Registered CT technologist and a full time student, former US Air Force devotee
“Moxxi is all of this stuff that we have as women inherently and we just have to recognize it. I feel like Moxxi to me is that ability to be able to overcome and accomplish everything. It's just this inner strength that all of us are capable of; it just matters. Like, the only key to unlocking it is how we recognize it within ourselves. It's wild, unhinged, an unstoppable force that is inside every woman. It's just a matter of us giving permission to tap into that.”
These are words from Tashina Moulton, a fierce and determined woman, a mother and provider of three, a registered CT technologist and a full time student. From a young age, her parents taught her lessons of overcoming limitations and always setting forth to be the best version of herself. She attributes her flexibility to decision making and the ability to accept change from the constant movement that her family endured. When she migrated from town to town, she picked up many life experiences. They have given her confidence and the understanding on how to be constantly in motion, always succeeding to the next goal.
While attending high school, she attended BOCES, which is a shared education program through public schools. Here she studied for her LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse). Two days after graduating, unsure of what to do, with a little encouragement from her grandfather she decided to set forth to the United States Airforce where they put her into radiology school right away. She was an active member for six years. Leaving on honorable discharge, she gave birth to her first born son and ever since has been working at Saratoga Hospital, in upstate New York. There, she is a radiologist in the emergency room. On top of being a full time hospital employee, recently she was awarded a scholarship to Vassar University through the non profit, POSSE Foundation. Her diverse skill sets from her professional and personal experiences have made her adaptable and flexible.
“The mission of the United states Air Force is to fly, fight and win. We pursue our mission with excellence and integrity to become leaders, innovators and warriors.” - www.airforce.com
Moulton does everything with excellence, integrity and with a willingness to learn. She is a leader at home for her family and in the emergency room daily. The military instilled much of her strong ethics, but not all those lessons came in positive forms. military culture is known to exhibit high statistics of sexual abuse. It is actually more likely to be assaulted in the military than as a common civilian. Newsweek reported in April 2011 that Studies show one in every five women have reported being sexually assaulted by service members. As a survivor of sexual assault in the military she dedicated her Air Force career to supporting and helping others. Mouton became a member of the Sexual Assault Response Coordinating Team. As part of the team, she helped survivors make decisions such as whether or not they were going to prosecute and explored their mental health options. All aspects of a survivor's life gets affected. She aided women in navigating through the unknown, always on a pursuit for justice.
“It helped me to reach women through experiences. It was the worst experience i've ever had in my whole life.”
It was important for Moulton that she could be a voice from within the military, and be someone with a deep connection for survivors, as there was nothing available when her assault happened to her. She needed to let women know that there is another side to all of this... That their life may not look the way it did prior to the attack, but she gave them hope and assured them they could build something new and better on the other side.
Moulton can’t speak for the practices the military takes now, but she hopes it has gotten better. Sadly, at the time the Military treated assault cases horribly. It wasn’t talked about. If you did report anything, you were looked down upon. She says the whole mantra of the military is, “Stay silent until spoken to.” To speak up would mean you would get treated poorly, lose your social stature and ultimately lose all respect. Because of this, many victims don’t come forward with their trauma and continue to live in fear. It was important to her that she could be a resource, a tool; someone that could help. A person that people feel they could come to and know that this type of behavior is not ok but that life WILL be alright eventually and that other people are going through the same thing. She created a deeper connection with these women. They didn’t feel alone anymore.
“It's a very well oiled good ‘ole boy system. The people who get to benefit from things like objectifying women stay in power. So they don't get questioned. When they are questioned, everybody has been encultured to support their leader. It's easier to go with the flow and not question. It was a huge cultural invalidation of an experience and countering that narrative was very difficult.”
Moulton still has the evaluation from her own trial. Written are statements like, ‘Tends to make things up; tends to be over dramatic.’ This moment for her is documented and she plans to create more action with it. She says even then, when her case was happening, she actually believed her Officers. She had convinced herself that the wrong was right and believed what they said. It took her a very long time to work through that. Being able to overcome that led her to wanting to help other women. Being a victim and getting talked down to time and time again, in turn can make you believe that what people say is the truth. Some people stop believing in themselves.
“Sexual assault is absolutely terrible but I feel like what happens after sometimes is worse. Losing completely who you are, losing opportunities, losing friends, losing family, being called a liar, having your character questioned. There is a dirty feeling that comes along with it.”
After leaving the military, Moulton settled into her new life in Upstate, NY. Sadly, she became a victim once again in another domestic violence case. Even in civilian life there was such a lack of guidance and a disconnect between support professionals and victims. There isn’t a strong substructure for survivors. She plans to continue supporting victims and finding ways to ensure they get the help they need. Knowing what she went through herself as someone who is privileged, makes her question how bad the support for people is who live in poverty and other threatening conditions.
“Of course i'm privileged. I’m white, I'm educated, I have a background, I have a career (that) I'm able to lean on. Knowing how bad that situation was for me because of the lack of help, the lack of services, real genuine care and empathy for the situation really inspired me to want to reach out and extend a hand.”
Countless times, even now, working in the emergency room she sees victims get questioned. Such as a police officer saying, “What did you do to make him mad?” or a Doctor saying, “Well, what else happened.” Moulton says most people’s initial reaction is, “Well, what did she do.” This is because they don’t want to think beyond that. They don’t want to have to deal with the truth and the repercussions that came along with it. Sometimes it's easier for us to not peel through the layers. People don’t like to cope with uncomfortable circumstances.
