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Archive for the ‘Military’ Category

Your Job Search is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Posted by BPW Foundation Contributer on June 13, 2014

The first in the series The Strength of Your Service…and Beyond 

By Chris Rath

Before my first marathon, I could not fathom running 26.2 miles.  Training for a long distance takes preparation, commitment and tenacity.  Your job search requires the same philosophy.  Finding a new job does not typically happen overnight neither does running a marathon with no training.  Here are tips to running one of the biggest races of your life – finding a job to your second career.

  1. Set a goal.  Right, it’s to find a job.  But not so fast.  Is your goal to find a job or a career? Are you looking for something long term or short term? What is your target industry or company size? Just as in race training, I had to plan for my pace, water breaks, etc.  So, take time to make a plan to help you focus and measure your process so you can make adjustments and move forward.
  2. Rely on a support system. For me, having running buddies and my family’s support got me through the long haul.  The same can make a tremendous difference in your search.  Build upon your existing network and reconnect. If you do not have a mentor, consider someone who has recently separated find military-friendly organizations who offer mentoring through free career mentors and professional resources. Your support system will only continue to grow with people who want to help you.
  3. Practice.  Marathon training often includes a few shorter races to help you prepare for race day.  Preparation for your job search activities should also be done.  As many of you are aware, have a good elevator speech and prepare for common interview questions.  But, take it one step further and continue to evaluate and refine.  Use your support system to work out the bugs so you can feel more relaxed and competitive on interview day.
  4. Change it up.  Conditioning through a variety of exercises better prepared me.  Some days I ran intervals; other days I ran hills – all with the same goal of helping me finish the race successfully.  The same goes for your resume.  While many of you know that refining and tailoring your resume is a constant process, it does get time consuming.  But remember, the end goal is to get you through finish line…with a new job!
  5. Take it easy. Don’t give up.  Stay positive.

To learn more about job searching for your second career, look for more installments of our series, “The Strength of Your Service…and Beyond.”

christine RathChris Rath leads the Veteran Recruiting Program for Booz Allen Hamilton, a publicly traded strategy and technology consulting firm based in Mclean, VA.  The program is focused on employment opportunities for former military, transitioning military, military spouses, guard and reservists.  Candidates may connect with me, other Booz Allen employees/recruiters, and transitioning military colleagues through our Booz Allen Transitioning Military Recruiting LinkedIn Group at https://www.linkedin.com/groups?mostRecent=&gid=5144107&trk=my_groups-tile-flipgrp

Booz Allen is an Employer of Choice for former military personnel, who make up a third of our workforce. We’re committed to supporting veterans, Reservists, National Guardsmen and women, and other employees with military backgrounds through outreach, training programs, and our Armed Services Forum, which provides support, camaraderie, and resources for employees formerly or currently serving our nation.

Visit www.boozallen.com/careers/transitioningmilitary to find out more about these and other unparalleled opportunities for transitioning military personnel and veterans, and to learn about webinars and other upcoming events.

Joining Forces Mentoring Plus offers free unlimited personal career and employment coaching and professional guidance – including working women mentors – for women veterans, female military spouses, caregivers of wounded warriors and survivors of fallen soldiers.  Visit www.JoiningForcesMentoringPlus.org. Volunteer women employees from partners including Booz Allen Hamilton and others are waiting to share their expertise and experience with you!

Posted in Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Military Families, Veterans, Women Veterans | Leave a Comment »

Honoring Our Fallen Sisters This Memorial Day

Posted by Crystal Williams on May 22, 2014

Memorial Day is one of our nation’s most solemn and revered holidays— we extend our sincere gratitude to these servicemen and women in uniform who gave their lives so we might live in freedom. We honor their memory and pray for peace.

This is also a day when we would like to bring special attention to the sacrifice of our fallen sisters who have died during the war on terror. Since the war began there have been over 157 service women who have bravely perished in defense of our great country. A complete list of the fallen servicewomen can be found by visiting Women in Military Service in America (WIMSA) we invite you to take a moment and remember these women and consider making a donation to WIMSA Memorial to honor them.

We also encourage you to visit the Washington Post’s Faces of the Fallen. Faces of the Fallen provides information about each U.S. service member who died as a result of the War on Terror. Please take a moment to remember and honor these mothers, daughters, wives, sisters, and friends this Memorial Day.




























