By: Venita R. Thomas
Recently I was introduced to an audience, and I was asked to share some information about myself. The response starts the same way, every time. “Thank you. I’d like to start with the fact that I’m most proud of – I am a Veteran. I was honored to serve my country, and although I was injured in the line of duty, I would do it all over again.”
Ideally, it never fails, I am asked, “Why did you join the service?” Again, my response is fixed in my heart and soul, like a script chiseled in stone, “I was honored to serve, it was a personal obligation for me because if my forefathers and mothers could plow it, I could protect it.” My response has not been accepted, nor appreciated by a lot of individuals, but it’s my truth. Every good soldier is taught to stand by his/her own convictions and truth; I am the Charge of Quarters of my soul, pride, intuition, rights, instinct, and truth which equals my spirit.
Therefore, I am honored to contribute to the undertaking of (the) Minority Veterans of America’s Black History salute the contributions of Minority Veterans, which links to the contribution of all veterans because we are one as those who’ve sacrificed our time, lives, and families to stand for what we believed to be our truths. The art of celebration is one of the kindest acts of humankind.
Additionally, I am sure that my situation is not isolated; my status as a veteran has not always been honored, my contributions as a soldier not deemed worthy, and I’ve been belittled by other veterans based on my color, ethnicity, and gender. My idea of friendly fire.” The hurtful, painful, and sad events prompted me to study those that deal with hatred, PTSD, a closed mind, and all the “isms” that enlightened me to serve for a better nation for those that would follow me (as hopeful as me) to make an effective deposit to society.
Heck, I survived the initiation of becoming a U.S. Soldier by mastering PT, grass-drills, snow-drills, basic training’s gas chamber, road marches, calling cadence, (the) General’s Run, carrying Alice Packs, qualification series at the range, ensuring my gig line was perfect, being in the field for weeks – G.I. Jane’s baths, and completing AIT; Fort McClellan and Fort Jackson respectively. Often we have to resurrect the Solider in us to survive the challenges of a current situation. I won’t be hindered, there is no option to my plan, but success. I am veteran strong. I adore being a Black, female veteran!
I encourage all my fellow veterans, especially those that are women and minorities to use the training that was embedded during our formative years as a soldier. Hon in on the skills that allowed you never to give up, never lay down your morals or weapon, and never let the enemy see you sweat.
One must have the fortitude of a soldier to survive all the malicious acts that are plaguing our neighborhoods, communities, cities, and states. One nugget of wisdom I’ve often heard from more many of my elders is ‘Become the change you desire, need, and want; not just for yourself, but for others.”
Carpe Diem means to “Seize the day” (used to urge someone to make the most of the present time and give little thought to the future), is hard work, takes strategy, and a lot of courage.
It takes courage to follow your dreams, feeds your vision, and follow your instinct for your future. We as veterans will always be soldiers. I may not be an active duty soldier, but I am a forever a soldier.
Fortune and success must be managed! Opportunity must be created! If there is not a window for you to enter into the lifestyle that you want life, create the window or the door and go combat and kick it in or down, respectively. Fight the good fight of faith for what you want, and please keep in mind nothing beats a failure, but a try (aka attempt).
I am honored and thankful to share a portion of the lessons and facts I’ve learned about myself as I grow older and mature as a woman – how my life and training as a soldier has helped me bootstrap and pull myself up through some very rough times. I can ensure the reader of this article that had I not learned to maneuvers and climb over a wall or identify foe vs. friend; I would be a failure, and scared to take the risk of faith to reach for the dreams I had to become an Educator, attend college, earn my doctorate degree or depart from an abusive marriage. I won’t be a victim because I’m more than a conqueror through Him (Christ) who loves me.
I salute all my fellow Veterans, and I hope, pray, and wish that 2018 is the most phenomenal year, the desire and health for you and your family members are supreme, and time is taken each day to reflect on achievements, and self-reflection is a conduit for peace & rest. Rock of the Marne!
Venita R. Thomas, M.A., M.Ed. is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio who served in the U.S. Army, HHC, 3rd Infantry, G2 Division. Venita has earned degrees from The University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, (Cincinnati, Ohio) and will complete her Ph.D. in Higher Education and Women Studies from the Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Venita is the Chief Servant Officer of the Greater Cincinnati Women’s Veteran Center. Venita’s dissertation is on African American Female Veterans & PTSD Due to Underemployment.