Meet Stacie Fredriksson
Veterans Outreach Coordinator for WoVeN
U.S. Air Force 1994-2016
Tell us about your military background.
I didn’t really come from a family background of military service. My grandfather had served in the Navy during WWII, but other than that I knew very little about military service. However, after his service my grandfather went on to get his college education, becoming a high school agriculture teacher and then after receiving his PhD served with the UN which took him, my grandmother, and my mother all over the world. My mom instilled the love of travel and learning about new cultures in me. I desperately wanted to travel and serve in some way, so I joined the Air Force ROTC in college at Angelo State University. I wasn’t sure this was the right path for me, but after a while I made friends and adjusted to the military culture with the guidance of exceptional ROTC instructors! I received my commission, entering active duty in 1994. I spent 14 years on active duty as an intelligence officer stationed at Goodfellow AFB, Nellis AFB, Vandenberg AFB (where I would meet my future husband, also Air Force) and finally Peterson AFB. Along the way, I was honored to be able to serve as an ROTC instructor as the University of South Florida, working with some great cadets! I transferred to the Air Force Reserves in 2007, spending nine years at USCYBERCOM, Ft. Meade, MD before retiring in 2016.
What was the most rewarding aspect of your service?
I truly “grew up” in the Air Force…learning my strengths and weaknesses…learning to be part of a team and how I fit into the picture. Deployments along the way put that into even greater perspective. I made so many life-long friends along my Air Force journey that have enriched my life beyond the years we spent together.
What was one of the challenges you faced in your transition from military to civilian life?
My transition from active duty to the reserves/civilian life was interesting. I had just moved with my husband (who was still on active duty) to the New England area. So, in many ways I was still connected to the Air Force. That said, there is not a very visible presence of military in the New England area, so I felt very disconnected in our community, where we were certainly an anomaly. It took years, literally, to make a few friends and connect in a meaningful way in our community. My transition to civilian work life was a bit easier as my military experience was put to use working to support military/veteran families in the non-profit arena, where I have been blessed to continue to serve the last 10 years!
What inspired you to become involved in WoVeN?
I learned about WoVeN when I was working in my last position as a program manager for a military support program at a social service agency. The engaged and dedicated staff of WoVeN understood the struggles of service connected women. I was impressed by the model of peer support in small, community groups and wished such a thing had been available to me when I had transitioned many years ago! When the opportunity to work with WoVeN came along, I jumped on it right away and am so grateful to be able to work with so many amazing women across the country!
What advice do you have for women who are transitioning out of the military?
Ask questions!!! Advocate for yourself!!! Connect, connect, connect!!! When you are transitioning, you are overwhelmed with information and making plans for the future. Keep all that information you that is thrown at you, because once you have time to catch your breath, you may find that you need some of that information, or that you miss some of the “connectedness” that comes with being part of a military family. Referring back to some of those resources, searching for new resources, and connecting with organizations that offer support and can truly understand and value your experience can really enhance your post-military experience/transition.
What would you like to tell women who are thinking of joining WoVeN?
It’s a great way to give back…to connect with peers in your community…to support each other. Yes, it’s a commitment for a while, but much like your military service, that commitment/service will hopefully enhance your overall life experience through the connections you form.