feature image via dvidshub on flickr
When I decided to enlist in the US Army, everything around me started to mean something else. Commercials of sweet soldier homecomings and Veteran’s insurance companies, reports on the news about sexual assault in the military, hell, even laying in bed with three cats, a dog and my sisters watching Netflix brought a cloud of recognition, maybe a little terror: “This soon will all apply to me.”
…and when it does, I will miss the hell out of being blanketed by cuddly things like pups, kittens and little sisters.
My experience thus far has been very personal. I held it close to my chest before “coming out” and telling the whole world because there is so much misinformation about what it really means to live in the world of a soldier, and because most of my family and friends aren’t all that supportive of the Armed Forces. I had that same sense of apprehension for a long time, too. I’m not a fan of war and I didn’t like that one of my closest friends kept getting sent into it while I sat safely at home and remembered him as this kid with emo bangs, lip rings and tight jeans. I attributed his positive outlook as the result of effective brainwashing. So to have been silently considering enlisting for so long felt like straight up hypocrisy. I’d need to assuage my own contradicting opinions before telling anyone else, let alone calling a recruiter.
It wasn’t just me though; life, a girl, DADT and college all kind of held me back. To the extent to which the military would’ve shat on my identity and messed with the lives of people I loved (queue The L Word where Tasha was court marshaled for being a foxy homo, enacting foxy homo “tendencies”) was a very scary thing.
Since then, I’ve: graduated with a BA in Liberal Arts Bullcocky, started on an MFA in the same (i.e. Creative Writing), worked in the field of Chasing People Who Steal Things (i.e. Loss Prevention), served in restaurants and worked on a Mobile Cupcakery (i.e. fucking delicious). Unfortunately though, the crisis of figuring out what would make me the happiest clam kept coming back. And so I picked up my laptop and started in on some research.
What I found – the benefits of job security, travel, educational opportunities, health insurance, challenge and duty – all appeal to me in a big way. Those things obviously come at a price, but overall, it’s been looking real good.
What I didn’t find though, were the answers to questions like, “Will I have to leave my boxer briefs at home in lieu of high-waisted, thin, cotton lady panties under my kick ass uniform during Basic Training?” and “How difficult is it to opt out of wearing skirts as formal attire?”
Questions that my recruiter can’t answer, and surprisingly, neither can the world wide interwebz. My personal concerns regarding the particulars of masculine-of-center identity in the Armed Forces are only the beginning. I can’t be the only woman – and masculine-of-center woman at that – struggling to find information about military life.
And so I present: one homo’s experience. As I go through the process of enlistment, Basic Training and so on, I’ll be writing/tumbling/and youtubing about it. Maybe some of it will be useful to others out there with the same questions, maybe it will encourage others to enter the dialogue and become resources, too. Maybe some of it will include pictures of ladies in uniform…I JUST DON’T KNOW. But, there is far too little out there right now, even less in the way of first-hand perspective — it’s always, “I knew a girl who…” or “My husband had a chick in his platoon that was like…” and that is t-totally terrible. I mean, c’mon, really? So for all you who’ve considered enlisting or are just curious about what it’s really like to be a queer in the military, I’ll be here.
Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.
Please let me know when you figure out the part about skirts.
You do you. I can’t say I have any good feelings about someone joining the army though.
Thank you for the support. And I can totally understand those not good feelings, I’ve had them, too.
There’s been times where skirts were mandatory for me, and times when I had the option of wearing skirt/slacks. It just depends.
Also, have you considered going to OCS? With a BA, you should be qualified to apply at least.
I had considered it, but ultimately decided that it was best (for me) to start off as a soldier rather than someone in the position of leadership.
Just don’t underestimate your abilities and what experiences you have had that you can bring to the table. Also, at OCS we were allowed to wear whatever underwear we wanted, so there’s that.
Let me tell you, there will probably be some serious kicking of yourself involved later on if you choose not to go OCS. It’s not just about the leadership, but the pay grade and freedoms that go along with it. You will still be trained to do what you need to do, so you don’t have to worry about that part.
