Editor’s Note: This is the fourth essay in a 10-part Women’s History Month series entitled, Honoring Our Nation’s Women Veterans. In February, we asked readers to submit essays about their time in service or women who have served our country.
In 33 years, from 1980 to 2013, the number of women serving in the U.S. Army has only risen from 9 percent to almost 16 percent. However, it is because of women who began serving in the 1970s and 1980s, when it was not popular and sometimes not accepted for females to serve in the Army that paved the way to further equality, greater acceptance, and better opportunities for women to serve their country.
Women like these include my mom, Constance Esposito. She first enlisted in the Army at the age of twenty because she felt the calling to serve her country. Her journey began at Fort McClellan, Alabama, where she completed her training to become a Military Police (MP) officer. Her first assignment took her far from her country hometown in Alabama to Stuttgart, Germany where she would work as a patrol MP. During this time, she met her former husband, got married, and had her first daughter. She chose to get out of the military in 1981 to raise her daughter so she transitioned from Soldier to Army wife. During the next four years, she gave birth to her second daughter, went through the pain of infidelity that was all too common among military marriages, and became a single mother.
Since she was left to support her two children on her own, she chose to go back to the Army; a life she knew would provide for her and her children. Her first assignment after getting back into the Army would take her back to Germany, where she would work as a drug investigator in an undercover assignment. Unfortunately, this was an unaccompanied assignment and her children had to stay behind with her parents.
This was a very difficult separation, but she knew she was doing what she could to provide for her children. In 1987, she was reunited with her children and moved to a MP investigation job in Maryland. Although there were many long shifts and field exercises with the different positions she held in Maryland, she loved serving her country but found ways to make time for her family as well. Her last position as a MP team lead, before she separated from the Army, again took her back to Germany. This time she was able to take her family with her.
After almost ten years, she made the tough decision to separate from the Army because she felt it was what was best for her family at the time. Connie is now a disabled veteran, with many service connected injuries sustained throughout her career. However, through her time in the Army, she learned selflessness, honor, commitment, team work, and many other valuable traits that she instilled into her two daughters. Now, when the national anthem plays, she stands proud knowing she served her country and helped pave the way for more women to make a difference in the United States Army.