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What Women Should Know Before Joining the Army

Life as a female soldier: what to expect

Life as a female soldier: what to expect

Life as a Female Soldier in Pre-Basic

Before I joined the United States Army, I pored through the internet looking for any kind of information that could help me. I wanted so badly to know what it was like to be in the Army. I knew what it was like for the soldiers I'd already met, but none of them were females like me. Let's face it: There is a difference between males and females in the military, and I wanted to know that difference. Unfortunately I never found any helpful information, so I up and joined the U.S. Army and experienced it myself. Hopefully this piece will be of help to other women considering joining the Army.

Boot Camp

The boot camp experience is also known as:

  • Basic Combat Training, or BCT (the Army loves its acronyms)
  • Basic Training
  • Boot
  • Basic

What to Do/Know Before Joining the Army:

1. Consider Cutting Your Hair

If you don't cut your hair, you will need to keep it in a tight bun.

If you don't cut your hair, you will need to keep it in a tight bun.

Decide if your hair is going to work for you while you're at Boot Camp.

My hair was long, and I wasn't about to fix my hair up in a bun every day. With the intense training, I would have to fix my hair all of the time, especially because drill sergeants are sticklers about soldier representation.

A soldier also told me that some of the female soldiers he knew got moldy hair. When I started training, I could see how that was possible. The females who didn't cut their hair always had to have it up in a bun. As soon as they were done with showers, they'd basically have to throw their hair back into a bun. Sometimes there wasn't much time to take showers, so then the drill sergeants were thoughtful enough to take us training in the rain. After training in the mud, we would all go camping—again, in the rain. Under those conditions, it'd be easy for a bit of mold to cultivate in a knot of hair.

One of my first preparations for BCT was chopping off all of my hair!

I was amazed by how many people were mad at me for shearing off my "crowning glory."

In the end, it was a very good thing that I cut my hair, though it made me sad to lose whatever cuteness my long hair gave me.

2. Exercise Before You Join

If you begin to work out before entering Boot Camp, it will be much easier.

If you begin to work out before entering Boot Camp, it will be much easier.

This is very important! Training is very tough if you do not have some level of physical fitness when you arrive. You don't need to be Superwoman or anything, but give your muscles a bit of training so the shock factor won't be so high.

Basic Training is, on all levels, a rather high-stress affair, so be ready for it. There are physical ability standards that you must pass in order to graduate Basic Training. The Army's Physical Training Test is different than those of the other military branches. The test examines the soldier's ability to do push-ups, sit-ups, and a two-mile run, in that order. The push-ups and sit-ups are each under a time limit of two minutes. The pass/fail standards are based on age and gender.

You can see what the pass/fail standards are for your age and gender under APFT standards on the US Army Basic site. For example, how many pushups must I do in order to pass? Well, I'm a female between 22 and 26 years of age. Therefore, I must do 17 pushups in order to get a minimum passing score of 60%. If that seems too easy, then go for a score of 100% by doing 46 pushups or more. Still too easy? Max out the guys' standards. Go for 75 pushups.

3. Ask Questions and Gain Answers

Army recruiters can be great sources of information. However, they are also biased—they benefit from your joining, so you should also find another person to answer your questions.

Army recruiters can be great sources of information. However, they are also biased—they benefit from your joining, so you should also find another person to answer your questions.

Find someone in the Army branch you are interested in who has no monetary interest in what you decide. I don't care what the recruiters say, they do twist the truth when it benefits them because they get benefits based on their monthly number of recruits (in other words, they have a quota). I wasn't lucky and got a bad recruiter. However, there are good ones. So before you join, find an unbiased opinion and make sure you understand what it will be like.

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4. Break Your Bad Habits

Break all of your bad habits before coming.

Break all of your bad habits before coming.

Break your bad habits now before you ship out to Basic Training. It will make your time there much less terrible. Smoking, drinking alcohol, snacking, taking naps, etc, are all habits that plague trainees during training. If you break your habits, Basic Combat Training will be that much easier.

5. Don't Stress Over the Drill Sergeants

Don't let the drill sergeants get to you.

Don't let the drill sergeants get to you.

They yell, dish out punishments, and play mind-games, but they won't physically harm you. Everything is done according to what you can withstand, physically and mentally. If you can endure everything they throw at you and come out on top, then you are worthy to be an American soldier.

A Few More Things to Do Before Going to Basic Training

How should you pay your bills? Is it worth it to stop your phone plan? The video above offers a few more tips for things you may not have thought about.

Note: Enjoy Nice Living Conditions While You Can

Your accommodations may not be what you're used to!

Your accommodations may not be what you're used to!

Living conditions may be tough compared to your usual standard of living. So enjoy nice living conditions while you can, because if you join the military, sometimes you won't get the best accommodations. One thing most soldiers learn is to never take anything for granted. I, personally have learned to always live life to the fullest. It's better that way.