True. But, I’m very pleased with my MOS.
To the first question: “Will I have to leave my boxer briefs at home in lieu of high-waisted, thin, cotton lady panties under my kick ass uniform during Basic Training?”
The answer is yes. You don’t actually have to leave them at home, because they will be kept somewhere for you, but you will have to wear the same type of underwear as everyone else in Basic Training. Everything has to be uniform for inspections.
I can’t answer the second question because I was only in for six months, and during that time any formal wear I had included pants. I can probably answer a lot of your questions about Basic, though. You will most likely be going to the same one I went to, Fort Jackson, because that’s where most of the women are sent.
I will give you the same advice I was given before I enlisted, and you should take it to heart, because it’s very important. If you ever have any problems, serious problems (the person who gave this advice to me was specifically talking about rape and sexual harrassment, but I used it for something else), head to the chaplain on base instead of your commanding officer, regardless of whether you are religious or not. You can’t get in trouble for going to the Army chaplain, and it’s their duty to do the right thing whether it is good for the Army or not. There are, unfortunately, still a lot of cover-ups going on in the military.
Thank you! Let’s talk, because I have all of the questions :)
Absolutely! I’m sitting here just looking for my Basic Training “yearbook”, because I’m having all these flashbacks now.
Nice! Share the memories!
Okay, so don’t bring your cell phone to Basic. You won’t be allowed to keep it on your person. You have timed moments during each week when you are allowed to call people from the wall phones (a lot like prison), and you only get a few minutes each call. If you want to blog about your experiences while you are in, you have to send snail mail letters and set it up so that somebody can post for you. You don’t want to write anything really bad, though, because freedom of speech doesn’t actually exist in the military. You will be held to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) rather than civilian laws, and that includes laws about speaking bad about the military or your superiors. I’m not trying to scare you, I just want to warn you that you will be held to a drastically different set of rules once you are in.
There are some parts that will scare the shit out of you, and others that will have you going “HOOAH!” Once you are in Basic you just have to keep remembering that you CAN do it. I mean, you absolutely can. You have it in you.
There’s so much to tell, there really is, and I’m only talking about Basic Training. If I keep going I’ll be writing a book, so if you can think of anything specific, just ask.
Why did my gravatar change?
I’ll second most of the info from Kit Cameo. I actually work at Fort Jackson with a basic training unit. One excellent resource is to look on Facebook – many of the battalions run public facebook pages with a ton of info/pictures of training.
As far as the Army’s current issues with sexual harassment/assault, I can tell you that atmosphere has changed drastically in the last 6 months or so, and it’s taken very seriously now. You should always be fine to report issues directly through the chain of command, especially since it may take a few days to a week to meet with a Chaplain. The investigation can get complicated by a delay in reporting an issue.
Also, don’t be fooled by the fact that DADT was repealed… there is still A LOT of people who very vocally disagree and it’s unpredictable. While they cannot officially punish you for being gay, you might find yourself getting multiple Article 15’s for minor offenses that aren’t enforced with your fellow soldiers. We’ve also had cases where two females were caught fraternizing, and one of them blames the “obviously” gay girl for sexual assault.
Best advice: read as much as you can get your hands on before you ship
To be honest, I don’t remember the Chaplain at Basic, but in my AIT the Chaplain there had an office right in the same building as the rest of our commanding officers. The problem with going through the chain of command is that they are not always sympathetic, as they weren’t with my situation. I absolutely went to my drill sergeant first, and after getting shouted at while being forced to do 100 push-ups, I decided I should probably go to the Chaplain next instead.
so I liked everything you had to say but then I was “sweltering desert town in Nevada” and forgot it all I am currently in one of those small towns in NV and cant seem to make my self leave as much as id like to my family holds me here
Family is important, probably the most important. So I can relate. Maybe leaving is a matter of finding something super duper amazing to leave for?
