Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Oral History Interview with Jessica Dean

Wisconsin Veterans Museum


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[Interview Begins]

SPRAGUE: Today is July 15th, 2022. This is an interview with Jessica Dean, who served in the United States Marine Corps from January 2008 to November 2012. Jessica entered the service as Jessica Soyk. This interview is being conducted by Luke Sprague at the Irvin L. Young Memorial Library in Whitewater, Wisconsin. As part of the I Am Not Invisible Project for the Wisconsin Veterans Museum Oral History Program. No one else is present in the room. Okay, Jessica, could you tell me a little bit about where you grew up?

DEAN: So I grew up in Slinger, Wisconsin, so a little north of Milwaukee. I lived there until I was a sophomore in high school. And then we moved to Allenton, which was just like fifteen minutes down the road. Um, it's really close to Whitewater, like, and how it feels and everything. It's a small town. 00:01:00Allenton was rural. I live in a rural area of Whitewater, so, um. Yeah, I can say I enjoy small towns and rural living.

SPRAGUE: Okay. Um, what did your family do there?

DEAN: So my dad worked as a C and C operator and a programmer at Snap-On Tools in Milwaukee. Um, my mom had various jobs growing up. She was. She did anything from babysitting children to cleaning houses. Bus driving. And then when I was in high school, she was a custodian for Germantown School District. And then I do have a little brother. He is five years younger than I am.

SPRAGUE: Okay. What made you think about joining the military?

DEAN: So I've always wanted to be a veterinarian since I was three years old. And as I got older and learned what it took to be a veterinarian, I knew it would take eight years of school and that school was not cheap. So actually in 00:02:00high school, I was approached by an Army recruiter that said, Oh, you know, we have veterinarians in the Army. And so I talked to them for a little bit. And once I took the practice ASVAB, they saw my score. And I'm like, Well, we actually don't need veterinarians. We need human doctors. I'm like, I don't do humans. So I put the military on the back burner. I didn't even think about it again until I was struggling through my first little bit of college. And then I started talking to a recruiter because I was kind of in that point in life where you're a young adult, you don't really know where you fit in life and in society. And so I just want to be part of something bigger than myself. Also, find a way to pay for school. And so I ended up joining the Marine Corps, and that was I was actually dating somebody who introduced me to my recruiter at the time. But I was also like, if I'm going to do it, I'm going to go all the way. I'm going to go for the best. And they didn't try to talk me out of what I 00:03:00wanted to do in life. So even though my job was nowhere near related, being a veterinarian, they helped me get a bonus that paid off my student debt and also ten more grand, which ended up being nothing once I switched G.I. bills but ten more grand on my Montgomery GI Bill. So, yes, that's why I joined the Marine Corps.

SPRAGUE: Okay. So what happened? What did your family say about you joining the Marine Corps?

DEAN: Oh, they were not happy. Not at all. My dad has, he's been my biggest cheerleader since day one of being a veterinarian. And so he was like, this is, you know, what happens if your hands get blown off or whatever? You know, you can't become a veterinarian. And my mom was like, Oh, this is just to pay for school. We'll pay for your school. We'll do it. We'll do it. So they tried to bargain with me and talk me out of it. In the end, I knew what I wanted to do, and of course they supported me. Once I went to boot camp, they realized I 00:04:00wasn't backing out, but they were not happy. They were very worried about me.

SPRAGUE: Okay. What? Tell me about your experience at recruit training.

DEAN: Recruit training was all. I was with 60 some other women in a platoon for training because at that time, I know it's different now, but at that time, the Marine Corps only sent women to Parris Island in South Carolina. And then the males, depending on where you lived in the U.S., went to either Parris Island or San Diego. And so I was with 60 some other women in this platoon. Women can get very catty, especially under stress. So, I mean, it was interesting. I looked at it as an adventure, as preparing me for my future. But there was definitely, it's what happens when you get a group of women together is it was catty. So I did come out with a few friends, but it was, it was interesting.


SPRAGUE: Help me out with this. Were you with those 60 women? Were you in the same platoon or detachment or company or how so?

DEAN: We were in a platoon. We had a sister platoon as well that was going through the same recruit training we were at the same time, they just split into two platoons. And so we shared a squad base. So like me and the 60 some, we were in one squad bay and then the other platoon was just across a little hallway into another squad bay. We did do a lot of the training together.

SPRAGUE: And this would have been about what year?

DEAN: This was 2008.

SPRAGUE: So after basic training, while Army calls it basic training, I think the Corps calls it recruit boot camp. Okay. What happened after that?

DEAN: So then I went home for a month because I got recruiters assistance. And 00:06:00then after that month, I went on to combat training in North Carolina. So I was at Camp Geiger.

SPRAGUE: Okay. What can you tell me about Camp Geiger and combat training?

DEAN: Again, it was another adventure. We got to fire all the weapons. We got to do what we call Motown, where it's like a simulation of being in battle. And we had basically high impact paintball guns. So it was like M-16 paintball guns and they hurt. So it was is effective training tool because, you know, if you got shot, it was not just like, oh, I got hit by a paintball. It was it actually, it really hurt. So we learned how to work as a team. Absolutely. That my team was not the greatest, but the guys work as a team. We learned how to clear rooms. So it was, it was really, it's not supposed to be fun, but it was fun because it 00:07:00was something different. And I didn't really get to do anything else like it throughout my career. So as it was a good experience.

SPRAGUE: In that camp Geiger, you said that was in North Carolina?

DEAN: Yes.

SPRAGUE: Dumb question. Was this also men and women separate or was it combined or how did that work?

DEAN: So we had separate squad bays, but we were part of the same platoon. It was very confusing. We weren't allowed to talk to the males, but we were we were part of the same platoon. Now, when they threw us together in the simulations, then we were allowed to, but only through signaling and stuff like that. But we were not able to fraternize outside of exercises like that.

SPRAGUE: Okay. That's just interesting. To me it's interesting. So you can 00:08:00signal to them on the battlefield and while you're in combat, but you can't talk to them once you're outside of that role is what you're basically telling me.

DEAN: Correct. Which is weird because when they're training you, like when you're out in the fleet, you're going to be together, you're going to be you know, if you're over in Iraq or Afghanistan, you're going to be together, working together, getting to know each other. That's part of how you have each other's backs. But this is how they trained us. They were trying to avoid incidences. And so I, I kind of understand why they do it, but I also, um, I think now it's more integrated. I'm not 100% sure.

SPRAGUE: So the, the combat training, tell me, is that part of the sequence of training as a marine, or is that specifically what you went to go for? Help me out with that.

DEAN: So it's part of the sequence. So infantry and infantry related jobs, they go to, um, the school of infantry, which combat training is part of the school 00:09:00of infantry. But there's specific SOI, I school of infantry, which is they train the infantrymen of the Marine Corps. Um, so then the combat training is for anybody who is not an infantryman. So communication is motor t any other job that doesn't involve infantry.

SPRAGUE: What, what in your pre-interview you talk about communications. What made you decide to go into that or how did that work?

DEAN: So I was presented with a list of open jobs and like I said, I want to be a veterinarian and the Marine Corps doesn't have anything close to that. So I just took a look and they were like, Well, this one comes with a 15 grand bonus. And I was like, okay. And I'm like, Oh, if you sign on for an extra year. So I technically signed up for five years, then you get the ten grand for your 00:10:00Montgomery GI Bill. So that's really how I ended up with the job. In the end, I love the job because it was fixing things and that's what a veterinarian does too. So. So it ended up working out.

