Master Sergeant Jennifer Yancey
Veteran | 20 years in the U.S. Army
What did you do in the service?
I served in the field of Public Affairs. I was a photojournalist. When I joined in ’95, I did so as a legal specialist, but reclassed. It was a fun ride, but I didn’t appreciate how some people – including some in leadership – didn’t believe in us nor take our field seriously. Telling the Army’s story with accuracy and in a timely manner was no lightweight task. It involves relationship-building, therefore also involves trust. It was our business to continuously inform not only the Soldiers, but the surrounding community that supported us. It was great that we had access to persons, places, and things our peers otherwise didn’t. For me, though (and this became more important the longer I stayed in), since we were so busy telling everyone else’s story, I started making sure I captured my own life as it happened. I didn’t want to look back one day and say I wished I had captured certain moments of my life and career but didn’t.
Has the military made you a better person?
The military is ONE of the things that made me a better person. It has done so is that it showed me I am capable of more than I perceived myself being capable of. I am better than I was yesterday, but I know I’ll be even better tomorrow.
What is your perspective of patriotism?
Patriotism is not about cloth. People get too wrapped up in symbols of patriotism, that they have no idea what it means to be a “Patriot.” To me, patriotism is about standing up for – and defending – what you believe in. But here’s the rub: Your beliefs are not to the detriment of others. They don’t threaten, or invalidate, others’ existence. To be a Patriot is to embrace and educate myself on all the nationalities and ethnicities who built this nation, but were deliberately left out of the history books. To be a Patriot is to somehow help make this world better with the gifts you were given, not sit by and watch it implode.