When Betty Ann Borders’ husband joined the Air Force, like many military spouses, she found herself trying to balance the couple’s jobs and family planning with their frequent moves. So, to make things easier, she enlisted, too. In this edition of Veterans’ Voices, Air Force veteran Betty Ann Borders of Dayton tells her daughter, Judy Atlagh about her service during a time when the Air Force was becoming more inclusive.
Judy Atlagh (JA): Dad joined in ‘71?
Betty Ann Borders (BAB): Probably. He wanted to make a career out of the Air Force. Because up to that point we had moved almost every year, it required me to find a new job every year. We discussed it and decided that if I was… Oh, and the Air Force had just opened up so that they would do joint spouse assignments if married couples want to go in. So, with that, that was a great lead in for us to go ahead for me to join the Air Force. That way I would not have to be moving to a new job or finding a new career every year.
JA: So, the portability of being able to follow him around and...
BAB: With a job.
JA: With the job. That's what I'm getting at. So that it was more of a stable situation. It wasn't downtime in between one job and another, moving from here to there.
BAB: Right. And not only the joint spouse promise, but the we could stay in if we were pregnant. Up to that point, that had not been allowed. So, if I was married and got pregnant, I could still stay in. And in basic training, our group, our squad, was one of the first ones to go through the obstacle course. Men always go through that, but the women had not, as a general rule, done that.
JA: So your group was all women, going through basic training?
BAB: Yeah. We had to do the obstacle course. And being an older person in there, you know, with these nineteen, twenty, twenty-one-year olds, I felt like I had to do well.
JA: So you had to shine a little brighter.
BAB: Yeah. I couldn't give up. Some of them, you know, climbing the ropes or hand-over-hand on the ropes, they would just drop and let it go. But I felt like I can't do that. I have to show that I can accomplish this stuff.
JA: Is it like the general populace now where, you know, you work up to about the week before the baby's born and then you get six weeks off, or how did that work?
BAB: Well, in my case, I worked the day before. I was in the hospital. With you, I was working in the clinic. I was working in the OBGYN clinic. So, it wasn't stressful.
JA: And everybody you needed was right there.
BAB: Right. But we did get time off afterwards. Yeah, like I say, otherwise, it was just a job. For me, it was a job. Sometimes, I don't even feel like I'd ever been in the service because it was at the hospital, no combat.
JA: So, you were happy. Stateside service, no combat. That was a pleasant experience.
BAB: Correct. Right. So, my transition was easy. I'd been on the bases for so many years. My only fear was that I'd forget to salute an officer. Because I was, you know, running around on the base without having ever done that. Now I'm in uniform so I had to remember and salute.
Air Force veteran Betty Ann Borders and her daughter Judy Atlagh spoke at WYSO as part of StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative which visited the Miami Valley last summer. Veterans’ Voices on WYSO is presented by Wright-Patt Credit Union with additional support from CareSource. This story was edited by Will Davis and created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.