SPRAGUE: Okay. So you get out of combat training. What happens next?

DEAN: So I graduated combat training. I got sent on a plane to Twentynine Palms, California. And that was where my MOS (military occupational specialty) school or my job school was. And that's in California.

SPRAGUE: Does the Corps call it job school?

DEAN: They call it an MOS school.

SPRAGUE: Okay. What did you think of Twentynine Palms?

DEAN: So most people hate when Twentynine Palms. I actually enjoy Twentynine Palms again I'm from a small town. I love that I could go. I could drive 3 hours and get anywhere. I get to the beach. San Diego, L.A., Vegas. And I fell in love with California when I went out there my sophomore year of high school. So I 00:11:00always knew I wanted to be out there for a period of time in my adult life anyways. So getting to explore it and, and it was, I really enjoyed being stationed in Twentynine Palms. Um, yeah. And the job school. So mine was, it's one of the longest ones. That's why they wanted me to sign on for an extra year was because it's a yearlong, almost a yearlong course. Um, I went through basic electronics and then I went up through, um, intermediate repair. There were three courses in all that I had to take. So, um, and then while we're doing that, we're also learning. McMath. We're still teaching, we're still doing our PFTs and all that kind of stuff. We do not do annual training like rifle range and stuff like that. So that kind of, it didn't fall in my skill set, but I 00:12:00wasn't as proficient. But I came back to it. Um, and my class overall and in Twentynine Palms we were pretty close. I actually, one of my best friends came out of that. He still he lives in Indiana now with his wife and we still talk on a regular basis. Um. And I made a few other close friends. Actually, so one of my friends from combat training, we also went through boot camp together, we just didn't get a chance to know each other in boot camp because she was in my sister platoon. She ended up failing out of one of her job schools in Pensacola, Florida. So they sent her out to Twentynine Palms. And so we reconnected. So that was something really good that came out of Twentynine Palms. And then. After Job school. So, of course, we get to pick where we want to go. Well, we get to get a wish list of where we want, the Marine Corps picks where they want to send you. But at the time, me and my boyfriend, who was going through class 00:13:00the same time as me, we were like, Oh, we want to go to the East Coast. He is from Georgia. We wanted to be close to where he was from. And then one day he told me, Oh, I got Japan. And I was like, Well, that's a turn. And he's like, Well, because I got the East Coast where we wanted to go, I got North Carolina, and he's like, Well, I actually put Japan as my first choice. I was like, Oh, great communication. So as we're in communications. So then it actually came up in our class that they needed people to stay at the communications school to fix the radios that the students were breaking. And I was like, you know, I really don't mind Twentynine Palms. So it was myself and two of my classmates that volunteered to stay there. As our first duty station. So I'm. Yeah. So that that was our first duty station. I learned my job. I learned it well. They kept 00:14:00telling me I was one of the best techs they had. Like I said, I enjoyed it. Um, it got to a point where I could listen to a couple or tell you exactly which card was broken. Um, but then that's when my career kind of took a turn. One of those friends that I decided to stay in Twentynine Palms with, um, we were going on a trip to Disneyland together, and I was fighting with my boyfriend that was in Japan, and he took it upon himself because we were both lance corporals so we were sharing a hotel room, and he decided since I was fighting with my boyfriend and that I was sleeping, he could just do whatever he wanted to. So. So he sexually assaulted me. And, um, we were on this trip with two of our other really good friends. Um, so the next day I told them what happened. We went to Disneyland as planned, and so I told them what had happened and they said, Well, 00:15:00you can't report it. And I said, Why can't I report it? They're like, Well, because he's already on thin ice with your command. So. So I didn't know how to deal with this. I dealt with this for like a week. We went to Disneyland to pretend like everything was okay. Um, he would come because he. He crashed his car, so he. That's part of why he was on thin ice with our command, and he depended on me for rides to work. And so he was still coming to my door asking for rides to work. So as you can imagine, that put me in a very uncomfortable position. So I decided that I, I had to report him at first for myself, but I, I did it where it was. I can't remember what they called it. No. But basically where he wouldn't get in trouble, they wouldn't tell the command, it was just confidential. And so I reported that way. And so that that got me into like 00:16:00therapy and stuff like that for it. But he was still coming to my door for things. He still thought we were best friends. And, um, I tried talking it through with him and, and he would try to say like, oh, I was just drunk and I didn't know what I was doing. And he just made excuses for himself. So then. Sorry. It's just reliving it. Um, I like to tell the story, though, because I want to help others who may be in my position. Um, so then I decided to go in because the only way I could get protection from him and to not have to deal with him every day was to report it where it was no longer confidential, where it got reported to my command and they did something about it. So I did that. And they he got NJPd (non-judicial punishment), he lost his rank and he finally eventually got moved to a different unit, well, not a different unit, he got 00:17:00moved across the parking lot to a different platoon, so instead of being communications, he was now supply, which I don't know how the Army works with the Marine Corps. Everybody deals with supply. So I still had to deal with him and. There was a restraining order. Um, but then any time. So, like, I was at a baseball game for one of my friends and he happened to show up. I got in trouble for violating the restraining order. Any time he tried to communicate with me, I got in trouble for filing the restraining order. So I obviously didn't feel protected. And then it got to the point where there somebody from supply was put as my roommate because as a female, there's not very many of us in the Marine Corps. So I often had my own barracks room, so I had roommates in and out. Most 00:18:00of them were getting kicked out for whatever reason. But then they put this this one who was in supply in there, and I was just like, okay, I try to get to know her. Like I try to get to know all my roommates and she just wanted nothing to do with me. And I said, Okay, that's fine. All you have to do is survive together in this room. Well, it got to the point where so not only was my own command against me, my own platoon, because they were they were harassing me about my therapy appointments. Why do you always have to go to these appointments? You're missing too much work. Why do you have to go to this? Um, if there was certain events for it. And so then I got in trouble for missing things. So I had my own shop against me at this point and like my friend stopped hanging around with me because, oh, she's the girl who just gets you in trouble, 00:19:00which before that me and my shop were really tight. We had like karaoke night, all sorts of stuff, and they just all stopped hanging out with me. Um, and then supply, they were against me as well. So, um, I'm in the Marine Corps every Thursday is field day, every Friday morning is an inspection. And I was getting ready to leave one Friday morning and there was a bottle of Bacardi in my fridge. I had just turned 21. We're not allowed to have full bottles of alcohol in our room. We can have like a six pack of beer or cider. Um, my roommate was nowhere near 21, so I knew I would get in trouble for this, and, oh, actually, I missed a key point. I actually got switched because of all the harassment my counselor switched me into, um, a temporary duty assignment. So I got to do taxes for people on base, so I didn't have to report to my comm unit, and I got 00:20:00to go, and I learned how to do taxes, and I did that. And I enjoyed that, too. I learned to do something good. I enjoy it. And that unit was actually very supportive. Anytime I had a problem, you know, the staff sergeant would help me out. Um, so they were very good. So when I found this bottle of Bacardi in my fridge, I went to the staff sergeant, and I was like, Staff Sergeant, this is in my fridge. I swear it's not right. Like, why would I be telling you about it if it, you know, if it was mine and and I said, my, my roommate, she's underage and they get in big trouble for this. And he said, No problem, we got you. And so they went and met her staff sergeant at my room. And her staff sergeant was like, nope, there's a bottle of liquor in there. And he's like, Yeah, we know it was reported. That's why we came up here. And so then they try to get me in trouble, but luckily my command was standing up for me. And then this continued. 00:21:00She tried several other things to get me in trouble. She did so much as inviting my soldier into our room. And so at this point, I didn't I didn't feel safe at all. I'm like, okay, I have all these commands against me because in the Marine Corps, your reputation, you're either easy or you're a lesbian, or you have to fall into one of those two. That's that's it in the guys' eyes. And so I clearly was a liar because I clearly was the easy one. And the story that my assaulter had told everybody was that we were at a party and I was very drunk, which I was not, because I purposely was not drinking because I was two weeks from 21. And so he said, oh, he we were at a party. She was super drunk. And, you know, this happened. But she's saying that, you know, she didn't want it because, you know, her boyfriend will find out. And and he just he's twisted the story all the way 00:22:00around. So, yeah, so that's why I became the bad guy and everybody was against me because I'm clearly a lying female who just wants attention. So then after well, the tax temporary assignment was, it was ending and I continue to have this harassment from my roommate. And then at this point, I had started talking to who is now my husband. He was a staff sergeant at the time. And I was just talking to and he, we met each other because he was one of my martial art instructors when I was going to the school house. And then we ran into each other at a free Gretchen Wilson concert on base. And so he started emailing me and he learned that I was having these problems and we started talking and obviously we got to know each other personally. But he was also like this, this 00:23:00isn't right. What they're doing is not right. So he helped me since my command wasn't. So then he finally he's like, okay, you know, the tax people can't protect you anymore. You're going to have to go back to the shop. He's like, That can't happen. So he started this is he. He tried not to interfere with my career as much as he could, but at this point, he's like, This isn't okay. Because it got to the point where I didn't feel safe going back to my barracks room. I was like, I'll just get a room at the Motel 6 out in town, you know, I'll figure it out. And he's like, No, this is not happening. So, um, I don't remember how it all worked, but eventually he got in touch with the sergeant major of my command, and he got me moved into what was supposed to be my little safe house, is my little secret room on a level that permanent personnel were not supposed to be on. But he obviously could do whatever [inaudible] In my own room on this level, nobody was supposed to know the room number except for him 00:24:00and I. Somehow my soldier found out. I don't know if he followed me back to my room one day after work or what. But he found out. So then he started showing up at my door again. And then there were taunts of, Oh, she felt so scared she had a hiding spot. What did what lie did she tell now? So the sergeant major would check in with me. So, you know, he checked in with me. I told him, he said, okay, you can no longer be on this base. This is not okay. So he got me orders to Miramar. So that's when my time started at Miramar.

