UMSL representatives share stories of female student veterans with ‘St. Louis on the Air’

by | Mar 12, 2018

Army veterans Emily Staden and Jim Craig, an associate teaching professor, participated in the St. Louis Public Radio panel discussion.
UMSL student Emily Staden (at left), Chair of the Department of Military and Veterans Studies Jim Craig and Washington University in St. Louis graduate Angie Peacock

From left, UMSL student Emily Staden, Chair of the Department of Military and Veterans Studies Jim Craig and Washington University in St. Louis graduate Angie Peacock appeared on “St. Louis on the Air” to discuss women in the military and the upcoming Student Veterans Week. (Photos by Evie Hemphill/St. Louis Public Radio)

Today, fights for female empowerment and gender equality are gaining new momentum. Behind the #MeToo movement, annual Women’s March and many other advocacy programs, women around the world are harnessing their experiences to spark social change.

As Jim Craig, chair of the Department of Military and Veterans Studies at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, points out, female student veterans are adding their name to that list of trailblazers through activism in their communities and on college campuses.

“I think there is a movement afoot in our society with women in general right now,” Craig told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh during an interview Monday on St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU. “Women veterans are no different in that movement. They have been doing well all along, but there is something going on in our society, and women veterans are taking charge.”

The proof is in the numbers. Nationally and at UMSL, 25 percent of student veterans are women ­– a rate far exceeding the percentage of female representation in the military.

Army veterans Emily Staden, a biology and biochemistry major at UMSL, and Angie Peacock, a graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis, are two of the local students contributing to the growing statistics and leading the Student Veterans Associations at their respective universities.

The pair joined Craig and Marsh during Monday’s discussion to address the challenges and opportunities that awaited them upon reentering civilian life and to outline their participation in the upcoming Student Veterans Week. The full conversation can be found here.

Marsh began the program by focusing on post-traumatic stress disorder as well as the post-traumatic growth some veterans experience when returning home from combat, a topic that Craig wrote about for War on the Rocks in December.

Staden, who serves as president of UMSL’s Student Veterans Association, notes that her growth story continues as she seeks a new career in another male-dominated field. While she feels pressure to excel as a woman in science and a female veteran, she says she uses that challenge as fuel.

“In the military, you don’t always have the best experience,” Staden said. “You can always have hardships that challenge you, and when you come out you are challenged as well to grow. It’s what you do with that growth.”

Both Staden and Peacock are using their growth stories and military experiences to strengthen the veterans network on their campuses and in St. Louis. Part of that effort includes Students Veterans Week, which will take place from March 17-23 across five area campuses. The celebration is the second annual collaboration between UMSL, Wash U, Lindenwood University, Webster University and Saint Louis University.

Through the events, Peacock hopes student veterans are able to build lasting relationships that will help them succeed in the future.

“We don’t want to be a silo that we are only student veterans. We want to interact with the community and build relationships,” Peacock said. “Some of us are back home, and we are trying to find our place again.”

After four events across St. Louis, the second annual Student Veterans Week will conclude at UMSL with a screening of “Surviving Home” from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on March 23 in the Millennium Student Center. A Q&A with Bobby Henline, a film subject, veteran and comedian, will follow the showing.

Sara Bell

Sara Bell

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