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‘I really enjoyed my time, with a few bumps’: Bend US Army vet reflects on service

'I felt like I had to work three times as hard as the men, just to prove that I was worthy of being there.'

(Update: Adding video, comments from US Army Spc. Dani Shine)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Army Spc. Dani Shine absolutely had heroic and life-threatening moments while she served our country bravely in the Persian Gulf War.

But her bravest acts may be what she’s done since returning home.

Shine moved to Bend when she was 10 years old and graduated from Mountain View High School in 1986.

Needing money for college, she decided to join the military and was in active-duty service in the Army from 1987-1991, earning a strong reputation for herself. 

“So I had a Good Conduct Medal, an Army Achievement Medal -- this was for Saudi Arabia,” Shine said, pointing out her medals. “Basically all of that was for being overseas.”

The E-4 Transportation Specialist earned Sharpshooter, Grenade expert, Physical Fitness and several other awards in her eight total years with the Army.

“It was humbling, I guess -- a good experience but … I don’t know … I was just doing my job, like all soldiers do,” Shine said. 

But at the time, Shine wasn’t like all the other soldiers.

NewsChannel 21 asked Shien what surprised her about her service. 

“As a woman being in the military, how hard it was going to be,” Shine said. “I always felt undervalued, maybe -- not noticed, so I felt like I had to work three times as hard as the men, just to prove that I was worthy of being there.”

Shine was one of the first women trained as infantry at Fort McClellan.

The Army was hosting a discrete trial period, looking to see if women were capable of handling infantry training. 

“And at the time, I had no idea. I was just going to basic training like everybody else,” Shine said. 

After serving two years in Germany and one year in Fort Lewis, Wash., Shine was deployed to Saudi Arabia, the first woman from Central Oregon to be sent there.

Being one of the guys never intimidated Shine. 

“I mean, I could out-shoot anybody. I could outrun anybody,” Shine said. “I mean, I felt like I was doing my job, and I was doing it really well.”

Transporting supplies and ammunition, her base was often under Sscud missile attack.

Shine, while on a humanitarian mission to Kuwait, ended up on a dangerous highway covered in bodies and wreckage.

While there, she stepped on a land mine that fortunately didn't explode.

“I was thankful, because I’m here for a reason, I figure,” Shine said. “If I’m -- if that didn’t happen -- so I was so thankful to make it, I guess, because so many people haven’t.”

After coming home, Shine attended the University of Oregon, and was a nurse at St. Charles for 12 years.

It took Shine a long time to process her emotions from her time in the Army, turning to alcohol and eventually seeking help at an in-patient facility.

“I think people aren’t supposed to see some of the tragedies and horror that war shows you,” Shine said. 

She eventually found comfort in the Central Oregon Vet Center, spending time with her service dogs, and utilizing other veterans' resources.

But Shine said there needs to be more female-only services, so women can feel safe opening up about their PTSD and sexual trauma -- an issue which Shine said many women struggle with. 

“I just think it’s important for all veterans to know that, I mean the sacrifices you make are … I mean … can’t say enough,” Shine said as she began to choke up. 

Shine’s currently working on a book called “Unsettled Silence,” sharing her military experience and the trauma she's faced.

She hopes to become a peer for other female vets, to let them know the sacrifice they’ve made for their country, and the accomplishments they’ve earned, can never be taken away.

It's an outlook Shine has worked hard to get to herself.

“I really enjoyed my time, with a few bumps,” Shine said, reflecting on her service. “But for the most part, I don’t think I would change anything. I felt like I was doing my job, my duty. Felt very passionate about that. I’ve always been very patriotic and love my country. I would do it again.”

Shine wants to recognize not only all the other veterans out there, but also veterans' families.

She said families make sacrifices for their loved ones who serve, and the toll it takes on them can often be overlooked.

For those families, Shine recommends giving their loved ones time and grace. 

She said every veteran processes things at their own pace, and having a strong support system goes a long way.

Article Topic Follows: War-Military

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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.


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