I am super excited about hearing more about this! I am personally preparing to join the Air Force as an officer (just talked to my recruiter today, exciting) and have been an Air Force brat for 22 years. So yeah, I may not know you, but I’m rooting for you. Good luck!
Thank you! I’ll be rooting for you, too!
It’s a good choice. Air Force soldiers start off with way more freedoms than the other military branches. They are treated like royalty compared! I was jealous for the three months I was at the Defense Language Institute with the other branches.
Really looking forward to hearing about your experiences.
I umed and ahhed for years before joining up and it’s definitely been the right decision so far (4 years in).
Don’t have any practical advice as I’m not from the US, but for what it’s worth, we only wear skirts with mess dress.
Back when I went through basic training (14 years and a different gender ago) they gave us a choice of underwear: what they issued you or nothing. I, not being comfortable with the underwear choice opted for nothing, as did a woman in my platoon (we privately and very quietly joked that we’d love the option to trade).
This made me giggle. I have the sneaking suspicion that going commando may not be a thing anymore, BUT if I do try it, I’ll let ya’ll know how it goes :)
Well, I don’t know if the drill sergeant was being serious when he said “wear nothing”, but the two of us took it to heart.
Also, it’s not like they say “Everyone drop your pants so we can inspect your skivvies!” The only time a drill sergeant saw my underwear was when they were inspecting wall lockers and they saw 7 neatly rolled pairs of uncomfortable men’s briefs.
Okay, good to know they wont be making me drop my drawers in the name of ‘merica! haha
Awesome! I can’t wait to see more of this column.
All of the women in my family are or have been in the military. Mom, grandmother, aunts, female cousins (as well as both grandfathers, great-grandfathers, great-uncles, uncles, etc). My aunt, who just retired, was actually the senior female in the US Coast Guard. They were all career military and have been extremely honest with me in telling me how tough it is for women in the military, in terms of treatment, rape, sexual harassment, etc. According to them, the Air Force is the best for women, as well as the Coast Guard, and all of my family has very explicitly told me to stay away from the Marines, Navy, and Army, as they are the worst for women.
I’ve definitely considered it. I just don’t know if I’m down for signing my life away to something that doesn’t take care of its people in a psychological sense, covers up lots and lots of sexual abuse, and is pretty darn sexist. I think you just have to be very careful.
Wow, I have absolutely no interest in joining the armed forces myself, but I’m really curious to learn more about the experience from your perspective. I’m excited to see this on Autostraddle. Should make a very interesting column. Thanks for sharing your journey with us, and good luck! I look forward to reading more :)
I’m in the Army! Though I haven’t actually done anything since I am on a scholarship. I think the term is “Future Officer.” Thank you for writing this article Sara. I’ve been feeling a lot of the same things. Something that’s been on my mind is the fact that I am joining the world’s largest military of a country that has been and continues to be imperialistic in a lot of ways. But I also feel a strong sense of duty and I love the benefits of being in service.
As far as being out in the military, someone already asked me if I had a boyfriend, but I went along with the question because I felt it would just be too much of a hassle to tell him otherwise. I know that when I am out of the Reserves and serving (in four years!), I will be out and proud.
YAY! It is definitely a balancing act in terms of keeping perspective, and being aware of your place within this bigger, super impacting force. Staying humble and realistic about it all is my strategy.
This is so awesome to see. Im in the Air Force, and I know that I keep my job quiet depending on who Im around. Even through Im not in the Army, I know a few things. If anyone has any questions, I’ll do my best to answer. :) Good Luck!
Excellent! Thank you. How long have you been in the Air Force?
I went active on the 31st of May. But I went through the Air Force’s rotc program.
I go to SF State now, and I’ve had recurring thoughts about enlisting. I most likely won’t be, but I’m so excited to hear all about your journey :)
State is a…place. Kidding. How do you like it?
As far as enlisting (or not), you do you! It’s a pretty monumental decision. Took me years to finally commit to enlisting.
