Army Woman
General,  Inspirational women

Army woman shares her powerful story

I love to share the stories of inspirational women on my blog and to highlight great charities. I am able to do both with  this powerful interview from an army woman of substance, Colonel Ali Brown who after an impressive career now helps the Women’s Royal Army Corps. WRAC lends support to women who have served in the Army.
Tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years
I had a very happy childhood living in a country town and spending most of my time outdoors.   I enjoyed school and took every opportunity such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award.  My teenage years were about school and the family at the weekends and I continued my outside life with the family dog.    Cycling was my way of getting about and, with hindsight, my teenage years were quiet with a minimal social life.   Even at this stage of my life I knew I wanted to join the Army and that going to university was important. 

What was your first job/career? What did you learn from this?

My first jobs were a series of Saturday jobs, from cleaning narrow boats to preparing vegetables at a boys school.   My first and only career was in the British Army.  I joined in 1984 and left in 2010 having served all over the world, including Iraq, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Finland and Germany.    I learnt how to work hard to achieve my ambitions and also that life was not always fair.   People do terrible things to other people and yet life goes on and has to go on.   Also I learnt that people can cope in the most awful of circumstances and, with help and protection, can thrive. 

Have you faced discrimination? What advice would you give to a girl or woman who is facing discrimination today?

As an Army woman I  have faced discrimination both in policy and in practice.   Women in the Army have gone through enormous change over the last 30 years as now have equality of opportunity.  The advice I would give is that, if you encounter discrimination, you have to deal with it head on.  Either with process or by dealing with it yourself.   There is simply no excuse and those doing the discrimination need to know that.   Ignoring it will make it worse.

Can you tell us about WRAC, who it serves and what it does?

The WRAC Association was formed in 1919 after the First World War, as the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps, and has gone through various evolutions including during the Second World War.  As the position of women changed in society so they changed in the Army.  As the role of women broadened so did their need for camaraderie and Benevolence grants to help those who found themselves in financial need.  The WRAC Association now serves all female veterans who joined the Army prior to 1992and some who have joined after this.  The Association is a membership organisation which offers friendship and opportunities to celebrate being a woman in the Army as well as the distribution of Benevolence grants for those in need.

What makes it different from other service charities?

What makes it different from other Service Charities is that we only deal with female veterans.   No other service Charity does this.  

What would you say to an army woman who was worried about asking for help from a charity?

I would emphasis that it was due to her, and thousands of other women’s Service that we exist and we are only here to help female veterans.   All grants are in the strictest confidence.

What tips would you give to a girl or woman who wanted to join the services?

Those women joining the Services now have equality of opportunity and can join whatever they want.    There are no restrictions.  I would say give it a go and give it your best.   The training is hard but if you work hard you will progress.   The Army gives you so much more than a salary.   It gives you self confidence, motivation and a fantastic team of people to work with.  It is unlike any other job.  Exciting, rewarding and a career for life if you want it.  

How do you ensure you look after yourself properly? What do you do for self-care?

I think the idea of self care is a relatively recent one.   I have learnt of ways I can relax.   Reading and walking the dog now I am retired.   Whilst I was serving, the job was all consuming and relaxation was a rare thing.   I now understand we all need self care but it is something I have learnt recently. 

Who has offered vital support to you in life? (

Vital support has been given to me by partners, a small and close circle of friends and family.   I have known some of my friends for over 45 years so they really know me well.   They have been my constant as I have lived around orotund the world. 

What would you like to see change in society that would benefit girls and women?

In society the one change I would like to see is a change in the way physical and emotional abuse is viewed.   There is still an assumption by some that a level of abuse is just something you have to accept.   I disagree very strongly and would like to see society being made to understand this. 

If you could recommend ONE book to women what would it be and why?
The one book I would recommend is Wild Swans by Jung Chang.  I feel this book tells you everything about the human abuse of power and how people endure what they have to.   Life is unfair but you have to go on.   To me this book really tells of the human spirit to survive which resonates with some of the places I have been to and people I have met when in the Army.

Army Woman

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Musings Of A Tired Mummy

Award-winning writer, blogger, social media consultant and charity campaigner. Social Media Manager for BritMums, the UK's largest parent blogging network Freelance clients include Firefly Communications and Save the Children UK. Works with brands on marketing projects. Examples include Visit Orlando, Give As You Live, Coca-Cola and Kodak. Cambridge Law graduate with many years experience working across three sectors in advice, media relations, events, training and project management. Available for hire at affordable rates.


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