By: Valerie Johnson
When I joined the Women Marine Association, it brought a new form of life to meValerie Johnson
In 1984, something spectacular happened, I became one of the 8% women called the United States Marines.
I am the daughter of two very loving parents who expect nothing less except excellence from me. Leoma and Rev. James Johnson. I had the opportunity to have a musical and art-filled life. After my mother’s death, my life turned upside down. The young girl slated for Julliard School now decided to change course and enter The United States Marines, which was the best thing I had ever done, and I am so proud to be called A United States Marine.
From Desert Storm, Operation Hope, Turkey, Okinawa, just to name a few with other duty stations from the east to the West Coast. I served ten years in the United States Marines, but this story is after serving on active duty and how the Women Marines Association, WMA. saved my life. It is a blessing and an honor to say that I am proud to be a United States Marine.
Writing and sharing this part of my life is a naked, vulnerable experience, however as a Marine, when called upon, I will always answer the call, and this time it happens to be able to share my story.
After honorably being discharged from the Marines, I was an extremely different person. I was not the same vibrant pianist who used to play the piano wherever she went; I knew I was extra guarded, untrusting, and it seemed as if the breath of music and artistry left my existence, my life. I was unable to touch my creativity. Getting me out of the house was a huge project like pulling teeth because I was trying to transition into civilian life; my only safety was inside my house. My sister selflessly would get everything from food to clothes and decide to do with me, and it became about me furthering my education. during this time, I was able to obtain a master’s degree in Classical/jazz music, B.S. Degree in Multimedia from Graphic Design, web development to Animation Design. I made sure I covered all the background in the Media Arts, that was my passion, it kept me alive. I graduated with a 4.6 G.P.A.
I had no idea that the same unit organization where I found the pain of darkness would also in some way be the one to bring light to my inner core, my spirit.
When I joined the Women Marine Association, it brought a new form of life to me. An amazing woman Marine by the name of Mani Santos an officer of the WMA local chapter immediately found me and invited me to a meeting.
The Honor, Courage, and Commitment within the Corps are beaming through the WMA because the Women Marine Association continues to stand into the very core values, I have known since being a Marine. The Honor that being a part of the Association continues to instill, not who I was but who I really am. Being a part of this organization I have an ethical responsibility to remember my values and maturity to keep going, marching forward on, even in my darkest days. Courage That no matter what comes my way I am not allowed to quit or give up on myself. My WMA sisters are now my support battalion. We keep each other accountable and most importantly, we are advocates for the community keeping the visibility of women’s active role in the Corps.
The WMA continues all efforts to support women that are active, inactive, and transitioning to civilian life. My WMA sisters helped me to see the importance of utilizing my multimedia skills with keeping women Marines visible on a global scale.
I appreciate the WMA creating a platform for showing an active role in preserving our history.
I am so proud to be called a woman Marine and to belong to a great organization!
#WMASTRONG, #WOMENMARINES #WMA
Valerie is now Vice President of the WMA SanDiego Chapter.