Best of luck to you, Sara! I have nothing but respect for people who actually serve, even though I have nothing but contempt for the institution they’re serving (Hello, cognitive dissonance, I know, right?). My respect comes from the fact that no part of me can understand the logic in joining the armed forces, so for someone to feel that it’s the best for them obviously must have very strong reasons to do so. I also am curious in the process of being in the armed forces, so this column will be very exciting!
Things that are important to know as a young female with an MFA in creative writing joining the Army, based on my own experiences as a young female with an MFA in creative writing in the Army, pre-DADT.
1. There are a lot of men. I mean, I knew this in theory, and I was okay with it, even in practice, but still, it’s kind of weird to be outnumbered five to one by men. This means that you have to put up with a certain amount of penis jokes. And hey, I can make a good penis joke too, but after a while it starts to grate, you know?
2. There are a lot of Republicans. Specifically, there are a lot of Republican men. And they can be very vocal about their political beliefs. There were a few Muslim soldiers in my company during basic training, and the things that people said to them were not fucking pretty. It really shocked me, but in retrospect, I am surprised that I didn’t see it coming.
3. There are a lot of people from uneducated, unprivileged backgrounds. People who join the military because they know it is the best paycheck they will ever get. And good for these people, I take nothing away from them. But unfortunately, it means you frequently have to deal with their ignorance as well, especially when it comes to poor, white, Republican men. And that can be frustrating. Because even if you cut them slack, many of them will not cut you slack. At all.
4. People who wear the uniform are people, just like everybody else. A lot of them are shitheads. Not everyone joins for noble reasons. I had it in my head that people would at least be kind of good people–this is not true. There are liars, thieves, and eighteen year old little stuck up jackasses that will make you want to pull your hair out because they don’t know when to shut their mouths and do what they’re told.
5. There is crazy diversity! And that is awesome and sometimes makes up for the ignorant assholes you will meet. I have never been in a more diverse place in my entire life. (Maybe that’s because I’m from Kentucky, but hey.) It is like a microcosm of the world. I met people from all over Asia, most of Central and South America, and several countries in the Middle East and Africa. That was kind of cool.
6. There are lots of lesbians. In my basic training company, about a third of the women there were lesbians or bi. Those were the ones that actually confirmed it to me. I had suspicions about others. Also, I totally met my girlfriend in basic training, and even though we are not together now, we were together for two and a half years. :) First kiss with your new girlfriend while field training at Ft Jackson? Awesome memory.
7. Basic training is basic training. And it doesn’t last forever. Don’t let it scare you. It sucks, but it’s also kind of fun. (In retrospect anyway.) People got freaked out in my basic training and several girls did everything they could to get booted out as quickly as possible. But it is what it is. The regular Army is nothing like basic.
8. Drill sergeants are hilarious. You will love them by the end of your training, I promise. They say the funniest shit you will ever hear. Also, if you happen to have a short little girl drill sergeant named Jess Smith, who is super hot and has kind of a high voice, tell her I said hello! She used to play the French Horn in the TRADOC band with my ex girlfriend!
9. The Army is a small world. Think before you gossip. It’s all fine and well in basic, because you don’t know anyone yet. But say you get out of basic and you are at your new unit chatting with your team leader and you talk shit about someone you met somewhere…turns out they served with them at FT Benning last year and they are great friends. It can happen and its super awkward when it does.
10. If you are broken, say something. I knew a girl in OCS who had a hairline hip fracture for three weeks who said nothing about it. Until it literally broke all the way through in three places because she was carrying too much weight in ruck marches. (Oh, yeah, don’t expect the people in charge to follow the training standards. They don’t. And sometimes if you say something, you get punished. Especially if you are female. But I found that to be more true in OCS than in basic.) Anyway, the fear of having to do an entire portion of your training over again is very real. It sucks. But it sucks way more to get discharged for a disability before you even get into the real Army. And females tend to be slightly more prone to injury than males–depending, of course, on your fitness level before you start and your body frame. If you are petite and small-boned, you should start strength training NOW.
