It’s no secret that Rose Interpreting is a veteran owned business, but it seems to surprise most people that I’m the veteran. It could be my small stature or the fact that I’m a… well, a she, but it throws people. People may imagine a “Charlie’s Angels” scenario in which a mysterious, male, prior-military benefactor enables a young woman to make the world a better place through interpreting but it’s just not the case. The fact that I am the veteran in question does make Rose unique among sign language interpreting agencies.
I enlisted in the Navy before I graduated high school. At the time, I couldn’t see myself as a member of any university freshman class, but I could easily see myself in dungarees, “turning-to” and “heaving around.” I had to wait until after graduation to turn 18 and go to boot camp, but in my gut I knew that I wouldn’t be satisfied unless I could be of service. As a young woman, I knew that I needed to go outside of my comfort zone to learn leadership and management. I was right. From the first bizarre days at Great Lakes Training Camp to my ship’s deployment to the Middle East, I knew I made the right decision. It was abundantly clear that they expected me to work, and opportunities for leadership and promotion were there for anyone willing and able.
After training I was sent to Deck Department, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72). I was given a rack (bed), a half locker and some vague directions to the mess decks for chow. I was officially a member of the 3,000+ crew that ran this grey metal hulk of the seas. On my first day of work I tried to keep my mouth shut and do what I was told until they told me to stop. The crew had just returned from a 6 month deployment and weren’t inclined to suffer fools. This all seems bleak, but it was a wonderful time in my life. The harder I worked, the more I was appreciated. Because I respected the rank and procedures of those around me, I was allowed to gain respect in my own right.
When the USS Cole was bombed, I was somewhere near the Indian Ocean and on my way to the Persian Gulf. On September 11, 2001 I was preparing the ship for yet another deployment. When a shipmate fell over the side and needed rescue, the team I trained and oversaw spotted him and I woke the crew with “MAN OVERBOARD, MAN OVERBOARD, MAN OVERBOARD ON THE PORT SIDE.” I’m more grateful than proud to have been part of these large and small moments. I’m grateful that I could serve.
These lessons and observations are part of my agency. Like the Navy, there’s much work to be done in my community. By not cowering in strange or uncomfortable situations and by respecting what the Deaf community can teach us, Rose is an agency to trust. In seeing powerful moments not as platforms for adulation but as opportunities to serve, I remain thankful.
Rae left the Navy as a Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class (E5). She was twice decorated with the Navy Achievement Medal, among others, is a Golden Shellback, and the owner of a “Lincoln Penny.”
Photo of ship by Official U.S. Navy Page