BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Veterans’

At the crossroads where I am and where you are

Posted by YWM on January 22, 2014

By Jacque Hillman, President BPW/Tennessee

Jacquemug-HillHelenGroupToday, 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.

Jacque is a senior partner in The HillHelen Group LLC media services and the owner/designer of Reconfigured Art Jewelry.

Posted in Career Advancement, Military Families, Uncategorized, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Veteran Uses Exercise to Tame His Demons

Posted by YWM on January 17, 2014

By Liz McLean: Liz is a staffing advisor at Hewlett Packard, a veteran, Ironman triathlete and guest blogger.

How does one cope with stress?  Common methods are journaling, lighting scented candles, working in the garden or perhaps ferociously shopping on Amazon.com.  More harmful methods include turning to alcohol, excessive sleep or withdrawing from society.  All that being said, when you suffer from stress as severe as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and treat it with alcoholism….in the end an outsider looking in can only hope the outcome is positive.  For Aaron Autler, a 28 year old Marine Infantry veteran, the healthiest methods to cure-all was introduced…..an intense exercise regimen to cope with the demons.  That is the journey that Aaron has started and I am here to help him finish not a 5k.…but an Ironman.

When we think of the typical homeless vet, we envision the older toothless gentlemen with a frayed beard on the street corner, dressed in military garb simply wanting a handout based on the merits of his cardboard sign.  We don’t think of a strapping young, physical specimen of a then 25 year old boy who simply couldn’t cope with reality.

When Aaron returned from his deployment overseas in 2010, there was not a welcoming team to ensure he was on the precise path to civilian populace integration.  Aaron returned to the US without a sense of belonging and without believing he truly deserved a chance to be a contributing member of society.  Fighting the medical systems to get the help that needed and deserved, Aaron’s biggest obstacle was his PTSD.  This (coupled with a faulty reintegration process) left him questioning his purpose and ultimately vet americamigrating on the streets as a homeless veteran.  My personal awareness of the homeless vet population was reinforced from my competition in the Inaugural Miss Veteran America Competition in 2012, where I represented Final Salute in the quest to remove women vets specifically from the alleyways.  Staggeringly, approximately 131,000 homeless vets line the street corners on any given night.

In the instance of Aaron, while on the streets the entity that quieted his dismal voices the most was alcohol.  Sadly alcohol became Aaron’s closest ally as he removed himself further away from the eyes of those who were capable of lending a helping hand.  Fortunately, over time those who saw his struggle eventually reached out and he was pulled from the downward spiral as a date was set for him to enter the Men’s Trauma Recovery Center in Menlo Park, CA.  Through the detox, the torment and countless hours of counseling, the once stellar athlete was then introduced to the art of cycling.  With hours of practice and the support of his trauma group, Aaron was able to not just meet, but exceed all expectations.

Now one year sober and working on his path to become a functioning member of society, Aaron is on the quest to become not just a triathlete…but an Ironman.  Having been a veteran myself who has dealt with personal traumatic struggles and competes in Ironman events, I was elated to coach Aaron on his journey.

The most recent contribution to Aaron’s success was made by Joe Santos of Davis Wheelworks in Davis, CA.  Joe selflessly santos and Autlerreconstructed Aaron’s gifted road bike into the dream triathlon bike.  Joe is a globally respected biomechanic whose precision in the art of cycling has led countless cyclist and triathlete victories.  Thanks to the help of Joe, his astute cycling knowledge and compassion, Aaron will now be able to take the next steps of traumatic recovery by putting his body to the ultimate test in an efficient way.

autler with tri bikeThe discipline of training and the adrenaline of completing a goal that less than 1% of the world’s population has completed is a triumph for any human being….but for someone like Aaron Autler the quest has an entirely new meaning.  Autler says,  “ I want to compete in Triathlons because I love to be challenged; that is why I became a Marine.  It allows me to train in multiple sports and helps occupy a lot of time by keeping my mind focused on improving myself and off the things that keep me stuck and moving backwards. It is a long and short term set of goals and I can measure the progress by competing in events and it is something I can continue to improve for the rest of life.” Cheers to athletics being civilization’s best medicine.

