There are few reasons why I chose for those who participate in Fatigues Clothesline by expressing art on an inside out military uniform blouse. One of those reasons I want to begin with is “Pride”. I remember a time before I started advocating how I hated the Marine Corps, how I regret signing up because of what I experienced. After all my very brothers raped me, took my rights away by threatening my life from reporting it, having to put up with being harassed, discriminated against because I am a woman serving in a man’s world along with being assaulted again and again… I hated the Corps.
But one day I decided not to hate the Corps. I started remembering how graduation felt after basic, the amount of pride, hard work and dedication it took for me to survive. I mean, there were others who dropped because they couldn’t handle the amount of training we had to endure or couldn’t pass a particular obstacle due to them not being able to overcome their fear. But I did, even with an injury to my right knee I persevered by not only graduating out of basic but also graduating from the wounded warrior platoon. I had to spend an extra two months at basic for physical therapy so I could strengthen my right knee and continue on. That’s right folks, I was not only in boot camp for 3 months, I was there for 5 months. Talk about hell, but I was determined to make it.
I remember the amount of pride I had marching across the parade deck with everyone who was graduating that day. We could feel relief, our anticipation growing to what is to come, how excited we were by showing off to our family how the Corps transformed us. For the woman who graduated that day, we were no longer little girls anymore; we became woman warriors by replacing our stilettos for combat boots. We were all proud that day, we earned the title Marine.
I also remembered how my second unit, the amount of respect the commander at that unit held for all Marines. There were no such thing as women or men, we were all Marines in his eyes and expected us to act accordingly. That unit became my family and brought back the love of the Corps into my heart. However, after I left the Corps I started to experience my symptoms of PTSD. How I missed the Corps and how I started hating it at the same time. I started having nightmares, I started to become agitated, anxiety hit and I couldn’t slow down. I blamed the Corps for how I acted which lead me to eventually hating it all together.
The reason why I gave you my background as to why I started hating the Corps, I have noticed some survivors of military sexual trauma and those who gone to combat eventually started hating the branch they served. I understand why they would feel this way but I just couldn’t go along with it. It pained me to hate the Corps for what I thought the Corps did to me and to see others hating their branch and by not acknowledging they have served due to the trauma they endured, I felt by them hating took from their self-esteem. I mean, this is a part of our lives that helped transform us into who we are today. A part of our lives we will never forget. So I asked myself, how can I bring the pride of serving back into these people’s lives? For starters I didn’t want anybody to draw or paint on the outside of our uniforms. Instead I wanted them to turn them inside out. I wanted this because the amount of pride we all took in taking care of our uniforms by ironing, IPing (removing or burning lose strings on the uniform) and making them ready for inspection and by looking professional for work no matter what our job entailed. We made our uniform look good and therefore we took pride in wearing our uniform no matter what trauma we endured, we looked good. Now, hating the branch we served because they failed us I feel is wrong. It is not the institution that failed us. It is the individuals who run the institution. By saying I hate Corps, I am implying I hate everyone in the Corps when there are those who served do due right by brining justice to those who were wronged. Just because we have a few bad apples in the branch we served in shouldn’t take away the pride we had for accomplishing something only a few are able to accomplish. I believe when we hate the institution we are giving power to those who wronged us. I believe we should reclaim our pride and demand action so future leaders have a positive experience in which ever branch they chose to serve in.
Today I walk around and tell everyone I am a Marine Veteran. I had a few who told me they never met a woman Marine, my response, “The Fewer, The Prouder” if I could do it all over again I would minus the trauma and getting out but to retire. I love the Corps, it helped shape me who I am today. I do not hate it anymore I just wished laws were being followed and regardless of the gender we all were treated equally. But it wasn’t that way when I was in. My wish, for our future to have a better outcome if any had to endure what I’ve gone through…
We should never lose pride from serving our nation. We should always be proud, not everyone can do what we have done and for that I want to say to those who have experienced military sexual trauma and who have gone through combat that ended up hating their branch of service, Thank You for serving. Despite everything we endured we are a much stronger and wiser person today because of it.
When we express our art on the inside out of the uniform, the paint or marking seep through and we cannot help it. This is my symbolic reason why I chose to express this way, when the expression of art bleeds through it is to acknowledge how PTSD affects us.
I do not use white t-shirts for this reason. I much rather use our uniforms, to help spread the word how the military is handling trauma. When utilizing uniforms we are singling out how the military needs to improve their mental health and judicial system at the same time, I want to empower our survivors by allowing them to be heard discreetly. This is the reason why I chose for Fatigues Clothesline to utilize inside out uniforms by expressing their trauma through art.