KATIE WEST, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE VETERAN

Serving in the United States Air Force has been, by far, one of the best experiences I’ve been blessed to encounter. As an airman, I learned invaluable lessons that have provided me the skills I need to be successful in all aspects of my life. As a member of the LGBTQI community, my decision to serve involved some hesitation, which was quickly resolved by the repeal of DADT. I found myself connecting with others like me, creating allies, and recognizing that each of the people I served next to were my brothers and sisters; we were a family. We always will be.

My experience as a  veteran is much different than I imagined it would be. There are times when I feel that my identity as a veteran is overshadowed because I live in a city where there is very little military presence. Like many issues we face today, this one can be confronted by activism, raising awareness, standing up and speaking out. The sacrifices that so many women have made for their country should not and cannot be dismissed. It should be valued, just like any other sacrifice.

We are here. We are proud. We are not invisible.

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Listen to this veteran tell her story here.