Pictures taken from Washingtonpost.com Faces of the Fallen

Research by Magda Jean-Louis, Greg Linch, Whitney Fetterhoff and Mary Hadar.

Application design and development by Sisi Wei, Jeremy Bowers and Wilson Andrews.

Posted in Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Military Families, Veterans | Leave a Comment »

Looking back on my military career, I most regret…

Posted by BPW Foundation Contributer on May 20, 2014

By Kayla Williams

I wrote Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the US Army while still serving in the Army, right after getting home from Iraq; it hit shelves just months after I left active duty. Everything was fresh in my mind – but it was also raw and unprocessed. Rather than empathy and understanding, at that time I was still filled with a lot of anger and frustration. Overall, I do not regret the book – it very accurately captures who I was and how I felt in those moments. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have any regrets.

As a woman soldier on a deployment to Iraq, during major combat operations I didn’t think my gender mattered much. When we took small arms fire, no men flung themselves in front of me to save me – they just did their jobs. When I went on combat foot patrols with the infantry in Baghdad, the only thing the men in that unit cared about was that I spoke Arabic and they needed me to communicate with the local population. The only way my presence as a woman mattered was that it seemed to make the local people, especially the women, more comfortable and willing to approach us. During downtime with other units, there were a few sexualized jokes, but nothing that I found surprising or distressing after three years in the Army (and college before that – it did not come as any sort of shock to me that young men think and talk about sex quite a bit).

After major combat operations were over, however, things changed. I ended up at a remote combat outpost where I was the only woman around first seven or eight and then 20 or 30 men. We were about halfway through our deployment, so we’d gone for a long time with no break, but couldn’t yet see the light at the end of the tunnel. The sixth through eighth months were the worst, after that we could see a way out and things calmed down again. During that dark time, though, there was an overall breakdown in discipline. One guy refused to shave for a few weeks, a violation of Army regulations. Another cried and punched himself in the face all night one night. Within that larger context, I experienced a particularly egregious example of what I considered sexual harassment (although technically it meets the criteria for unwanted sexual contact or sexual assault): a fellow soldier pulled out his penis and tried to put my hand on it.

In the aftermath, I encountered responses from fellow soldiers that I should not “ruin his career” just because I “couldn’t take it.” Some asked, “What did you expect to happen when you joined a man’s Army?” This was not my chain of command, which I thought would have been receptive had I chosen to report the incident – it was the attitude I had encountered ever since joining the military from my male peers whenever discussing inappropriate sexual behavior by other male troops.

That bad act and the responses that followed dramatically altered my behavior and attitude. Prior to that incident, I thought I was “one of the guys.” For example, in periods of extreme boredom, they threw pebbles at each other’s groins; when they started throwing them at my breasts I felt accepted rather than harassed.

After the incident, I stopped joining in the jokes. I became colder, more aloof, and started insisting that I be treated with more professionalism and respect (it helped that I also got promoted soon after). I blamed myself for the incident, fearing I’d inadvertently given off signals that made him think his advances would be welcome.  I became convinced that in that particular setting – where we never got nights or weekends off to go home and relax with friends or loved ones, never got a break from the tension or each other – I couldn’t be myself. There was too much risk. I decided, that if I were friendly or outgoing, it could be misinterpreted as an invitation to more than just friendship.

Around this time, I also became much more judgmental of other women.

A man in my unit had a breakdown from the stress and had to be evacuated, and other men said, “Bob couldn’t take it.” A woman had to be flown to Germany to have a medical exam related to a change in her breast health, and men said, “This is why none of you belong here.” A man had to be medically evacuated after shooting himself in the leg in an accidental discharge, and the reaction was, “Jim is an idiot.” A woman got sent home after accidentally getting pregnant, and the response was, “This is why women don’t belong in combat.” In that setting, early in the war and serving with many men who had never served with military women before, I realized that I did not represent Kayla: I represented all women soldiers.

This responsibility weighed heavily on me. I developed a desire to be able to pass the male physical fitness test so men couldn’t claim I wasn’t strong enough to be there. I became focused on proving my worth and demonstrating that I was an asset to the mission, not merely for my own personal self respect but out of the desire to prove that women belonged in the combat zone, could accomplish the mission, deserved equal treatment and opportunities.

