So, why did Joanne join the Air Force rather than another service? For someone who grew up amidst the farms of the Midwest, it was simple; she didn’t want to get dirty or wet. It also seemed the safest. Well, perhaps, but she spent the Vietnam War deployed in the remote hinterlands of South East Asia that were crawling with Viet Cong infiltrators, earning every one of those medals.
She called the ‘safety thing’ “a lullaby.” But still, she stayed on out of patriotism, and the economics of being married, twice. Just as important, for Joanne, was the camaraderie of service friends, that is different from anywhere else. Even though she kept her secret from them, the depth of such friendships were deeply meaningful for her.
The ability of transgender service members to serve effectively in the military is still debated today, though without much evidence on the part of those trying to deny transgender people from serving openly in the military. A look at history will show that many transgender individuals have served in the United States armed forces, and have done so with honor and distinction. Joanne Carroll is one such veteran.