Vetuku stays strong – First Fijian woman to graduate at the US Army Airborne School

Anaseini Navue Vetuku of Korotogo, Sigatoka during her training. Picture: SUPPLIED

A NADROGA lass could be the first woman with Fijian roots to have graduated from the United States Army Airborne School.

Anaseini Navue Vetuku of Korotogo, Sigatoka, said she pushed herself in order to change the stereotypical view of women in many societies.

The 20-year-old said after passing basic training, she enrolled in the airborne school at Fort Benning, Georgia.

“After graduating with basic training in May 2019, I furthered my training in learning about my job as a 13 Bravo which is part of the Artillery Career Field (13) and is responsible for firing howitzer cannons in support of infantry and tank units during combat,” she said.

“After that, I went to airborne school at Fort Benning, Georgia, and graduated from the airborne course last October after three weeks of intensive training.”

Ms Vetuku said after graduating, she was assigned to her first duty station, which was a very proud moment for her.

“After doing my duty for eight months at my first duty station, I got promoted to specialist E-4.”

She said she faced many hurdles, one of which was bearing the pain of losing her child.

“My daughter was born six months premature and the fact that she was sick was something that I struggled a lot with.

“Knowing that she was not going to make it pained me even more, but I thank our heavenly Father for giving me the time that she was able to spend with me and with her grandmothers at Colorado before she passed away.”

The former Latter-Day Saints Church College student said she never looked at a career in the military as a means of earning an income.

“I never thought of joining the military, it was not my dream. I just wanted to do something which would help me support my family in Fiji financially.

“I have been through a lot and there have been days when I just thank God for giving me the strength to survive.

“I kept reminding myself that I had been through worse, especially having a baby at a very young age, being a single mother and surviving the COVID-19 pandemic, and I just kept pushing myself.”

Ms Vetuku said her parents’ support was a key motivating factor in her life.

“I cannot thank my parents enough for how they supported my siblings and I, and it’s because of them I’m here today, standing and fighting for my country, representing my beautiful island of Fiji out here in the United States.

“Witnessing how hard my parents worked to put food on the table when I was a little girl still pushes me to work hard to give them back something.

“It’s my way of saying ‘thank you’ for everything they’ve sacrificed for me.”

Her advice for youths is to always be willing to work hard and to always be ready to accept challenges in life.

“Put our Heavenly Father above everything else.

“Enjoy the journey and be comfortable with being pushed to new limits, embrace change, and never say I can’t.”

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