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Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-29-2006, 07:46 PM   #1
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Family Life and Female Officer?

Hi all,

I realize that several members of this forum are or were in the US Armed Force.* I would really appreciate if you can share your experience with me.

My daughter has been accepted to the US Naval Academy.* She has also been accepted to 2 other reputable universities with sufficient scholarships so that money is not a major issue.

My daughter loves the Academy, and so do I, for many reasons.* Leadership, academic challenge, moral and physical quality.* But I find myself awake at night wondering what would life be for her as an officer.* As a woman, how will she balance her career and family responsibilities?* What do other female officers do if they were assigned to a far away post, or to a long duty tour?* Husband?* Kids?

I guess what I'm really asking is if it is possible to have a happy family and be a female officer at the same time.

Sam
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-29-2006, 09:00 PM   #2
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Attending the academy does not lock you into a 20 year career.
If she likes the idea she should go for it.* As time marches on she will quickly decide on whether she can balance her family etc with military life.* If not, it's time to leave, but she'll figure it out.
BTW, I'm assuming she is now single.* Also, military Moms are hardly unique these days, many are very successful at it and I'm sure there are plenty of horror stories available as well.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-29-2006, 10:11 PM   #3
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

I would be really concerned about sending a daughter to a service academy, because I think there's a measureable risk in it.* *The risk is, have you heard the various news reports, in particular from the Air Force Academy, but really, all of them about the problem with rapes....* I dont recall specific figures, but they were talking 100s of rapes that go unreported and the majority of the ones that are reported, are either ignored, or at worst, simply result in the discharge of the accused, usually through negotiation and them voluntarily leaving.

I guessed to myself why that is.* Maybe its because the guys cant leave the campus until they're juniors and i'm sure you recall what it feels like to be a 18-20 year old male.** Maybe its an expression of upperclassmen superiority.* Maybe its bartering/blackmale.* Or perhaps some hard core, but twisted in the head men, are still bitter about females being let into service academies, so they feel justified in their actions.

I personally work with a female who completed West Point.* *But i can only fathom what she likely had to deal with during her tenure there.* *I hope nothing, and i'd never ask her, but who knows.

Please dont be offended.* *I'm not trying to unnecessarily scare you, but just to make sure you're aware of this risk.* BTW, I was once an AFA cadet myself;* I left after completing basic training and 2 months or so of school.* *I wasn't making the grades i wanted.

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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-29-2006, 10:40 PM   #4
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam

My daughter loves the Academy, and so do I, for many reasons. Leadership, academic challenge, moral and physical quality. But I find myself awake at night wondering what would life be for her as an officer. As a woman, how will she balance her career and family responsibilities? What do other female officers do if they were assigned to a far away post, or to a long duty tour? Husband? Kids?

I guess what I'm really asking is if it is possible to have a happy family and be a female officer at the same time.

Sam
Sam .. let me say right up front that I do not believe women should be involved in the military unless it is a safe desk job.

Combat, if there is to be any, is a man's job.

Having said that, realistically how can a gal in the forces, who can be shipped to some land half a world away, maintain a decent satifying family life?

As for kids somewhere down the line, I think not.

If your daughter is intent on following this path then there isn't a bloody thing you can do. Best case scenario she can look forward to a single life and let's all hope nothing untoward ever happens to her.

I am not thinking of sexual assault here. That is bad enough. I am thinking of the worst that can happen.

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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-29-2006, 10:51 PM   #5
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Sam,

- First, about the issue azanon raised (sexual assaults at the service academies)- I feel certain a young woman entering any of the service academies today has a reduced risk of being sexually assaulted than she would at almost any other educational institution. Yes, the USAF academy (and the other academies, periodically) have had incidents of failure to support cadets who have been assaulted, but right now the spotlight is ON this issue and nobody will be getting away with anything. We have a big probem with sexual assaults on campus throughout our university systems, and I'd be very surprised if the academies, at any time, approached the rates of civilian schools. (And I'm no academy grad--I was a four year ROTC cadet at a large public university). Today, I'd guess that the issue has received so much attention at the academies that she may experience some problems with backlash--I'd guess many male cadets will be reluctant to put themselves into a position that could be construed as pressuring a female for sex (as a Dad--that's how you and I want 'em to think!)

