Man (or Woman) Behind the Uniform

Today while visiting the salon, my belief that “you don’t look like a Soldier!” is the best compliment a woman in my field can receive!

Heaven knows I love my job and am extremely proud of the uniform I wear but the military does have a way of stripping you of a large part of your identity once you put on that uniform. No longer are you sitting’ pretty in high heels or fly as a fresh pair of new kicks once you don your daily uniform but instead, you become a representative of the United States and the citizens whom you’ve sworn to defend. In spite of this, you’re still proud of the uniform you wear and suit up each morning and tuck your personal style away for a few hours while you’re at work. Once reveille plays in the evening and you salute the flag for the day however, you come back to life as a “human” and get to be yourself and let me tell you, its awesome!

The liberty to express yourself at all times is something that like many rights in this country, is taken for granted. You pretty ladies out there that get to wear high heels and curls everyday do not understand the struggle I go through wearing this same drab bun and fugly greenish uniform everyday and you fly guys out there who can pick and choose when to shave don’t have to endure the razor bumps my brothers in arms have to deal with in the name of uniformity. Even with all of this, like I said, each of us are proud of what we do and drive on.

These seemingly innocuous liberties don’t start to pose an issue until the real “you” becomes so lost in what the military demands of you that you become unrecognizable. It may be hard to believe but I swear its true. There have been plenty of times (and I’m sure there will be even more) that people I know quite well have seen me in civilian attire and have even engaged in conversation with me without recognizing me. Talk about awkward. The same goes with friends of mine who know me in the civilian sector but had never seen me in uniform. The awkward strain of conversation continues as I see the, “I don’t know who you are, but you’re talking to me like I should so maybe if I sit here long enough, it’ll click” look on their face as they piece together any remnants of a familiar face, frame or identity in order to determine who I am.

Devin Mitchell, a student at Arizona State University has taken to Instagram to shine some light on the men and women who defend our country in a pretty cool way. Rather than just posting dozens of pics of service members in uniforms, Mitchell shows the more human side to service members of all branches of the military by showing what they really look like when not dressed in their gear, uniforms, etc. I love it! What really got me about this project was the fact that Devin’s art really shows us service members in a “normal” way. While in uniform, toting a rife or donned in 40+ pounds of gear, it so seems that the world forgets that we’re people too! Understandably so. I mean really, if you didn’t know a Soldier personally, could you imagine the guy behind the tank sitting at home holding his two year old daughter? Or the girl covered in an ACU print jumpsuit working on a Stryker signing in the mirror every evening as she preps for her American Idol debut? How about your friendly neighborhood supply clerk; can you imagine him making homemade pizzas and delivering them afterwork and on the weekends? I sure couldn’t! No matter what uniform we wear, we’re all just as interesting, talented and diverse as the people we serve and it is truly refreshing for someone to showcase that!

For my brothers and sisters in arms out there, Devin’s email address is available via his Instragram page and from the looks of it, he’s always taking new pics! If you are a Sailor, Airmen, Soldier or Marine and would like to show the world what you’re really made of (and not just what Uncle Sam dresses us as) hit him up! You never know! You could become internet famous as well! Here are a couple of pics from the Veteran’s Art Project for your viewing pleasure!

Enjoy!

Courtesy Fox 10 Phoenix

Veteran’s Art Project: Instagram

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