Military isn't a man's world
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 12:03
Finding a way to pay for college can be a difficult task, but some women are finding the military can be a rewarding way to pay for tuition and add meaning to their lives.
“My school is 100 percent paid for,” said Kymbrie Cooper, an 18-year-old soon-to-be freshman. “The Army pays for everything. They also give me extra money a month to go to school. It’s awesome.”
Priorities changed from money to pride for Cooper after joining the military.
“It’s not about money anymore, it really isn’t,” Cooper said. “It’s the pride I feel in that uniform. It’s the fact that I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Those changes of priority came the further into training Cooper went.
“At first it was about school and just to have a plan,” Cooper said. “The more I got into it, the more it just fell into place for me. When I got to basic training, I realized this was just the most important thing to me. It’s not about school anymore. It’s about the pride. It’s about the fact that I’m a part of something bigger than myself.”
In March, the U.S. military announced women could serve in combat roles. This change can open up more opportunities for female students who are enlisted.
“As far as the policies on women, you’re always going to have those men who are sexist,” Cooper said. “But as far as the Army is concerned anymore, women are just as good as men. They are highly respected.”
There has been controversy on the subject, Cooper said.
“We know what we are getting into basically,” Cooper said. “Some people do have horrid experiences in the military, but I like to think that it betters most people.”
From Cooper’s military experience, she said she has not had to deal with anything negative on the subject.
“I haven’t run into any trouble with sexist stuff,” Cooper said. “The Army is all about respect. We all go through the same stuff. We are treated equal.”
Knowing how to handle yourself if you are not respected is important in the military, she said.
“Women are respected in the military, and if we happen to come across those people who don’t respect them, most of us know how to handle ourselves,” Cooper said.
Some men feel women receiving more equal rights in the military is a good thing, but do not feel it is needed.
“It’s cool that we are letting women fight,” said Tate Jenkins, a member of the National Guard. “But I don’t think that they need to be there.”
Others feel there is no difference between men and women in combat.
“I think it is important to know that females do just as much as males,” said Shelby Weeks, a freshman and military logistics specialist. “There’s really no difference. They are just as important.”
Because of the equality between men and women, there are many reasons why women would want to join the military, Weeks said.
“I feel like women can do just as much if not more than men,” Weeks said. “I joined to better myself, for college and to serve.”
There are no regrets for Cooper on her decision to join, and she said the changes she has been through have made her stronger.
“I’m so grateful that I joined,” Cooper said. “I couldn’t be happier with my decision with the Army. It’s changed me. It’s made me realize what’s important.”
The way Cooper’s military employment has been set up fits with her education.
“I’m a reservist, so I go to drill one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer,” Cooper said.
She plans to start school in fall. Being part of the military can bring pride and a deeper appreciation for life, she said.
“I’m more disciplined,” Weeks said. “I appreciate things a lot more in life.”
Being pushed to the limit can help people feel confidence in other aspects of life, she said.