I’m just that kind of person…the kind of person that is always willing to help…
It’s been my privilege for over thirty years to count among my friends Brenda Finley—wife, mother, retired postal worker and Gulf War veteran. With Veteran’s Day fast approaching, I sat down with my friend to learn more about her time in the US Army.
After a recruiter spoke to students at their school, Brenda along with a friend signed up together. Brenda is the first in her family to serve her country. Since she was 17, her parents had to sign their permission. Brenda says her dad didn’t want to sign so her mom signed for the both of them!
Brenda served 11.5 years, eventually achieving the rank of sergeant. She was stationed in South Korea, Massachusetts, Hawaii and lastly at Ft. Ritchie, which brought her to the Hagerstown area. While she served, Brenda transported classified material and carried a Top-Secret Clearance. She served in Saudi Arabia for six months as a liaison for the Army with the Saudi government, working closely with the Saudi Arabian Sergeant Major. She also did a lot of logistics work with military equipment and vehicles. When asked, what does it mean to you to serve your country, Brenda replied, “At the time you don’t think about it, but later when people say ‘thank you’, it means a lot. For me it felt special to serve. You feel proud.”
“Women want to be treated equally with men,” Brenda stated when asked about women’s role in the military. When asked if she felt women should sign up for the draft the same as men, she said she feels women should be given the choice. As for discrimination, Brenda said she never experienced it herself. Brenda considers learning how to use firearms, representing her country and travel among the biggest benefits of having served. And although the hardest part is being away from family, she developed a surrogate family among her fellow soldiers.
A great resource for women veterans is the Women Veterans Alliance. They serve thousands of women nationwide through their in- person and online networking events. They provide coaching in Career and Entrepreneurship. Their nonprofit partner Women Veterans Giving gives a small business award each year.
By Peni Jo Renner