Contributions from Yusleidys Marichal at 360 Physical Therapy.
In what branch of the military did you serve and when?
I served in the United States Army. I enlisted in 2017 the day after my 17th birthday actually. I was very excited about pursuing a career in a Combat MOS (military occupation specialty). My MOS of choice was Infantry. For those of you that do not know, Infantry is often the first line of defense of soldiers on foot. I chose this MOS for the purpose of showing myself, my family and women in general that anything is possible despite the gender roles and ideologies placed upon us. I'm not going to say that going into a predominantly male career was easy but it was definitely one of my favorite experiences. When I enlisted, I was one of the first females to complete the Infantry Basic Training, OSUT (One Station Unit Training). When I arrived at my unit, I was one of the first female infantry soldiers in my Battalion. There was a fair share of male soldiers that supported this new change of adding women into combat but there were also many that did not share the same perspective. They saw us as weaker and unable therefore just a liability.
Although I can admit the female body is not built to withstand the same conditions as the male body, we did not let that hold us back. This meant working extra hard and putting in extra effort to keep up physically and mentally. I say mentally because as women in this predominantly male career, it was a challenge to accept that oftentimes the males had the highest Physical Training scores and therefore came first when it was time to being promoted. Despite this, we kept pushing and holding our grounds and now I can proudly say I know of many female soldiers that hold higher positions in their Infantry companies. I am proud not only of myself although I am no longer in the service but also of those women that keep pushing forward everyday. They are the picture of "anything is possible" and great role models for generations to come.
Tell us about your career - including opportunities/milestones leading up to your current role
My experience in the military gave me the opportunity to become a better version of myself. I can say that I often think about what if I had chosen to go down an educational path and worked to get my degree instead of enlisting where I would be today? Every time this question pops into my head, I know that I have no regrets about my decision. I worked so hard to enlist at 17 to get away from a bad situation at home. I graduated early and I trained myself physically. The Army made me a stronger person, it gave me a sense of self and confidence and it gave me a home. I can say the greatest benefit out of enlisting is all the amazing people you meet while on this journey.
How has your experience in the military prepared you for your current role?
My experience in the military prepared me for this role in my career by granting me persistence and dedication to pursue my educational journey. It inspired me to choose a career path in which I can do greater good and help those around me. I feel like after the military I see the world through different lenses. I've learned just how important it is to keep your loved ones close and that the only obstacle that can hold you back from success is yourself.
What do you find most rewarding about your current role in PT?
What I find most rewarding about my current role in PT is that I am still making an impact in the lives of others. Although I am just a call center representative, I feel like it is my duty to try and help the patients that call in. I say this because I am one of those patients. The Army has given me so many opportunities and benefits but it has also given me the body of 80-year-old women in the sense that I have multiple injuries that hold me back every day. I know how much it would mean to me to receive the best care and customer service as possible and that is what I try to give the patients that I interact with on a daily basis.
What motivates and inspires you every day?
My biggest motivation and inspiration every day is my 13-month-old son. He is the light of my life. I want to show him that if he puts his heart and mind into anything then he can and will achieve it. I never expected to be a young mom and it is so challenging some days to balance a baby, work and school. But I take one look at him and I know it is all worth it. I also want to take the time to thank 360PT for all the understanding and compassion they have shown me throughout this new journey in my life. Without them I do not think I would be getting through it as close to easy as I am. I am extremely grateful.
In honor of Military Appreciation Month, who is someone you appreciate/would like to recognize?
In honor of Military Appreciation Month, I would like to appreciate and recognize all of the women in the Armed Forces defying Gender norms. It is not easy, especially while trying to raise a family and take care of themselves. And I want them to know their commitment and sacrifice is appreciated and noticed.
One woman in particular that deserves recognition is Vanessa Guillen. She served her country honorably and was met with one of the worst outcomes anyone could ever imagine. Her story is very heartbreaking and was not easy for any of us enlisted at Fort Hood. Her story sheds light on one of the negatives of being a woman in the Armed forces and something that gets unheard of and pushed to the side very often. My condolences go out to her family and may she rest in peace.