What Military Life Is Like for a Woman

Physical Training

A U.S. Army private during Basic Combat Training.

A U.S. Army private during Basic Combat Training.

I knew military life was going to be difficult. Before joining, I'd only talked to males about the Army, and they all pretty much said the same stuff:

  • "There's a lot of PT (physical training)."
  • "You're gonna get very tired."
  • (My favorite): "It's not that bad."

No offense, guys, but I'd say the ego got in the way of the truth. But to be honest, Basic Training was just bad, not overly terrible. Even though the guys' comments showed a knack for understatement, I really did expect it to be worse. There were times when I thought I was going to die, but there were also times when I thought everything was too easy.

And, in case you're wondering, Basic Training is harder physically for a female than it is for a male.

Push-ups are easier for males, and the Army is all about its push-ups. Ruck marches are also easier for males.

But, in sit-ups we are equals! (Sadly the Army doesn't care as much about sit-ups as it does its push-ups.) I can honestly say that I could probably beat most guys in sit-ups. I can even say I know one woman who can do 112 sit-ups in two minutes. Just think: she's almost pumping out one sit-up per second. Amazing, isn't it?

Unexpected Things That Made Basic Training Terrible

Two unexpected things make Basic Training terrible for females: other females and ruck marches.

Just think about it: I woke up at 5 a.m. after going to bed at 11 p.m., and I had a couple of females arguing next to my bunk until 11:30, and they wouldn't listen when I asked them to stop. Then I had to wake up for two hours of chores from midnight until 2 a.m., and my relief wouldn't wake up until 2:30, so my head didn't hit the pillow until 2:40. Overall, I got little more than two and a half hours of sleep. Just imagine doing that after a very full day of sweat, grime, and yelling. Once you have a room full of women in this state, they are ready to rip each other and anyone else to pieces, griping about this and that because they're miserable. Ah! I'm frustrated just remembering that. (Though this isn't as bad compared to other female-related experiences I've had. Note: If you want more stories, just give me a holler and I'll regale you with some good ones.)

The second most terrible thing during Basic for a female was the ruck marches. These marches were bad because most females don't make for good pack mules. I definitely don't. I weigh 125 lbs., and the Drill Sergeants gave us rucks and gear that weighed up to 60 lbs. In general, for a male, that's a little hefty but nothing to worry about. However, for a female my size, that could very well be almost half her weight. I hated ruck marches. I would rather run miles than go on a march. While a heavy backpack would not be bad for a stroll through the park with tennis shoes, "strolling" for endless distances with combat boots, a hot uniform, and a heavy ruck with metal frame, with a weapon (M-16 Rifle) in hand is an entirely different story.

There is a third aspect of Basic Training that was bad, but I was ready for this one: the crude comments. While both men and women made unsavory comments, the guys were worse. This is something that is difficult to get away from in the military, especially during long training sessions and deployments. It's something to get used to, because it's pretty much a tradition.

Once you get to your units, males will become more careful of what they say around females because they are afraid that they'll get a sexual harassment report. Unfortunately, innocent males get harassment charges all the time, and the blame goes to the females. So, understand this: When you enter a room full of males, and they all stop their hooting and laughing as soon as you walk in, it is because you're female.

However, despite the threat of harassment reports, I've still had males try to be the nastiest they could be just to get a rise out of me. The takeaway here is that a female needs to be tough-skinned to be in the Army. A lot of these males are good people and great soldiers, but everyone knows that "boys will be boys," especially amongst each other. Now throw a female in their midst and all of a sudden the males need to figure out what kind of woman she is: overly sensitive or tough-skinned. So be ready to get judged, because it will happen with every person you meet in the military.

Everyone is judged in the military. It's really no big deal. The point is that females are judged on many points. Is she a good soldier? Do I have to pick up her slack? Can she keep up? Is she going to tattle, like the last one?

There will always be a female who was there before you that completely screwed up. Once you show up on the scene, everyone will look at you and wonder if you're the same as the last one: the screw up. As a result, they're careful, just as you should be careful. Never forget your professional attitude as a soldier, let alone as a female soldier representative.

The Female Polar Opposites

Some people make great soldiers, and some people slip through the cracks. People who join the military for a reason other than working hard never should have entered in the first place.

There are also women who make great soldiers and women who never should have joined the military. However, if you're a woman who doesn't work hard, then people will assume it's because you're a woman, and you'll make a bad name for all female soldiers.

Female soldiers who prefer not to work are easy to point out, and there's a word for them that's almost as offensive as the word "slut."

A quick side note: A harsh reality for female soldiers is that you are considered a slut until proven otherwise. It is terrible and unfair for the rest of us, but that's just the stark reality. The sad part is, it's all so normal that no one thinks anything of it. But this is the Army and you just deal with it and drive on. There's nothing to do but prove everyone wrong, and rise to the top.

