U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel James Lewis

When Task & Purpose offered me a contributor role in mid 2014, I heeded the encouragement of close confidants to pursue my lifelong passion to write. At the time, I was deployed overseas. I had already published poetry and fiction under the pseudonym Anna Granville, and I wrote for Task & Purpose under the name for about a year before anyone either noticed or cared.

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Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

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And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

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U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Walter

Statistically, the Navy does not have an officer retention problem. Yet everyone knows in reality, many of the best people are leaving. Despite the high volumes of officers who voluntarily resign their commissions as lieutenants, competition is still tight to make lieutenant commander. Aviation and surface warfare easily makes all the department heads that it needs to — although many would argue that this is in part because the Navy brings in even more people than it needs to. Some units have new officers who are given fake jobs at their first assignment because rather than try to retain the people it already has, the Navy just made more ensigns. Even Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Admiral Bill Moran expressed awareness and concern in 2015 that the Navy is losing people it should retain, despite maintaining the numbers it needs to.

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DoD photo by Nell King

In preparation for leaving active duty, I recently completed all of my pre-separation training — transition goals, plans, and success, or ‘TGPS’ Capstone  — and am now in the process of meeting with different organizations to which I was referred.

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U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Klika

Now that the Department of Defense has officially opened all combat jobs to women, the requirement for women to register for the Selective Service — the draft — is likely inevitable.  

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American women have served on the front lines of the battlefield since the United States declared itself an independent nation. Women disguised as men served in order to fight on the battlefields of the Revolutionary War and Civil War, and as formal members of the military in an increasing number of roles from World War I to Vietnam. Each generation of women that served volunteered to support and defend their country in eras when women working outside the home was uncommon or even frowned upon. Here are some of the stories of women who served from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War, paving the way for others to serve in front-line combat today.

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