SPRAGUE: Couple questions. Yes. Following up on that, the first, the real obvious one to me is how, how did that make you think about being in the Marine Corps and what had happened to you there and how it got handled?

DEAN: So that's when I decided, because I went into the Marine Corps, like I said, I always wanted to be a veterinarian, but I went to it with an open mind. 00:25:00I'm like, You know there's one thing I absolutely love. I can do this time active and then go reserve and, you know, finish out my career, whatever. This was the point. I was like, Nope, not for me. I'm done. I'm going to finish serving my time honorably and I'm done. It's also where I was like, Okay, it's the boys club. They're all going to back up the boy, the female, like I said, lying female, the easy one, the the lesbian. And I'm like, I don't want to be labeled so that. And then for a while I felt helpless. I felt like there was nowhere I could turn like that. I was never going to get resolution. I was never going to feel okay until these other people started backing me up, until my therapist got me into that other unit, until my now husband, you know, taught me those avenues like, oh, you can request Max, you can do this. You can, you can, you can get away from this. So but it was it was really hard. It was a very 00:26:00challenging time in my life. I wanted to just recreate myself and I, I did as much as I could, given that I was still in the Marine Corps. I dyed my hair different color if I could while still being within regulations. I bought a different car because I thought maybe if he doesn't know my car, he can't find me. I did as much as I could, but obviously I'm still in the Marine Corps, so I'm still tied to that base, tied to regulations, all that kind of stuff. But it was it was extremely challenging.

SPRAGUE: So it sounds like to me like until part of it was your husband coming along and then this contact with this command sergeant major or sergeant major, that that it sounded like, you know, he tried to get you that room that was going to be super private and not found out. It got found out. And then was he 00:27:00involved in the rewriting of your orders as well? Yes.

DEAN: He was.

SPRAGUE: Okay. Oh. What? Is there anything else that you care to share about that experience?

DEAN: I just hate how it changed my whole experience because I was having a blast. Like I said, we were so tight. It was what I imagined it would be. You know, there's this brotherhood, sisterhood, where we go out and have adventures and yet we're going to have each other's back. And then this is where, oh, suddenly we don't have each other's back. And suddenly we're attacking each other. Friendly fire, like why? So that is really unfortunate because I feel like it definitely tainted my entire experience of the Marine Corps.

SPRAGUE: Do you, what do you think would have happened? Just hypothetically, let's say that hadn't occurred. What how do you think your career might have changed with the Marine Corps?


DEAN: I might be in the Reserves right now. I might have I might have deployed. I don't I don't know. Or I might have stayed with because, you know, because that unit is a non deployable unit I might have ended up staying with that unit the whole time. But I do think I would. I would have been more, I guess, of a hard charger, as we call them, in the Marine Corps, because after that, like, my motivation just kind of died. I know it's terrible to say, but it did. And I was like, why am I fighting to be this, you know, great Marine when no matter what I do, they're going to push me down? So I might have been more of a hard charger. I would have definitely got promoted to what I should have been in the end. And yeah, I would have had I would have had more positive things to say about the Marine Corps. I'm still proud of my service, but. Yeah, I definitely, definitely 00:29:00had a different experience than a lot of other people out there. Not necessarily a lot of other females, because I have met other females in my situation, which is why I do tell this story. For a long time it was really hard, but I choose to tell it now because I want to help anybody out there who might feel like they're alone or like they're the only ones who have been through this.

SPRAGUE: Can. Okay. Moving on. Tell me about your reassignment to this next unit.

DEAN: To Miramar?

SPRAGUE: Yes, please.

DEAN: So that's when I got moved to Miramar. And I met new people, whole new group. My staff sergeant there is actually one of the favorite staff sergeants I served under. I only served under him for like two weeks, but he was just, he was very-light hearted. He he took no, because my unit definitely once they 00:30:00found out my orders, they definitely called ahead. And I was like, oh, that's that's fantastic. So they called ahead and said, look, she's a real piece of work, chief drama. This is not what you want. You know, if we can get her out, they were actually trying to get me out, like I was sent copies of the emails where they were trying to get my orders revoked and then they tried to get me kicked out.

SPRAGUE: Under what grounds were they attempting to get you discharged?