Posted in Friendship, Homelessness, sports, Uncategorized, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Recognizing where you are and where you want to be!

Posted by YWM on September 25, 2013

By Kelly McCarthy

During my 25 years in the beauty industry, I never would have thought that I would become the Leader I am today. This industry has provided me with the life skills needed to be a better person, daughter, sister, employee, leader and mentor.

My role as a mentor began naturally as I began leadership early in my career. I displayed qualities of leadership that others saw in me. I didn’t see them however. I was thrust into many decision making positions and I did my best based on “common sense”. However I found that my “common sense” and another individuals “common sense” are very different and my experience began as a “Trial by Error” leader. Then I found my mentor!

I have since learned to manage my intentions and focus on what I want or need my end result to be. As I began to learn new tools in communication and networking, I began to grow and shine. I have helped lead many companies down a path of success but more importantly I was able to do that one person at a time. I have had the pleasure of leading teams as large a 100+ and as small as 14. My network of incredible people that I have helped and have helped me has grown to numbers I cannot count, however I never take it for granted nor do I feel like I have reached my peak!! There is much more I can do for myself and for others and much more I have to learn!
About 7 years ago I made a decision to begin the search to find a position within the beauty industry that allows me to accomplish personal and professional goals while supporting and mentoring others. I found the perfect match 5 years ago when I decided to become a Dean of Paul Mitchell the School, a cosmetology school.

I now provide support and guidance to hairdressers in training as well as my amazing staff of educators and administrators. We don’t only focus on the technical skills involved to become a hairdresser or salon owner, we also provide life skills, social emotional learning, community awareness, networking and professional development skills that allow a person, no matter how old, find their calling. This is where I love to be.

When looking for an organization to volunteer my time to, I found the search very difficult! I have been searching for almost 2 years and then I realized what I needed to do! Inspired by my brother, a veteran of the Marines, who is struggling with PTSD, my decision was made. He has challenged himself to transition back to a “new normal” and I have watched his accomplishments and his setbacks. That is when Joining Forces Mentoring Plus popped up on my internet search!

So you can say it was meant to be! I look forward to beginning a path of giving back to all that have gave so much. If my professional and personal skills that I have learned and developed through my years as a female professional can assist another woman in accomplishing their personal and professional career goals, I’m in!

I specialize in positive thinking, understanding thoughts and how to manage intentions as well as recognizing where you currently are and how to establish solid goals. Then I can assist in helping you take the first step toward achieving them! Understanding what you value in life and then recognizing whether or not you current routine of behaviors actually are supporting one another!

I have much to give yet much to learn from any mentee and look forward to building healthy relationships!

Posted in Career Advancement, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Mentoring, Uncategorized, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , | 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 »

Military Women Know How to ‘Lean In’

Posted by YWM on April 5, 2013

kayla_head_shot_normalKayla Williams
Author, Truman National Security Project Fellow
This article was first posted on the Huffington Post.

There have been dozens of op-eds and blogs circulating recently in response to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, and I’ve been devouring them in my limited free time. As a member of one of the key demographics her book targets — a working woman with small children — that means I’ve peered at many of them on the tiny screen of my smartphone in spare moments on the train or while my kids nap. The cross-talk about structural changes is, of course, valuable as we lobby for necessary systemic shifts.

While reading all the opinions, I realized that the Army already taught me how to lean in on a personal level. Serving in the military taught me a number of skills that have been essential to my success since I reentered the civilian world — and contain valuable lessons for other women:

1. Presentation Matters

How you present yourself in the military is often governed by regulation: the wear of the uniform, acceptable haircuts or hairstyles, even authorized shades of eyeshadow or nail polish are laid out. Part of this is for uniformity — but the degree to which you choose to obey the regulations in given circumstances and how much care you put into your appearance sends other signals as well. Showing up to a promotion board in a wrinkled uniform and unpolished boots would be noted unfavorably by those rating your readiness to rise in the ranks. In the early stages of my Army career, my male colleagues often ignored me because I didn’t communicate with confidence — what is known as ‘command voice’ in the military.

