement, stereotyping and sexism from seniors, peers and subordinates alike. I never leaned in to these situations.
Toward the end of my tenure, though, I was faced with yet another incident of sexual harassment and lack of equal opportunity for the women in the Corps. I was threatened not to say anything and made to feel dominated by the power my aggressor held. At that moment, I had a revelation.
Women face struggles every day in all branches of the service. We are strong, courageous and capable, but as women we do not empower one another. I was lost, and I felt I had no one to turn to for guidance. We needed to start believing in our abilities and not allowing our counterparts to silence us.
I decided I would try my hardest to give women a voice and help them rise up and achieve their goals. I decided to leave the Marine Corps to pursue my goals as a women's veteran advocate in creating Lady Leatherneck. Lady Leatherneck is connected to www.leatherneck.com, an online community of Marines, their families and friends. We provide helpful articles, resources and sites to guide, mentor and inspire Lady Marines and Marine spouses internationally. I feel strongly that it is my purpose to inspire all women who serve - past, present and future.
This experience has begun to change my life quite positively! As a wife and a mother, juggling the daily meetings, deadlines and assignments are a welcomed challenge. Throughout this journey, I have had more opportunities for growth and more doors have opened to provide even more assistance to my brother and sister veteran community.