Janine Williams says the landmark legislation is “about opening doors and leaving the door open for who will come next.”
As the USC Veterans Resource Center’s first full-time supervisor, Janine Williams is very intentional about creating programming and community for a variety of individuals in the service, particularly women and gender-expansive students.
“I want a space where women vets can meet others in our community and be involved on campus in a way that makes them feel safe and comfortable,” Williams said.
Williams joined the U.S. Army at 17 and was deployed to Iraq at 18 years old. As a queer woman serving in the military under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, it was difficult for Williams to make friends and trust others.
When she arrived at her first duty station out of basic training, she was in transitional housing with a woman who was being dishonorably discharged for marrying another woman while on leave. This was her first interaction with another soldier, and it solidified for Williams that she could not share her own identity with others.