Now, women tend to cluster around two polar opposite approaches to being a soldier. We've already covered the ones who don't pull their weight and enforce stereotypes about women. Then there are the women who work hard to prove stereotypes wrong.

The great soldiers are the females who don't make excuses about their gender. They don't complain about their menstrual cycle openly, they don't whine, snivel, or gripe about anything or anyone, and they work on their shortcomings. For example, a male can do things that females can't. Men are better pack mules and their bodies are better fitted for endurance. While females aren't naturally good at lugging things around for great distances, they work at it so that it doesn't hamper future operations they may be involved in.

On the other hand, she doesn't call attention to herself and her ability to do everything. If there is a job or detail that needs to be done, she just gets it done. No problem. She's a squared-away soldier just like the rest of 'em.

More Reading

  1. Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army by Kayla Williams—Williams tells the tail of her time in Iraq. She talks all about the daily ins and outs, from the bad food to the fear of war to the sexual dynamics.
  2. The Status of Gender Integration in the Military: Analysis of Selected Occupations by Margaret C. Harrell, et al—The Rand Corporation conducted research into how women have been integrated into 10 different military occupations. This is pretty technical reading, but it has interesting insights—namely, what occupation you go into within the military matters.
  3. The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq by Helen Benedict—This book tells the story of sexual assault in the military. Army Reserve Colonel Ann Wright, who has served in the army for 29 years, says, "I urge everyone-especially women considering joining the U.S. military-to read this important book. Through unforgettable stories, The Lonely Soldier explains the shocking frequency of sexual assault and what can be done."
  4. Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq by Kirsten Holmstedt—Holmstedt shares the stories of women in the front lines and their accomplishments. If you aren't sure if you can perform under the pressure and conditions of war, this read will prove that it has been done by many before you.
  5. U.S. Army Survival Handbook, Revised by Matt Larsen—This book is written by Sergeant First Class Matt Larsen. He has been a trainer in survival and fighting techniques for the Army Rangers, and many of his insights are contained in these chapters. This handbook is standard issue for U.S. Special Operation Forces and pilots and covers how to survive in any climate.


Hannah King on September 30, 2019:

Thanks a lot! This is really helping me! Btw how short did you have to cut your hair?

zeeman0 on April 19, 2019:

Hey,I am 12 and I plan on joing the army

Kellie Susice-Tuscani on March 14, 2018:

I had to laugh your hair does not get moldy. I had hair down to my butt. On those hotter than hell days in Fort Lost in the woods, Misery. You'll be thankful for your wet hair bun. Soldier up, do your job. Worry about your PT score not your pick up score. To be taken seriously as a soldier Just do YOUR job and have some integrity and honor. Just remember not everyone is a honorable person. Lots of scumbag cilvilans or military, people are people. Never let your personal guard down and feel safe. It's like crossing the street. Look both ways before you cross.

Autumn on January 27, 2018:

Hello!!! I’m 19, I leave for OSUT training in 4 months and I’ve been living on my own for 6 months and what that has taught me is how you have to be responsible for yourself, I’ve worked jobs I’ve said I’d never did but sucked it up just to pay rent. And I’m so glad I got the first pick job I wanted from the Army and know that privileged comes with responsibility. I’m a Christian girl with hard working moral. And I couldn’t agree more with you. Just being part of the DEP has lowered my car insurance in half, I can’t wait to be part of a job I will love to be apart of.

courteney christensen on January 20, 2018:

thank you so much for the advice I'm 15 and I'm in I'm 100% sure I want to be in the army now I know I'm ready whatever comes my way all handle it and get it done.

Robin Romine on January 14, 2018:

Times have changed to a degree. I was in the Army, and have been out since 1977 a WAC. Men were biased toward women then, I remember snakes in my ruck, they did it to see if I would get rattled. Men were disrespectful toward women then, often had extra details when refused to go out with superior ranks. All in all all women got to be tough mentally and physically. Proud to have done my part for America.

Katherine on November 14, 2017:

Also before you leave for Basic remember to bring pads or tampons. They don't let you go to the PX until about a month into training. You will have one period in that time frame so be prepared.

Katelyn on October 22, 2017:

I’m a 11 year old girl,I can’t decide if I want to be a pop star,or join the army

Skylerkjack on September 17, 2017:

kellyks on September 04, 2017:

being a female soldier is not an easy task and most of the women even got trolled and mocked in the past for choosing this profession. But the struggle is not only outside but rather it is inside the camp as well. There are problems that women face while being on work as well. They are usually taken for granted and are expected to get laid for moving ahead the ladder. The equipment given to female soldiers is just the murkiest of all and are expected to perform with them. And so insensitive these guys are that they hardly have an awareness to deal with female medical issues. One of my close friend is in army and she says that “it takes balls to be woman” and I totally believe her.

Kierstyn on August 11, 2017:

I see most comments are from 8 years ago! Sad I never saw this until now.

