"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 Laura DiSilverio

Laura DiSilverio

“I loved the feeling that I was doing something important, that I was part of something bigger than me.”

Laura DiSilverio, 49, has two daughters (ages 12 and 14). She was an intelligence officer and spent twenty years on active duty before retiring in 2004.

Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Where did you serve? Colorado, Texas, Virginia, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Pentagon, England, Thailand and Korea!

Why did you decide to join? I joined the Air Force in large part because my father had a 28-year career as an Air Force pilot. I also joined because I majored in English at Trinity University and didn’t know what the heck kind of job I was qualified for (besides teaching). The recruiter offered me Public Affairs or Intelligence as a career, and I chose Intelligence because I thought it sounded James Bondish and cool. Military intelligence work is fascinating, but doesn’t bear much resemblance to what you see in spy movies!

What’s the hardest part? The hardest part is, hands down, the separation from family during deployments.

What do you love most about it? The dedicated, talented and wonderful people. People in the military form a family that’s incredibly supportive and are “there” for each other in a way I don’t see as much in the corporate or non-military world. Even though I’ve hung up my uniform, I still feel like I’m part of my Air Force family. I also loved the feeling that I was doing something important, that I was part of something bigger than me.

How does your family feel about it? I’m lucky because my husband supported my AF career and followed me around the globe after we got married, willingly leaving one job and finding another wherever we went. He also stayed home with our kids when they were young . . . a gift to them and me that I am still in awe of. (He is an AF Reservist, so he understands the demands of the military life.) I think my girls were proud of what I did, although they didn’t like it when I had to travel and be away from them.

What’s it like being a female service member? In many ways, it’s like being a man service member; i.e., serving your country, moving frequently, taking on high-stress jobs, being away from family. However, it takes a lot of energy for a woman to operate in a primarily male environment (as it does for men to operate in a primarily female environment, I’m sure). You communicate and relate differently and to be effective, a woman has to take on traditionally male characteristics: being assertive and/or interrupting others, not being huggy or touchy-feely and not crying or getting too emotional. (I recognize that this is true in many corporate or other non-military jobs, too.) I didn’t realize how not-me many of my behaviors were until I retired and could go back to hugging anyone I wanted to, or crying when I felt the urge.

What do you want most out of life? The answer to that seems to change as I age, but right now I want to raise our girls to be independent, responsible citizens, love my hubby more with each passing year and make people laugh with the mysteries I write. (http://www.lauradisilverio.com )

What’s something you wish all American knew about our troops? Military men and women are smart, dedicated and immensely capable. They think defending this country is important, and they do it at great cost to themselves and their families. Sometimes they give up their lives or their health to keep the rest of us safe. That’s amazing, when you come to think of it. How many of us would give our lives for a stranger, a dude in Detroit or a woman in Walla-Walla, or for anyone other than a spouse or child?

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