This carries over in the civilian world. Though dress codes are not laid out in regulation, the informal rules about appropriate attire can be just as important. People consider women wearing some — but not too much — makeup more competent. The evidence shows that women have plenty of experience listening to “mansplaining”: research has shown that men tend to lecture women even when women have more expertise on a given topic. The unfortunate habit of ending sentences on a questioning ‘up-note’ may add to that by making some women sound unsure of themselves. Posture is another key part of self-presentation: I can often recognize my fellow veterans by that alone. Those who have served in the military tend to stand up straight. When we lean in, it is not with slumped shoulders. And it matters: not only are others more likely to respect those with expansive posture, it also makes you feel more powerful and be more likely to take action.

2. Emotional Control

I got fired from my second job out of college partly because I couldn’t control my emotions in the office. My new boss and I did not get along, and she was a yeller. Several times after she publicly yelled at me for perceived failings, I cried in front of my colleagues. This experience indirectly led to my enlistment: when weighing my options, I clearly remember thinking “I bet in basic training I’ll learn to get screamed at without bursting into tears.” And I was right: I developed the ability to push down anger, frustration, humiliation and grief until the time was more appropriate.

This skill was particularly important as a woman: We are automatically assumed to be more emotional. Men who tear up after tragedies are seen as compassionate; women who do the same as weak. I may find this ridiculous and work to change that misperception, but in the meantime, I also know that I have to work harder to overcome that stereotype. In the civilian world, my ability to remain calm, cool and collected while men around me lost their tempers has given me tremendous credibility — and when I do show a flash of genuine anger, it is taken more seriously for being rare. Emotional control is a tremendous asset.

3. Prioritization, Planning and Decisiveness.

When I was in Iraq, I was promoted to sergeant and put in charge of a team. As the team lead, I was responsible for accomplishing missions while also ensuring my team had all necessary equipment and supplies. We had a limited amount of space to carry our technical equipment, food, water, clothing and other personal supplies, weapons, fuel and more. As the leader, you can solicit input — but when it comes down to the moment, you must be decisive — and possibly ruthless in choosing priorities. The military teaches a process called “backwards planning” that is inherently logical: You take the desired end state and figure out what interim tasks need to be accomplished in order for that to be reached. I use this constantly both at work and at home: If a report is due on the last day of March, I sit down and count out exactly how many days it takes to go through the publications process and review to determine when a final draft must be complete, count back from there to determine when a rough draft is due, and so forth.

My husband and I both have full-time jobs, and we have two small children. Each day is a careful dance: if we leave the house fifteen minutes late, worsening traffic means we’ll actually be half an hour late to work. We’ve decided to prioritize eating home-cooked dinners together as a family, and making that happen requires careful menu planning, grocery shopping, timing and communication. I value sleep more than cleaning — so the house gets messy, and we pay a cleaning service to come every two weeks. If we want to go on a date, we have to arrange for a babysitter weeks in advance. Personally and professionally, I constantly rank priorities, backwards plan to accomplish goals and make swift decisions when necessary. Too many people hem and haw on decisions until it is too late and their preferred option is no longer available or are unable to backwards plan and end up delivering projects late; managers seem to genuinely believe they can tell subordinates that “everything is top priority.”

4. Perspective

On my wedding day, the organizer repeatedly told me I was the calmest bride she’d ever seen. This baffled me — it was a happy day, a celebration of love. What was there to worry about? My sister, who had my dress, had gotten lost and was running a bit late. I wasn’t worried — the event would not start without me! The same thing happens when I give speeches or appear on television; people are surprised that I am calm. “What’s the worst possible outcome?” I ask, then answer: “I’d be temporarily embarrassed if I say something stupid. No one is shooting at me.” That sense of perspective may be the most important lesson I brought back from Iraq: if no one is going to die, it probably isn’t worth a high degree of panic.

5. Strength

I didn’t know if I could make it in the military when I enlisted. The Army invests a great deal of resources training troops — by the time we went to war, in addition to training on how to speak Arabic and do my job, I’d spent hours drilling on how to use my weapon, work with my team, perform first aid and more, not to mention the daily physical fitness training. After years of vaguely feeling that my body was just something men looked at, it was something of a surprise for me to learn that with practice, it could run 7 miles, carry a 35-lb rucksack 12 miles in under 4 hours, do 55 pushups in two minutes, and more. (After my daughter was born, I had a similarly-startling realization that my breasts are not just ornamental, they can make food for another human being.)