At the same time, when I met women who clearly had not internalized this desire, I began to resent and look down on them. I was angry that they made the rest of us look bad, upset that I had to pay a price when they had an ethical lapse, professional failure, or showed weakness. I felt no sense of “sisterhood” with the women I served with if they were not living up to the high standards I had begun to hold myself to, just irritation and disappointment.

Looking back on my military career, this is what I am most ashamed of. Despite enlisting a little later (I joined the Army at 22), for whatever reason I had not developed the emotional maturity or leadership skills to respond appropriately. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to seize those opportunities as a way to help those women grow and mature professionally rather than just despising them.

Although that opportunity is lost, I am trying to do what I can to make up for it now. I take part in BPW’s Joining Forces Mentoring Plus and engage in informal peer mentoring. I am also openly and honestly admitting my past failings in speeches and writings, urging others to learn from my mistakes and do better than I did. While we must continue to address the structural inequalities and entrenched sexism that set the stage for some of the problems I encountered, it is also important that women work on how we respond to those circumstances, both individually and together.

About Kayla Williams

kaylaKayla Williams is a Truman National Security Project Fellow and the author of Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the US Army and the recently-released Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War.


Posted in Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Women Veterans | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Business and Professional Women’s Foundation Salutes and Serves America’s Heroes

Posted by Crystal Williams on May 17, 2014

armedforcesdayToday, Saturday May 17, 2014 is Armed Forces Day when we honor the men and women of the US Armed Forces.  This day honoring a unified Armed Service was created in 1949 and signed into law by President Harry Truman.  As Former Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird so accurately noted “Our servicemen and women shoulder the burden of defense as one of the responsibilities of citizenship in this free country. Having participated in protecting our rights and having met oppression on the battlegrounds of the world, they are able to appreciate and savor the blessings of citizenship in the country they serve.”


Posted in Military | Leave a Comment »

Honoring Military Nurse Irene Trowell-Harris

Posted by Crystal Williams on May 7, 2014

Irene Trowell-Harris: Helping Nurses Take a Leadership Roles

Helping Nurses Take a Leadership Role in Healthcare Policy Irene Trowell-Harris, R.N. Ed.D, served as Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Women Veterans from 2001-13. READ MORE

Posted in Military, Nurses | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Honoring Military Nurse Marsha Four

Posted by Crystal Williams on May 6, 2014

Marsha Four: Bringing humanity to veteran transitions through mentoring

On National Nurse’s Day, BPW Foundation is proud to honor and recognize the nurses who give so much of themselves personally and professionally to care for all of us. Thank you! We are also pleased to recognize Marsha Four, BPW Foundation Women Joining Forces Advisory Council Member and current National Vice President of Vietnam Veterans of America , who has dedicated her life to this profession and to serving our country.

Marsha Four is a Vietnam in- country veteran who served on active duty with the Army Nurse Corps from 1967 to 1970.  READ MORE

Posted in Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military | Leave a Comment »

Join Business and Professional Women’s Foundation in Honoring Military Nurses during National Nurses Week May 6-12, 2014

Posted by Crystal Williams on May 6, 2014

Military Nurses have a legacy of compassion and dedication, not only because they care for our wounded and ill, but for being committed patient advocates.  Please join us in recognizing the selfless service of our Military Nurses as we celebrate National Nurses Week, which begins each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th, the birthday of Florence Nightingale.  This year’s theme is “Nurses Leading the Way.” Read More


milnurse infograph


Posted in Military, Nurses | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

You Are Invited To Celebrate Women’s History — Make Women’s History Event Tuesday – March 18, 2014 at The United States Navy Memorial

Posted by Crystal Williams on February 26, 2014

Honorary Chair, First Lady Michelle Obama

In celebration of Women’s History Month 2014, we invite you to join Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation to honor the achievements, dedication to duty, and patriotism of women veterans, military/veteran spouses, female caregivers of wounded warriors, and women who have lost a loved one serving our nation.