DEAN: Well, they were trying to say that I was a malingerer because of all my appointments. They tried to say like, oh, you know, she's skipping her PFT's, you know, stuff that I would have to miss if he was there. So they they tried, they tried everything they could. When I finally got copies of my records after I got out, I was furious at the stuff that was written in them. It's ridiculous and not true. So and that's reflected by my therapist notes that I also got my 00:31:00medical records. Uh, so. But the staff sergeant, he didn't take any of that. He was just like, come on, let me show you the ropes. And he was just positive. And that's what I needed. Unfortunately, he moved on with his career, so I had another staff sergeant who he ended up taking care of me, and it started out as a really good experience. But the Marine Corps is a small place. My job is even smaller. So eventually. Well, eventually, my husband and I started dating. He was stationed in Camp Pendleton. And by the official rules, there's nothing wrong with that. Yes, he was a staff sergeant. Well, he was definitely [inaudible] He was a staff sergeant and I was a lance corporal. So it's frowned upon, but it's not wrong. We were at two different units. I didn't tell a soul that he was my boyfriend because I didn't want to be that one who's sleeping her 00:32:00way up the ladder. I already had these reputations that I didn't earn. I didn't want another one, so I didn't tell anybody that I was dating. I said I was dating somebody that they didn't need to know who, but somebody who worked at his command who had saw me at a ball with him, he came to my command. And so and he told everybody, Oh, she's a troublemaker. And they're like, Oh, you know what? We heard that before. And he's like, Yeah, she's dating a and now at this point a gunnery sergeant, and they're like, Oh, so she's one of those. So then it turned into they were harassing me about who I was dating, and I said, It's none of your business. Um, and it, it just turned into a huge thing. I still continue to do my job, do it the best I could. At this unit they weren't at an echelon or parish line where I got to actually fix the radios. So that was kind of a bummer. Those ironically, we actually ended up taking those radios to my 00:33:00husband's unit and they would fix them. So but I, I became the person who did inventory all the time. I knew inventory like the back of my hand, so they always counted on me to do it. I ended up, you know, any new, like, younger marine that came in, I would take them and try to lead them the best I could. And it just it turned more into harassment. They non reccd, me so non recommended me for promotion several times and this is, again, where they'd be like, oh, you're one of our best, you know, our best techs. However, and it would come up about because I was still in therapy because that's not just something you get over quickly. So I was still in therapy so you know, oh, you have too many appointments. You had this, you had that. So it wasn't harassment to the level of my last unit, but it started again. And so they continue to do 00:34:00this. And I was sick of working my tail off and not getting promoted. And then. Oh, it was a staff sergeant came to our unit that knew my husband. He's still my boyfriend at this point. We didn't get married till after I got out. But he knew my husband and he so. Oh, my husband found out that he was my staff sergeant. That's what it was. I said, Oh, I got this new staff sergeant. It's, you know, this is who he is. And he was like, Oh, I know him. We were in Iraq together. Okay, cool. So he reached out to him, even though I was like, I don't want anybody to know that I'm dating you, but he talked to him and he's like, Look, she's having a really hard time with this unit. Just keep an eye out for her. And he was like, Okay, man, I got you. And he tried. He fought for me for promotions and stuff. They always knocked him down. He was just a staff 00:35:00sergeant. My gunny would overrule him, you know, and everybody else would overrule him. And it was to the point where even because we worked with other sections of communications, so like the communication operators and they all, they were like, well, so she knows what she's doing. Like for like, why aren't you a corporal yet? And I was like, they keep non recc me, and they're like, Why, you know, your job, you do your job better than anybody else they send down here. I'm like, Don't talk to me. Talk to them about that. So my staff sergeant eventually got me put into the company office, and so I did what I always do work my butt off and prove myself. So I got in good with our company CO there and then went back to my unit. Same stuff was happening. And then, oh, my staff sergeant, he knew this other. Was he a staff sergeant at the time? Staff 00:36:00sergeant or gunny over with the reservists on our, on Miramar. So he was with Comm Squadron 48 or its Marine Air Patrol Group 48. They also there out of Great Lakes too. And he was like, Well, yeah, I need somebody to teach the reservists how to inventory correctly. And he's like, Oh, I got the perfect one for you. So he sends me over there and I work over there for a month under that staff, NCO, and my unit again tried to non recc me. And so he goes over there and he goes, Hold on, you can't non recc her for this month. She hasn't worked for you for a month. So how can you sit there and say she's she not reccomended for promotion when she hasn't worked for you for a month. And they just say, well, she has these appointments. And he goes again, she hasn't been here for a month. So how do you know any of that? So he fought for me and then he went to the company CO who knew me as a hard worker in the company office. And the company CO said, 00:37:00Yeah, there's no reason to not recc her. So I finally got promoted.

SPRAGUE: And what did you get promoted from, to?

DEAN: I got promoted from a lance corporal to a corporal. It took me four years. It normally doesn't take nearly that long, so I had to work like three times as hard as everybody else to get the same promotion. So then eventually I went back to my other unit and I was like, You know what? I'm just going to fight it out. I got like a year. Well, at that point they were bringing out the early release program, and so I was like, You know what? I have like a year if I get the early release left. So let's just let's just fight it out. I can do this. I was also slotted to deploy to Bahrain. They just didn't need as many people as were 00:38:00slotted. So I didn't end up going to Bahrain, so I never ended up deploying. Um.

SPRAGUE: Couple quick questions. Sorry to interrupt. So the, so I understand this was a you wrote it out on the, the interview intake form. This was a what do you know we're talking about now at Miramar is?

DEAN: So it's a Marine Wing Communication Squadron 38.

SPRAGUE: Okay, cool. We want to get that so historians can go, okay, this is what she was talking about. And you can keep I just have some down in the weeds kind of questions in terms of, um, first to the issue that you're talking about is absolutely relevant. Um. In painting a picture, help me understand, did, because I'm from the army. Where, did the people in the airwing bring you their 00:39:00radios or did you go out to them on the, how did that work when you were repairing?

DEAN: So they would bring us the radios.

SPRAGUE: Okay. Okay. Okay. And did you have any, okay, so MWCS, the air control group, did you have any interaction with them the next layer up or not?

DEAN: So just the reservists that would come in that were basically the people who did my job just were reservists. And that's why that staff and to want to bring me in I was because they only do their job once a month. So he's like, Can you come in and just teach them how to do it properly, please? Yeah.

SPRAGUE: Yeah, exactly. Um, so, um. So we understand what you were doing. Radio comes in, then what happens?

DEAN: So the radio comes in and we had a piece of paper forms at the time as I 00:40:00was getting out we switched to a computer system. But we had these paper forms that we would fill out, you know, all the sheer number of all of the and then what they said was wrong with the with the radio, and then we would run diagnostics on it and say like, yep, it's broken. And then we took it to my husband's unit and they would do what I used to do, which was fix the individual cards and stuff because there were different echelons or the people that were that would do what I did it at Miramar which was okay, yes, it's broken. Then there was my echelon which was, okay, let's fix what's broken. But if the little components on the card were broken, that was another echelon. And those people would sit there and solder the little components and everything on.

SPRAGUE: So forgive me for not not understanding the Marine Corps promotion system, but I would imagine there's a, you know, in terms of I at least know 00:41:00some of on the Army side, in terms of enlistment and making sergeant or making specialist, you've earned points. You've spent a certain amount of time then. How are they getting away without promoting you again and again and again? That's just--

DEAN: Because. So, you asked me do you have the points and the time and service, time and grade. But if your unit decides, at least until you reach staff [inaudible] was a whole different ballgame, but through, you know, lower ranks and NCO, if your unit says like, no, we don't think she should be promoted. And they have a reason which their reason was, Oh, well, she has appointments. She's not doing her job because she's had appointments like they they exaggerated my appointments that I had. It even got so bad as they would have somebody follow me to my appointments because I was like, you know, because they're like, Well, 00:42:00what is your appointment for? And I was like, You don't need to know that. You just need to know I have an appointment and I would give them an appointment slip. And I'm like, Okay, but what is it for? Again, that's none of your business. And then like I would be in the parking lot and my corporal's car would be behind me, and I'm like, Whoa! Like, what is going on here? So and I'm like, You can't do this. This is this not legal. And so I had to report to my therapist who finally she, like, went back to my command and said, You cannot do this. This is not okay. I requested mast a few times about things. Luckily, I had a female battalion CO and she I really looked up to her. She she would fight for me as much as she could.

