‘People aren’t aware that I was in the Navy but I was in the Navy for nine years. You know, stuff happened to me, why can’t I walk into a support service and be bloody acknowledged as a person who’d experienced that? But looking at the term veteran, it’s just not something I recognise. I don’t see myself in that terminology.
I see myself as a woman who joined the Navy and gave up part of her life for the bigger community, for the wider picture. I don’t want to be treated any differently. But I would like to be recognised. And I think that’s lacking. And I feel I deserve that.
My friends and family, they just see me as a person that was in the Navy. I was just someone that was on a ship that time, for nine years, and went to war but probably didn’t really do much.
And I haven’t even had those conversations with my parents. They’re aware of all the stuff that’s happened but I’ve never had a sit-down conversation about experiencing dead bodies and experiencing trauma and isolation and all of the other stuff that comes with being in the Navy. I was a kid, I was a young girl, I’d never even kissed a boy when I joined. I was from a Catholic family and I was just innocent.
It makes me feel angry that I’m not acknowledged. And I think it undermines what I’ve done in my life. You know, I’m 38 this year and I was having a conversation with someone in my office, she said “Oh, do you feel like you’ve not achieved the real female life goals?” in that, I’ve never owned my own home, and I’m not married.
And I was like, hang on a minute, when I was 16 years old, I was off joining the Navy, what were you doing? Sat round in a bush smoking pot! You know, if you really want to compare our life experiences, do you think that as a woman, my worth is based on whether I’ve got a husband or not? I could have had 15 husbands if I wanted them, I don’t care!
So I’m using my voice. And I’ve been working with some people in my mental health job and sharing these (Navy) experiences and reaching out and saying, look, this is what I’m noticing. And this isn’t new. However, what’s new is me feeling confident enough to tell you that that’s really bothering me.
I want to encourage more female veterans to come forward and say “yeah, I feel that too”. It’s about giving them a voice. How can we change things for the better so that it makes it much more of an inclusive environment, so that you would feel comfortable stepping forward and acknowledging that you are a veteran.
I just I feel like it’s our job to make the image of a veteran become more inclusive because a lot of people think “veteran” and they think of a man.
I think it’s important. I want to be a voice and make some change. And if I can share some of my thoughts and experiences then why not? I find it tricky, because I’m not the most articulate person. I’m not very good with my words but I do feel empowered, and I think we all bloody-well should do.’
2000 – 2009
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