ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (WTRF) – One in ten. That’s the ratio of women to men that veteran Lacey Paxton said she saw during her time in the Ohio Army National Guard.
While being in the military isn’t easy, she said being a woman at times made it harder. In eight years, Paxton made it through two deployments, and is proud of what she did.
Being in the military was a once in a lifetime experience.Lacey Paxton, Ohio Army National Guard Veteran
For Lacey Paxton, it was an experience that started during her first year of college, while participating in ROTC.
I realized how little I really knew about the military.Lacey Paxton, Ohio Army National Guard Veteran
That realization led her to enlist in the Ohio Army National Guard in 2002. After training, beginning to settle into weekend drills and re-enrolling in college, Paxton got orders for her first deployment and was sent to Iraq in 2005 as an automated supply specialist, also known as a 92 Alpha.
There was about eight Humvees with usually about four people per Humvee in it and we escorted semi-trucks that were loaded with supplies.Lacey Paxton, Ohio Army National Guard Veteran
She spent part of that deployment on convoy escort missions, and also did inventory on base.
It’s terrifying. There were times when I got to Kuwait on my first deployment, I drove a two-and-a-half-ton standard truck from Kuwait into Iraq and it took me 60 hours of driving to get there.Lacey Paxton, Ohio Army National Guard Veteran
Paxton remembers it was a shock being away from home in her early 20s and away from her family, but she made some close friends who got her through.
Those people are with you through so much that they become an extension of your family.Lacey Paxton, Ohio Army National Guard Veteran
After spending a year in Iraq, Paxton came home and worked as a federal technician with the Ohio Army National Guard.
There were things that I saw that I don’t know that I could explain to people you know what it’s like. Yes, I’ve seen people die. Not my own people fortunately, but I have seen people die. I have seen bombs go off. I’ve seen IED’s explode. I’ve been shot at. I mean, there are a number of things I’ve seen that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.Lacey Paxton, Ohio Army National Guard Veteran
Which is why Paxton explained she decided to deploy again, a few years later in 2009.
Both times that I went I was single. I had no children and at the end of the day if I had to sacrifice my life at that time as long as it kept someone with a family, spouse, children at home I was willing to do that.Lacey Paxton, Ohio Army National Guard Veteran
The second deployment was tough on Paxton. She says working in a motor pool on post as a woman had its challenges. So, she decided it was time to leave the service.
I absolutely am so glad that I did what I did. I wouldn’t have traded it for the whole world. It taught me so much about myself and my abilities. It gave me so much confidence.Lacey Paxton, Ohio Army National Guard Veteran
Now back at home in the St. Clairsville area, Paxton is active in the VFW and American Legion. She’s also mom and works for Belmont County Job and Family Services.