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Neon Loon Salutes Women Veterans

Neon Loon salutes all veterans, but today, International Women’s Day, we give a hearty salute to all the women who have nobly served our country. This tribute, which is comprised of real stories from female veterans across Minnesota, is dedicated to all the women who have returned from war to discover they were invisible next to their male counterparts.

Invisible Veterans

We have gray hair and purple hair, wrinkles and body piercings, GEDs and PhDs — and we are invisible to most people around us.

Many of us are mothers who left our children to serve our country. Please don’t shame us for doing so. It wasn’t easy, but we know they were in good care, and we know that our male colleagues aren’t being criticized for leaving their children for the mission.

Some of us have service dogs. When you see us, please don’t approach us to ask why we have the dog or question if the dog will attack a man trying to rape us. Just smile and keep walking.

One in four of us has experienced military sexual trauma. Don’t assume that only combat veterans experience post-traumatic stress from their service, and don’t ever suggest a woman was “asking for it” when she joined an organization that’s predominantly male.

When we arrive to check in for a veterans’ convention, we don’t appreciate being immediately directed to the auxiliary table, where the “women go to check in” — especially when you invited us there to receive an award.

Unlike a lot of male veterans, most of us don’t wear clothes that identify us as having served. While it may make it easier for others to realize how many women have served, searching for “women veteran clothes” mainly turns up “Army Wife” hats and “My Son Wears Combat Boots” t-shirts.

We’re grateful for businesses that have designated parking for veterans in front, but we don’t want to be accosted when we get out of our vehicles for having stolen a spot reserved for vets.

We also appreciate businesses that offer veterans discounts. When we inquire if there is one, please don’t turn to the male at the table to thank him for his service.

Once you learn we served, please know that we aren’t flattered when you look us up and down and declare we are too cute to have been in the military or that “they didn’t make soldiers like you when I served.”

Some of us — double the percentage of transgendered individuals in the civilian population — were assigned male at birth. We may be women now, but our service is no less valuable.

When we go to doctor appointments at the VA, we don’t want to be asked in the waiting room how long our husband’s appointment will last. We feel overlooked when we get in line for a vaccination and watch the men behind us moved up because it’s assumed we are there as a caregiver and not a veteran. We also don’t want to be referred to as “Mr.” when you call us for our appointments; when we have feminine names, it’s a strong indication that we should be referred to as “Ms.” Better yet, use our first names since it’s more inclusive.

Most of us are strong leaders who work hard. We would prefer to be admired for those strengths, as our male colleagues would be, rather than called bitches.

We are mothers and grandmothers, daughters and granddaughters, nieces and aunts. Our aim is straight, and our devotion to our country is true and strong. We are proud to have served our nation. We don’t need special attention. We just ask that you SEE us and the tens of thousands of American women who have served our nation since its beginning.

Neon Loon’s president had the opportunity to serve on the first all-female overseas mission for the North Dakota Army National Guard in 2015.

Neon Loon Salutes showcases the stories of men and women who have served in the United States military. As a veteran-owned business, Neon Loon Communications’ team feels passionately about preserving the heroics, both big and small, of those who have fought to keep our nation free. Their stories give a personal look at what it takes to serve during war and peace. If you or someone you love is a veteran interested in telling their story, please email amy@neonloon.com.

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