- Family life: frankly, you can't have a "normal" family life and have a military career regardless of your sex. She'll be working long hours (in many jobs), subject to deployment for various periods (a year is not uncommon) away from her family. Now, just because military family life isn't "normal" I would not say it was necessarily bad. In large part, women in the military are now the "equal" of men--they are in positions of tremendous responsibilty, and are doing very well at them. This is a boon and a curse. They are cut no more slack than men are for getting home for sick kids, birthdays, etc. The senior female military officers I knew had what I would consider to be unsatisfactory family lives. Many were single. To get to the top, to be given a position of great responsibility, requires that you make the sacrifices and decisions that are not compatible with a stable family life. I'd also say that most of the senior male officers had poor family lives. It works best if the spouse is willing to/good at doing most of the child raising. In general, it is still easier for men to find a spouse like that.

- Since you are obviously looking ahead to her days as a mom/wife, it is worth pointing out that she'll be working beside and have the opportunty t meet/socialize with an exceptionally fine group of men. There are jerks, too, but I'd say the group has a disproportionate number of selfless, good guys. The military is certanly no dating service, but of course she's likely to get involved with those she meets at work. If she's discrete and uses common sense (e.g. doesn't date her boss or anyone in her chain of command) things can be fine. We should probably hear from some female service folks, but I'd guess that she'll be less likely to associate with civilians.

As JPatrtick notes--she can leave the Army after she's paid back her service time. West Point is an outstanding education/developmental opportunity for a person with the right temperment and determination. As for me, I was happy to have gone to a regular university.

samclem
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-29-2006, 11:39 PM   #6
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mike-1
Having said that, realistically how can a gal in the forces, who can be shipped to some land half a world away, maintain a decent satifying family life?
The same way a male in the military maintains a decent satisfying family life.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 12:13 AM   #7
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by eridanus
The same way a male in the military maintains a decent satisfying family life.
Yup, one of our good friends is managing to make it work quite well with a stay-at-home husband.* He loves staying home and golfing all day taking care of the kids, and she loves her job - even after a deployment to Afghanistan and two to Iraq.* Both think the time apart sucks, but if she were a military spouse (like me) instead of a military officer herself, she'd be dealing with the same issue - there's nothing unusual about their setup except for the gender reversal.

BTW, I agree that 4 years at the Academy doesn't lock you into a military career - in fact I wouldn't even be thinking that far ahead until she hits the fleet.* Lots of people move on to bigger and better things after spending 4 years on active duty: if she likes it she'll find a way to make it work, and if not she'll change jobs after a few years like most* in their 20's (with good training and a "free" college education behind her).

*
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 12:26 AM   #8
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

I don't think that it will be as bad as you fear. It used to be bad for women, though, by all accounts. I think that the schools have learned from the scandals--I hope.

I was stationed at West Point many years ago. One can get a very good education at a service academy. I couldn't get either of my kids, boy or girl, interested though.

I was out long before women came into the academies, so I have no personal data.

As I recall, the obligation was four years after graduation. How many schools do you know where you have a guaranteed job after graduation?

It takes a special kind of person to make it through a service academy. Your girl will find out quickly if she is one or not. They can leave if they find it is not for them. As I remember, there was about 15% attrition in "Beast Barracks" in the summer before school starts, and another 15% over the next 4 years.

It is a remarkable opportunity for anyone. I hope your girl has a positive experience.

Cheers,

Ed
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 06:53 AM   #9
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Two - the little niece(who married the Marine lifer) and my oldest nephew's wife - both Naval Academy.

It's a different culture. Both became civilians after their tour while hubby's are in for life.

The third - youngest nephew will marry in July - both Naval Academy.

All Navy - except for the little snot - who married 'THE MARINE!"

To repeat - it's a different culture - my inclination is to advise - go forth and get the experience.

Civilian advice(like mine) is probably off the mark.

I think they all turned out great - but I'm prejudiced.

heh heh heh
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 06:55 AM   #10
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

A Military academy and a University are poles apart, hopefully your daughter has what it takes should she decide to enter the Academy.

Discipline is the rule and the lifestyle, not goofing off parties and panty raids.

Rape should not be a concern, as we are witnessing at Duke these charges can be levelled anywhere, and the definition of rape has been expanded to include Unwanted Attention i.e asking a girl out in a manner she deems offensive.

