"The Hardest Part Is Losing Friends:" 10 Women Veterans Share Their Stories

In honor of Veteran's Day, we'd like to introduce you to ten totally amazing and inspiring women.
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Meet Alice A. Guilford

Alice Guilford“What I want, like most Americans, is a secure future, for myself and for the country.”

Alice A. Guilford, 56 (pictured here in uniform), served one-and-a-half years in the USAF Reserves as an Aerospace Ground Equipment Mechanic for the 919th Squadron at Duke Field on Eglin AFB, Florida; two years active duty as an Aerospace Ground Equipment Mechanic at Shaw AFB, South Carolina; and two years Active Duty as a Student Training Advisor with the 36th Student Training Squadron at Chanute AFB, Illinois.

Hometown: Middleboro, Massachusetts

Why did you decide to join? I was always enamored with the military and, from a very young age, saw myself as a career military person.

What was the hardest part? At the very beginning, it was being away from family and friends. Halfway into Basic Training was a turning point for me and I became completely focused on what I wanted to accomplish. I knew from that moment on that I would be able to accomplish anything I set my mind to. It is this mentality that I often resort to as a business owner. When opening Age Advantage, while I had much help from the corporate office, I often attribute my positive attitude and perseverance to my military background. /

What did you love most about it? The feeling of belonging to something that was bigger than me. I love structure and rules, so it was very easy for me to assimilate into that kind of culture.

How did it prepare you for later endeavors in your life? I have always said that I believe every child in this country should have at least two years of military training after high school because it will teach the structure, organization, discipline and direction needed to be successful.

How did your family feel about it? My family was extremely supportive and proud. Although it was hard not to be very close, in distance; nonetheless, it made the times I could see them even more special.

What was it like being a female service member? I didn’t have an issue with being a female in the military. When I joined, so many more opportunities were opening up for women and my experience was never one of being treated any differently from my male counterparts. Conversely, I didn’t expect any special treatment, either. Work had to be done and there wasn’t anything in the rule book that said whether it went to a male or female — it just had to get done.

What were some things you took with you to feel “at home” when you were so far away from home? I might be “dating” myself here, but I had an 8-track tape by an artist that my parents loved and I listened to incessantly. My mother had made a quilt for me and I used it on my bed in the barracks.

Your biggest fear while you were serving? I didn’t really have any fears. There was a time when we were possibly heading to a conflict outside the United States and even then, I felt at ease.

What do you want most out of life? My experience in the military showed me that my service made others feel secure. What I want, like most Americans, is a secure future, for myself and for the country.

What’s something you wish all Americans knew about our troops? That those who serve in the military are intensely proud to be serving. I am an ardent veteran and my patriotism is deeply emotional and personal.

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