When I was called to translate as we provided first aid for three injured civilians, it was tremendously calming and affirming to feel that training kick in: Knowing where in the medical supply kit to find what supplies was practically muscle memory. I could see the infantry troops naturally take up a defensive perimeter and scan their sectors of fire: It was a fluid, practiced event. For hours, I did what I had to do, forgetting to eat or drink. It wasn’t until we got in the Humvee to head back that the emotional side hit me — along with hunger and thirst. I hadn’t fallen apart or freaked out. I had done my job. Being prepared was an important part of that, as was not having to do it alone: I was powerfully aware of being part of a team.

Today, that knowledge of my own strength and competence stays with me like a talisman. It gives me pride and confidence to know that if I see a car accident on the way home, I can stop and provide emergency first aid until professional assistance arrives — I won’t faint or panic at the sight of blood or gore. When things are rough, I tell myself, “If I could handle a year in Iraq, I can handle this.” I’m not special –but humans are tough. But numerous studies have shown that women underestimate their abilities. Find ways to recognize your own strength.

The military is not right for everyone, and it can be a tremendously difficult place for women. Women in the military face promotion gaps at some ranks in some services, are less likely to reenlist and disproportionately face sexual harassment and assault. But military women get equal pay for equal work: base pay is calculated from time in grade and time in service. We also have access to the same health care, family support and education benefits that have made military service attractive to so many.

The internal benefits, however, have been most important to me. My time in the military taught me how to present myself effectively; control my emotions; prioritize, plan and be decisive; maintain perspective; and know my strength. Some women may gain those abilities in other settings, but college and work alone had not developed them in me. These skills have been both professionally and personally valuable: today, I’m a published author and recognized advocate who balances full-time work, motherhood and an active public role. The Army taught me to lean in — and to stand up straight and use my command voice while I do. I’m grateful.

Posted in Career Advancement, Equal Pay, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Uncategorized, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Women Veterans Speak Out: Women Are Fit for Combat

Posted by YWM on January 28, 2013

By Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton
This article first appeared on the Huffington Post

Sue FultonWhen the first class of women at West Point were introduced to the infamous Indoor Obstacle Course, we were confronted with a series of challenges almost entirely geared to upper body strength. About ¾ of the way through, we had to get over “the wall” — an eight foot vertical chunk of heavy wood. We were coached in the “approved solution”: jump up and grab the top of the wall, do a pull-up to get your shoulders above the top of the wall, then flip your body over.

A solution that violated the laws of physics for non-male people whose center of gravity was somewhere below their shoulders.

In short order, we figured it out for ourselves: grab the top of the wall, hook your ankle over it, then your knee, then leverage the rest of your body over. Instructors observed, and taught subsequent classes the new technique, and soon women were conquering the obstacle at the same speed as the men.

In the wake of Secretary Panetta’s historic decision to eliminate the combat exclusion rule for women, there will be much angst about women lacking the physical strength to perform in combat. The handwringing ignores some key “facts on the ground.”

First, the business about the “average woman” being unable to carry a 200-lb man to safety. For starters, most service members are wiry and lean; they weigh far less than 200 lbs. And not for nothin’, I’m six feet tall, and when I graduated West Point in 1980, weighed 175 pounds. Today’s average infantryman couldn’t carry ME off the battlefield. And the “average” woman (or man) doesn’t volunteer for the military. My West Point roommate could do 13 pull-ups. Ran the two mile in 12:50… in combat boots. My classmate Lil Pfluke — a world-class athlete, even in her fifties, after surviving breast cancer — once fought to enter Ranger School, and the guys who know her believed she could pass easily.

Yes, these are West Pointers. And yes, many military women — like many military men — have no interest in the combat arms. But why would we deny an otherwise-qualified individual the right to serve in whatever capacity they choose?

Finally, there is the most important fact: women are already in combat. They have been fighting, winning, getting wounded, losing limbs and dying on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan (and earlier) for as long as we have fought those wars.