Im currently waiting for my thumb to heal before I head off to MEPS again ( 3rd or 4th time..) And its making me nervous!

Not often do you find articles with such detail, so I do appreciate it! If there is a way to private message I'd love to email or something to get some more information. Thank you!

Moe on July 27, 2017:

This helped me so I am 100% sure I went to be an army woman.

Charity on July 24, 2017:

Excellent Article,

I've been trying to read up on what to expect so I can start building up my mental toughness. Gave insight to a lot of areas I hadn't really thought about. Thank you!

Edith on May 26, 2017:

I have been thinking about joining the army ,but im not to sure...

Susan Sears on May 26, 2017:

While I was never in the Army or another military branch, this article was fascinating. I will refer any young females looking toward the military to this article. Great advice!

MarshalB on April 20, 2017:

Very timely and appropriate information. I also believe it to be quite accurate. Women do have to work extremely hard to prove themselves in a military setting, but when they do, they earn the respect of the unit. That is something that cannot be taken away, and real men will stand behind that kind of woman any day.

Amin Jan from Aliabad Hunza on March 31, 2017:

Women should join to defend their motherland.

Scott on March 18, 2017:

Very educational, a real insight into military life. Thanks Jessica, great post!

Stacy Osborn on November 15, 2016:

What advice do you have for someone who is 30 yrs old.. just got married... like 9 days ago..... and has a 4yr old and has had this decision on her mind for 6 years now...and even thought EVERYONE tells her not to she still feels a pull towards it. To protect those who she loves and cherishes... do you listen to those around you or do you follow your destiny?

kira on November 09, 2016:

hi my name is kira I'm 14 and I have thoughts of joining the military/army and I need help choosing what I want to do. can you please help me with this.

MirandaG on November 01, 2016:

What made you decide on what branch to do? Thoughts on national guard?

Nurainahajah from Indonesia on September 21, 2016:

Great..really I like yor post my friend.

Udin Juhink from Indonesia on September 21, 2016:

That is the only thing holding me back. I've searched endlessly to see if there is any civilian jobs I can do with no luck if someone knows something I don't know please let me know And one job I'd been looking forward to just closed it's doors.

Christopher Watson from Ohio on July 27, 2016:

When you join the Army, you can be sure the challenges, rewards and opportunities are the same whether you’re male or female. And except for a few front-line combat roles, women have access to the same jobs, pay, training and promotion as men.

Doing something different to your everyday life is great. It’s meant you had a lot of opportunities to do things I wouldn’t normally, like adventurous training. So...

Telxperts from Australia on June 09, 2016:

Thank you. Its very informative.

Linda Robinson from Cicero, New York on June 02, 2016:

Hello Jessica so nice meeting you and what a tremendous, informative hub, all the information that was covered so thoroughly, so intriguing and very helpful and a definite must read for every person having concerns and the desire to know more about women in the military, excellent a joy to read. Happy to be following you and I look forward to reading many more of your hubs, super talented writer. Linda

Sonia Vallejo on January 27, 2016:

I had a question regarding taking medication while in basic training?

Sydnet on December 30, 2015:

Thank you so much for taking the time out and writing this for wondering females like myself. You're awesome!

Name Notnecessary on December 05, 2015:

This was an excellent article, thank you. I plan to join the Marines and ive been doing alot of research. Upon my research i found out that the military covers rape. Watch The Invisible War, the documentary was released n 2012 and all the issues in the documentary have not been taken care of at all amd arw still very real today. So when you say that male soliders verbally harass you, how are you not supposed to react? Allow such name calling to continue?

SGT Green on November 04, 2015:

Good information . I just want to point out though. As a current US Army Recruiter we do not make money from putting anyone in the Army. I personally can say from my experience with recruiting that alio of information about quota have been thrown out there.

As recruiter there is no incentive. Our job is to be the Army with strong Men and Women. I tell my Army story and what it is like to be a female in the best Army in the World.

Celine on September 30, 2015:

Thanks for the article! It really reassured me about the army. My mom was so concerned about me because she thought females would get roughly beatened and molested or even raped in the army. I wanted to prove her wrong but I couldnt find evidence. I'm glad I saw this article. Hopefully she would allow me to join the army now.

Pat on June 14, 2015:

Thanks for this. I'm looking to join the British Army Reserves and although I know it won't be exactly the same, it's useful to have a female perspective on what to expect. I think my hair may now be about to come off!

Bre on May 23, 2015:

Im 16 and recently thought of joining the army. Im 5'3" and about 110 lbs. I heard about the carrying of 60lb things around... about the only problem. I can do many push ups and sit ups (though never timed) but the worst thing im worried about is rape and crude comments from males... that bugs me beyond belief I hate being thouvht of as weak because of gender. Any advice?

Elyse on May 12, 2015:

Thank you so much that article was just what i needed ill be joining very soon!