Moulton has never let these experiences get in the way of her dreams. In 2019 she was accepted for a scholarship program called POSSE. They are phenomenal. In the 1980’s, POSSE started to help students that don’t have opportunities to get into accredited universities. It funds students fully and not only provides them with education from highly prestigious schools but also teaches students leadership skills and strategies for job placement.
“Across the nation, many students are overlooked because of structural inequality and an over-reliance on traditional measures of aptitude. Posse has developed an effective tool for identifying students who might be missed by traditional criteria but who can excel.” - POSSE website
Moulton says it's extremely resourceful for veterans, especially because a lot of military experience doesn't translate well to ‘the outside.’ For many veterans it is a struggle to get a job. The application process for POSSE is rigorous. There are 1000’s of students who apply, then only ten or less are accepted. Once enrolled, she was then obligated to move to Manhattan for a month where they learned team building and the whole foundational process of POSSE. The students become a unit. A strong support group where they aid each other through school and almost act like a family. Because of this the success rate is 95% which is absolutely outstanding.
“You take people from extreme situations and put them into high pressure colleges. It’s not natural. The effects of the group are amazing. The support and help, they push you to the extremes of your emotions.”
Moulton will graduate in 2023 with a dual degree in both Anthropology and Sociology. After that, she does not plan to stop her education and she wants to go to law school. As if the woman hasn’t excelled enough?! After, she plans to work Pro Bono where she will provide services to those who are unable to afford them (specifically for women in the service). Moulton will be someone those women can come to that’s on the outside, since it’s hard to find the support needed in the military. By being a removed source she would ideally be able to help domestic violence cases in a new and successful way. She plans to be a voice for women who are struggling. Basically be a spark that helps ignite the change of the perpetuating cycle. Help them get access to education, childcare and fill other needs.
“Everybody always asks how you balance it all and I feel like there’s no such thing as balance. It’s always gonna be full tilt one way or the other.”
Now don’t forget she is a mother of three! She attends school full time and works full time! Now that the semester is over, people are telling her to get rest and slow down a little bit. Well, that isn’t in the cards for her. Moulton never stops and is always driving her ambition. Moulton almost died giving birth to her last daughter. She went septic. This experience was so terrifying and the moment changed her life forever. For the better part of a decade she was going through life just accepting things for face value, and was content with where she was at.
That life threatening experience awoke her inside and made her realize to never quit, to never settle, and in tune, become actionable. She has been able to recognize her strengths and is inspiring others through them. People inspire her...like her kids, family and friends so why not inspire others? Her charisma and strength is undeniable.
“I think you learn later in your twenties and earlier in your thirties how much you've been lied to as a woman. Why do we let men run everything? They are literally average and mediocre and they all just get (things handed to them). I’m literally exceptional but you get all these opportunities because you are a dude. Thats been my fire lately.”
So what does Moulton do to stay healthy and focused, to release some of this passionate energy? When not playing with her kids or when her nose isn’t buried in an academic book, she is mountain biking. Currently she is on the Revolution Race Team which is based in Saratoga Springs, NY and also a member of the Saratoga Shredders. Here, they help girls overcome barriers through extreme sports. There is an incredible biking community in the Capital Region that hosts projects and fundraisers that raise awareness for an array of organizations. Some to note are the Troy Bike Rescue and the Albany chapter of Black Girls Do Bike. So many opportunities can be brought through biking and reached to all communities. Historically and still today it is a white male dominated sport and culture.
“There are studies that prove cycling re-routes a lot of pathways in your brain to be able to reroute around trauma responses.”
She knows the sport can help girls break through mental and emotional barriers and build confidence. It naturally encourages people to be outdoors and not be afraid. Biking teaches you to make decisions on your own and trust your intuition. It’s a way to live in the moment. To her, being a mom is everything. She revolves her life around others.
Mountain biking gives her a break away from the everyday cycles. It allows room for clarity and space. She says with mountain biking you need to focus on exactly what’s in front of you. You can’t look away. Literally, bad things could happen if you do! All the million things we tend to fill our heads with just kind of go away.
“It's you against you. It's just you against yourself out there. The only person that you have to prove things to or succeed against is yourself which is the harshest critic.”
What she learns on the trail she translates into her real life and everything she confronts, she emotionally releases on the trail. It is therapeutic and promotes mindfulness. This woman is strong and relentless. She exhibits this attitude not only for herself but for her children. Moulton is thankful that her parents were so encouraging. Growing up they were broke, yet her father was always looking for a way to help people around them. This approach towards life is something that she instills in her own children and wants to put forth in making a difference in the world. She is incredibly brave.
The United States Air Force has three core values. Their website says that members are supposed to live and serve with a commitment of these. First is, ‘Integrity First,’ meaning to exercise courage and honesty, and to be accountable for your actions. Then, ‘Service Before Self’ is about serving others before yourself and to respect others for who they are. Last but not least, ‘Excellence in all we do,’ which is basically to continually improve yourself and set forth for your dreams. All these principles sum up Moulton’s persona. Not everyone will take words and put them into action.
“We are only as strong as the woman next to us. Women are not our competition. We’re pitted against each other. When you counter that, women can accomplish some amazing things when we are together and not against each other. So just recognize that the woman next to you is just as strong as you are and sometimes she may need a little strength...sometimes you may too...and NO ONE else is going to be able to offer that to you like another woman would.”
It takes a lot of courage to stand up for your beliefs, to take a stand for yourself and for others. Her commitment to helping others drives her and I doubt her passion will ever go away. She is too strong of a force for that. By her sharing her story it helps other survivors know it's possi