The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Women veterans talk unique issues

Photo by Photo by: Brian Okosun

On Wednesday, a panel was held for female veterans that are current students.

A panel Wednesday brought together female veterans — who only make up 10 percent of the veteran population, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs — to talk about their experiences transitioning to civilian life.
The panel, hosted by the Veterans Resource Center, featured female veterans who are A&M students and who volunteered to speak about their experiences. Panelists spoke about topics ranging from family life and transitioning out of service to sexual assault in the military. The speakers also described how parts of military life translated into other aspects of their lives, such as school.
Sarah LeMire, a librarian at Texas A&M and U.S. Army veteran, spearheaded the creation of the panel. LeMire said she decided to organize the event because she felt it was necessary to have a discussion on issues unique to women veterans.
“I’m an Army veteran myself, and women veteran issues are near and dear to my heart,” LeMire said. “When I started here at Texas A&M about a year ago I started talking to the Veterans Resource Center and it seemed like the time was right to start looking at women veterans, and seeing what we could do to really help women veterans feel included in veterans issues and feel recognized on campus.”

Robin Roe, panelist and U.S. Air Force veteran, said her father was a major influence in her joining the armed forces since he also served in the Air Force. Roe said people often treat women veterans different than male veterans.

“When I talk about being stationed in West Germany to retired officers, the first thing they ask is, ‘What did your husband do?’” Roe said.

Zoology junior and panelist Aysia Howell served in the U.S. Navy. Howell said one of the reasons she joined the Navy was because it provided direction in her life.

“I joined at a time in my life when I didn’t know what was really going on or what I wanted,” Howell said. “But it’s definitely a three-year experience I don’t regret.”

Rosa Cavazos, sociology graduate student and decorated veteran with over 30 years of service in both active and reserves in the Air Force, said there are challenges presented to women who want to join the military that men haven’t always had to face.

“I’ll be very honest. I didn’t start out by wanting to join the Army,” Cavazos said. “The problem was that females had to score 65 total on the exam to join. Males only had to score 20.”

LeMire said she felt the panel was successful and went better than she planned.

“[The panelists] not only really hit on the diversity of experiences that people can have, but they really hit on a number of what I thought were really important points,” LeMire said. “They really did a great job talking about what it’s like to join the military and to transition out and how it can inform your perspective and the different skill sets that it gives you.”

All the panelists said being military women helped give them the tools needed to overcome obstacles in civilian life as well.

“Those were the days I got through some of the toughest times of my life,” Howell said. “Thanks to all that, my persistence was shaped because of those setbacks.”
Emily Otto, international affairs graduate student and event attendee, said she hopes the panel gives people a clearer perspective of military life. 
“When I enlisted after my undergraduate, I was worried,” Otto said. “You hear different things, some of which are terrifying. I just wanted to be the voice of a good experience in the Army, so that women can better assess what’s ahead if they do decide to enlist.”

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