At the time I enlisted, I answered the question of religion with Roman Catholic, that was the religion I was brought up in. Then I was not a religious person, but the one thing I strongly believed in was the commandment “thou shalt not kill”. Little did I know that personal issue would soon be tested.
Women were dropping out of basic left and right…tired, scared, just waiting for the next shoe to drop. For me that shoe would be the firing range. I thought since I had signed up for the medical corps that I would not have to face any combat issues; maybe I was naïve. Then the exercise to qualify on the M16 rifle came up. I asked my platoon sergeant if this was a mistake; I was to be medical; no guns needed – I was wrong, I had to qualify or not graduate. This was a moral question for me, so I went to the church for advice.
The priest was sympathetic, but said there was nothing he could do. He encouraged me to pray on the issue, but if I wanted to stay in the military I would have to shoot. The priest went with me to the shooting range as support; and guess what, he stayed with me through the shoot! Obviously I qualified, but a stigma was placed on me for the so called “stunt” I pulled. It was not a “stunt”; I was standing up for a moral issue and it was hard, but sometimes you just have to take the heat for what you believe.
The basic training saga did not end here. I wish I could say that military life is a breeze, but it’s not. Yet this life can be exciting and a great learning experience! This is what I want to share with all of you. So keep having fun, but also make the most of the experience, the good and bad. I hope you come back and remember, stay strong!!
My name is Doris Rivas-Brekke. I served in the U.S. Army as a mental health counselor in the medical corps. Using my military benefits I went on to achieve my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. I am currently creative director for Military Mom Talk Radio and share my story with you to inspire you and the women following in my military footsteps.
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