Sunday, November 4, 2007

Life as an American Female Soldier

Marie Claire

Hair falling out, periods on hold, and peeing in a cup: for female soldiers, life on the front lines involves stuff men never have to think about.

By Tara McKelvey

I signed up for the army in June 2001, when I was 17. They were offering to pay for some of my college education. I wasn't concerned about the possibility of going to war; I just kept thinking, This is going to be cool.

Two years later, I was a sophomore at the University of Illinois in Urbana, and I got a phone call from my platoon sergeant, who said, "Your unit has been put on alert." That evening, I went to see The Vagina Monologues at a local theater with friends from my dorm. I didn't say anything about the phone call. On November 11, Veterans Day, I was told I was being deployed. I quit my part-time job at David's Bridal shop and boxed up the clothes in my dorm.

In February, I went to a base in Kuwait, where you had to wait in long lines no matter where you were: in the mess hall, bathroom, shower. You were never alone. At night, I put on headphones and played Norah Jones to block it all out. Read more