I don’t really have a lot of advice. They try to make the basic training as dummy proof as possible. It’s not that it’s difficult really, so much as it is mind-numbingly boring and tedious. You will spend more time standing around in formation waiting to eat than you will actually eating. You will spend more time waiting to take the PT test than actually taking the PT test. And you will spend more time waiting on your drill sergeants to count you and your weapons (multiple times, so many times) than you will actually firing those same weapons. There is a lot of counting. And shockingly, people mess it up. And so you count again. There’s almost this meditative quality you develop after a certain amount of time standing in formation at parade rest. Basic can be shockingly zen.
I have rambled long enough.
Feel free to e-mail me!
Wow. I cannot even tell you how much I like this comment. Thank you so much for all of that!
this comment is amazing. i’m so excited about this column. it’s a piece of life that i would never ever have access or experience to otherwise, and i really thank you both (and everyone else who has experience in the army and has commented) for sharing with us.
I’ve been active duty Air Force since 2005, and Heather’s advice is just what I would say, too.
Sara, best of luck! Best thing to remember besides all the other fantastic advice is: There’s going to be a lot of ‘dumb’ going enlisted. I don’t really mean that in the sense of other people, but in the system as a whole. You WILL be treated like you’re 5 years old long past when Basic Training ends. Find the pocket of people that can all vent to each other and helps you laugh all that stuff off, and it’s much more bearable.
I cannot wait to hear all about it. Hate the war not the soldier. Safe travels little bro.
Love you, big sis. :) :)
wait is this actually your sister because if it is i will A. die of the cuteness and B. nominate this for a comment award so fucking fast.
A. We are both totes cute, so it makes sense (but please don’t die) B. We have decided to nominate you for the best comment to our comments award.
I am a gender queer, masculine appearing female soldier with the tightest high fade I hope you ever see during your military career. I have never really encountered any real douchecanoes (thank you, drill sergeants for that gem) that gave me trouble for my queerness.
The goal of basic training is to graduate without your drill sergeants knowing your name. If you can do that, then you are a high speed soldier.
You can keep your briefs during training if you are a little sneaky about it. You will be issued girl underpants during reception. When you first get to your platoon bay, they will have you empty your duffles to make sure you have been issued everything. They will also have you empty your personal bags. At that time, place your briefs in your duffle. No drill sergeant is going to inspect a privates underpants.
I’ve never had to wear the ASU skirt. You will rarely ever wear the ASU unless maybe at a change of command ceremony. They are reserved for super formal occasions. In fact, I’m not even sure where mine is located. I’m okay with that.
Keep your head down, and you’ll be fine during basic. If you are a good runner and pass your PT test every time, you’ll never have a problem. Feel free to contact me with more specific questions.
Douchecanoes…that is gold. My drill sergeant just called us Tools, which I took to heart, almost too much…I should do some push-ups now… “Spiral out, keep going..”
Good tip on the briefs, thanks for that :)
This is exciting! I’ve been in three years and still love what I’m doing. The army is…well, the army, and above all else it is what you make of it. There will be lots of things out of your control, that you won’t like at all, or think is completely stupid, but a good attitude goes a very long way.
I went through basic twice, which was just about all the basic training I needed and then some, but it is an experience like no other and, believe it or not, some people wish they could do it again. Dude, just have fun.
Seriously, if you are in pain or broken SAY SOMETHING. I have fractures in my shins now from not going to see medical about it. Fix the problem as early as possible. It saves a lot of heartache later.
Basic training is actually pretty fool proof. Do what you’re told, be as invisible as possible. Two months fly by really quickly. And in the end you are stronger, better, smarter than you ever thought you could be.
In the army, you notice a distinct difference between your social life and work life. It’s really all about balance.
I say again: just have fun though. You are meeting new people, in new places, learning awesome things! (What’s your MOS if you don’t mind me asking?) I look forward to reading more about your experiences.
