Mary E. Grenander served in the Navy during World War II, before
becoming a professor at Albany State College for Teachers. In March
1953 she wrote this letter in response to a request for advice from
a former student, Jordine Skoff.
Dear Miss Skoff:
Yes, I remember you quite well, and will be glad to write
to you about service in the Navy.
First, let me mention the major disadvantage. You will be
two years behind on your professional career, and you won't ever
make it up. Navy service doesn't correlate with teaching, and
prospective employers won't count it on the same basis as teaching
That is, I think, the only major disadvantage. Opposed to
it are a number of very real advantages. To begin with, it will
give you an opportunity to get into a completely different way
of life; civilian life has nothing comparable to it, and I can't
describe it, except to say that it's like Alice stepping through
the looking glass. From the point of view of rounding out your
experiences, this fact is important. Second, of course, you'll
be making rather good money, because living allowances, which
aren't counted as part of your base pay, are quite generous. Third,
of course, there's the motive of patriotism--after all, the Navy's
recruiting program indicates that it does want more women. And
finally, there is a kind of intangible factor that I find it difficult
to put into words--prestige, maybe; a feeling of solidarity with
the many other men and women who have been in the American armed
forces; a pride in the naval tradition, which is a long and glorious
one--as I say, I don't know exactly how to phrase this final thing,
but it's important.
I hope this letter answers your questions. You've got to make
up your own mind, of course. If you want my advice (and you haven't
asked for it really, I realize), I'd say: go ahead. I've certainly
never regretted the four years I put in.