SPRAGUE: Help out the listener here. Mast? Is that what you called it? The mast.

DEAN: Request mast.

SPRAGUE: Explain to the civilians out there what that is.


DEAN: So it's kind of like going through. So, so if you go to your supervisor and you say, hey, I have a problem and supervisor goes, Oh, whatever, or, you know, doesn't take care of it, then this is- in the Marine Corps you have to go. So like I was the last call, so I do go to my corporal said, Oh it's not a problem and then take it to my sergeant. I couldn't just jump him and go to the sergeant. If I requested mast, I could. So, no, I wasn't just doing that. I was I was jumping from my gunny because my gunny wouldn't do anything to like my C.O. So that's what requesting mast does. It's an official way to kind of jump the chain of command.

SPRAGUE: And what does the mast stand for again? Is it anything?

DEAN:I honestly don't know.

SPRAGUE: I'm just curious.

DEAN: I just know what it's called.

SPRAGUE: Okay. And it's mass m-a-s-s

DEAN: M-a-s-t.

SPRAGUE: Mast sorry.


DEAN: Request mast.

SPRAGUE: Uh, like, run it up. The the mast. The captain's mast. I might know--

DEAN: That might be something.

SPRAGUE: Okay. It sounded like. So it sounded like you've you've finally got some track of effort with the CO to get your promotion through.

DEAN: Yeah. The company CO, because like I said, he he saw me in his office and he saw me working my tail off. So he's like, Why aren't they promoting you? I was like, That's a great question. And so and he was the one who got to promote me, too. So that was that was really cool.

SPRAGUE: So I've got to ask, what kept you going this whole time? I mean.

DEAN: Just knowing my end goal. So I know I've mentioned several times, but I've always want to be a veterinarian. That's been my end goal this whole time. And I was like, if I, you know, like I said, I want to be part of something bigger 00:45:00than myself, which is honorable service. And at some point, I'm sorry it came, it became about the school money. I was like, if I get out honorably, I get that money for school. If I get out honorably, I get that money for school. My husband, he helped me a ton as much as he kind of hindered things, just people knowing about him. He he was a big, big supporter, always helping me. So those are things that just help me make it through. I'm somebody who doesn't give up. So I wasn't just going to give up and be like, No, forget this. Just let me out. I like the early release. That definitely helped because I was able to get out in November as opposed to January.

SPRAGUE: That makes sense. And you said, given what had happened in your unit, They, you weren't able to deploy or they didn't. They chose not to deploy you it 00:46:00sounds like to me.

DEAN: Yeah I got. Yeah. Because, I mean, there were several of us that got removed from the roster for deployment. So at that point, I don't think I was I don't think I was targeted because as you can tell, there are certain points where I'm like, Yeah, I was targeted. I don't think I was targeted there. I says, there were several of us taken off, so it just they didn't need as many people.

SPRAGUE: And that was to go to Bahrain and [inaudible]. Okay. You mentioned some of the rewards or recognition you had in terms of or your performance evaluation of doing your job. Tell me a little bit about that if you would.

DEAN: So we have counselings where we sit down with our immediate supervisor. And so for me, it was usually my corporal up until my last year. And they would sit down and they would be like, Oh, you know, you're awesome. You you fix this 00:47:00many radios and you, you know, this and certain ones that I fixed fast, faster, because like I said, I could listen to a coupler in a certain radio, be like, oh, it's that card. So they they would say, like, you fix this many radios, you fix this many in this record amount of time. And and then there were some times where they would counsel me on my attitude. And I understand. However, those were also days like when that guy would show up at my door, my associate would show up at my door or, you know, stuff like that. And that wasn't necessarily something I wanted to come into work in and be like, Oh, you know, this guy came to my door. I, I tried to play it off. Apparently I didn't play it off very well. So when they would come to me about, I tell them I'd be like, Look, this is what I'm dealing with. After I reported it to where the command pretty much knew what was going on, I was like, Look, this is what I'm dealing with. Well, you just need to get over that. And I would hear that so many times. It's 00:48:00actually part of why me and my boyfriend who was in Japan ended up breaking up was because he would say, you just need to get over it and stop dwelling on this. And I was hurt by something and feeling and dealing with I I'm trying to get over it. Like, what else can I do besides go to therapy and, you know, try to work through these things? So that that's what I would get a lot of it would be the radios I fixed, how fast I fix them, my attitude. And then, of course, well, you have so many appointments. And again, I'm like, okay. And I do medical appointments because I did I want to tell them I'm in therapy because in the Marine Corps, that's a weakness. So it's kind of like animals. They don't show their weaknesses because the pack will abandon them. So I didn't want to show my weakness. So I was like, they're medical appointments. I don't know what else you want me to say. I have proof. I have these appointment slips. I don't know what else you want me to say. And they're like, Well, we can't promote you 00:49:00because you're missing too much work because of these. I'm like, okay, I missed that. Or I fixed that many radios. You just told me I'm your best tech, but so no, that those counselings once I was with different units, like when I was with the tax unit or when I was with that air group, they were like, Oh, well, you prepare this many tax preparations. You did this. You got this many, you know, comment cards from these people. You're doing a great job, you know, or like, oh, you train these reservists, I saw this much improvement. They were all positive.

SPRAGUE: So maybe it was the peculiarness of that subculture. Of, what I mean is in terms of in the army, it would be towards more of an infantry role, towards more of a combat role, even though it was a communications unit.

DEAN: Right.

SPRAGUE: I don't know.

DEAN: I also felt like it was the the connection. So like in Twentynine Palms, 00:50:00when I wasn't with the tax unit, everybody knew what went on between my soldier spreading the rumors or, you know, oh, we know that this this person got moved to this. We know that this stuff went on. Where at the tax at the tax place the people I became close with, they they did know my situation because I talked to them about it. But none of that was biased. None of that was holding over my head. They're like, Oh yeah, you have appointments, but whatever, you know, you're taking care of yourself. You provide proof. We don't care. That's fine. And again, in Miramar, between my last unit saying, hey, she's worthless. And then people coming from my husband's unit saying, Oh, she's sleeping her way up the chain. They had all that. Where at the air group, I mean, yes, he knew my husband. He knew because that other staff sergeant knew each other, but they 00:51:00were like, she's a marine, we're going to look out for this marine. She's doing her job. Who cares what she's doing in her personal life?


DEAN: At least that that's the way I perceived it.

SPRAGUE: So you talked about in your pre-interview about you made corporal trying to mold males who reported to you. Tell us about that.

