A Glimpse at Military Life from Women's POVs

Sound Off!: American Military Women Speak Out - Carl J. Schneider, Dorothy Schneider

Thoroughly enjoyed reading about military life from women's points of view. These women started their military careers (however brief or long those careers lasted) from a wide range of time periods: some came from Vietnam-era, most started in the post-draft, now All Volunteer Force of the mid-70s and 1980s. The last chapter of the (revised) book dealt with women who served in the military during Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

 

These were the women who made the path through the military easier for women in my generation and younger generations. And yet, I felt as if they were in the service with me and dealing with the same issues (especially family vs. work issues) that I had to deal with. The authors kept a neutral tone with their wording, and the writing was focused (85% -90%) towards the women's own words about their experiences. Most importantly, at least in my mind, was the intersectionality of the women interviewed: a mix of races, economic classes, officer/enlisted/warrant ranks, geographical locations, single moms, childless women, married to the military/fellow service member/civilians, etc.

 

The one group not identified was lesbians - this book was first published in 1988, the revised copy (the one I read) was published in 1992. Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy wasn't even in effect in those days, it was strictly a "self-identify through words or actions and get kicked out" policy. Although the authors touched on lesbianism, it is mainly about how the general public and servicemen see women working in the military rather than the experiences of lesbians. I am hoping more recent works in the women and the military niche does service to tell their stories.

 

All told, this was the perfect companion piece and a starting off point for reading about women's experiences in the military. However, I would be remised if I did not point out two errors found in the beginning. The authors added a chart explaining the rank structures in the five branches (yep, Coast Guardies get a lot of love in the book). The chart with USAF structures is now incorrect, once in the officer structure - we don't have Warrant officers and haven't for a long time; and once in the enlisted structure - we don't have 3 stripe sergeants (often referred to as "Buck Sergeants) anymore. 3 Stripers are just all now Senior Airmen. 4 stars.