by Sydney Connor
On Monday, Nov. 7, students were given the opportunity to learn about military life as Whitworth’s own Tori Sutherland and Rosie Brown shared their perspectives in the first of two segments of A Veteran’s Day Perspective.
As Veteran’s Day approached, student coordinators junior Bryce McCandless and sophomore Derek Strausbaugh said they felt the need to address the holiday.
Starting to plan the event before school began in September 2011, McCandless said he found it important to inform the community of what Veteran’s Day really means and see the holiday become more recognized.
“Our goal was really just to bump up Veteran’s day,” McCandells said.
With Monday night’s segment focus on women of the military, including women in the military and military wives, guest speakers of Whitworth University shared their stories on how being affiliated with the military has contributed to their lives.
Toni Sutherland, program coordinator for chapel and service, provided a family’s perspective as she spoke about life as a military wife and the effects it had on her family.
While her husband retired in 2002, Sutherland reflected on her experiences of the military lifestyle she lived for 20 years.
Their first two years of marriage began with a remote tour in Korea.
“I visited him for three months during the year he was there,” Sutherland said. “It was really hard being separated from each other, and the amount of work and the combat exercises made it a very difficult tour for him.”
Moving as frequently as every three years, Sutherland said there were times she didn’t learn of their new home until three months before they moved.
“It definitely made life interesting,” Sutherland said.
Spending a total of six years in Italy and two and a half years in England, Sutherland said she is appreciative of the experiences the military gave her family.
“You’re diving into a new culture, new customs, a different language not knowing anyone,” Sutherland said. “It’s frightening, exciting and interesting.”
In situations when she was unable to travel overseas with her husband, Sutherland said it felt as if she was a single parent left to raise their two young children alone.
“Sometimes you’re just completely stressed,” Sutherland said. “Worrying what could happen to your spouse as they are doing what they have to do.”
The life of active military duty sacrifices not only time with family and loved ones, but the individual’s life, and the lives of his or her family and friends.
“Their life isn’t necessarily their own,” Sutherland said. “And their families lives aren’t necessarily their own because they just follow.”
Although she remains positive about her experience as a military wife, Sutherland said it’s important to be aware of the sacrifices made by the active-duty military and the low salary they receive.
“It is my understanding that many military families are eligible for food stamps,” Sutherland said. “As a service member is sacrificing their life, their family back home is living in poverty.”
After sharing her story, Sutherland encouraged students to make sure they are educated before voting on anything regarding the benefits of veterans.
Whitworth junior, Rosie Brown also shared her experience with the military, and the sexism that came along with the male-dominated profession.
Involved in the Marine Core since she was 17 years old, Brown graduated from the Marine Corps Candidates School in July 2010.
Graduating as one of 25 women in her class of 1,000, Brown acknowledged the sexism she experienced from her peers as well as the structural differences that separated them.
“You don’t have to be ashamed to be a woman in uniform,” Brown said. “Women are vital and are able to provide some tools which men cannot.”
Brown went on to describe the different myths she hears as a woman in the military and the comments often hears.
“When people hear I am in the military, I hear comments like ‘that’s so scary,’ or ‘don’t you want to find a husband?’” Brown said. “Many people have also said that I must just be doing it to make my father happy.”
But joining the military was much more than that for Brown, who said the people who serve take on the responsibility that the majority of the population doesn’t even consider.
“It’s not just about the uniform, or the discount at freaking Applebees,” Brown said.
As Veteran’s day approached, Brown reminded the audience who to thank and recognize on Nov 11. each year.
“We honor those who sacrifice everything,” Brown said. “They are not actors, or dramatic representations; they are real people.”
Although she said the simplest ‘thank you’ is always appreciated, Brown urged the audience to help Veterans and their families.
“We are able to send them to war, but not take care of them when they get back,” Brown said. “You can get involved and make a difference.”
People need to realize the people who serve in the military are actual human beings, they are not bullet-proof, Brown said.
Different organizations where students can volunteer include Blue Star and Gold Star who help mothers and families of veterans deployed or who have been killed in action.
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