Combat is a real issue, are you willing to allow your child to enter a War Zone, is she, and in saying that, I would rather not be in a confrontation with the enemy with females in my unit.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 06:59 AM   #11
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Quote:
- First, about the issue azanon raised (sexual assaults at the service academies)- I feel certain a young woman entering any of the service academies today has a reduced risk of being sexually assaulted than she would at almost any other educational institution.* Yes, the USAF academy (and the other academies, periodically) have had incidents of failure to support cadets who have been assaulted, but right now the spotlight is ON this issue and nobody will be getting away with anything.
A reduced risk?* LOL.* * The risk is much higher.* Did you go to an academy too?* Remember, i have seen the service academies first hand.* *All of the ingredients are there in addition to those you'd find at normal universities.

Let me just put it like this.* If i had a daughter, she wouldnt be going there.* I feel that strongly about it, again per personal experience.

Ok well i said my peace so, i hope you make a wise decision in guiding your daughter.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 07:04 AM   #12
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by eridanus
The same way a male in the military maintains a decent satisfying family life.
Really? Apart from the possibility of being blown to bits or coming home maimed, is a male really any better off?

I think not, particularly if he has children.

Kids need a dad around when growing up.

EVEN MORE SO A MOM.


PS my anti-war, anti-military, anti-gun, anti-invasion, anti (so called) peacekeeping, anti-invasion, anti-meddling, anti-foreign lands occupation, bias should be evident here?

.

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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 07:36 AM   #13
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Sam, if your daughter has standing scholarship offers at other prestigious institiutions, I think she would be out of her mind to go to a service academy. 4 years of indentured servitude, or nothing demanded of you when you are done with your degree, hmmm, not too tough a choice.

Then again, if my kids have anything to do with the military, I will have failed as a parent.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 07:47 AM   #14
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

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Sam, if your daughter has standing scholarship offers at other prestigious institiutions, I think she would be out of her mind to go to a service academy.* 4 years of indentured servitude, or nothing demanded of you when you are done with your degree, hmmm, not too tough a choice.
I'm glad brewer brought this up, because it reminded me of something.* Once I was in one of the dorm rooms with several of my classmates (4th classmen, plebes at the time), and we were discussing why we came (to the academy).* *It was almost unanimous in that room that most came because of the "scholarship"; because it was free, paid even.* *I mentioned to them that I just "wanted" to come, but my dad could afford and was willing to just send me to a regular college too.* *When i said that, more than one of them said i was crazy not to take that offer instead.* * *I happen to agree with them now.

Its not worth it.* *They constantly feed you the BS about how you're the best of the best, blah blah blah, while you're there.* *I guess that's to minimize the amount of people that say f* this and leave. 25% eventually leave anyway, most by personal choice (and they dont look back).

Today, i work with 2 service academy graduates in my place of business, one also a GS-12, one a GS-13, but much older than me.* * Yeah, they got those elite degrees, but i dont feel like they have any edge on me today.* * A service academy degree is way overrated IMO.

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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 07:58 AM   #15
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

My dad was an air force officer. I think most of us kids would have preferred not moving around so much as kids. Being separated from you extended family isnt good in my opinion.
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Old 03-30-2006, 08:03 AM   #16
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Hmmm

Page two - Prof Jeff(a male) dropped out of the Academy - went civilian, got his Phd and is a prof in Chem. E at a large midwest U.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 08:12 AM   #17
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Sam,

I am going to do an about-face on this one and defer to Azanon. He knows what it is like on the inside and his experience has got to be more recent than mine. Listen to him.

Brewer made a very good point about scholarships.

If she has a taste for some aspects of the military, as you mentioned, she can try ROTC. More flexibility and probably a safer way to go.

Don't worry about what the active duty life would be like until she actually gets to the point of having to decide to commit. ROTC should give here a good introduction up until then.

Best of luck.
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Old 03-30-2006, 08:36 AM   #18
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Quote:
If she has a taste for some aspects of the military, as you mentioned, she can try ROTC.* More flexibility and probably a safer way to go.*

Don't worry about what the active duty life would be like until she actually gets to the point of having to decide to commit.* ROTC should give here a good introduction up until then.
ROTC would be a much better way to do it, i agree.* That way, she could have a normal college life and not be exposed to potential unique risks and pressures that females face there.

BTW, did she go after the full ROTC scholarship concurrently with the Academy application?* *What was strange was I tried for both, and ended up getting in the Air Force Academy, but i didn't get the "full ride" ROTC scholarship.* Go figure.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 08:45 AM   #19
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

maddy, My Wife is an Air Force Bat, she totally agrees with you, she said the worst part was making friends then getting transferred.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 11:28 AM   #20
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Not gonna do it... :P
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