We are pleased to recognize the vital contributions made by 

Joining Forces Mentoring Plus® Champions:

Angel Outreach Award: Courtney Banks Spaeth, 
Founder & CEO of NSAWW

Innovative Programming Award: Alliant Credit Union

Action with Compassion Award: Booz Allen Hamilton

 Grassroots Award: BPW North Carolina

Career Development Panel, Tools & Resources for the Civilian Workplace

Learn about tools and resources valuable in identifying a career path and pursuing the route to success in the civilian workplace

Career Development Panel, Social Media Strategies for Career Success
Find out how to use social media to support you as you explore industries and opportunities, create your online brand, and cultivate networks

Cocktail & Networking/Awards Reception


Tuesday – March 18, 2014
Career Development Panels: 4-6 pm
Cocktails, Networking Reception & Awards Presentation: 6-8pm
The United States Navy Memorial
701 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004
Register: Register before March 13th (Space is limited)
Join as an Event Sponsor! Please contact Mary Ann Sack
Moderated by Erika Gonzalez,
NBC4 News Anchor
Guest parking available at reduced $8 rate at PMI Parking (D Street NW, between 8th and 9th Streets; Entrance next to the Caucus Room Restaurant). Please bring your ticket to the event for validation.

Posted in BPW, Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Media, Mentoring, Mentoring Advisory Council, Military, Military Families | Leave a Comment »


Posted by YWM on May 24, 2013

By Kimberly Olson
Colonel, USAF (ret)
CEO/President of Grace After Fire

cemetery-flags-new-150x150For fewer and fewer Americans, Memorial Day is a personal opportunity to recall the sacrifices their family members in the armed forced have made to keep our country safe.

The ties between America’s civilian population and the military are stretching thin, according to recent studies. Less than one percent of all Americans today have served on active duty.

While three-quarters of Americans ages 50 or older say they had an immediate family member who is or has been in the military, only one-third ages 18-29 can make that claim. For the younger generation, it’s increasingly possible that family relative is a mother, sister or wife.

For women, joining the military has never been more attractive. In 2010, 15 percent of the U.S. military were women. Today, 20 percent of new recruits are women.

The reasons why women join up are similar to men – patriotism, adventure, a job with benefits, an opportunity for tuition-free higher education, and pride.  The opportunity to serve as equals is one reason why women military cheered the Pentagon’s decision earlier this year to officially open combat duty to women troops. This decision also meant greater pay and promotion opportunities for women.

As a retired officer, I support the commitment to achieve women’s economic and social equality, I applaud this decision and recognize it as another step in acknowledging women’s leadership capabilities and contributions to our country.

Recent Congressional hearings on rape in the military have made all too clear how far military leaders must go to create equal opportunity for female soldiers. Violence against women in the military impacts force readiness, robs the military of talented female troops and leaders, and is an affront to the honor of those who wear the uniform.  There must be absolutely no tolerance for this behavior or the behavior of commanders who create these hostile environments.  The guilty must be punished and those entrusted to lead America’s sons and daughters held accountable.   

Not surprisingly, women are the fastest growing group within the Veteran population. While the Veterans Administration works to accommodate the needs of 1.8 million women vets, several gaps remain. Only 14 percent of women vets access VA healthcare benefits because women’s care is fragmented and inadequate childcare is available. Sadly, 40 percent of VA homeless shelters cannot accept women veterans.

I urge our elected officials to make sure the VA supports women as well as men veterans.  I urge citizens to show their appreciation to Veterans by donating their time, talent, and treasure.  Give to local non-profits helping women veterans, celebrate the women veterans in your community, and spend time volunteering with and for women.  And as we put out our American flags for Memorial Day weekend, let’s give a special salute to women past and present in the U.S. military.

Kimberly Olsen is a member of the BPW Foundation’s Women Joining Forces: Closing Ranks, Opening Doors® Advisory Council.

Posted in Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Military Families, Violence Against women, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

A Summit at West Point

Posted by Joan Grey on April 17, 2013

Sue Fulton photo

Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton
Board Member, OutServe-SLDN

This article was first posted on the Huffington Post.

As West Point conferences go, it was a great event at the United States Military Academy this past weekend. Graduates from many different walks of life attended; a 2002 grad, currently leading the Illinois Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs, talked about how Army and Academy experience informed support for veterans. A cadet panel impressed the “Old Grads” with their tales of tough field training and international adventures — one combat-arms-destined senior joked about being nicknamed “Ranger Roger” by other cadets.

In a panel about healing, a survivor of severe spinal cord injury from a parachute accident (not the only grad in the room with that experience) joined a cancer survivor to talk about their work helping others with more serious problems. A two-star general spoke movingly of eleven soldiers lost on deployment in Iraq, while another general nodded mutely; another senior officer talked about realizing that a third deployment had triggered PTSD symptoms.

