MONTEVALLO, Ala. (WIAT) — Women are 16% of the United State Military, but are often “overlooked,” according Air Force Veteran Rashelle Young.

Young was a mother in her early 20s, fending for her 6-year-old son, while defending her country overseas.

Duty called. She was part of the Air Force, serving as a medic halfway around the world from her child. That also meant she wasn’t home for big moments with her sons, good or bad.

“My son was here at Children’s [Hospital] for 20 days with bilateral chest tubes and I had just gotten to Korea,” Young said.

“That’s when it really hits you that you signed up for a responsibility that is so much bigger than yourself,” Young reflected.

Young was far being from the only female in the Air Force.

“When I joined I actually met a lot of women that were incredibly physically active and put me to shame,” Young said.

For 17 years, she served as fiercely as anyone. She left the military in 2018 to raise her boys, now high-schoolers.

Having returned home from service, she said she and other female veterans often go unrecognized, even when wearing in military paraphernalia.

For instance, Navy veteran Traci Crenshaw said while at the gym, she received a compliment on her Navy Veteran face mask — but the person didn’t understand that she was the veteran.

“He said, ‘so your husband served?'” Crenshaw recalled. “And I always kind of just tilt my head because I’m waiting for the lightbulb to go off…Women have been serving since the Revolutionary War, but it’s still extraordinarily uncommon.”

A Pew Research Center study from 2017 noted women comprised 16% of the overall active military. 

Courtesy: US Military

“We served too,” Young said. “We show up, we have grit, we are dedicated. We can serve the military and be moms and look cute on the weekend.”

“It’s just overlooked that we even served at all,” she said.

Courtesy: US Military

The number of women in the military has risen considerably, and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs has added resources for women. But Young and Crenshaw say the average civilian should understand that while outnumbered, many fighting for our country are women.