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You don't look like a Veteran!


Ok so I’ve had this comment a few times now, most recently this weekend!


“You don’t look like a veteran! I can’t ever imagine you being in the RAF!”

I heard as I sat there with slightly pink hair, a nose piercing, and a flesh tunnel. Wrapped in a full-length cardigan resembling a big grey knitted blanket, wearing a headscarf tied in a huge bow on top of my tiny bonce (should have worn my beret!) and enjoying a warm glow in my mummy tummy from the couple of refreshing and slightly generous servings of blackcurrant gin that I had just necked.

I didn’t know what to say?! Or how to react!! Was I offended? Is it because I’m now a bit fat and look more inclined to run a bath than an assault course? (This is absolute fact to be fair… if you ever see me running then I’m either having a mental breakdown or there is something seriously bad happening!).

So, I laughed and asked...

“Why?”

(I’m hoping in a non-threatening manner! My Resting B*tch Face (RBF) can sometimes do me wrong, you know).

The response:

“I don’t know... u seem too chilled!?”

Well firstly WOW!

Thank you!

I have NEVER been known to be chilled!!

It’s always been my goal to be more relaxed and as you probably can tell from my latest posts I’m currently going through a period of some sort of personal growth or midlife crisis, unsure at the mo to be honest. BUT maybe, hopefully, fingers bloody crossed, this is some of the positive results of that! Get in! Love that! Boom!

I digress as per…

Anyhow, I took this as a compliment, necked some more gin and continued talking sh*t; about the joys and dramas of motherhood, wifing, how lip balm was sent from the gods and is an essential life product and how the 90’s n early 00’s were epic. Particularly as social media didn’t exist then, so absolutely nothing was documented (SAFE)!



The above are the overall general fav go to topics of my life right now, like most middle aged women with kids and a partner. I’m assuming/hoping! Ha-ha


On this occasion, the statement 'You Don't Look Like a Veteran' was said, apparently, due to my newfound zen (obviously I’m chilled as f&#k! Those that know me well will chuckle to themselves at this!).


I don't believe it was said in a derogatory or negative manner, more a shocked one to be honest.

And...

It’s not the first time it’s been said and I’ve no doubt not the last time either!

The following day it got me thinking...

What the chuff should a veteran look like?

Can you spot a veteran from across a room?

Should I wear my badge at all times so I can be identified?

Do I even need to ‘look’ like a veteran to be one?

Do I actually care?

Has this comment actually bothered me or just intrigued me?

Is this because I’m a veteran that happens to be a woman?

Why is it such a surprise that I served?!

Does it matter?

Truth is, I don’t have all the answers to these musings to be honest. I have some ideas though.

Which I’m obviously going to tell you, so if you don’t want to hear them, now would be a good time to click off!

I mean, I was sat slouching on a sofa in someone’s, outstanding homemade bar in their back garden drinking gin. Looking like a portly bag lady, after eating an all you can eat Chinese buffet at lunch and not wearing an ounce of make-up. Doesn’t exactly scream of Top Gun esk cool Mofo vibes, like Maverick or Iceman (If you don’t know what I’m referring to SHAME ON YOU!).


I knew I should have worn my aviators!! Damn!


I didn’t march into the premises, maintaining a 30-inch stride with a steady cadence, a coordinated arm swing or a timely but efficient halt directly in front of the bar either.


I forgot my veterans badge too! (Rooky mistake!)


Maybe I should get a tattoo stating it?!


Nope... I'm, not doing that! I would rather have rainbow bright or some dot work. (I am secretly cool, can you tell?) Maybe even a portrait of David Bowie on my thigh! (I LOVE HIM!).


I do however still drop profanities with precision and eloquence. Including C-Bombs much to the utter disgust and shock of the majority of civilians, particularly in the workplace, including on some on industrial sites too!


In fact, on this note, while we’re here:

Top Tip
Casual C-bombs + Civvi Workplace = The 3D’s
(Disgust, Disaster, Disciplinary)

I still call the canteen ‘the mess’ and holidays ‘leave’. My clothes are ironed to within an inch of their life, with creases so sharp you could cut yourself on them and I can still fall asleep on a washing line (Which absolutely pisses the ever-suffering husband off. It’s a gift, what can I say?!).


Clearly, I’ve not completely changed!


Have I?


So, therefore, IS IT because I’m a women veteran?


I mean most people don’t expect women to be engineers or to have served in the forces, so is it simply a case of us genuinely being the hidden population? #invisible


I had a lass turn round, after reading the blog post 'Odd One Out', say…


“I never even think of women as veterans, even though I know they can serve, I just never even consider it!”

Ouch!


Not even considered… that did sting for a second if I’m honest!


Anyway, back to my rambling, slightly hungover thoughts…


Do I care that I don’t look like a veteran?


Not really, I look like me!


But then again, I must do… a little bit?!


I mean I started this blog, to try and open a dialogue, to give us a platform to be seen and be heard!


Plus, I’m writing about it NOW!


Using up headspace thinking about it!


Weird.


Right then, let's address my next thought: Do I find it offensive that I, me, personally don’t apparently look like a veteran?


Well No. in short!


Like I said before, what the chuff does a veteran look like!?!


We do not have to conform to be anything in this life... just be and be happy I say.


But...


Yes there's a But!


I think what does bother me is the possible reasons why it’s so shocking to consider me as a veteran. Particularly, obviously, Gender… Why does the majority of society still not recognise us?! With all the so-called growth in the world, why is this still a thing?! Has the world truly grown and become accepting or are the minority and the discriminated, with use of social media platforms, blogs, YouTube etc just getting more opportunities to speak out???

Clearly not actually being heard though it would appear, it many arenas, not just the one I’m currently writing about!


Also have I let myself go THAT much?


Jesus, probably!


Note to self: Best up these gym visits again and stop buying pies and chocolate for lunch!

Jokes I love pie and chocolate, I’m never going to stop! Might go gym more though. Be healthy n that! #thisgirlcan (Actually I already am but that’s a WHOLE other post!)


Ultimately, with the help of my ever-changing mindset, this particular comment, does not ‘offend’ me (although we all by now should know my stance on the word “offended!” If not read Stephen Fry's quote about it, he articulates it beautifully).


I know I served, It’s a fact!


However, it does make me a little sad that civilian perceptions of what a veteran actually is or should look like are so still so narrow minded. The fact that after 100 years of service woman are still not even ‘considered’ as a veteran.

The worst part about those painful punchlines though, is that they come not just from men but from other women too (Cue yet another one of my infamous eye rolls).


What are your thoughts?


Civilian or Veteran I’m genuinely interested in both sides of the coin...


Closing Questions:


Has this ever happened to you as a women veteran or even a young male veteran? (Please tell me it’s not just me!).


How do we change public perceptions moving forward?


How do we educate people?


Send your answers on a postcard or keeping up with the times, which is basically the whole premise of this post, comment below. (Or if you prefer, send me a DM on one of the many V Word Social Media Platforms.)



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