The head of the Academy’s Psychology curriculum talked about “resiliency training,” preparing troops to survive the emotional challenges of battle. A Navy Captain talked about flying combat aircraft.

The dinner speaker, whose remarkable resume included for-profit and nonprofit leadership, an award-winning book and a run for Congress inspired and entertained the audience with the story of making a bid to compete as a bobsledder in the 2002 Winter Olympics, and coaching young volleyball players.

Most moving was the memorial. The reading of names of those lost: on the battlefield, to cancer, some tragically to suicide. The Chaplain — yet another West Point grad — reminding us of the business we’re in, and how the reminder of death can keep us living life, every second, in support of our values and our personal missions. The playing of taps. And the sound of voices raised, many tear-filled, singing the verses of the Alma Mater.

In particular, that last — the raised voices — was stunning. Because all the voices were female.

This was the West Point Women’s Summit, and each of those mentioned above (except Navy Captain Michelle Guidry) was a woman graduate (or cadet) of the Academy: Erica Borggren ’02, Cadet Sara Roger ’13, Nancy Hogan ’95, Joan Grey ’80, Lil Pfluke ’80, MG Heidi Brown ’81, BG (ret) Anne McDonald ’80, COL Donna Brazil ’83, Donna McAleer ’87, Cynthia Lindenmeyer ’90.

The class of ’80 — the first class to include women — was well-represented, as 17 of those 62 graduates attended. Perhaps the ’80 women are particularly fearless, but they were not the only ones raising their voices during raucous panels to correct a fact or challenge a position.

A panel about combat roles for women included three male combat vets talking about why including women in these roles was important for the Army, and they were joined by the aforementioned Navy pilot, a blunt and commanding woman who pointed out tersely that “it’s all about performance. Period.” They were joined on the panel by a somewhat-overmatched Colonel sent by the Army G-1 staff (a woman, perhaps not coincidentally) who had the thankless task of explaining why it would take three years of study to implement the Secretary of Defense’s lifting of the ban this year.

In response to a question, the G-1 Colonel said, “We would love to have your input, but with current funding levels, we can’t afford to bring people in for these discussions…”

“Everybody in this room,” interrupted Capt. Guidry, “who would travel anywhere, any time, on your own dime, to provide input on this issue, raise your hands.” Almost every hand went up as she sat back in her chair.

In a briefing about the current status of the Cadet Corps, attendees sharply challenged the gender composition, currently at 16%, “to match the percentage of women in the Army.”

“Why would you match the current composition, when it’s clearly going to rise?” argued one. “We need to lead on this, not follow!” The point that matching the Army’s current percentage in a new class of plebes doesn’t even match the Army’s subsequent requirement for lieutenants four years later, much less senior officers for the Army of 2025 and beyond, who seemed not to have been considered.

Another: “Just because the Army’s at 16% doesn’t make it right, or good for the Army! There’s no real effort to attract talented women.”

Another: “We know there are issues of culture at West Point. Women think that a male mentor is better than a woman mentor — a direct consequence of keeping them at an arbitrary low number.”

Another: “Data shows that at levels below 20%, any group will have a minority mindset, and that’s why you have some of these issues. You need 30-35% women here to have a healthy culture.”

There was as much laughter as contention throughout the weekend, as many old-grad stories were trotted out, but the gathering was infused with a reverence and respect for the young officers currently fighting our battles. Toward the end, the conference was interrupted with the news that the husband of an attendee — herself a company commander — had been shot in Afghanistan. We gathered around her in prayer.

This is the business we’re in. And we never forget it. Those of us who no longer wear the uniform never forget our debt. The one thing we share was articulated by dinner speaker Donna McAleer ’87, as she was honored for her own service: “Our oath to our country, to the Constitution, our commitment to serve, has no expiration date.”

33 years after women first graduated West Point, we know what women can do. If the Army is ever to “be all that we can be,” we need to stop marginalizing women.

West Point Women @ Summit, April 2013

West Point Women @ Summit, April 2013

Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton is a 1980 West Point graduate, part of the first class to admit women. She was commissioned in the Army, served as a platoon leader and company commander in Germany, and was honorably discharged at the rank of Captain. She currently serves on the board of OutServe-SLDN, and was appointed by President Obama as the first openly gay member of the West Point Board of Visitors. Fulton lives in Asbury Park, NJ, with her wife Penny Gnesin.

Posted in Career Advancement, Feminism, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »