My military service made me an active participant in history and a witness to world events. When I think of that decade of my late teens and early twenties, I do so in the context of my military service: where I was stationed when this event happened or to where I was deployed when that event happened. That’s an experience that not many people can claim.
Immediately after boot camp, I experienced this connection to history, to the world, and to others that the military would create for me. I returned home for a brief vacation between boot camp and language school, and my parents threw me a party and invited family, friends, and neighbors. At one point, I joined several relatives and neighbors around a large table in my parents’ backyard. All of them had served in the armed forces. My grandfathers served in World War II, my uncle served during Vietnam, and our family friends and neighbors had served as well. As we shared hilarious and often humiliating stories about boot camp and training, I felt so lucky to be included among these people that I so admired and loved. It was also not lost on me that I was the only woman among them.
For the most part, I enjoyed my time in the Navy. My rating was a Cryptologic Technician Interpretive or CTI. I studied and learned Arabic at the Defense Foreign Language Institute in Monterey, California. After a few schools in between, I had the great fortune to spend almost six years stationed in Rota, Spain in an aircrew billet flying onboard the EP-3E Aries II reconnaissance aircraft. In the Navy, I met some of the smartest and the funniest people in my life.
I shipped out for boot camp almost twenty years ago and my decision to enlist has come full circle. Now I serve as the Deputy Secretary for Women Veterans Affairs and am honored to advocate for Women Veterans of the state of California. This too has been a great adventure, and I’ve had the incredible fortune to meet men and women who accomplished incredible feats of bravery, intelligence, and sacrifice during their military service.
Lindsey Sin, a distinctive young woman with hazel eyes and wavy, auburn hair rushed in to meet us at her office in Sacramento. As Deputy Director of Women Veterans Affairs with CalVet, Sin is the force behind programs targeted to help California’s Women Veterans. Passion charged her voice as she shared her most compelling challenge: “Women Veterans deal with very different circumstances when they return from service and reintegrate back into civilian life. They often don’t self-identify as veterans and, therefore, may not claim their benefits. Our focus is to provide education to organizations and agencies to help our Women Veterans while recognizing the vast contributions they make to our society.”
Choosing her office for her portrait session, Lindsey is seen at her desk preparing for an upcoming conference. CalVet brochures and the Women Veterans Outreach Toolkit are laid out in front of her. Awards recognizing her work with CalVet and items honoring her service to her country are visible in the bookcase behind her. Photographs of her husband and young sons are cherished reminders of a future bright with promise. Directly behind her are images of Lindsey’s two grandfathers, influencers, and Veterans—reminders of the legacy she proudly carries on.
Photo by James R. Morrison Photography