iOS app Android app

Kayla Williams
Kayla Williams is a former sergeant and Arabic linguist in a Military Intelligence company of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). During her deployment to Iraq, Williams was at the forefront of troops' interaction with Iraqis while also navigating the challenges of being part of the 15% of the Army that is female. Kayla is the author of Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army, a memoir about her experiences negotiating the changing demands on today's military. Ms. Williams graduated cum laude with a BA in English Literature from Bowling Green State University, and earned an MA in International Affairs with a focus on the Middle East from American University. She is a former member of the VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans and a current Truman National Security Project Fellow. Kayla currently lives near Washington, D.C. with her husband, a combat-wounded veteran, and their two children. Her second book, Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War, about their family's journey from trauma to healing, was released in 2014 by W. W. Norton.

Entries by Kayla Williams

Dear Military Spouses: I'm Sorry

(3) Comments | Posted February 26, 2014 | 5:44 PM

I have a confession to make: I was a terrible Army wife, an awful military spouse.

My entry into that group came late and from what seemed like an odd direction. I enlisted in the Army at 22 and deployed to Iraq a few years later. When I came...

Read Post

The Bechdel Test for Kids' Shows

(1) Comments | Posted December 19, 2013 | 4:44 PM

I'm a woman veteran of the Army who advocates for women to have access to more jobs and units in the military, a person interested in how subtle environmental aspects can affect how we think and perform and the mother of a 2-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. Earlier...

Read Post

What VA Is Getting Right

(9) Comments | Posted June 7, 2013 | 11:17 AM

It seems to be human nature to complain when something goes wrong but not praise success -- and the adage "If it bleeds, it leads" still seems to hold sway in most newsrooms. That's also true when it comes to the modern Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) -- we hear...

Read Post

When the War Comes Home

(0) Comments | Posted May 8, 2013 | 12:53 PM

The 10th anniversary of the Iraq War's beginning hit me a week late. The week of, I was so busy with a flurry of activities that the date didn't even register. Leading up to it, I'd written a couple of pieces about the upcoming milestone, so...

Read Post

Military Women Know How to 'Lean In'

(5) Comments | Posted April 4, 2013 | 6:53 PM

There have been dozens of op-eds and blogs circulating recently in response to Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In, and I've been devouring them in my limited free time. As a member of one of the key demographics her book targets -- a working woman with small children -- that...

Read Post

VA Health Care for Women Veterans

(1) Comments | Posted July 14, 2009 | 8:08 AM

As a Soldier with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), I took part in the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, and was there for approximately one year. As an Arabic linguist, I went on combat foot patrols with the Infantry in Baghdad. During the initial invasion, my team came...

Read Post

On Torture

(218) Comments | Posted April 24, 2009 | 8:15 AM

I witnessed detainee abuse in Iraq and did not report it. I fully believe that we bear personal responsibility for our actions; this moral failing is my own burden, one I will carry with me for the rest of my life. But it has also influenced how I look at...

Read Post

Veterans' Unemployment

(4) Comments | Posted March 30, 2009 | 9:39 AM

Hello, my name is Kayla. I'm a combat veteran and I was on unemployment.

Admitting this publicly took years. I was deeply ashamed of what seemed a sign of my own weakness, my personal failings. But the news that unemployment among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is at 11.2% -...

Read Post

Being a Woman Veteran

(1) Comments | Posted March 25, 2009 | 8:51 AM

Last Wednesday, I was honored and proud to be invited to the SHOUT! Art by Women Veterans show put on in San Francisco by Swords to Plowshares, a great organization. It was amazing for me to be around so many other women veterans at one time. Normally, when I go...

Read Post

Army Suicides: My Experience

(45) Comments | Posted March 6, 2009 | 4:30 PM

It is 2004. I have been back from Iraq for a few months.

The gun is heavy in my hand, cold, solid. I sit on the edge of my bathtub and stare at it. The door is shut and I am alone. I can hear my own breathing, uneven.


Read Post