As women Veterans, we need to be able to connect and reflect about our past, present, and future. My hope is to stay connected and deepen friendships with my WoVeN family and be open to new friendships with future WoVeN participants.
Air Force Veteran 1980-2000
WoVeN Peer Leader, Trainer, and National Consultant
Charlotte, North Carolina
Tell us about yourself.
I’m the first born of three children and I was born into a military family. My dad was in the Air Force. I went into the military at age 22 as a single parent.
What was the most rewarding aspect of your service?
Growing as a person. The military helps you to grow in a positive way by giving you responsibility when you are ready for it, giving you opportunities to oversee people. They take you out of your comfort zone just enough so you are not going too fast too soon.
What was one of the challenges you faced in your transition from military to civilian life?
The fact that of all the resumes I put out there, no one really cared about the fact that I was a veteran. People didn’t acknowledge the fact that I did 20 years. They would go right over it and to what I had done outside the military. The military part was never acknowledged and that was hard for me.
Did you find the same thing outside of the career world? That people did not acknowledge your time in the military?
I found that at the time I transitioned from the military, when I said I was a veteran, people thought it was political. They didn’t want to talk about it and thought I was in the military because I couldn’t get a job anywhere else. It was very negative. It was defeating because I felt as though I couldn’t talk about my career and what was a large part of my life. For a long time, I didn’t bring it up. Lots of people didn’t know because I did not mention it.
What inspired you to become involved in WoVeN?
When I was going through my transition and it was really difficult, I thought I was the only one having a hard time. I didn’t realize it was also difficult for others. I wanted to give something back to my fellow veterans, but I wasn’t sure what. I was wondering why we don’t have a sponsorship program for people transitioning out of the military, and around that time I heard about WoVeN. And, I thought about how women veterans really get left behind. My heart said go and do this. Check this out. I was very grateful that I was able to get to be part of the focus group. I got there and it was an automatic sisterhood already despite which branch of service you were in.
What would you like to tell women who are thinking of joining WoVeN?
I think to be open enough to try something new that includes you as a female and a veteran. It is a safe place to talk about your military career and being a woman in the military. It’s a place to talk about what you went through in the military and what you are going through now.
Is there anything else that you would like people to know about you?
I was a single parent for the majority of my life – even going into the military. In every aspect of your life there are times when you feel that you will not make it. As a single parent, you have to be strong for your child, and that means that you also have to be strong for yourself. I’d like to say to any woman, look back at the time you were struggling and realize how strong you are because you were struggling and you made it through.