Meet Becky Tauber
U.S. Army July 2003 – Sept 2015
WoVeN Peer Leader & Trainer
Tell us about your military background.
I‘m originally from Staten Island, NY. September 11th happened when I was a junior in high school. It was something that hit close to home, so that is where a lot of my interest in enlisting came from. I started volunteering at the Naval Home Port in Staten Island, and enlisted right after high school at the age of 17. My goal was to become involved in international relations and be a “peacemaker.” My first duty station was Germany. I grew up as an only child and there were a lot of things that I didn’t have experience or real knowledge about, so I did a lot of growing up in Germany. We deployed to Iraq in January 2006 and were there for about a year. Upon my return I changed military specialty to Flight Operations with a follow-on duty assignment at Ft Campbell, KY. A few months after arriving, we deployed to Afghanistan where I mostly worked as a Battle NCO (air to ground point of contact) in the tactical operations center tracking aircraft for our unit. We also rotated to different Forward Operations Bases every month serving as medevac LNO’s for ground units. I returned to Germany for what would be my final duty station. This is where the traumatic experiences I had gone through caught up to me. My leadership recognized my mental health needs and connected me to the right resources and supported me in my recovery. When my last active duty contract expired, I transitioned to the Army Reserve and started back to school pursuing a master’s in social work at Florida State University. I currently work as a Peer Support Specialist in the Behavioral Health Clinic at the VA in Pensacola FL.
What was the most rewarding aspect of your service?
I would say the experiences of growth, self-discovery, developing as a leader, and the camaraderie. My NCO created a supportive environment that fostered growth. That sense of belonging and seeing yourself and others discovering our potential was really rewarding.
What was one of the challenges you faced in your transition from military to civilian life?
For me, the biggest challenge was re-finding my sense of worth as a leader in the Veteran community. I identified as a Veteran and tried to get involved with different Veteran groups at school and in the community. The reserves helped me to ease off active duty in small steps, but it was hard to shake the idea that I wanted to be all in or all out. I struggled to find a good positive support system of people I could connect with and relate to.
What inspired you to work with veterans?
Part of the reason I chose social work/ peer support is to reconnect with that leadership mentality to support/ empower other people who are walking a similar path that I have already walked in. I feel lucky to have had leadership who supported and empowered me in my own recovery and I hope to pay it forward to others. As a mentor, I strive to be that person who can let them know I’ve been there, done that, and that I’ve got their back.
What inspired you to become involved in WoVeN?
I heard about the program through our Women’s Health Coordinator. I talked to her about doing a peer support group and we felt like WoVeN would fit with what we wanted to do. We don’t have a lot of resources for women Veterans in the community and within the VA in Pensacola, even though we have a large Veteran population. Women Veterans tell me they don’t feel like they fit in at the primarily male Veterans’ organizations in the community. So I was excited to learn there was something that had been created that focused on all the different areas that are important to women Veterans, because that is something that we really need here. We just finished our third cohort of WoVeN groups in the clinic with our next group beginning the first week in January. My co-leader went through the apprentice program, and we have other participants from previous cohorts who have signed up to be apprentices/ peer leaders for a community-based group at a local college. We want to bridge the gap between community and VA. The new leaders are so motivated to get WoVeN up and running! You can see how much WoVeN has really empowered them and given them a renewed sense of purpose.
What would you like to tell women who are thinking of joining WoVeN?
WoVeN is such a powerful experience because it’s like reconnecting with family. We share many common threads. Life is filled with a lot of twists and turns and we all respond differently to them. WoVeN gives you that positive support system/connection to help moving forward in our life’s story while still owning our military experience. It’s great to know there is a place where we can belong and be empowered. So come on over! Have a seat at the WoVeN table!