DEAN: So just like I said, when younger marines will come into my unit, even as a lance corporal, I kind of take them under my wing, try to show them the ropes. And then, of course, when I became a corporal, they were under me. And so they continued to have respect for me. Some of them knew my situation, so they would ask questions like, Oh, well, you were gone yesterday for this, and if I felt like I could trust them, I would tell them. And they were like, Oh, okay, sorry. 00:52:00I didn't know you had that going on. Sorry you've been through that. And we just got on with our lives. And so I. I would talk to them about ways to treat females and like, yes, I know we're all marines, but remember, we're all marines. So treat females like they're marines, not like they're, you know, subordinate marines just because they are females, whether they be superior to you, your peer, whatever. And when they would you know, sometimes we would just be like sitting in a a storage container, inventorying stuff. And so we would be talking and I hear some of them talk about, oh, you know, we heard so-and-so, they're a [inaudible]. And I'm like, okay, hold on. Do you know that? Well, no, we just heard it. I'm like, okay, well, these are things to remember. Remember what I told you about what I was going through? Like, let's not, you know, keep the rumor mill going. And they're like, okay, that's what you were talking about. Um, and then even so my husband, um, you know, he was a staff NCO and he 00:53:00had females under him. And he even changed how he treated his females after he started dating me because he was, he would tell me something like, Oh, you handled that wrong. Like, I guarantee she would call me. She did not eat tonight. So he went into work the next day because he, you know, telling that the weight standards in the Marine Corps are, I don't know how they are now, but they were kind of unrealistic. Like me saying before you, I am borderline overweight by the Marine Corps standards. So he was telling one of his marines like, you're fat. And I was like, oh, gosh. I said, I guarantee she went home and she did not eat. So he came in the next day and and he's like, Hey, come here. He was. What did you have for dinner last night? She's like two ice cubes. And he was like, Oh, my God. So he came home and told me, like, you were right. And so he told he's like, look, okay, I, I put this wrong. And so he apologized 00:54:00to her. He said, look, let's let's do this together. How about, you know, we eat lunch together. And I help you find a healthy lunch to have and a healthy way to eat. And I can help you with these things. And then she responded way better to that. And to this day, they still talk because she had so much respect for him after that. And he actually helped a lot of his his younger females through stuff like that. There was one that he had that went through something very similar to what I went through. And so he was able to be there to be. He said, Look, I don't need to know what happened. I know you have appointments. Are you okay? And she'd be like, I'm working on it. He was like, Okay, you go do your thing, you take care of yourself. And he never nonreccd anybody for having medical appointments and stuff like that. He he used to be that person. He said, no, I will not do that again. Um, so it also helped with that. Um, I do have two 00:55:00stepsons I call my sons because I've raised them, but I have two stepsons serving right now in the Marine Corps. And they also, they when they're when they're first in and they're young and I don't know what I'm talking about, they will use the term wook, which is a derogatory term for a female Marine. Um, like we're wookies. Yeah.

SPRAGUE: What? Yeah, I know what a wookie is from Star Wars. I'm afraid to ask you what that means or stands for, or maybe I shouldn't.

DEAN: Well, like in boot camp I totally get it. So in boot camp, the the male instructors tell the females, like how gross and disgusting the male marines are, you know, because they're trying to keep us away from each other. The male instructors do the same to the to the males. And so, like in boot camp, we're 00:56:00not allowed to shave for a certain period of time. We're not allowed to be clean. But apparently that carries on over into our careers according to the males. Um, so yeah. So when at first, when they're young and they don't know what I'm talking about, they will say wooks and stuff like that. But as they mature as kids do they, they learn and they do show their female counterparts respect and they, they don't use those derogatory terms. And um, and both of them now know what I've been through because I didn't tell them when they were kids, of course. But as they got older and they ask questions like I told them and they're like, Oh my God. So that's kind of where they're like, Ok, because they did know that I was a lower rank dating their dad. Oh we thought you were just one of those. I'm like, No. And then they they learn to understand.

SPRAGUE: Do you think. This is just conjecture. Do you think that that has 00:57:00changed at all in the Marine Corps in terms of male perceptions of females in treatment, or if you have any sense of that at all, even though you've been out for a while.

DEAN: Yeah, I, I mean, I don't know. I would hope it it would because they are integrating females into more like combat roles and stuff like that. So hopefully males are learning more respect for them because they are going to more actively have their backs. I do know when unfortunately last August when that all went down that the all the males that talked about the females, they they held them with as much regard as they held their male counterparts. Um. So I do think that, hopefully, if that's an indicator, I do know if something 00:58:00devastating happens and so that changes things too. But I do know because my son was actually over there, he was in Afghanistan last year for that. And and when he would talk about the females that were out there with them, he like he would talk with them just like they were other marines. I didn't know they were females until he would say like, oh, she or something like that. So he did talk about them, just like he talked about his male counterparts. So I, if that's any indicator, I hope it's going in, more in the right direction.

SPRAGUE: So you have two stepsons in the Corps, or two stepsons and--p

DEAN: Two stepsons in the Corps. I have three stepsons total.

SPRAGUE: Wow. Okay. You've got to be proud of that. I would imagine. Any other forms of discrimination that you noticed while you were there. Other than that, what happened with you?


DEAN: Um. Trying to think. Not that I really noticed. There was one other female that I served with in Twentynine Palms. And she was just, like, disgusted with me even before everything happened. She was just, like, disgusted with me. She had nothing to do with me. I had no idea. I didn't know her at all from like training or anything. She was a little bit ahead of me as far as like time and service and everything went. So we didn't line up with any training. So I was like, I don't know why she doesn't like me. I did find out that she was one of those who slept her way up the chain. And so when she after everything went down with me, that's when she started like verbally attacking me at the workplace. And so then I was like, okay. And one day I was finally like, Okay, but you can 01:00:00sleep with our gunny. Yeah, because it was directly in our shop. Like, that was not okay. And and she was like, How dare you? And I'm like, okay, you just attacked me. And on top of that, it's one of those mornings where I told her my soldier showed up at my door and everything. So I was just not having a good day. And so she was like, How dare you? I'm like, How dare you just verbally attacked me. You just came out of his office for the third time today. So how is this fair? And and everybody in our shop knew what she was doing, too. So I. I don't understand that. Again, I know females can be catty. And it is for me, it was disheartening that while I was in, there was a lot of that cattiness. There wasn't a whole lot of support because we were all competing against each other. We're all competing for promotions and, you know, whatever else, duty stations, I don't know. We're all competing. But, you know, I felt we should have had each 01:01:00other's back a little bit more. And so the fact that she didn't know me from anyone and she just felt the need to do these things was very disheartening. And then at Miramar, there were three--four other females in my unit and one of them I went to boot camp with. And we just we had, you know, I guess I was catty. So we just had differences from boot camp. So that was kind of whatever. Another one, her and I lined up at Twentynine Palms. And so her and I were super close. Like, we were so close that at one point she moved in with me and my husband and then. The one other one I led for a little bit, and then she actually got promoted before I did because my promotions were put off for so long and her and I were fine. But then another one, we didn't get along, but we also lined up a little bit at training and just didn't vibe. As we were. We both did the early 01:02:00release and we worked together on that, which was kind of odd. But yeah, so it was just, it was kind of disheartening that as females we couldn't have each other's backs.

SPRAGUE: So one of the things that's interesting is tell me about and I know I know what it sounds like and I think I know what it means, but help expand for me, flesh out having each other's backs. What does that mean to you?

