Mary E. Grenander
Mary Elizabeth 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 experience.
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.