At the crossroads where I am and where you are
Posted by YWM on January 22, 2014
By Jacque Hillman, President BPW/Tennessee
Today, I’m president of Business and Professional Women of Tennessee, an entrepreneur with two companies, and I’m on a mission. But in 1969, at age 21, I took my husband, a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, to board a plane leaving for Vietnam. He became a forward observer calling in artillery strikes.
Two years later he came home with a Bronze Star for valor and nightmares about incoming rockets. Other than malaria, he was not wounded, except in his soul. My husband wrote about calling in artillery strikes on Viet Cong families in clearings when the men came out from the jungle. He wrote: “If there is a hell, I’m going there.”
We were fortunate that he had a scholarship for Tulane University Law School. I had a degree in English and secondary education and a teacher’s license. So we became civilians. Yet as a former military wife, I looked at everyone with “new” eyes – no time for whiners and complainers.
I heard people complain about the golf course fairways or food in the school cafeteria. I listened to the good church women who wanted to install carpet in the minister’s bathroom and were miffed that his wife thought it was silly. My reaction was “Get real.”
War and military service changes everything – it changes everyone. How can it not? How can you see what you see, hear it, feel it, and not be changed?
My first marriage made it 18 years and died for various reasons – mostly we grew apart. It happens. Today I’m happily married (25 years in May) to an Air Force veteran. My first husband is happily married and has a two-week old baby! Yes, life happens.
Everyone starts over at some point. As we begin 2014, it is time for fresh starts.
Many women military veterans – YOU — are returning home and need jobs. You need help. You come home to people who cannot possibly understand where you’ve been or what you’ve done. You look at them with “new” eyes. You wonder how to begin, where to begin.
As BPW/TN president and a Jackson Area BPW member, I said, “It’s time for a change.”
So my amazing convention team and I have redesigned our convention June 13-15 in Jackson, Tenn., to offer YOU — women veterans — a full day of meetings with representatives of colleges, universities and colleges of applied technology, two days of business session training that will help your resume. We will have veterans’ representatives present from our counties to help you with whatever questions you may have. We have sponsors for our state convention who want to help you find jobs. We’ll teach you how to network, how to write a resume, how to ace an interview and more.
Want to become an entrepreneur? We’ll help you do that. Serving on the Entrepreneur Development Center board in Jackson. I see enterprising people with great ideas get started. That’s what you need, isn’t it? A start?
I’m an alumnus of the Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy where leaders in eight states learned about just what you face in the Delta Region to get started. It’s hard to get your business started in rural Tennessee if you still have dial up or you can’t get connectivity where you are. Some folks in business assume we all have the same resources. It’s hard to do homework in school if you don’t have a computer. This is real.
I will be writing blogs each week on points that will help you. If you live in Tennessee, we have women who are eager to become your mentors. Check us out at bpwtn.org.
All you have to do is reach out. You see, there are people like me who know where you’ve been. And we just want to get you where you need – and want — to be.
Contact me anytime.