Madeline on April 22, 2015:

I'm Madeline, I'm 17 and just started getting processed and finger printed to be in the system for the Army National Guard. I'm pretty nervous about basics and AIT training. Everyone I have talked to was a male, they all tell me the same thing, "It wasn't that bad." . No women to tell me their experience. My boyfriend just recently dumped me because he said he couldn't handle his girlfriend being in the military, and being away from home for so long. or even being stronger and more physically fit than him. I knew that this is just the beginning of all the criticism I will get, so I just blew it off and said no big deal. Reading this article gave me ALOT of insight, and made me fell better, and more ready on what to expect about being a female, in the military. I just want to say thank you, and this article was a ton of help.

Valerie on February 22, 2015:

I am only 15 and I always enjoyed watching soldiers walking and just thanking them for everything. And when began to let older I began to think more about joining the army! And how would I get into it. Thank you for this amazing info! And thank you for your service!

Gizela on January 18, 2015:

Hi im currently 17 years old ill be 18 in a few months im thinking about joining the army national gaurd i play a sport and i work everyday. Im a senior and im gonna need help paying for school i have to do it by myself, although thats not the onle reason im thinking about joining im scared.. My family has a long line of military in our family and i just feel obligated to be one of them. I just had a few questions for you. 1. Where were you sent to basics or where are most females sent? 2. When on the verge of breaking down what helped you? 3. I eat so much lol is the food bad? 4. How long tottal where you gone for? Im hoping to leave right after graduation so i can be back in time for 1st semester of college.

Sandra on January 02, 2015:

I've been thinking about joining the army after I graduate and I've been looking online for tips or how to prepare myself for the army and when I read them I worries me a bit but it never makes my urge to join the army go away. You've been a great help! Please write and post more! And thank you for your service!

bandgeek19 on November 08, 2014:

I'm a high schooler who has been concedering (sorry I suck at spelling) joining the military for multiple reasons. I find this really helpful. There's a bunch of military websites I was looking at when I was trying to decide on a branch and like you said most of them are biased to get you to join their branch. But in any case I want to thank you for helping me understand what I should be perpared for (expecailly on the numbers for push-ups and sit-ups). You deserve the most respect for not only serving your country but for inspiring others.

kiara homan on August 29, 2014:

i would really like to join the army but i want to be prepare for anything, so i was wondering if you could tell me some stories. it would be greatly appreciated, my email is you article was great!

Celsey on August 20, 2014:

I'm leaving in a couple weeks for basic and this definitely helped ease some of my nervousness!! Thanks for the article!!

Kara on August 18, 2014:

I am preparing myself for basic training and this article helped me know alot more and definitely prepare myself thanks for the article!

Cami on August 18, 2014:

Thank you so much for this article! I just joined and I'm leaving for basic in November. This put my mind at ease. I had a lot of questions that nobody could answer and you did.

Bkb on July 22, 2014:

Hi there, I am currently 16 years old and still researching. I have been looking and looking for what I want to persue when I graduate from high school and or college. Everytime my search ends up with something in the military. My parents don't really understand why, nor my brother and sister. My only problem right now is just figuring out how to get started with enlisting and going through that process. This is my dream, though it's different from many other girls'. The only thing that is holding me back, which takes a lot, is the intimidation factor. Thank you all so much for the comments/questions and article, this truly has been a big help!

WhatToDo86 on April 18, 2014:

I am have an introverted personality. Can anyone relate, and what was your experience with joining the Army?

yhernandez510 on March 22, 2014:

I'm considering about joining mainly to go to school and get my debt paid of is it really worth please e mail me thank you

gypsy35 on February 03, 2014:

Im thinking of joining, im 23, and I have a 3 yr old son. Is there any stories of female soldiers at bct that involved leaving there kids. Do they end up finishing training, or the missing becomes to unbearable?

DASARI LILAVATI on January 27, 2014:

I want to become an army of our country and our state of the whole world

Prithika on January 08, 2014:

Im thinking of joining the army but im a bit nervous im 17 years old and 5'2 and 89 pounds i consider myself a bit tough but i will admit when i get fustrated i get emotional im already working out n gaining weight successfully for once i have a fast metabolism so i rarely gain weight also i have been thinking about joining for 2 years now i just didnt know what to expect and your article helped me make my decision although i dont have a recruiter because they havent come to my school if possible can you tell me what i could be doing such as the jobs i guess in a sense. Just email me please at thank u

mccallister on January 02, 2014:

I'm heading back tomorrow to finish. I have 3 weeks left! K-------- periods really won't be as bad as you think. 1.where a pad. And if your heavy double up. 2 wear a tampon also. 3 carry 2 or 3 with you at all times. You should be fine. I had one period. There was so much stress and exercise I never have had one since. Good luck.

K------ on December 10, 2013:

Any advice about girls that are having periods during army bootcamp??