DEAN: So like supporting each other and like if there are, you know, because when like I said, when I was in, I feel like it was just really bad, the whole male female dynamic. So if there's a guy calling you a wook or whatever or a guy just saying like, Oh, she can't do that. She's just a female, like, be like, you know what? We'll prove to you that we're more than just females that we're marines and. Yeah. It's just. Just being supportive or being like, hey, you seem 01:03:00like you're having a really bad day. What's going on? You want to talk about it? Let's get lunch together. Um, just what I feel like. You know, female should be something I've experienced in the civilian world, but I never experienced as a marine. So it's kind of like what I pictured. So my husband, he has all these lifelong friends all over the country, you know, that he served with over his 20 years. And they're they always they check in. Hey, how are you doing? You know, you doing okay? How's life? You know, and they they do have each other's backs. And I have that with one of my male counterparts from the Marine Corps, but, um, not really with any of the females. So because there was that one [inaudible] in Twentynine Palms, but she, um, I don't know, she kind of like I haven't been able to reach her since then. I've tried several times, but, um. So it's just 01:04:00kind of disheartening. It's like you sometimes you need somebody there to just check in, just to Hey, how you okay?

SPRAGUE: During the pre-interview you talked about perseverance and learning about perseverance. Tell me about that.

DEAN: Um, so there's, as I went through my story, you saw there was a lot of things I had to, I had to push through and, um, you know, really what kept you going? I had to think about it because I, I just I just did it. And that has continued on after my service and things that I, I honestly don't know if I would have made it through if I wasn't in the Marine Corps. and didn't learn these things. Like I said, I was floundering when I first graduated high school, when I was in college. And, you know, I was just floundering. And that's part of why I joined the Marine Corps, because I didn't know what to do. And since the 01:05:00Marine Corps, I've had to push through school, which I've experienced lots of roadblocks with that as being a veteran and attending so many different schools and all the credits transferring and all that kind of stuff. So I've had to push through that. I've had to push through. My husband was struck by a drunk driver. We lived in Virginia and he had to learn how to walk and talk and drive and everything again. So I had to take care of him, his three boys, and go to school and have an internship. So I, I had to do that, um, and push through. Getting into vet school was no easy feat. And again, I don't know if I would have had what it takes if I didn't learn this because I, I applied three different times to vet school and I put so much work in, into each application. And I finally made it on my third try. And before I think I would have just gotten 01:06:00disheartened by that, I've been like, Well, I can't make it. So now what? Um, and a lot of people ask me like, well, what happens if, like, what happens if you don't make it into vet school? What happens if this doesn't happen? What happens after that? But I'm like, there is no what if it's going to happen? I'm going to make sure it happens. And a lot of people are like, Well, how do you do this? I just I just do it. I, I don't know. I just do whatever it takes. So, yeah, I, I, and again, I don't think I would have been able to do that without the Marine Corps.

SPRAGUE: Uh, when you got out, what was that like?

DEAN: It was refreshing after just battling most of my time in. And then finally, you know, because I even had to battle the early release and I'm like, look, you guys don't like me anyways, like just let me go because they kept 01:07:00fighting. That's like, no, this is what you want. So just. Just know. And finally, Michael was like, just just let her go. And we had to provide a justification for early release. And I was like, Well, I want to get my college career started, and if I'm out in January, that's already into a semester. If I'm out in November, I have time to register and start a semester, which is exactly what I did. So it was so refreshing. And then just being able to be with my husband or boyfriend at the time, but because my husband openly that having to hide anything that was refreshing, being able to be myself and not having to put on cammies every day, being able to dress like myself, just being able to be myself was very refreshing.

SPRAGUE: Okay. So tell me a little bit about what you did just after you got out and what what happened there out of that? What was that? What was that transition like?


DEAN: So I got out actually my very last day in uniform. I got out and we went to Disneyland for the Halloween thing, and that was the first time we took the boys and they loved it. So that was really fun. And then my husband said, he's like, Just take some time, relax, because you're going to start school in January. So just just relax. So I did. I went to my first ball as a civilian. That was fun because, again, we didn't have to hide anything. And then it was just learning what my schedule was going to be like. So at the time the boys were really young, so it was walking the two to their elementary school, making sure the older one got on the bus. Which was weird because as somebody who went into the Marine Corps as a single woman and then comes out having three kids in school, that was interesting. And I got to actually train my dog because I got a 01:09:00puppy in 2010. She's part of what helped me deal with everything that had happened too, and she was poorly trained because I was in the Marine Corps and I didn't have time, so I got to actually train her. She's actually an excellent dog now. And yeah, it is just. I got to do what I wanted to do. I know a lot of people struggle through their transition and I struggled. And then I think because I struggled so long while I was in. And then as I was going to school, when I started school, my husband, he got orders. So then it was okay. I have to figure out what my next step is because I just started another school. So this was like for four or five colleges and now I still have an associate's at this 01:10:00point. So I'm like, What is my next step? And then his orders got changed. So then it was figuring out, Okay, now what? Um, so, but eventually we got orders and I figured that whole thing so it was learning is doing my first like actual military move because I did like my little just my sea bag and moving across the country and stuff. But um, we had a whole household and everything to move. So that was interesting. So, and like even now, are there certain days that I miss it? Sometimes. Um, like the, what I experienced first in the Marine Corps and I experienced that camaraderie and stuff. I do miss that sometimes. Um. But that's. Kind of it, because I do still have that camaraderie with, like I said, my really good friends when I served and then my husband's friends from when he served. Like, they're all our family. So I do still have that camaraderie and 01:11:00it's still Marine Corps camaraderie. So and it's actually positive Marine Corps camaraderie because none of them hold any of my serve. And a lot of them know what I went through between being in our job field or being one of those people that had to help us out along the way. And none of them hold any of that against me. They're like, You're a marine, you're a marine, is a marine is a marine. That's the way we see it.

SPRAGUE: So I. What was your experience and this is a big question is about being married. At that point you're now out of the Corps. You're a marine veteran or still a marine, and your spouse is getting deployed. What was that like?

DEAN: So he didn't get deployed. He just got orders. And this was actually still before we're married. We didn't get married till 2015. So but we got orders to Virginia. So that's where we were moving. He didn't deploy anymore after we got 01:12:00together because he went from, he was with a deployable unit at Pendleton. And he he was slated to go too but ended up not going for whatever reason. And then when he guys orders, he went to D.C. to be a congressional fellow. So, you don't deploy as a congressional fellow. And then after that, he was stationed with the Pentagon and then he had to retire because of his accident. So he did not deploy any more after that. He deployed twice before we were together.

SPRAGUE: One of the questions that I have for you is how did you get back to Wisconsin?

DEAN: So we always talk about where we want to end up. And I told them I wanted to be in Wisconsin because as my dad was my cheerleader from day one of wanting to be a veterinarian. And he always said I had to go to Madison because it was 01:13:00the best. So, of course, that's in my head, it's been in my head my whole life. But also the Wisconsin GI Bill, because my husband was also trying to figure out he's like, I have three boys. I served so that, you know, they wouldn't have to serve. You know, two of them are. But he's like, I did. So they they wouldn't have to. These like my G.I. Bill will only go so far. So how does this work? Well, then I found out I was like, well, the Wisconsin GI Bill. I said, because I'm from Wisconsin and because I'm over 30% disabled, each boy gets four years. And he was like, Oh, my gosh, that's amazing. So that's how I talked him into officially moving back to Wisconsin. But it's also he's originally from Chicago, so we actually ended up moving right in between our two families.