I don’t mind at all, I’m a 46Q, Public Affairs Specialist. What about you?
Nice! 35P Linguist. When do you head out to basic?
That was one of the first MOS’ I checked out, you love it, right?
Haha yes, I do. I’m a bit of a nerd about it.
Dude! Best of luck though, for real. Drink water, but your Drill Sergeants will definitely make sure of that, lol.
I would like to add a caveat to what everyone’s saying about speaking up if you are broken. While it is insanely important for you to go to sick call if you’re actually really hurting, don’t go for dumb shit. Crutches are their answer to any complaint you have below the neck, and if you’re on crutches during certain parts of training, you will not be allowed to do that training. And if you’re not allowed to do the training and can’t make it up before your cycle graduates, you will become what is known as a holdover and recycle when the next cycle gets there. And, my friend, being a holdover is a special piece of hell.
So! Don’t lie about your broken hip, but also do everything you can not to miss training! You WILL get recycled. I knew people who were at basic for over year because of being a medical holdover. I was stuck there for an extra month just because they lost my vision waiver. The Army doesn’t care, and you will not get out faster if you’re injured. You will stay way. way past when all your battles leave. You will watch the seasons change. You will see drill sergeants come and go. You will regret every moment in your life that led you to this one.
DON’T GET INJURED.
No pressure or anything…
Haha, sorry! I don’t mean to freak you out. I just speak as someone who was a holdover through no fault of my own, and who watched others be holdovers for much longer because of injuries. Many, many things are preventable. Always drink water. If you’ve never been a runner, start running now so you don’t injure your ankles or shins. Stretch every night. If the boots they issue you don’t fit, tell them immediately and keep bringing it up. Most injuries occur because people were unprepared for the physical aspect of basic. You’ll be fine!
Also, feel free to PM me if you have any questions! I, too, enlisted with a degree.
Man…that got dark reeeeeeeal quick. But she has a point, that’s how I ended up going through basic a second time, I rolled the fuck out of my ankle jumping out of an LMTV (which you should never do, btw, no matter who is yelling at you to get the hell out of the truck). I was on crutches for four weeks and couldn’t graduate with my first cycle. On another note, I was glad I got over all my nerves the first go around. By the time I was doing my recycle I was pretty much a pro.
You will see a few people though, who will feign sickness or injury just to get out of the hard stuff. All I can say is don’t be that guy.
Definitely do not be a sick call ranger.
Also, yes, the lesbian quotient is high, and myself and the other butches who were there were the subject of much good-natured laughter when we had to try on the skirts. Overall, the females are much, much better with it than the males (typical).
I would never, ever in a million years do what you’ll be doing — but I find I’m looking forward to reading about your experience doing it. Best of luck!
this is gonna be super interesting
I was at Fort Jackson in February of last year and my company did allow cell phone usage once every two weeks or so for maybe 10-30 minutes depending on the occasion. I know one of the other companies gave the soldiers back their phones for the last day or two.
Everyone had to wear the same white cotton briefs.
I have never had to wear my skirt.
I have not been sexually harassed or assaulted since I joined the Army, but I do know people that have.
I also have a command team that is vocally intolerant of any sexual harassment or assault.
I dropped a “fiancée” and “she” in front of my 1SG when my squad leader asked me about my leave packet. My 1SG didn’t bat an eye and my squad leader wanted to know why no one knew about an engagement. I have suffered no blowback. So.
Learn to love your M16 and your PT Belt. And weeding.
Get used to being threatened with punishment for someone else’s mistake. Mass punishment drives me nuts, but it’s used frequently. Does improve your pt though.
Interested in reading about your experiences. I studied War Studies at University and know a quite a few people who have been in the Armed forces here in the UK. I did even consider joining myself at one point when I was teenager.
Now however as a veteran anti-war protester, I am intrigued by your keeness to join an organisation that I must say I have serious moral issues with. I realise there are diffierent priorites and benefits for different people, but while I am interested to know what your experience is, I can’t help but think that the US Armed forces (as with most armed forces) is responcible for some pretty unspeakable crimes.