Chris on December 03, 2013:

females stay out of the army if the only thing you are looking for is a guy to have sex with or a female. You are not as strong as a male and should not be allowed in, you are a distraction to males with your flirting and constant talking. stay out please.

grunt on October 24, 2013:

this applies for basic training only, don't forget. once you get to your unit, things are a lot different and you have the initial slap-in-da-face to get you pushing yourself toward conditioning in terms of runs/rucks/whatever. at that point, it doesn't matter if you're female any more. don't make it an excuse or you will get no respect. as for basic? never, ever, ever fall out. pass out before you fall out.

poppy on October 04, 2013:

Thanks for this, i'm 12 and i want to join the army and i have for quite a while now i'm going to join as soon as i turn 14, i'm not so sure about family at the moment though i don't want to hurt anyone and i understand all the risks but i'm not sure what to do right now, i want to do my family proud and my country though so i'm going to join for training as soon as i turn 14, good luck to everyone joining this year x

Jac-e on September 13, 2013:


It's been a while since you posted your comment but I'm going to answer anyway.

Men have fought in wars for such a long time so that now most people have forgotten the true reasoning behind it. No doubt it had to do with child-bearing and the assigned role of the prime care-giver. Nonetheless, numerous women have faught wars disguised as men and really proven themselves, invalidating all comments about men being stronger or whatever.

As to whether you're meant to do this... whatever you're doing with your life, that's really always the question. In the end, you're meant to do something, so you might as well do what you feel is right for you.

tany on September 05, 2013:

this has helped me so much, omg i was totally ok with joining the after reading this.

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TK on August 25, 2013:

I just got the news that I will be enlisted in November, reading your article, I can't say I want it any less than before. My candidature went smooth. I hope my life in the military will be a challenge. I really do.

KMPAPUCCI on May 25, 2013:

Im pretty young right now still in my teen years but the army has very well interested me in many ways. This articale has made me learn so much more about the army. My grandfather and Father was in the army and most of the reasson i wouod like to join the army is because of my grandfather seved in war war 2 and he was a spi for the oss/iss , but while he was in the army he went through alot and i would just like to cary on my last name through out the army history . Thank you so much

lnicole12 on May 16, 2013:

Thank you so much for posting this!! I have been considering joining the military and this really lays it out! I have tons of questions and was wondering if you'd be interested in talking to me! If you wouldn't mind emailing me and talking I would appreciate it so much!! Just let me know and I'll give you my email!!

William k. on May 02, 2013:

My girlfriend is at AIT now, and I have been noticing tht she has been acting a little cold towards me.. We talk every night thru phone calls or txt. She told me that ait isnt as easy as she expected and that its actually alot of work.. Could anyone tell me that she's been acting differently due to the training nd stuff? Ive talked to other people and they said it probably was but any one here has been thru the same??

Krystal on April 26, 2013:

Thank you for posting this! Its great to get a female soldiers perspective.

Becca on April 22, 2013:

Hi, thanks for the great tips! I'm only 12 but I want to be in the military when I get older. I have a few questions. I was wondering what do you after training? and How often do you get water and bathroom breaks?

Rachel on April 03, 2013:

I have a question…(sorry it's about hair-but the rest I understand)…do they physically cut your hair when you arrive, or do they just set requirements?

Chunyanuch on March 31, 2013:

Hi,I would like to ask if somebody can give me more information about joining to U.S Army ,Now I living in Texas but I have no citizen I have J-1 visa to live here 1-2 year but I really want to be soilder or join to work with U.S so much but I could not find information about peoples who not have citizen to work ,Thank tou !

chi86 on March 21, 2013:

I need some help in making a decision on if I should join the army or not. Any opinions or comments would be great! So here is my situation: I am 27 year old female and over the past 11-12 years have been bouncing from job to job. I usually only stick around in them for 1-3 months before I move on to the next. I have a bachelor's degree in Communication from a university as well. Due to this it is very hard for me to pay my bills so of course I am back at home with my parents. My dad was a Marine and is completely against me joining b/c of my age, gender, and does not believe I would like military life at all. I went to a recruiter and took the practice test and they said I scored high and wanted me to take the real asvab. I have not taken it because of my families opinions, mainly my father's. I have been researching all over the internet to try and gain some clarity. Thanks for reading and for any input negative or positive it's all appreciated.

chill732 on March 13, 2013:

Thanks for the great information. One thing I was interesting in was how you deal with your period during bootcamp? I'm sure your drill sergent isn't going to just go let you change a pad or tampon when you need to.

Kandy on March 09, 2013:

After basic combat training, what did you do after?

Im only 13 and i want to be in soldier when im older but i just want to know if you would be put into war or anything like that. Would you?

sam on March 01, 2013:

You blog was a lot of help for my college english class i decided to write is it worth it for females to join the army my bf is in the national guard and suggested i take a look at ur blog page and it helped a lot. you touched on a lot that i was wondering about.

