Age: 39 | Washington, D.C.
U.S. Army, Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2005-2006
Carolyn Schapper left Boston University with an MA in international relations, but the accomplishment left her wanting real world experience. She enlisted in the Virginia National Guard to learn a foreign language and to obtain a background in intelligence. Shortly after enlisting, Carolyn got her chance to use her skills; she deployed to Iraq as a human intelligence collector from 2005-2006, where she collected information from Iraqis and participated in approximately 200 combat patrols.
When Carolyn returned home, she found herself struggling with feelings of isolation and adjustment issues. She was anxious and irritable. After seven months, she realized she needed help—anything to begin the process of integrating back into the life she left a year earlier. Carolyn made an appointment with a Vet Center in Washington, D.C., where she found comfort in just talking with other female Veterans.
Carolyn empowered herself to advocate for fellow Veterans. She has testified before Congress, covering topics like women servicemembers in combat and post-traumatic stress disorder. Carolyn also believes in the importance of bridging the military-civilian divide to help ease the reintegration process.
"I think most people have probably met a Veteran and not realized it, especially female Veterans," Carolyn said. "Before you put a yellow magnet on your car, understand what being a Veterans means—we come from all walks of life, all education levels, and all ethnic backgrounds."
Watch Carolyn's video