SPRAGUE: Ok, you had mentioned UW Madison. Tell me about your, your your degree and then what you're doing now.

DEAN: So, um, so I haven't gone to anything yet. I start in the fall. Okay. Um, 01:14:00but I well, so the school is a whole journey too, because like I said, I and each school I went to, I had to fight for my credits to transfer. And, you know, they all [inaudible] they're military friendly schools, oh they'll take your GI Bill money, but they're going to take as long as they can. So I transferred to Northern Virginia Community College and I finally finished my associates that I'd been working on forever. And then from there, I transferred to George Mason. Which N.O.V.A. to George Mason is supposed to be like a direct transfer. Like you have an associate's from N.O.V.A., so you're supposed to have two years left at George Mason for your bachelors. George Mason want me to go there for another four years to get a bachelor's. Because they didn't want to take half of my credits that N.O.V.A. took as transfers. So I had to fight for that. And then even with all of that. So in Wisconsin, I took the, um, ACT and I placed so high they had to take freshman first semester English. Well, George Mason was like, 01:15:00Well, you're missing first semester English. And I was like, No, but I did this like, Nope, you have to take it. So I took it and even my professor was like, Why are you in this course? She used my papers to teach. So she's like, Why are you in this course? You feel like, I feel like you've been writing college papers for a while, like I have. After the course, I found out I could have tested it at George Mason, and I'm like, Thanks. So there's all this fighting with them to finally just be able to get my degree that I've been working on for at this point 11 years. So I finally did. I did it in two and a half years. So instead of in four I did in two and a half. Part of that was retaking some courses that I didn't excel in earlier. So I have a Bachelors of Science in Biology. And so then that's when I started applying to Madison. And um, like I 01:16:00said I always want to be a veterinarian. So I worked at clinics, I did an internship at a clinic in Virginia, and then I worked at a clinic just here in Whitewater for the last four years. And since I finally made it into vet school, I actually just quit that job so that I can prepare for vet school that starts in the fall.

SPRAGUE: Wow. Well, congratulations.

DEAN: Thank you.

SPRAGUE: That's. Well, that's well-earned. To get to that point, you've got to be excited I would say.

DEAN: I am. I'm very excited that, a lot of people are like, are you nervous? I'm like, I'm not nervous. I'm just happy to finally be here. The good news is, is I'm still covered by the GI Bill. I've exhausted my federal, you know, through all these schools. I even had to go back and retake courses just to bring the grades up. And so I exhausted my federal. I started using my Wisconsin GI Bill, the Wisconsin GI Bill will take me most of the way through vet school. But then because my husband is 100% disabled, there's another kind of GI bill or whatever that will pay for the rest of school. So. So, again, thank you, Marine 01:17:00Corps. I will not have to take out a small mortgage to pay for vet school.

SPRAGUE: Very cool. Okay. Um. How do you, do you have any special feelings towards Veterans Day or Memorial Day?

DEAN: Memorial Day has taken on more of a, I mean, it's always had a meaning, but it's more personal to me recently because since I did deploy, um, most of the people that I lost were to suicide, of the people that I served with. Um, but. Between my son being in Afghanistan last August and him losing his brothers and sisters. Sorry, that one's really emotional for me. He got relieved from the gate 20 minutes before the blast happened.


SPRAGUE: Which gate and where and what date?

DEAN: The Abbey gate. And it was August 2--[inaudible], I believe is August 26 last year in Afghanistan.

SPRAGUE: I didn't mean to put you on the spot.

DEAN: No, it's fine. It's at Kabul Airport. So between that and then, I just lost my grandpa, who's an Army veteran. So now it is much more personal to me. I know it holds a huge meaning for my husband, so we always do whatever he can do on that day because he was deployed twice and he survived and others didn't. Much like our eldest son. So. And then Veteran's Day. It's, it's weird to be thanked for your service. Like, I don't know what to say, you know? I don't know if you experienced that, but I like your welcome or thank you or I don't know 01:19:00what to say. Like, I did what I felt I needed to do. That's it. So. But we. We usually go around, my husband's the VFW commander here in town, so we usually go around to the different ceremonies. He asked me to speak at the middle school one a few years back because he's like, for one thing, kind of like the the I Am Not Invisible project. He's like, they don't know that females can be veterans. And he's like, and you don't have any big war stories to tell, but you have a different story to tell. So. So he had me do that. Um, so it's actually like the I Am Not Invisible project actually has done a lot for me because I'm not one to come forward with my service normally. I, because of the way my superiors always said like basically I wasn't good enough. I wasn't good enough to get promoted, 01:20:00I wasn't good enough for that kind of stuff. I'm like, okay. And I didn't deploy, I didn't do anything crazy. So, I'm like, Did I serve? Yes. But I, I don't know if I really did anything. Um, and then there's, you know, my husband who's done two, two tours in Iraq. He has a Purple Heart. Um, there's, you know, my two sons, they've both deployed one non-combat deployment, but, um, you know, so it's like, no, thank them. Don't thank me, thank them. Um, but my husband, he will always call me like, no, she's a veteran, she's a marine. He's actually the one who sent me the project to show up. And I wasn't going to. But then I was like, You know what? We're walking away from the VFW saying, I'll go over there and check it out. And it it gave me a sense of empowerment because also with that cattiness, um, with the other females while I was serving, I met, I was in a room full of marines, female marines, really weird, never happens in the wild. 01:21:00And we were all just there supporting each other, just talking. And it that was amazing. Like, that's, that's what I always wanted to experience. And then like between talking to everybody at that, it was, it was just in part it's like, no, you do need to be proud of your service. So it has done a lot for me. Um, yeah. I'm sorry if I veered off from your original question.

SPRAGUE: That's fine. That's good. Um, do you happen to be involved in any of the veterans organizations yourself?

DEAN: I am part of some. I'm not super active, kind of because of the whole, like, kids and school and work. And, um, but I am part of the American Legion and the Marine Corps League. And I usually end up helping my husband out with VFW stuff. So, you know, I'm not part of the VFW. I guess I'm more active in that than the others.


DEAN: I guess--

SPRAGUE: And I'm asking this with respect from a veteran to a veteran. What could you tell them? What could you impart to them?

DEAN: I guess that it gives you a different perspective on things. Like, right now there's so many things going on that so many people are angry about or want 01:23:00to change or, you know, all that kind of stuff. And a lot of people that just, you know, like, oh, well, so-and-so is president, so we're not proud to be Americans. It's not about that. You live in one of the greatest countries in the world, the greatest country in the world. And that service gives you that pride, knowing that you live in the greatest country in the world. And I don't care who the president is. I don't care, you know, what's going on in our world. I am so proud to be an American. I'm so proud to be a veteran that signed my name on that line to fight for this country. And I feel like that's what all of our service does is, you know, that all stuff in the mail it whatever. I'm proud to be an American. I'm proud to serve for this country. That's what that gives you.

SPRAGUE: Is there anything else that we missed that you'd like to cover?

DEAN: Oh gosh. I don't know. It was it was so long ago that even like that's why 01:24:00as I was saying things, I'm like, Wait a minute, this happened before that. And obviously a lot of it has kind of been repressed. Nothing that I can think. Unless there's anything else you want to ask.

SPRAGUE: No. No. Okay, then we'll conclude the interview. I want to thank you for your service and this will end the interview.