Valerie on February 17, 2013:

This is a great article! But i have a question, when your period comes, what do you do? I mean, do you still have to go camping outside and do all the things that you are supposed to or are you being excused?

Makenna on February 16, 2013:

Thanks, this helped a lot. I have always been interested in joining the Marines or army/military. I still have a couple years to go before I can enroll but I want to know way before hand so I can be prepared. I have my hair very short already (A boy's length, but bit shaggier/longer by about an inch) and yes, I know for sure it's way easier to take care of. Thank you for posting

Maddison on February 09, 2013:

Wow.... this amizing! i want to be in the military im 13 yrs old and i want to know one thing. What do you do if your on your period? do they give you tampons... pads.... or mabey birth control to stop it or a shot where you wont have one for a couple months?? Because i want to know when i go but when you said about moldy hair.. ewwy lol but i have short hair i always had it short like shoulder length. well thanx you for helping me and plz answer my ?'s.

Porsche' on February 09, 2013:

I've been thinking of joining the army for awhile now and the only hesitation I have is leaving my boyfriend. He truly is my best friend. I was wondering if we marry can he come along with me? Also do you get paid for basic training ?

Madamoizillion on January 16, 2013:

This was a really fascinating account of your experiences. I have to add one correction, though: you said males are better at endurance, and that's actually not quite true. The female body is better suited for endurance because of more efficient fat storage. Women nearly always can go longer than men in endurance swimming and ultramarathoning and sports like that.

Shannon on January 16, 2013:

I recently joined the Army and I leave for basic April 1st, and honestly this has been the most informative article I have read on the female experience of bootcamp. Thanks to this I will be prepared to serve my country and be a good female solider.

kelleygaitan on January 03, 2013:

i loved reading eery word of this it reay gives aot of information thatnk you so much but can you said if we wanted to know more how do i contact you

hina aslam on December 24, 2012:

a.o.a i m doing i-com now (last semester) nd i want 2 join pak army plllllllllllllzzzzzzzzz guide me.

Beloved93 on December 12, 2012:

Any of you ladies that commented saying you were leaving for your BCT wanna share your experiences please? I'm extremely interested in enlisting but I want to know more of how it's gone for other women before I enlist. And also what jobs have you taken on in the army?

Natasha on December 10, 2012:

Hopefully you are still around and receive this comment. I am 30 yrs old (single, no roots, no kids, ... just me) and strongly debating joining... This article offers alot of advice. Thank you. If you are reading this could you possibly email me. I feel as though I just want to listen to stories and experiences, bc I am SO scared, but honestly think this may be my last option...

andyv2k14 on November 29, 2012:

Great article. I was researching this as another group tries to sue their way into combat arms. I personally think that females have potential to serve in combat positions, but that the program needs to be pilotted first. I am a fan of starting an all-female infantry battalion and deploying them, just to see if they can perform amongst their own before moving to integrated units. Don't know if anyone else feels the same way.

safia on November 29, 2012:

i like army so much

alvaradoj on November 19, 2012:

Hello Jessica, I have a creative writing class and I'm writing a story about a female in the Army. I would love to include real scenarios in my story and actually use your name as the female character. Please contact me at if you are interested in telling me more detail about your ordeals in the Army. Thanks so much in advance for your help! :)

Megan Garcia from Florida on November 12, 2012:

All I can say is Hooah!

my advice on November 01, 2012:

watch the invisible war... it sounds like you're most likely to be raped.. why fight alongside men who treat you like a piece of meat and not a fellow human?

Isa on October 29, 2012:

I am currently in college and married. My 3rd year, for the pass months I been thinking and literally desiring to join the Army. But I don't know how? when? where? I feel like running from class and going to serve my country, I feel like running and joining to learn more both professionally and personally. what do you recommend?

Deaira on October 24, 2012:

Wonderful article !!!! This helped me a lot .. I'm 17 years old and needed other reviews on the military and you kept it real.

mehreen kausar on October 23, 2012:

a.alikum im doing ICS now nd i want to join pak army as a solider...plzzz guide me

Menay on October 11, 2012:

can you tell me more of those stories you were talking about?

Mikaela on October 09, 2012:

Hi, 15 and have been considering joining the army when I'm older as well. All my family thinks it's wrong for a woman to join but I kinda think I need to do it as a ..........duty if that makes any sense. I told my friend and sister. They both think I'm crazy for wanting to even consider it. I was wondering how do you know if that's what you should be doing or if your even supposed to be in the army. I'm currently starting to train for this with sit ups, push ups, running and ect. How do you know if it's what your ment to do?

