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American Veteran: She dreamed of a Marine Corps career, but wasn't prepared for the 'shadow side.'

Sergeant C.J. Scarlet, veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Ronan Killeen
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Sergeant C.J. Scarlet, veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

To commemorate Veterans Day, the American Homefront Project collaborated with the PBS documentary series American Veteran and the companion podcast, American Veteran: Unforgettable Stories, to profile men and women who have served in the U.S military.

C.J. Scarlet grew up hearing her father’s stories about his service in the Marines. When her twin brother enlisted, she did too. She graduated basic training in 1981 as one of the first class of women to receive combat training.

“I enjoyed so much being able to prove what I was made of,” Scarlet said.

She launched her career as a military photojournalist stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. It was her dream job, but she quickly came to find the pervasive culture of sexism and sexual harassment in the Marines would make it impossible for her to continue.

Decades after leaving the military, Scarlet began to speak up about the litany of traumas that cost her marriage, her career, and her peace of mind.

C.J. Scarlet was recorded by Insignia Films for GBH Boston. For more on American Veteran, visit pbs.org/americanveteran.

This excerpt was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Elizabeth Friend grew up in North Carolina listening to public radio in the backseat of the family station wagon. She has been reporting and producing at WUNC since 2016, covering everything from Army history to armadillos. She's also the co-founder of the beloved summer event series Audio Under The Stars. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the outside world with her family, dabbling in esoteric crafts, and cheese.