So excited for this. My girlfriend is going through officer training with the Marines, and we hear a lot about how terrible it will be for women and worse for queers, but seeing other people’s experiences in the armed forces is super exciting. In fact, I was just thinking that someone needed to start writing articles for Autostraddle about queers in the military! Perfect timing.
glad I can be of service!
I went through Marine OCS a few years back so if you/your gf have any questions, feel free to ask
I’ve been in the army for 4 years, I had the same questions going to basic training. Female soldiers ponder way more things than men do haha Message me if you have any questions (:
I literally just finished my four year contract with the Army. Even with DADT on the books when I enlisted, I always had the support of ‘family’ and supportive command and leadership. As far as the underpants go, they will insist on white cotton when you go to the store for your initial purchase of hygiene items….BUT, my grandma was cool and sent me some white lady-boxer-briefs and life was peachy. Mail will be your lifeline, depending on your leadership (you’ll find alot depends on your drill sergeants and command policies), you will be allowed to keep some items sent to you, like soap, and glorious white underpants of your choosing. They will let you know very quickly what you can and can’t have in basic, down to the flavor of cough drops they will allow. It varies from battalion to battalion, all training at the same time. After basic, it really doesn’t matter what underpants you wear. I’ve never been inspected for what underwear I was wearing in the regular army. Be aware, that your personal space and privacy will be ZERO at times, so make sure you are comfortable with your choices. As for your dress uniform, the dress blues are being issued to new recruits now, I have the ‘Class A’ uniform and had to buy the blues. They will issue you pants and a skirt, they will make you get ALL the pieces fitted, you will wear your skirt a grand total of two to three times for fittings. My inspections for graduation were in pants, my inspections in AIT were always in pants, all my inspections in my unit were in pants. Don’t sweat the skirt, they won’t even issue you the proper formal heels to wear with the skirt, just the shiny flat shoes to be worn with your pants.
To wrap up this novel, don’t sweat the small stuff, they will break everything down barney style for you. You will be stressed and miserable and uncomfortable and punished for no reason, but you will make some of the best friends of your life through your collective commiseration. I have never failed to find ‘family’ and supportive people in my career.
Let me know if you want my sequel novel on deployments and missions.
I commissioned in the Army after being out of college for eight years. Since I went in as an officer in health care, I went to an abbreviated version of basic, so my experiences won’t be the same as yours. I agree with the other posters, though- especially about the pt belt, which has some pretty magical safety qualities in the eyes of the higher-ups. You’ll get to spend _lots_ of quality time marching and standing in formation. It will seem to drag while you’re there, but remember that every day, every minute, is one step closer to being done.
As an officer, I had to buy my dress uniforms- one set of greens and now a set of blues. (That stuff is pricey when you’re a reservist, BTW.) I chose to just buy the skirt for my blues- I hated the fact that the pants are a different color than the coat, so it was purely aesthetic for me. I think that for most things, you can get by with just the pants… though if you are going to a formal dinner, the skirt is generally required.
I don’t think DADT ending has stopped discrimination in the military, but it’s also not where it was 5 years ago. I do have a few openly gay members in my unit, and they are respected. But it’s also not unusual to hear slurs like “faggot”. The Army changes slowly… But it is changing.
As a reservist, I’ve had the opportunity to go on missions where we do some pretty cool things, like perform eye surgeries in third-world countries where healthcare is almost non-existant. There’s lots of media coverage when the military is engaged in violent conflicts, but just because you don’t see the positive stuff doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
I’m surprised that you’ve chosen to enlist instead of commission, if only because of the pay scale. Beware of the recruiter who tells you that it’s easy to get into OCS- it’s getting more challenging to get in, especially with certain AOC’s.
Good luck with basic- we’re all rooting for you!!
Also: This is relatively new info and relevant to military autostraddle types.
“Pentagon may revise same-sex benefits”