Joann on September 11, 2012:

Right now I'm a young teen girl and I have recently decided I want to join the army when I'm older... but I have a lot of questions and no one to talk to. Are there positions for females on the National Guard? I believe that's what I want to join, if I can. Currently I'm doing sit-ups every day (I've been working on being able to do 70 in two minutes, right now I can only do seventy in three) and I'm trying to work on doing more and more pushups... I'm pretty weak when it comes to arm strength. I run around two miles every day. Do you have any advice? I'm pretty freaked about when it comes to worrying about my menstruation cycle, and I'm worried about what it'd be like actually in the army and having my period. I even had a nightmare about it once, a couple of nights ago. Is it really that bad when it comes to being a girl in the army? I don't know who to tell about my thoughts, my dad is not really one to talk to, because he yells and drinks a lot and I'm sure he would just tease me for wanting to join and my mom is pretty hard to talk to... I don't think she'd really understand. I've told a couple of people and one of my friends actually laughed at me and told me that I'd be killed. It's nice to know that other females have been/are in the army and that others want to join. Please reply, I really would like to hear what someone has to say about the questions I've asked.

ANOOP YADAV on August 25, 2012:

KAHA KI ARMY..............

Erica B. on August 12, 2012:

I've been searching the web for 2 years to find a great article like this one to answer most of my concerns and doubts about the Army; and being a female interested in joining of course. Since I was 17 i've wanted to join the service. Out of high school tried to join the Marines, they denied me of my tattoos visable. I was devastated and gave up, and began working. Now 3 years later, I want more for myself, I want to travel. You're story and advice have certainly motivated me again to achieve this long desired goal of mine. Thank You to the fullest.. And of course the comments of others..

abbie on August 06, 2012:

im nearly 16 and thinking about joining the army, i have wanted to do it for ages. Iv got loads of questions like if you don;t pass one part can you re-do it and can you pick where you get stationed or do they just tell you where and when you are going.

I have loads of questions for you please email me at

Jessica W (author) on August 04, 2012:

Kait T, thank you for your response :) I agree with what you said too and thanks for the added tips! Also, I'm sure you noticed the reoccurrence of a certain question regarding rape in the military. What are your thoughts on that topic?

Kait T on July 30, 2012:

I am really impressed with this article. Being a soldier myself I found that I agreed with most everything said. There are definitely a lot of bad apples out there and it makes it difficult to prove yourself as a good soldier. However, to anyone wanting to join, its all about your attitude. My biggest complaint is that too many females want to take the easy way out. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the phrase "I/we need a male to..." I myself am probably more physically capable than half the male soldiers I meet. However, I do have to work much harder than the males I know in order to stay in good physical shape. One of the benefits of being in great physical shape is that it goes a long way in earning the respect of your male peers and superiors. (That doesn't mean you get to be a "shitbag" just because you can PT).

One other small note. I went through BCT (basic) with medium length hair. My hair never molded and it was out of a bun only long enough for me to shower. I think the key is to actually wash your hair everytime. There is a lot of nastiness that occurs at BCT.

A really good resource for those looking to enter the armed services is to talk to prior Drill Sergeants. I was lucky, my dad and many of his buddies were Drill Sergeants.

Other tips... exercise, exercise, exercise... being in shape makes it so much easier to deal with everything else. Females are B****es during basic, it happens. They don't get much better after, but some can be the best friends you will ever have. As my dad likes to say "men are pigs". This goes for males in and out of the military. There are exceptions to the rule, but be careful. Good luck to everyone wanting to join.

Liz on July 27, 2012:

A search about women's issues in the military led me to this blog. It troubles me greatly to read discussions about sexual harassment directed toward military females that seem to accept the behavior as the unchangeable status quo of the American armed forces. It's something to deal with, but NOT to just accept, because....... it's fucked up and wrong. It bothers me to think that the men protecting this country treat the women among them so disrespectfully and it seems to be just part of the culture. Female soldiers shouldn't have to prove that they're NOT sluts, they should have to prove that they ARE soldiers and they shouldn't have to combat a minefield of sexual harassment and assault to do it. I hope the need to fit in and not seem "girly" and complaining doesn't prohibit recruits from speaking up when real harassment and assault is taking place. "Boys will be Boys" but soldiers should act like men.

Sophia on July 25, 2012:

I just want to say thank you so much for your insight. I am currently prepareing to join the Navy and finding a female point of view has been a bit difficult.

PFC Army on July 23, 2012:

At reception and BCT can females wear boxers as long as they meet the color requirements? Are you allowed to have solid black sport bra's of your choice and solid black underwear? My recruiter's packing list they gave me says black, white, or neutral... but alot of ppl have been saying we can only wear white?

Can you also bring 3m cushion medical tape (kinda like mole skin except in a 15ft roll) to pre tape up your feet before wearing your combat boots at BCT?

Army Soldier on July 23, 2012:

Are you allowed to continue taking your birth control pills at BCT if you have already started taking a pack? Will they make you stop taking your current pack regardless if your halfway thru or not?

I am leaving in 2 weeks :)

Army Guy on July 23, 2012:

Go here to ask questions about the Army

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