Meet Emily Stroia
“Being a woman is extremely hard in the military.”
Emily Stroia, 25, served as a Mass Communications Specialist Petty Officer 3rd Class for four years as a photojournalist.
Where did you serve? I served in the U.S. Navy on an aircraft carrier (USS Nimitz) in San Diego, California and went on a six-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Why did you decide to join? I wanted to travel and have my education paid for without a huge debt to pay back.
What’s the hardest part? The hours and work condition. We worked seven days a week between 12 to 15 hours every day.
What do you love most about it? I loved the camaraderie and family of friends that I had while in. No matter what happened, we understood each other and there was a strong sense of unconditional acceptance.
How does your family feel about it? My father wasn’t very supportive of [me enlisting].
What’s it like being a female service member? Being a woman is extremely hard in the military. There aren’t many women in the service, so immediately you are a minority. Secondly, there are so many men so you are constantly trying to prove yourself and not be seen as “weak”.
What are some things you take with you, or do, to feel “at home” when you’re so far away from home? When I was on deployment I brought pictures of loved ones and a journal to document my travels when in ports. After a while, my homesickness faded and the people on deployment became my family.
Your biggest fear? My biggest fear while being in the service was never making it back from deployment.
What do you want most out of life? What I want most out of life is to simply be happy doing what I love and to make a change in the world.
What’s something you wish all Americans knew about our troops? To understand that it’s not easy at all to be in the military, so really appreciate all of your freedoms. Our troops sacrifice so much defending our country and it’s a shame that people don’t appreciate them more.