So, we can argue about push-ups, pull-ups, and body-carries — but just as in the Indoor Obstacle Course, it’s not about how you do it, it’s about getting it done. Women have been fighting, in MP units, in convoys, in FETs, everywhere, and they have figured out how to get the job done. They get over the wall.

So why does it matter?

If we continue to pretend that women aren’t in combat, and close some roles to them, we deny them the promotions that go to the men they fought next to, because “the guy is a combat vet.” We make it much harder for them to access care for combat-related health issues, including PTSD, that women sometimes find themselves “ineligible” for. We perpetuate the myth that women aren’t really warriors — and in the military culture that means you are worth less.

We can, and must, show the respect due our women warriors: fitness for service is not limited by your gender. Secretary Panetta has taken the first step. I look forward to a thoughtful, data-based, but not endless process where we do this right. The new Defense Secretary must lead the Pentagon to set gender-neutral standards that pertain to the job that must be done. Integrate women effectively into units in ways that are constructive, not disruptive. And we will make our military better and stronger by assigning and promoting based on merit, nothing else.

We may even discover that push-ups are not the best measure of combat survival and victory.

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 Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Uncategorized, Veterans, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Mentor A Woman Veteran; Give Back to Those Who Have Given So Much

Posted by YWM on November 13, 2012

Deborah L. Frett, BPW Foundation CEO

Deborah L. Frett, BPW Foundation CEO
This article first appeared on the Huffington Post

While we should thank our veterans every day, collectively we as a nation all said thank you on Veterans Day, November 11. But many of us want to offer more than just a sincere “Thank You”, we would like to do something.  In February of this year, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation launched Joining Forces for Women Veterans and Military Spouses Mentoring Plus™ to connect women veterans and military/veteran spouses with volunteer working women mentors to help them navigate the challenging path to success in the civilian workplace. Research BPW Foundation has done underscored an overwhelming gap in career, employment and entrepreneurial support when a woman leaves military service.

This is particularly concerning when you look at recent BLS veteran employment figures. While over all employment numbers for post-9/11 veterans seeking work fell to 9.7 percent last month, compared to 10.1 percent in August and 11.7 percent in September 2011, the numbers for women veterans are not as encouraging. Nearly one out of five women who served in the military at home or abroad during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars is now without a job. The unemployment rate for post-9/11 female veterans rose to 19.9 percent in September, compared to 14.7 percent last year

Women leaving the service often face unique challenges including being single mothers or care givers for family members.  In addition, women veterans are often looked at differently than their fellow male veterans. Even though they fill 99 percent of military jobs including serving in war zones, employers don’t equate their skills at the same level as their male counterparts. Women who served in war zones are not afforded the same level of prestige as their male counterparts.  And female veterans often do the same thing to themselves; not recognizing that they are veterans, so they don’t seek and claim the benefits due them for their service.

Women currently make up 15 percent of our military forces and eight percent (and growing) of our veteran population. Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ was created to meet the career needs of these women and help to guide them in their job searches and career development.  Using a career development mentoring model we are engaging a cross section of civilian and veteran mentors who are providing insights, advice and encouragement to steer women veterans on an individualized course of action for success in the civilian workplace.  In addition to mentors, there are a wide rang of online resources, online training as well as subject matter experts to tap into.

Our ongoing success of course will be measured by the successful transition and reintegration of our women veteran mentees but there are some things that can’t be measured.  Long-term relationships and friendships are being formed and women veterans are gaining confidence in themselves and pride in the skills they gained in the military.

One of our mentees, Ginni G, said, “I submitted my form online and like magic, the names of five possible mentors came back.  I was able to select the one I thought fit my needs, a Senior VP of Human Resources.

“Our first meeting far exceeded my expectations. Between the time that I had signed up, and our first meeting, I actually had an interview with a company and was scheduled for a second. My mentor quickly adapted to my changing circumstances. Rather than looking at long term goals, she immediately provided some terrific insights for my upcoming interview. She outlined key tips and techniques both about interviewing and the somewhat taboo subject of salary negotiation. I feel much more prepared for my second interview. I will be calling her after my second interview and I picture us continuing our mentoring relationship long after this.”

Most importantly Ginni said “I am impressed with those who are choosing to be mentors. These are women who want to give back. It takes time to serve as a mentor, and I am grateful that so many women have chosen to do so.”

