The Advance-Titan

Since 1917, women have worked to solidify their place in military service. For some women it’s about family tradition. For others it’s about the pride. But for all women it’s about saying

Lydia Sanchez | The Advance-Titan

Katie Potter practices throwing a grenade with her squadron mates at Shapiro Park next to the the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. Potter said she has always gravitated towards the military. Potter became interested in the military in high school and wrote papers on military controversies like sexual assault cases.

Misti Brosig sat in an office where an American flag stood behind her. She was dressed in a uniform filled with a variety of dark green, brown and tan spots, a neatly tied-up bun and worn boots.

She spoke excitedly about how her patriotism was her number one motivator to want to serve. Brosig giggled as she said, “When I decided to join the military it was a curveball to my friends and family.” She said outside of her uniform, she is a complete girly-girl.

“Everyone is used to seeing me wear five-inch heels with my hair perfectly straightened and a face full of makeup,” Brosig said.

She said the moment she swore in, she knew it was right for her. “There was not a hint of doubt in my mind,” Brosig said. “I knew this is what I was destined to do.” She had a burning desire to do something incredibly different and bigger than herself.

Brosig grinned as she said, “My house bleeds of red, white and blue and the only thing that isn’t that color pattern is the one couch in my living room.” She said out of all the 22 countries she has visited, America has remained her favorite one.

She sat up straighter as she talked about how she had a high-paying job and worked as an assistant chief executive officer at an accounting firm, but wanted to feel like she had more of a purpose.

Brosig would have never been able to serve or share her story until 1917, when America officially allowed women to serve in the military. If former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter had not announced women were allowed to be integrated in the combat arms field, Schmitz’s experience would not have been possible.

Haidyn Mueller has been serving for one year. She spoke about how she did not pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery when she was in high school, but she ended up passing it later on, and was able to swear in.

“Why did I decide to serve?” Mueller said. “I don’t get that question very often.” She said she only gets the “why” as if she made a terrible decision. She said she served because she wanted to better her life.

Lydia Sanchez | The Advance-Titan

Katherine Potter has been serving for three years. She said she has always had an unexplainable pull to serve her country, especially when she hears the national anthem.
“It does not matter how good or bad the person is who is singing the national anthem,” Potter said. “There are always goosebumps that form up and down my arms as soon as I hear the lyrics.”

She said none of her family had been in the military, nor has she had a role model who persuaded her to serve; she just knew it was for her. “This may sound corny,” Potter said. “But when I used to see those commercials about people in the military with their weapons I always got excited.”

She said viewing those commercials made her want to be in their shoes.

“Every time I run into a veteran,” Potter said. “I immediately have this immense level of respect for them.” She wants to make people proud of her like how she is proud of other veterans.

Potter said when she got to high school, she applied for a four-year Army scholarship to college and was rewarded one. “I considered joining the Army right away,” Potter said. “I did research on the military and saw this scholarship.” Potter also wrote papers on military controversies in high school, like sexual assault cases in the military. “I knew that I wanted to be in the military to make a change and be an influential leader,” Potter said.

Lydia Sanchez | The Advance-Titan

Arianna Schmitz, who has been serving for five years, said she decided to serve because of her brother and her dad. “My brother has been serving in the Army for nine years and my dad has been in Navy for over 15 years,” Schmitz said. She said they both are huge role models in her life.

She smiled as she spoke highly of how proud she is of being willing to sacrifice their life to serve their country, and said this made her want to do the same. “It was a plus to know that when I went to college my tuition was completely paid for,” Schmitz said. “But it was so much bigger than that for me because I wanted to possess the same attributes as my brother and dad.” When Schmitz joined the Army National Guard, she immediately received tuition reimbursement every semester as a benefit for joining.

Schmitz said during her advanced individual training, it was Thanksgiving and her morale was down because some soldiers in her platoon broke some rules, and her platoon sergeant put them on lockdown and gave them no off-post privileges. As she was down about not being with her family, she thought about the strength of her dad. “My dad can find humor [in] any bad situation,” Schmitz said. “If he was there he would crack some joke and tell me other people have it worse.”

Schmitz said her father was in active duty for 11 years, but once she was born, he decided to get out of the Navy. “It was 17 years down the road from when he got out,” Schmitz said. “My dad saw me go into the Army and immediately decided he wanted to serve again so he joined the Navy Reserves.” She laughed as she said that her dad, brother and herself can compare their different military experiences. “We all get to laugh about the crazy or challenging situations we go through,” Schmitz said.

She said she had many good times in the military, but not everything is perfect. “Sometimes men in the military look at women as inferior,” Schmitz said. “The Army physical fitness test gives females an extra three minutes to pass the 2-mile run.” She said some men have complained about that. “I am a bodybuilder and I have no problem keeping up with the males,” Schmitz said. “But anatomically men have particular muscles that assist them in running faster than a woman.”

Lydia Sanchez | The Advance-Titan

Misti Brosig climbs across a rope during training by the Fox River on Thursday.

She said at first she felt awkward because there were only two other women in the platoon with her, which meant sleeping in the barracks with a platoon full of men.

“My feeling of awkwardness quickly disappeared when every guy in my platoon respected me and I respected them,” Schmitz said.

Potter said when she was at Fort McCoy three years ago, harnessed and standing on a 60-foot rappel tower, she swore into the military. As she yelled “ready” to the belay master, she pushed herself off and on the tower giving herself just enough slack for the following push.

“By the time I got off the tower I was bawling my eyes out,” Potter said. “I did this because it brought me so much joy being a part of this organization.” Potter said she knew she was at home when everyone embraced her. She smiled and said, “That was the reassuring moment that this was right for me.”

Potter went to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, in August to shadow other lieutenants. “I saw a lot of high-ranking officers using their superiority in a bad light,” Potter said. She shook her head as she explained that when lower enlisted soldiers woke up at 4 a.m. to qualify with their weapons, some officers just decided they did not feel like attending that day.

“They set the example of what I did not want to be like when I lead my soldiers,” Potter said. “I strive to be out there with my soldiers.” She said she wants to be in front of the formation, and when she sees her soldiers struggling she wants to go through those hard times with them.

Potter looked up from her boots, smiled and said she wanted to shine a light on a positive experience that she has had. She went to Cabo Verde, Africa, for a month to help support the African military.

“It was such a humbling experience because the people there have it a lot worse than Americans do,” Potter said. She said it was an entirely different situation because everyone mostly thinks the military only goes to foreign country to be at war with them, but this was a peace mission. “This experience showed me that the military does not just care for the safety of Americans,” Potter said. “But other countries that are in need, too.”

Potter said she looks forward to what serving in the military has in store for her.

“I’m thankful for how the Army has molded me into the strong, disciplined woman I am now,” Potter said.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Since 1917, women have worked to solidify their place in military service. For some women it’s about family tradition. For others it’s about the pride. But for all women it’s about saying