We hope that many women will want to share their life and work experiences and help women veterans.  It is a rewarding and meaningful experience.  I encourage you to join us and sign up at www.joiningforcesmentoringplus.org.  It is also easy to sign up to receive a mentor!

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

VVA Joins BPW Foundation to Support Women Veterans and Military/Veteran Spouses’ Careers

Posted by sherrysaunders on October 17, 2012

Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation announced today that Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), the only national Vietnam veterans’ organization congressionally chartered and exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans and their families will lend its support to Joining Forces for Women Veterans and Military Spouses Mentoring Plus™ as a Resource and Community Partner.
BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces for Women Veterans and Military Spouses Mentoring Plus® connects committed women mentors with women veterans and military/veteran spouses as they search for new employment, hone their career goals, and package their military skills and experience to gain access to meaningful civilian jobs.  The program is free and mentors are trained. BPW Foundation’s mentoring initiative is part of the White House’s national Joining Forces effort.

“We are proud that such a respected and effective veterans’ organization is partnering with us as we connect women veterans of all eras with volunteer working women mentors across the U.S. whose personal and professional training has prepared them to provide insights, advice, and encouragement to help women veterans,” Deborah Frett, BPW Foundation CEO said. “Vietnam Veterans of America’s large active membership will help us extend our reach to both potential mentees as well as mentors. I also commend VVA for their long commitment to all veterans including women. Since their founding, VVA has been at the forefront in supporting female veterans, including treating them as equals within their membership.”

“Vietnam Veterans of America is pleased to support Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™, an initiative that is ideally timed and a valuable resource for our women veterans. In the current tenuous job market, this national mentoring program will support and guide women veterans and military/veteran spouses through an organized and coordinated process to help them meet their employment and career goals,” said Marsha Four, VVA National Board member, chair of the VVA National Women Veterans Committee and Executive Director, Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service and Education Center.

Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ Resource and Community Partners help promote the program so that the maximum number of women veterans and military/veteran spouses know that this resource is available and also encourage working women to become mentors. Many mentors are also veterans who have already made that successful transition and want to help others do the same.

Other Resource and Community Partners include: American Corporate Partners, Army Women’s Foundation, Blue Star Families, Business Pink, Coast Guard Family Organization, Collen IP, Feminist Majority Foundation, Final Salute, Global Summit of Women, John 14:2 Inc., Women Veterans Interactive, KidzArt, Military Leaders In Transition, Military Officers Association of America, Military Spouse Employment Partnership, Military Spouse Mentoring, National Association of American Veterans, National Association of Social Workers, National Congress of Black Women, National Council of Women’s Organizations, National Military Family Association, Older Women’s League, Operation Renewed Hope Foundation, Society for Women’s Health Research, Univentures, VA for Vets, WIFLE, WIPP, WISER, Women Construction Owners & Executives, Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Women In Public Policy, Disabled Veterans Committee on Housing, California Association for Micro Opportunity and The Women’s Research and Education Institute.

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

Women Veterans Speak Out: Archery Saved My Life

Posted by YWM on August 6, 2012

First appeared on Vantage Point: Dispatches from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

By Jim Theres

A crowd gathers as Babette Peyton, sitting in her wheelchair, stares down at the target 50 yards away. Holding a compound bow with her right hand, a spotter places the nock of an arrow onto the string. She squints through the sight, sets her jaw firm, grabs the string, with her teeth, to slowly draw it back…Yup, with her teeth. Her eyes stay laser-focused on the bulls-eye down range; her jaw clamped down on a small piece of leather…42 lbs. of pressure with her teeth. Just a few more moments of concentration, then release. The arrow soars toward the target coming to a sudden halt inside the yellow. Another bulls-eye.

“In fall 2010, I was living in a nursing home,” said Babette, an Army Veteran and Chicago native. “They wanted to place me into hospice care. I said, isn’t that where people go to die? They said, not necessarily, but I still didn’t want to go.”

Friends, recognizing her depression, convinced her to attend a sports clinic in Newport, Rhode Island, put on by Paralympians. She attended somewhat reluctantly. It was an Archery camp.

“I was sitting on the sidelines, when this Paralympian Kevin Stone looked over,” remembered Babette. “He said to me, ‘no one comes to my clinic and sits on the sidelines.’ He talked me into trying archery. I hit the target the first time. I said, ‘I did that.’”

Did that she did, and that was just the beginning.

“I never went into hospice,” said Babette. “I got motivated about archery and life. I got involved with the local Vet Center, Disabled and homeless Veterans, helping them to find jobs and housing. You know, Veterans helping Veterans, then letting others help us.  All you need is to be young at heart.”

After attending the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic in San Diego in September 2011, Babette set her sights on a new goal—to be a Paralympian herself.

“I enjoyed competing,” she said smiling. “I attended an archery competition in December and then entered national and international competitions every month since leading up to the Wheelchair Games here in Richmond. I’ve even placed in a few of the competitions.”

These days, if Babette isn’t helping her fellow Veterans find work or an apartment, she’ll be on an archery range in Chicago practicing her craft 4-5 times a week. She’s easy to spot too. She starts every conversation with a huge smile and ends it by saying, ‘I love you.’

“I finally realized that I’m not going out of this world,” she exclaimed. “I’m just coming in.”

An update on Babette’s participation at the National Veteran Wheelchair Games in Richmond, VA June 24-July 1.  She entered five events and won five gold medals in different sports including archery and swimming.

Jim Theres is a Public Affairs Officer at the G.V. (Sonny Montgomery) VA Medical Center.

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

Misbehavin’ Notification: BPW Foundation CEO Participating in Clinton Global Initiative America Meeting

Posted by YWM on June 7, 2012

Deborah L Frett to Focus on Small Business, Girls, Women, Women Veterans and
Military and Veteran Spouses

Business and Professional Women’s Foundation CEO, Deborah L. Frett has been invited to participate in the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting in Chicago this Thursday and Friday, June 7 and 8.

CGI America is an annual meeting bringing together leaders from the business, foundation, NGO and government sectors to develop solutions that address unemployment, prepare Americans to be competitive global citizens and rethink current models that shape our economy and society. This year President Clinton has called on participants to strategically integrate the lens of girls and women throughout the program. This approach is called the Girls and Women (G&W) Champion model. Champions are asked to represent the G&W lens in their respective Working Group

Frett, who has been named a Girls and Women Champion, is part of the Small Business Working group.  She also spoke at the Girls & Women in America: Pre-Meeting Strategy Session on Thursday, June 7th between 8-9:30am. As head of the first foundation to conduct research about working women, Frett brings unique perspective and background to her role of looking at workplace ideas and solutions through the Girls and Women’s lens.

On Thursday evening Frett will attend the “Championing Veterans: America’s Next Generation Leaders” event that will bring together a broad range of CGI Working Group representatives who have an interest in or focus on veterans. Frett will share information about BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces for Women Veterans and Military Spouses Mentoring Plus™.  This ground-breaking program connects women veterans and military and veteran spouses with working women mentors and subject matter experts (SMEs).  Participants receive career development support and guidance that will enable them to find and keep meaningful employment.

About BPW Foundation
BPW Foundation supports workforce development programs and workplace policies that recognize the diverse needs of working women, their families, communities and businesses.
BPW Foundation attributes much of its success to programs built upon evidenced-based research.  Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ is the result of a commitment BPW Foundation made in 2005 to better understand the employment transition of women veterans. BPW Foundation is a 501 © (3) research and education organization. To learn more, visit http:www.bpwfoundation.org.

About CGI America
President Clinton established the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) to address economic recovery in the United States. CGI America brings together leaders in business, government, and civil society to generate and implement commitments to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, foster innovation, and support workforce development in the United States. Since its first meeting in June 2011, CGI America participants have made more than 100 commitments valued at $11.8 billion. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will improve the lives of three million people, create or fill more than 150,000 jobs, and invest and loan $354 million to small and medium enterprises in the United States. To learn more, visit cgiamerica.org.

About the Clinton Global Initiative
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which are already improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $69.2 billion.

CGI’s Annual Meeting is held each September in New York City. CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.


Posted in Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Mentoring, Military Families, Misbehavin' Notification, Small Business, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »