FOR WOMEN VETERANS, BY WOMEN VETERANSMAGAZINEFALL 2021–vol. 3, issue 3LET US ENTERTAIN YOU!Rita Brent—Comedian and Musician.And More!
CONNECTING YOU IS WHAT WE DOHelping women veteran owned businesses (WVOBs) scale for success. Establishing strategic alliances, and leveraging public/private-sector opportunities, advocating for relevant research, services and funding, while simultaneously providing on-site, the personal and professional resources needed to succeed.veteranwomensec.org214-489-7984Veteran Women's Enterprise Center4900 South Lancaster Rd, Dallas TX 75216
You deserve a Medicare plan that has your back. UnitedHealthcare® has a wide range of Medicare Advantage plans designed to complement the health beneﬁts you already receive for your service. The AARP® Medicare Advantage Patriot plan from UnitedHealthcare includes the freedom to visit doctors and hospitals in our large network for a $0 monthly premium. Additional plan beneﬁts may include:Learn more about Medicare Advantage plans that complement your VA or TRICARE For Life beneﬁts.It’s time to take advantage.Comprehensive dental services Allowance toward eyewearRoutine hearing exam plus hearing aids$0 monthly premiumChoose a Medicare plan designed to serve you.Beneﬁts, features and/or devices vary by plan/area. Limitations and exclusions apply. You do not have to be a veteran to be eligible for this plan. Plans are insured through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its aﬃliated companies, a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in the plan depends on the plan’s contract renewal with Medicare. UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company pays royalty fees to AARP for the use of its intellectual property. These fees are used for the general purposes of AARP. AARP and its aﬃliates are not insurers. You do not need to be an AARP member to enroll. AARP encourages you to consider your needs when selecting products and does not make speciﬁc product recommendations for individuals. AARP does not employ or endorse agents, producers or brokers. Other hearing exam providers are available in the UnitedHealthcare network. The plan only covers hearing aids from a UnitedHealthcare Hearing network provider. ©2020 United HealthCare Services, Inc. All rightsreserved.Y0066_2000910_031245_M SPRJ57947 0032BD01Laura DebuhrLicensed Sales Agent844-430-6300, TTY firstname.lastname@example.org
4Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comcontents.FALL 2021FEATURE STORIES2021 UNCONFERENCE – Las Vegas, Nevada Conference agenda, keynote speakers, panel speakers, and session speakersOne Happy Bird Discover how Monica Goodson became a toy makerNew World Record & Three Medals!Paralympic Athlete Elizabeth Marks takes the GOLDToxic Exposure Impact on Military Women & Veterans 2024264015COVER STORIESLET US ENTERTAIN YOU!Take a peek into the lives of these women in the entertainment industryCherita “Rita” Brent Page 8Pat White Page 11Kay Barnes Page 12Levystein Lockett Page 14Veterans Helping Veterans Television Vets Helping Vets TV is produced as a Public, Educational and Government, PEG TV community access program at the Mid Peninsula Media Center in Palo Alto, California Media Center60244820
5Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: Kandaka SaaSuzan K. Slaughter is an Army Veteran and the owner of the skincare company called Kandaka Saa OPERATION HOMECOMING: Olympic Sharpshooter - Sagen MaddalenaU.S. Army SPC Maddalena pays a special visit to her hometown of Groveland, California after taking 5th in the 2020/21 Olympics in Japan5832193134466052In MemoriumU.S. Army Sgt Johanny Rosario PichardoIn MemoriumU.S. Army Sgt Nicole L. GeeTaking a Breath for PTSD ReliefRegular feature from Dr. Ruth Moore and Dr. Richard MatthewsPost-Military Careers: Why Working Your Way Up Might be a Losing Strategy To Hell and Back She was 12 years old and in Guatemala when she saw her rst Army commercial. Like a mini action lm, there were Soldiers rappelling out of helicopters and into water Mission Six Zero Women from around the globe are ocking to the challenge on their journey towards holistic personal growth, healing, and authentic servant leadershipDEPARTMENTS — ARTS/CULTURE/HISTORY/LIVING82652
6Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comChristina Wilkinson - USAFPUBLISHER Sheila L. Holmes - USAFEDITOR-IN-CHIEFSPECIAL ADVISORSGenevieve Chase - USA / American Women VeteransLindsay Church - USN / Minority Veterans of AmericaCassie Gabelt - USN / Minority Veterans of AmericaTracie Rosado - USA / WoVeNVR Small - USN / Women Veterans Enterprise CenterMelissa Washington - USN / Women Veterans AllianceAT-LARGEDanielle Johnson - USMCPat White - USMCCONTRIBUTORSWritersCREATIVE TEAMSabreDesign.com / IG: @TheRealSabreDesign / FB: @SabreDesignART DIRECTION/DESIGN/LAYOUTchris@sabredesign.comAVOW Magazine Social MediaO: 209-841-8866 (Sabre Design)E: contact@AVOWMagazine.comAVOWMagazine.comCopyright © 2021 by AVOW Magazine. All rights reserved. The name AVOW™ and the AVOW logo are trademarks of AVOW Magazine © 2019, 2020, 2021 exclusively for the American Veteran Organization of Women Magazine which is published quarterly for women veterans of the United States of America. No part of this publication may be reproduced,distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, or in some instances with third party copyright holders.For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.Sabre Design & Publishing18737 Back Street #605Groveland CA 95321www.sabredesign.comProudly published and producedin the United States of AmericaA magazine for women veterans, by women veterans, and for the people who love them.Christina WilkinsonMaj. Michelle LunatoMolly AlanSheryl ShafferBrittany NelsonDiana D. DanisMary Ellen SalzanoDr. Ruth MooreDr. Richard MatthewsMelissa WashingtonKaren SteinbockSarah SpradlinPhotographyFacebook.com/AVOWMagazine | Instagram.com/avow_magazine | Twitter.com/AVOWMagazineMaj. Michelle Lunato U.S. Dept. of the ArmyMajor Nathaniel GarciaD’Artagnan WinfordMonica D. GoodsonSrA Julianne ShowalterU.S. Air ForceSgt Nicole GeeSuzan K. SlaughterSarah SpradlinSgt. Johanny Rosario PichardoNational Cancer InstituteRF StudioMaria OrlovaHannah BusingAaron BurdenVHVtvKay BarnesLevystein LockettPat White
7Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021Dear Sister Veterans and supporting readers,Between the ‘’COVID-19 Pandemic and political strife, let’s take a few moments out of our busy schedules to encourage each other -take a moment to regroup, appreciate each of our unique visions, and work together for everyone’s success.. This issue of AVOW magazine is all about entertainment -rediscovering our laughter, refocusing on our successes after these few intense years, and looking toward our futures together. With that in mind, I share with you that our next issue will be featuring charity entrepreneurs who are women veterans. After reading the many accounts of our service sisters’ accomplishments, we see recurring themes of service in every article. If you are -or if you know of- a woman veteran who has started her own nonprot, please share that community service with us. Sheila L. Holmes / Editor-in-ChiefAVOW MagazineAMERICAN VETERAN ORGANIZATION OF WOMEN MAGAZINEON THE COVER:CHERITA “RITA” BRENT;COMEDIAN, MUSICIANAND MILITARY VETERAN.PHOTO BY D’ARTAGNAN WINFORD
8Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comLIVE. LAUGH. LOVE withCherita BrentBY CHRISTINA WILKINSONLET US ENTERTAIN YOUBrent grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. “For the rst few years of life, I grew up around my mother, grandmother, and Bigma-ma. ere was so much love and warmth in the home we had to keep a fan on,” she says. Brent was taught the value of determined women and the denition of true love early on, so to this day, she is still extremely close to her mother and grandmother. “My Bigmama passed away while I was at AIT. It’s a call I’ll never forget,” she says emotionally. By grade school, Brent was fully immersed in sports and music, and she never imagined growing up to join a military band. Brent says, “You never know what path you will take,” and she believes every path is divine. She enjoyed school for the most part, par-ticularly the extra curricular activities. Once she realized humor broke down barriers and deterred bullies, she used her sense of humor to her advantage. Brent said she had a thirst for making her classmates laugh, but she had no intentions of being a comedian until her 20s. “at’s exactly what I did and never looked back,” she said.The Servicemember Brent joined the military at the age of 18, and she considers that age a perfect time in life for discipline and physical conditioning. While in the military, she was a 42 Romeo, Army Band Person. She was stationed in Jack-son, Mississippi, with the 41st Army National Guard Band and played the snare drum, tim-pani, and drum set on several musical perfor-mance teams – jazz band, second line band, ceremonial band, rock band. She says, “I was never deployed, other than for hurricane duty. I am such a lightweight that strong winds on the Mississippi Gulf Coast actually blew me o my feet.” Brent says that she thoroughly enjoyed her time in the military. She said that Basic Combat Training was one of the most memo-rable experiences in her life, and also, “I have stories for days, like the time I had to ‘go’ in the woods and a mosquito took the liberty of biting directly on my right butt cheek. e problem was, scratching mosquito bites in uniform wasn’t allowed.” Once she joined her unit, she said that she made lifelong friend-ships with band members. Brent shares, “I am grateful to have served with such amaz-ing people.” She says that she is not oblivious to the challenges of women in the military and how many suer discrimination and re-taliation when they speak up about oense committed against them. Brent hopes that continues to improve. “No soldier should feel slighted or marginalized considering all the sacrices made,” she says. She served for a total of nine years; took a short break, then rejoined. After that, she de-cided to seek an honorable discharge and not return after her comedy career took o. Brent said that she was that comedian on the back of the Army Band bus, and that her unit was full of comedians who could’ve all CHERITA “RITA” BRENT IS A COMEDIAN, MUSICIAN, AND MILITARY VETERAN. SHE DEVELOPED MUSICAL SKILL SETS IN TALENT SHOWS AND SOUTHERN BAPTIST CHURCHES DURING HER CHILDHOOD, PERFORMING AS A DRUMMER AND SINGER ALONGSIDE HER MOTHER.
9Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021PHOTOGRAPHS BY D'ARTAGNAN WINFORD(CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)made comedy a profession if they desired. She tells us they actually helped her tighten up her skills as a comedian.The ComedianBrent has an interesting and tedious way to memorize her material. She says that the easist way is to type each joke out word for word, then she records them and listens back to them leading up to her performance. “During the LIVE show, if I forget a piece, I simply impro-vise or skip that joke entirely,” she says. She comes up with material by surveying her own life; using the ups and downs and tak-ing them to the stage with her. Brent says it is therapeutic and freeing. “Literally anything that happens in the world has comedic possi-bilities; you just have to look for the funny in life,” she says. Observational comedy is also a main source of material for Brent. is is where she incorporates viewers’ stories into a performance. Her comedy radar is always on, whether she is scrolling social me-dia, in an airport, or at a family function. And she says that she is always jotting down joke premises to see if she can convert something into a good joke later. She later shares, “If the observation is too personal or recognizable to the person I’m speaking about, I won’t tell that joke unless I’m on the opposite coast!” As a woman in comedy, Brent says her projection has been slow and steady, just the way she likes it. Based on other comments by Brent, it appears there is a modest comfort lev-el she enjoys, but she is also very vocal about a ceiling that needs to be broken-through where women are concerned. “I have witnessed an overarching presence of unequal pay, mar-ginalizing, and double standards among my women peers in the industry,” Brent contin-ues. “ankfully, people like Mo’Nique, Wan-da Sykes, and others have been brave enough to speak up about the unique issues women in comedy experiences.” She says that she is happy to see comedi-ennes like Tiany Haddish breaking through the industry and providing a platform for Black women. “It is obvious now that instead of asking for a seat at the table, we just gather the proper materials and build our own.” Brent shares with us that some of the best comedy comes from painful experienc-es. Because of this, her approach is to keep her performances personal. She says that while other comedians take risks on cer-tain sensitive subjects, she continues to move with compassion, caution, and discernment about which topics she speaks about. It is apparent that Brent is apprehensive about admitting when she knew she was funny, but she really has known she was funny as far back as her childhood. “I look back at pictures from my child-hood; I was always making funny fac-es. I matched my words to my facial expressions around fourth grade when I became part of a group – an AAU basketball team. I got to shine in the locker room and on the bus, doing anything for a laugh,” Brent continues to share with us, “Still, at the time, I wasn’t thinking this is what I want to do when I grow up.” When asked if she ever made an ass out of herself, she admits she was denitely silly, and probably annoying Once she realized humor broke down barriers and deterred bullies, she used her sense of humor to her advantage.
10Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comBRENT / SHORT BIO Brent graduated from her beloved HBCU, Jackson State University, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass and Speech Communication, where she pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. It was there that she launched a public radio career, landed at Mississippi Public Broadcasting in 2011, and served as a Radio Host and Producer for six years. In March 2013, Brent made a sharp career turn to become a stand-up comedian. In her brief career, she has featured on “Hart of the City” (Comedy Central), starred in truTV’s “Laff Mobb’s Laff Tracks,” appeared on Circle TV (“Standup Nashville), and listed by Thrillist as “The Best Undiscovered Comedian in Mississippi.” Brent has recently released three singles: “Kamala,” “Raised in the Sipp,” and “I Deserve to Be Alive.” She currently tours as a feature act with her mentor, Rickey Smiley, and Cedric the Entertainer. Rita is signed to Buchwald Talent Agency and Bleecker Street Entertainment in New York.as she pried and pried for laughs from folks, “But now I’ve monetized it!” she tells us. Brent’s comedic inuences are Wan-da Sykes, Roy Wood Jr., Godfrey, Rickey Smiley, Ced the Entertainer, Gina Yashere. She shared with us that there are so many non-mainstream comedians who are absolute beasts onstage as well.Persistence and boldness are qualities that Brent admires in other comedians. “Comedy isn’t a career you can just drop and pick up whenever. You have to stay in the ring even when comedy knocks you down. I also appre-ciate when comedians say what they mean and mean what they say, and don’t let society sup-press free speech,” Brent says. Before the pandemic, Brent had a huge audition for the new faces branch of Just For Laughs. She said the day of the audition, she was obsessing over her set, so she called a good friend and he gave her some amazing notes. Just two hours beforehand, she decided to in-corporate them into the act. She tells us she was nervous and didn’t feel condent with the late changes she had made. “Once it was my turn to perform, nothing I said came out right. I’d sabotaged my own set. It was one of my worst performances. To top it o, I fumbled the mic and dropped it at the end of my set. at has never happened. I cried that night and the day after and resolved it wasn’t my time to make that festival. I also learned to stick to what I know works when something major is on the line. Be yourself, because trying to be someone else will lead to failure,” she says. Brent says with comedy, she feels the fear and anxiety and faces both regardless. While it is a hard job full of sky highs and valley lows, she is nding her stride and being optimistic along the way. Her favorite saying – which is also a t-shirt on her website – is ‘What’s divine can’t be denied.’ She says, “I trust that phrase.” anks to the pandemic, her comedy work has become a resident of her home. She says it even has its own room in the form of a home oce. Brent says, “I have to make a conscious eort to break away from my work, decompress, and spend time with my wife.” As an introvert, working at home challenges her will to take a break and be present for oth-er things, like watching Netix without her computer in her lap. “I’ve always been the funny person in the room and willing to entertain. Up to my mid-20s, I made people laugh for free while drum-ming for local artists was my main gig. I made the switch from music performance to comedy performance around age 26, the same time I was going through a divorce with my ex-hus-band who I’d met in the military band,” Brent continues, “Little did I know, I would use my comedy to help me heal and connect to other people who were grieving or had grieved a loss of a romantic relationship.”
11Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021Pat White is a special-education teacher, certied yoga instructor, #1 bestselling au-thor, songwriter, and a U.S. Veteran. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, White graduated from Temple University in May 1998 with a bachelor of science in education. In 2003, she completed her master’s in educa-tion. In November of 1992, she enlisted in the United States Marine Corps while still pursu-ing her degree. Doing a Toys for Tots event, she met her (then future) husband Gary, and they married in 2003.White served for a total of sixteen years, reserve and active duty, with the Marines and nished her last four years with the United States Air Force. She served over twenty years and retired from the military in November 2014.While attending high school, White had written poetry and sang in various choirs; and in 2018 when her friend released her rst book about escaping from human sex track-ing with talk about a movie, White remarked, “You need music for the movie.” e next day she wrote the lyrics to Rocky Roads. e song is about overcoming diculties faced in life. Little did she know how much the song would also be for her.Also in 2018, two months after writing Rocky Roads, she wrote the number one best selling children’s book, Molly the Marine. e book talks about a few of the jobs in the ma-rines and teaches girls to believe in themselves and work together and they can accomplish anything!In August 2020, Pat’s husband Gary passed away from Covid. eir son, who has autism, had a very dicult time with everything. White has written several songs in the past few years and has co-written six new songs since her husband passed away. Last Words is dedicated to the people who never got to say goodbye to their loved ones and/or be there in person during this pandemic. White’s music and book may be purchased via Amazon or her website: patwhitewrites.comBY MOLLY ALAN Pat WhiteMUSICIAN & AUTHORLET US ENTERTAIN YOU
12Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.com
13Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021Kay BarnesBEYOND MODERN MILLIEDuring high school is when Kay Barnes re-alized she was really good at internalizing text. When asked why she decided to become an actor, Barnes says, “I didn’t, acting chose me as a very young child,” she continued, “I started acting as a potential career at the age of 14.” But it wasn’t until she was 21 that she realized she wanted to be a part the industry, and she started o in theatre.Barnes, who identies as non-binary, tells us, “I went to a local casting call in my home-town in Alabama.” Her ability to experience life through a dierent lens and being able to connect with others through storytelling is what attracted her to acting. She shared with us that her last experience in a theatrical set-ting was playing Millie in “A Christmas Car-ol.” While in this play was when she realized that she wanted to be in the entertainment industry. Rather than become an actor right away, Barnes decided to join the military. She was in the Army for 12 years, six years enlisted and six years as an ocer. Barnes trained as an actor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and she has also taken classes through the Lee Strasberg Insti-tute. She now has stage, lm, and television acting experience.Her favorite thing about acting is the abili-ty to explore life as another person. “My dream role would be to play a powerful woman like the queen in 300 or basically anything Angeli-na Jolie portrays,” Barnes tells us. When asked about the toughest characters to play, Barnes says that playing characters close to who she is are the most dicult, “Because I have to deal with all the emotions and memories that brings up,” she elaborates.One of Barnes’ main inspirations is actor, Nicole Kidman. “She has incredible range as a creative,” Barnes told us excitedly. But her main inuences in life are her mother and Jesus, she says, “Both who love all people regardless.”When Barnes is not acting, she is either writing, directing, or spending time with her family. Where the entertainment industry is concerned, she says she equally enjoys acting, writing, and directing.Barnes’ favorite role to date is where she portrayed a woman who found her strength at a women’s shelter after being abuse by her husband. In order to get a feel for her char-acters when rst approaching a role, she says, “I read the script. en, I researched build the backstory of my character and the other char-acters in relation to my character.” In regards to her feelings of violence in movies from the 90s, Barnes says, “I dunno…I kinda feel like anything went when I was a kid. I feel like per-haps it’s gotten better or maybe the way things are rated has just changed.”roughout the years, Barnes has devel-oped southern, British, African, Jamaican, and Hispanic dialects. She says, “I get cast as ethni-cally ambiguous a lot so it denitely comes in handy to be versatile.” She shared with us that one of the things she doesn’t like about acting is if she doesn’t feel prepared.We asked her if someone is going to make her life into a movie, who would she like to play her. She tells us, “If that person wasn’t me then it would probably be Nicole Beha-rie. She’s a phenomenal actress and has played roles I identify with.”To tackle the pressures that come along with her work in entertainment, Barnes spends time with her family. She enjoys going to the beach and relaxing. “It really helps me discon-nect,” she says.Barnes currently has a short lm on the fes-tival circuit, “3:35 to Boston.”LET US ENTERTAIN YOUBY CHRISTINA WILKINSON
14Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comLevyein Locke ACTORLevystein Lockett is an American ac-tress. She is a native New Yorker who was born on Long Island in Copiague, and raised in neighboring Amityville and Brooklyn New York. Lockett comes from a mixed-race background raised between her African American father and grandmother in New York, and her Caucasian maternal great-grandmother and mixed race mother in Montgomery, Alabama.Lockett served in the U.S. Air Force for six years and says, “Being a base honor guard member was the highlight of my time spent in the military.” She graduated in 2009 from UCLA with a bachelor of arts degree in psy-chology. Her career highlight is being cast as Officer Williams in the 2018 Oscar Nom-inated ‘live action’ short film, “Dekalb El-ementary.” She homeschools her two biracial sons. “I have two beautiful sons; Joshua (21) and Isaiah (14),” she continues, “We came from Ramstein AB, Germany in 2002, and settled into Los Angeles. As a single mom, I worked my butt o and was accepted into UCLA...”. Lockett had planned on attending law school, but she walked away to pursue her career in acting, which has always been a dream of hers. She proudly produced, directed, wrote, and starred in alongside my younger son the short lm Bare Necessities: A Single Moms Triumph. is short lm is based on Lockett’s life as a divorced, single mother who has raised her sons on her own after her now ex-husband left them. Her lm was selected, and is due to premiere at the Chinese eatre via the In-die Night Film Festival; however, due to the Covid-19 lockdown in March of 2020, she said, “e premiere was understandably but sadly canceled.” Lockett hopes that once the pandemic passes, her short lm will continue in the festival circuit.She has had acting roles on JAG, e Hill, and LA Live the Show (both recurring roles), as well as My Crazy Ex. Lockett and her sons, along with two small dogs and three cats, have spent the last seven months in Costa Rica. After their rst visit to the country, she said, “We absolute-ly LOVE it there!” While they are currently in Los Angeles, they plan on splitting their time between Costa Rica and Los Angeles. She exclaimed happily, “We can't imagine our lives without including Costa Rica go-ing forward!”BY CHRISTINA WILKINSONLET US ENTERTAIN YOU
15Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021(CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)15Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021THE EVOLUTION OF VETERANS HELPING VETERANS TV(CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)BY SHERYL SHAFFERLET US ENTERTAIN YOUI served in the Women’s Army Corps from 1968 to 1971. It is hard to believe that it has been 50 years since I served in the Wom-en’s Army Corps. I was trained as a Personnel Specialist and spent most of my tour at the Ar-mor School at Ft. Knox, KY. During the last 8 months of my enlistment, I was stationed at the 97th General Hospital in Frankfurt, Germany. e military trained me as a record keeper and a le clerk. I received an Honorable Discharge in 1971 to attend college on the G.I. Bill. While at-tending college part time, I needed a part time job so I went to the local Job Service oce and was recruited by the Employment Devel-opment Department as an intermittent em-ployee. I graduated from San Francisco State in 1974, worked in Unemployment Insurance for the rst half of my EDD career. In the ear-ly 90’s, I was appointed the Job Service Local Veterans Employment Representative in San Mateo County. We had other vet reps that were severely disabled and it was dicult to nd all the plac-es we needed to be in San Mateo County so we could provide services. Part of what the vet reps are supposed to do is educate veterans on their benets, such as getting them registered at the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital in Menlo Park or Palo Alto, as well as assist in obtaining them jobs, training, or appoint-ments with a County Veteran Service Ocer. We Case Managed Veterans for training and employment goals but advising them on bene-ts and what they could potentially be eligible for was the secret to our success. e truth is that there are endless benets for veterans. I retired as an EDD Job Service Vet Rep in 2004 with 25 years Civil Service. We’d had Job Service sta out stationed at the College of San Mateo and they always made appoint-ments with us for the student veterans. When we rst started VHVtv, it was shown on the CSM campus CCTV, and we had many stu-dent veterans come into our eld oce in San Mateo for assistance. e original intent of VHVtv was to edu-cate veterans on their benets and to encourage
16Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comveterans to join a Veterans Service Organization (VSO), like e American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), or the Disabled Amer-ican Veterans (DAV). All of the VSO’s in San Mateo county have supported the production costs of VHVtv since the beginning. From the mid-90’s through 2015, all content was lmed in Standard Denition at the MidPen Media Center studio in Palo Alto, CA. is was our rst evolution.e studio was completely renovated into a state-of-the-art HD studio and was re-opened in 2016; because of this, we began our sec-ond evolution. e business model of VHVtv changed. Instead of having the local VSOs pay the production costs, the nonprots that we presented on air paid those costs directly to the studio. All content was created in the stu-dio with community volunteers, studio tech, and studio equipment belonging to the Media Center, since we produce VHVtv as a commu-nity educational access tv series. In 2016, I also learned lmmaking skills by completing the LACMA Veterans Make Movies program, where I was taught to create video content with my iphone and to edit it with iMovie. e course taught me the basics of lmmaking. During this time, we opened up VHVtv to guest hosts. I met Melissa Washington at a Vets in Tech event in San Francisco and invited her to be a guest. Melissa is the CEO and Founder of the Women Veterans Alliance (WVA) and hosts annual Unconferences for women vet-erans. After we completed that rst program with Melissa Washington and Sevrine Banks -also of WVA, I invited Melissa to be a guest host. She was a natural and hosted 4 VHVtv episodes during 2017 and 2018. Melissa is an incredible servant-leader.We are all about empowering women vet-erans, for women to reach our full potential, and to live your best life. In turn, she invited VHVtv to lm at three of the WVA Unconfer-ences from 2017 to 2019. e 2 Panel Discus-sions in 2017 and 2018 were with members of the Veterans In Media and Entertainment; and in 2019, VHVtv lmed a video with the WVA women veteran books at the WVA Unconfer-ence in Monterey, CA. is particular episode was lmed entirely on my iPhone and I did the edits on the iMovie. Early in 2020, we had pre-production meetings to create a half-hour interview with Tami acker, the Veterans Coordinator, about the Veterans Resource Center at UC Riverside and then in early March, the campus was shut down because of the Covid 19 pan-demic. Once I had my rst video conference call, I asked Richard Gonzales if he could help to create content virtually. Richard is the rst VHVtv-hosted intern at UC Riverside and does the editing using Premiere Pro. is is how the VHVtv Virtual Interviews began and this is our third evolution. We are no longer tied to lming our interviews in a studio; we do them now though conference calls.As we continued our informal collabora-tion with the UC Riverside Veterans Resource VHVtv interview with Melissa Washington and Sevrine Banks.As we all continue to adapt to our pandemic world, we continue our virtual interview to tell stories
17Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 202117Center, we’d get interns to help with social me-dia, marketing, and post-production. Soon, all the virtual interviews were created with Rich-ard Gonzales, a 2020 UCR grad and a work-study student at the Veterans Resource Center. VHVtv hosted him as our rst UCR VRC in-tern, and he is now VHVtv co-producer. VHVtv has gone through many changes but none as dramatic as 2020 when the Covid 19 pandemic started. e studio was shut down in March 2020 for all in-person video production. We had to pivot and gure out how to create content virtually. Once I discov-ered Zoom video conferencing, I knew that was our solution to do the interviews virtually. is past year and a half has been the most cre-ative time in my life as I’ve nally become an independent lmmaker able to create content outside the studio environment. We went from lming VHVtv in an HD studio with a crew of 12 volunteers and a stu-dio tech, to two of us now creating the con-tent. It has been a big shift, but we are doing continuous improvement and some amazing projects, such as working on a business plan and grants, so we can oer student veterans a paid internship to move our concept forward. As we all continue to adapt to our pandem-ic world, we continue our virtual interview to tell stories of amazing veterans and how they help other veterans.All I’ve ever wanted to do in my life is to make a dierence, and I do that by volunteer-ing my retirement life in telling veterans’ sto-ries through these video virtual interviews. We are learning as we go and seek collaboration and expertise.e VHVtv is dedicated to my warrior par-ents, Blanca Armida Romero Hoke and James C. Hoke (and step father James W. Shaer) who were WW2 disabled veterans. I was born at Camp Pendleton, CA, and grew up in the Marine Corps. My parents inspired me to live a life of service to others. VHVtv is my legacy.SHERYL SHAFFER, ARMY/WACSheryl Alexa Shaffer created Veterans Helping Veterans TV in 1996 as an out reach to veterans in San Mateo County while she was working as an EDD Local Veterans Employment Representative, L.V.E.R.As a Community Producer at the MidPeninsula Media Center in Palo Alto, CA, she has won several Western Access Video Excellence, the WAVE awards for community educational access TV, for VHVtv episodes: “The Rosie Legacy” 2019, “Veteran Advocates” 2018, Vetsin Tech 2017 and What is TBI? in 2015.She is a member of the Veterans in Media & Entertainment, the VME Connect and a member of the American Legion Post 43 Hollywood.VHVTV.ORGHollywood Post 43 video award in 2017.Posing with Stan Lee.of amazing veterans and how they help other veterans.
www.minorityvets.orgA collective voice that is bigger, stronger, and more capable of ghting for change by representing the needs, experiences, and spectrum of identities of the minority veteran community.Tell your story. Create change. Be your most authentic self.Connect. Understand. Serve.
I MemiuJOHANNY ROSARIO PICHARDOUSMC / SGT. JOHANNY ROSARIO PICHARDOOF LAWRENCE, MASSACHUSETTS25 year-old Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo died in the August 26, 2021, bombing at Kabul’s airport during evacutions in Afghanistan. She was laid to rest on September 11, 2021, on the 20th anniversary of the attacks that led to the longest war in America. In attendance at Logan International Airport to pay respects were Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker; Karyn Polito, Lt. Governor; Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator; Ed Markey, U.S. Senator; Lori Trahan, U.S. Representative; Kim Janey, Boston Mayor; and Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins.Rosario Pichardo who was from the Dominican Republic, while not born in the U.S., her passion to serve her new country only grew stronger as a member of the JROTC at Lawrence High School in Massachusetts. She became a U.S. Marine after graduating high school in 2014. Rosario Pichardo was assigned as a supply chief with the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Naval Support Activity Bahrain, according to the Department of Defense and The Associated Press.She was posthomously awarded the Purple Heart.
ONE HAPPY BIRDMonica D. Goodson,Co-Founder/Presidentof Happy the Birthday Bird
21Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021Monica Goodson is the youngest of three kids and comes from a family of mil-itary service members that includes uncles, cousins, one aunt, and a brother-in-law. Hav-ing grown up in Montgomery, Alabama, she enjoyed riding bikes, roller skating, and going to the Florida beaches with her family in the summers. She attended college on an Army ROTC scholarship; and after graduating in 1994, she was commissioned as a Medical Ser-vice Corps Ocer in the US Army. Goodson has a bachelor of science degree in Computer Information Systems and a masters of science degree in Healthcare Ad-ministration While serving in the U.S. Army, she was a Biomedical Information Systems Ocer. “My job was to provide managerial expertise and technical guidance in developing, implement-ing, and maintaining medical information sys-tems and activities,” she said. Goodson left the military because she was interested in pursuing a career outside of the U.S. Armed Forces. Prior to joining the military, Goodson said she didn’t know much about nancial invest-ment. “While serving, I heard a few fellow ser-vice members talking about IRAs and mutual funds, which piqued my interest to know more,” Goodson said. After hearing that conversation, she spoke with a nancial advisor. ey educat-ed her about various nancial instruments, and this was the beginning of Goodson’s entry into long-term nancial investing. ONE HAPPY BIRDBY CHRISTINA WILKINSON(CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)
22Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comHAPPY BIRTHDAY BIRDGoodson became a toymaker because of her son’s love and enthusiasm for birthday celebrations. His love is what sparked the idea for Happy the Birthday Bird. “On his 8th birthday, we thought it would be exciting for kids to have a tradition where a special, magical birthday character visits each year to help with the birthday countdown and cele-bration,” she said. In order to launch her idea, she researched to nd out if a tradition existed for birthday toys, similar to the tradition for Elf on the Shelf. Because Goodson didn’t nd anything, this led to her creation of Happy the Birthday Bird. Goodson said, “My background is in In-formation Technology with no experience in book publishing, music publishing, or toy manufacturing; the learning curve was steep, but I had a dynamic team of experienced in-dustry experts to guide me through the process and help me avoid some of the major pitfalls that a rst-time toy developer and producer could encounter.” Prior to engaging with the team of ex-perts, Goodson researched as much as she could on her own to understand the process and the industry. After her research, she real-ized that she would need some help to bring everything to market. She said, “It was im-portant for me to get this right, because my goal was to produce a professional, market-able product on my rst try.”“e most rewarding thing about my job is having an opportunity to work with my son and teach him about the business,” Goodson says, “I especially love our creative brainstorm-ing sessions when we sit down and have dis-cussions about future characters, evolving the product line, creating more stories, and inte-grating technology into what we are doing.”Receiving positive feedback from parents and customers about how much their chil-dren adore Happy the Birthday Bird is one of the rewarding things that Goodson loves about her creation.happythebirthdaybird.comwww.facebook.com/happythebirthdaybirdwww.pinterest.com/happythebirthdaybirdwww.instagram.com/happythebirthdaybirdwww.twitter.com/Happy_TheBirdHappy the Birthday Bird is an award-winning book and toy set inspired by birthday celebrations. This beautiful toy is not only positive and magical, but it is on its way to becoming a timeless birthday tradition.
23Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU ABOUT BEING A TOYMAKER? Goodson: I was surprised about all of the steps involved to bring what appears to be something as simple as a plush animal to market. WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT AS A TOY DESIGNER?Goodson: I was disappointed when I realized the mass-produced version of the toy differed slightly from the prototype. It took me a little while to come to terms that the mass produced version would have a few minor differences from the prototype, and that ultimately only my team and I would know how the production version differed from the prototype. WHAT PART OF TOY DESIGN DO YOU FIND MOST DIFFICULT?Goodson: I am a rst time toy developer and producer whose background is in Information Technology. Admittedly, my skills in the arts are not the strongest, which is why I surround myself with a dynamic team. My business partner, son, and group of industry experts are very creative and artistic. I lean on them heavily for suggestions and recommendations. DO YOU ENJOY PLAYING WITH THE TOYS YOU DESIGN? Goodson: I’ve only brought one toy to market and it has been a pleasure playing with Happy. I enjoy acting out the parts in the book where readers follow certain steps to bring Happy to life. WHERE DO YOU COME UP WITH NEW ASPIRATIONS FOR DESIGN? Goodson: I study the market to see what consumers like and where the industry is head-ed. Our goal is to stay away from trendy things and create timeless products with longevity. AS A TOY DESIGNER, WHAT IS YOUR BEST ASSET? Goodson: Being a team player and having an open mind to constructive feedback from others. I have the knowledge and wisdom to know when and where I need help to achieve my goals. WHAT IS YOUR BEST STRENGTH? Goodson: I am a very detail-oriented person, which has served me well. There were many moving parts with bringing Happy the Birthday Bird project to life and paying attention to minor details was imperative to ensuring everything came together in order to avoid any major issues. My best strength has also proven to be my greatest weakness: sometimes, I pay attention to too much detail which can weigh me down and prevent me from moving as quickly as I should.In order to improve it, I impose limits on how much time I can allocate for research and due diligence before I make a decision. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH CREATIVE MENTAL BLOCKS? Goodson: If I encounter a mental block, I step away from the current project at hand and turn my attention to something else. I also listen to music in order to relax and get my creative juices flowing again. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TOY THAT SOMEONE ELSE DESIGNED?One of my favorite toys are the Transformers toys, specically Optimus Prime, that my son used to play with when he was younger. My son was big on trucks and cars at the time; as well as action gures, so I thought it was a cool concept that he had two of his favorite toys in one.TOYMAKER Q & AGoodson and her son MylenHappy the Birthday Bird
24Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comNEW WORLDRECORD & THREE MEDALS FORPARALYMPIC SOLDIER-ATHLETEI want them to know it’s 80% their support and 20% my swimming that has gotten me to this point.WRITTEN BY BRITTANY NELSONPHOTOS BY MAJ. NATHANIEL GARCIA
25Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Marks, a U.S. Army Medic, continues to stack up her list of achievements after breaking the world record for women’s 100-meter backstroke, S6 classi-cation, and winning gold, silver, and bronze Paralympic medals at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan, on August 24 – September 5.e now ve-time Paralympic medalist won gold on September 3, in the 100-me-ter backstroke when she nished with a time of 1:19.57, beating her preliminary time of 1:21.76. She placed 2nd in the 50-meter free-style with a time of 33.15 on August 25; 3rd in 50-meter buttery with a time of 36.83 on August 30; and 4th in 200-meter individual medley nishing at 3:02.43 on August 26.“I felt grateful,” said Marks when she found out she won gold in her nal race. “I think hav-ing so many of my brothers and sisters in the military on the front of my mind and pushing me, really helped me in the water.”Marks, who said she has been trying to get her 100-meter backstroke under a time of 1:20 for awhile, is a Soldier in the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP).“A lot was going through my mind,” said the nine-time Military World Games medalist. “Everything has been exceptionally turbulent. So many people are in pain right now and see-ing the American ag raised for a positive rea-son meant a lot.”Marks swam in the S6 and SM6 classi-cation. In the Paralympics, athletes are given classications based on their sport and level of disability. For example, S6, means “S” for free-style, buttery, and backstroke events, and “6” represents level of physical impairment.“I really enjoyed every race,” said Marks, a four-time Invictus Games medalist. “My goal was to give the military community something to cheer for and to look forward to. I hope I accomplished that.”During her 50-meter buttery race, Marks swam alongside Great Britain Paralympian El-lie Robinson. Marks mentioned one of her fa-vorite moments from the Games was speaking to Robinson after the race.“She told me it was her last race ever and that she was retiring due to medical issues,” said Marks, a Pat Tillman ESPY award winner. “I got to give her my bear [given to athletes who medal]. It was a special memory. She is a very talented S6 swimmer.”Tokyo is Marks’ second Paralympic Games appearance. She made her debut in Rio 2016 where she won gold in the 100-meter breaststroke after setting a new world record of 1:28.13, and bronze in the 4x100-meter medley.“is experience was very dierent. I just tried to be grateful and be in the moment as much as possible,” said Marks, an Army Wom-en’s Hall of Fame inductee. “I didn’t let it over-whelm me. I got to appreciate being there.”As long as it brings her joy, and she can use it to honor her fellow service members, Marks will keep on swimming.“I have received so much overwhelm-ing support from my husband, WCAP, and military family,” said Marks, the Army’s rst Paralympic swimmer. “I want them to know it’s 80% their support and 20% my swimming that has gotten me to this point.”To learn more about WCAP, visit the website www.armywcap.com.Marks pre race.BRITTANY NELSON, PAOBrittany Nelson is a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army at Fort Sam Houston. She works as an Army civilian for the Installation Management Command headquarters (IMCOM). Nelson handles a slew of projects to include: Coverage (photo, social media, and journalistic) of IMCOM programs such as; BOSS, the World Class Athlete Program, Gold Star Families, Army Esports, and more.She recently attended the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, to provide coverage of the Army Soldier-athletes competing in the Games. Many of her article have been featured on the front page of Army.mil as well as the Department of Defense’s website.Nelson attended UIW and has a bachelors & masters in communication arts with a concentration in convergent media. Some of her work can be viewed at: -Face of Defense: Swimming Toward Gold https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Features/Story/Article/2570850/face-of-defense-swimming-toward-gold/ -2020 Summer Olympic Photos: Soldier-athletes https://www.ickr.com/photos/familymwr/collections/72157719804422252/ -Army marksman brings home Olympic gold, rst medal for U.S. Armed Forces https://www.army.mil/article/248825 -U.S. Army IMCOM command video https://www.dvidshub.net/video/768599/us-army-imcom-command-video Marks with her gold medal.
Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.com26TOXIC EXPOSUREIMPACTSenior Airman Frances Gavalis, 332nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron equipment manager, tosses unserviceable uniform items into a burn pit, March 10. Military uniform items turned in must be burned to ensure they cannot be used by opposing forces. Airman Gavalis is deployed from Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Julianne Showalter)
27Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021TOXIC EXPOSURESe DoD and DVA are not saying the various exposures you experienced actually caused you harm. In spite of that, you still need to tell your providers if you were in one of the “hot spots” like Fort McClellan, Alabama, where the sheer number of chemical, biolog-ical, and nuclear warfare materials were rampant. e installation was at the top of the EPA’s most toxic place in the nation for years.Vietnam was saturated in dioxins, and many -though still not all- conditions associated with Agent Orange (and others) have been identied. Hundreds of barrels of damaged and leaking dioxins were shipped to other places for disposal -South Korea among them.Burn pits were used all over the world from Vietnam through the rst Gulf War, Somalia, and Kosovo to every location associated with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. e volume of pit sizes, the material torched – from medical waste to human waste, plastics, electronics, and oil – every kind of trash – literally anything that can be set on re was tossed into the pits. Military service members, contractors, civilians, visitors and in-country nationals anywhere near the pits breathed in the concoction of toxins throughout their tours. Many were assigned to tend to the res.(CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)Women in the military are at higher risk of breast and oth-er cancers due to their exposure to re retardant run-way foam, dioxins, water contamination, burn pits, toxic spills, and other radiological, biological, and chemical hazards – as well as issued equipment made only for men. e impacts on the body may be catalysts for extremely high instances of breast and reproductive cancers and other injuries impacting women who serve in the military.e Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Veterans Aairs (DVA) and most private sector medical providers are often completely unaware of age-appropriate testing, what to look for and how to most eectively treat the range of abnormalities that are presented. Military women and veterans are frequently just as uninformed as the systems they must rely on to keep them alive and healthy.Medical testing, annual physicals and accompanying bloodwork, and other tests are dreaded by many women who have served in the military for a myriad of valid reasons. Lack of trust in “the system,” providers, and anxiety about being touched (especially for trauma survivors), obtaining the right tests at the right time and believing the results will be accurate, encompass these concerns.BY DIANA D. DANIS WITH MARY ELLEN SALZANOON MILITARY WOMEN & VETERANSTHERE ARE KEY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN “ACTIVE-DUTY” MILITARY, “RESERVES AND NATIONAL GUARD,” AND “VETERANS.” FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS ARTICLE, WE ARE DISTINGUISHING THE TWO BASED ON BENEFIT ELIGIBILITY. THOSE ON ACTIVE DUTY WHO HAVE COMPLETED A FULL TOUR, RE-ENLIST AND RECEIVE A DD-214, ARE BOTH ACTIVE-DUTY AND VETERANS. OFFICERS ARE EFFECTIVELY MILITARY IN PERPETUITY AND CAN BE RECALLED TO ACTIVE DUTY EVEN AFTER RETIREMENT UNLESS THEY LOSE OR GIVE UP THEIR COMMISSION.FOR BENEFIT PURPOSES, NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS (NCOS) AND ENLISTED WHO COMPLETE THEIR SERVICE ARE VETERANS - AS LONG AS THEY RECEIVE AN HONORABLE, UNDER HONORABLE CONDITIONS OR GENERAL UNDER HONORABLE CONDITIONS DISCHARGE. THOSE WITH BAD CONDUCT, UNDER OTHER THAN HONORABLE CONDITIONS AND DISHONORABLE CONDITIONS, ARE NOT CONSIDERED VETERANS BY THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (DOD), DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (DVA) AND DEPARTMENT OF LABOR (DOL).
28Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comAll branches of the military with aircraft have sprayed re retardant foam on runways for decades. Chemicals in the foam have seeped into the groundwater resulting in health issues for military and civilian locals in communities in the U.S. and overseas.Camp LeJeune had multiple contaminants in its primary water supply which is now rec-ognized for treatment and compensation by the Department of Veterans Aairs.e early rounds of Anthrax inoculations are linked to a range of chronic illnesses for rst Gulf War and Somalia veterans.Chemical spills in our waterways and ships containing asbestos have plagued both Navy and Coast Guard veterans.Men’s protective armor was issued to mili-tary women assigned to all combat zones. e ill-tting chest plates have damaged both breast tissue and reproductive organs. New lighter weight, better designed armor for women and small men is still in development and testing, and some have been issued to a few units.SELF-ADVOCACYFirst steps include making sure you have your complete medical records from all sources possi-ble. Recent veterans are provided with a disc that should contain all their military medical records. ose from previous eras need to get copies from the National Personnel Records Center. Request and keep copies of all records from any civilian providers, National Guard and Reserve units, and ensure your Veteran’s Administration (VA) health records are all included from anywhere you have received care. Take all of this informa-tion and create a bulleted timeline of your medi-cal care to give to all providers.Next, you need to nd out how aware and trained your providers are when it comes to knowing their patients’ military/veteran sta-tus and toxic exposures. Ask them! Each of us also has to follow up on test results in a timely manner. Providers are not consistent.e dicult task is to educate women vet-erans and the private sector so they know who has been in the military and to have awareness, as well as a willingness to do in-depth research into these concerns. ey all need to recognize the health impacts present in very young ages, in-cluding breast cancer in 20-to-40-year olds even without a family history. Uterine tumors result-ing in multiple surgeries and often ending with hysterectomies show up in the same age groups.Women need to learn and practice breast self-exams monthly and stay laser-focused on their health care providers about any anom-alies they see, feel, or experience with their breasts or reproductive organs.It is our opinion that baseline breast exams using state-of-the-art 3D scanning read by top radiologists should be done for all young mil-itary women in their 20’s. Breast density is no longer a deterrent.EQUIPMENT & ACCESSMammography equipment is not needed in every facility. It is expensive and requires a specially trained radiologist for reading back to primary care providers. What military women and veterans do need is to be examined by the most well-trained, well-equipped, state-of-the-art centers. Covering hotel and transportation costs to such facilities where they are able to re-ceive the best care would be money better spent.LEGISLATIONe primary current legislative initiative would have the latest 3D mammography equipment installed in some large VA hospi-tals, create public-private partnerships for ex-ams without regard to type of equipment used, research the needs of rural veterans, accommo-dations for severely disabled women veterans, and research the viability of gene testing in the VA and through partnerships. Legislation of-ten leaves out the younger cohorts of toxically exposed veterans, glosses over minority veter-ans, and doesn’t even include the LGBTQ+ community.e problems with these proposals are that most are more studies and reports leaving both rural veterans and disabled veterans left out of state-of-the-art services for many years. ALL imaging should be accessible for severely dis-abled veterans and rural veterans, and all those referred to the private sector should be sent to Women’s Centers with 3D imaging.What happens after all the reports are done? Where do they go? Who can get access? Who is responsible for making sure something is ac-tually accomplished other than installing some new machines, making community referrals, and counting women and their referrals which, incidentally, should already be in every metric already established?Most of the national veteran organizations and some smaller ones support this legislation and it has no requirements for funding or actual, concrete changes to the VA system, while we are losing young women to breast cancer RIGHT NOW; how does this specically help them?
29Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021LEARNING & TEACHINGSelf-advocacy means it is your responsibility to train your doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants – all of whom now serve in Primary Care capacities for our veterans. Make sure military history questions are part of private sector intake forms. We often receive treatment from several entities. You have to decide if you want to help save your life and those of your con-temporaries. Providers need to really know your history and current or former military status.Health care workers need to know about any reticence you may have about any of your care from dental to breast exams and gyn testing as well as any concerns you have with any pro-viders. For instance, ask why a tech wants you to remove your blouse for a pelvic exam. at seems obvious, but it has happened to many.e civilian sector needs to know with clar-ity that you are a veteran and in what types of circumstances, locations, and environments you have been stationed and toxins to which you may have been exposed. ey need to know about ill-tting equipment that may have caused dam-age to your breast, chest, stomach, and hips that may interfere with your reproductive health.Women veterans need to do breast self-ex-ams and receive both handouts and instruction from their providers. ey need to tell all their caregivers about any breast or reproductive changes they are experiencing and be relentless in their quest for proper testing and assistance. If they need a friend, or “sister-assister” in the room during exams, then they need to insist their wishes are granted.October is breast cancer awareness month. Make it an event 12 times a year in your home. On the rst full moon, do your breast exam. e full moon will jog your memory. You can put it on your monthly calendar. Awareness saves lives. African-American women veterans are at even greater risk for both diagnosis of breast cancer and resulting death. Because we are more vulnerable due to our military service, race and duty stations, we need to be hyper-vig-ilant about care and treatment.Women who serve have earned their benets, the right to high-quality, consistent, competent, and caring health services. Military women, vet-erans, the DoD, DVA, and the private sector have to collectively create solutions.DIANA D. DANIS, ARMYDiana D. Danis is a national advocate of 40 years, author, disabled veteran, VA Trailblazer, Chair of the Military Women’s Coalition Sexual Violence Policy Committee and Senior Administrator for the Social Media Platform “Service: Women Who Serve”MARY ELLEN SALZANOMary Ellen Salzano is founder of the California Collaborative for our military and veterans with over 20 years of advocacy. She is a Senior Administrator of “Service: Women who Serve” Social Media Platform with nearly 9,000 members and over 100,000 national and international readers.TINYURL.COM/WOMENWHOSERVEOn the rst full moon, do your breast exam. e full moon will jog your memory. You can put it on your monthly calendar.
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31Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021I MemiuNICOLE GEEUSMC / SGT. NICOLE L. GEE1998 - 2021OF SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA23 year-old Sgt. Nicole L. Gee died in the August 26, 2021, bombing at Harmid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan during evacutions. Her memorial service was held at Bayside Church Adventure Campus the same day she was laid to rest in Sacramento on September 18, 2021. She served in Combat Logistics Battalion 24, providing ground electronics transmission systems maintenance. Gee was surprised with her promotion to sergeant while deployed to Kuwait. Gee was born in Vail, CO, so she grew up playing in the snow. Because of this, her dad called her, “My little snow bunny.”Her sister said, “She was the most seless person I know.” A recent post on her Instagram page shows her holding a baby in Kabul with her comment saying, “I love my job”. She was posthomously awarded the Purple Heart.
32Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comGreetings everyone, The sport of natural bodybuilding is psychologically challenging. “Bodybuilding is the kind of sport in which a sportsman's body shape inuences the competition results” (Tykhorskyi 18). Obtaining muscle mass naturally, that is symmetrical without the aid of enhancement drugs, takes long-term commitment that many fail. Despite a well-written training program that follows a periodization protocol to guarantee that the athlete reaches their goal, a precise nutrition for that specic goal is the main determining factor for their achievement. Committing to weekly meal preparation, consuming daily high caloric intakes which can also uctuate based on the training load, while depriving the body from the typical junk foods it may have been accustomed to, in addition to a strict lifting schedule requires focus. Lack of following an eating schedule can alter the outcome in the athlete’s lifting performance due to lack of energy needed for the scheduled training session. Typical irrelevant skills must be ltered out, and an athlete who wants to enter the sport must understand they cannot out-train bad eating habits, and that supplements -no Hi! I’m Suzan -a U.S. Army Veteran, wife, mother, and entrepreneur who’s ob-sessed with health, wellness, and beauty. I was born in Khartoum, Sudan; but I grew up in Egypt, and moved to the United States of America at the age of 17. While in Egypt, a church member brought the Avon compa-ny to Egypt and announced that they needed sales representatives and sta for their compa-ny; luckily at the tender age of 14, I met the criteria and without hesitation jumped on the opportunity to become a sales representative. At that point, my love for cosmetics was born; hence, broadening my knowledge about: per-fumes, makeup, skin care -and most impor-tantly: how to run my own business.Growing up, I was very fortunate and com-fortable with my own skin; therefore, I didn’t need a rigorous routine for my skincare, as I only dealt with the common monthly break-outs. However, after the birth of my son, I began to experience adult acne. As a Sports and Health Sciences graduate, I have learned the important role of nutrition in controlling many health issues, including acne; however, I knew diet was not my issue -hormones were causing my breakouts. Understanding our skin as our largest organ and that it can absorb well over 60% of anything we put on it, I began seeking out accessible, natural remedies, espe-cially those familiar to my Sudanese roots.In 2018, during a visit to Sudan, I was able to have full-body, traditional, skin care services that I’d only experienced once before in prepa-ration for my own wedding in the U.S. because they are costly and time consuming. Like the BUSINESS SPOTLIGHTKANDAKA SAFIASuzan K. Slaughter is an Army Veteran and the owner of the skincare company called Kandaka Saa. She specializes in creating natural skincare solutions using only USDA certied Organic Ingredients, and imported 100% natural ingredients from East Africa. Her company buys ingredients from small women owned businesses who come from war torn countries like South Sudan, Sudan and Ethiopia. This initiative has helped to employ local women and provide jobs. (Continued on next page sidebar)
33Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021rst time, I experienced a dierence instantly and was amazed at how soft and glowing my skin looked. I told the spa owner how I wished we had these treatments accessible in the US. e ingredients are all natural, simple, and very eective. ese skin care practices have been passed down through generations for over ten-thousand of years and have kept Su-danese women's skin radiant.I began researching the benets of the vari-ous ingredients for the skin and was amazed by what I discovered. I purchased some key ingre-dients for personal use and began creating dif-ferent versions of the products when I returned home. I challenged myself to meet the stricter European standards for cosmetics in terms of avoiding substances that are prohibited globally, and using ingredients that are free from para-bens, harsh chemicals, synthetic preservatives, and articial coloring agents. In the process, I ended up creating a wide range of products, and the idea for Kandaka Saa was born: a green company innovating Sudanese skin care prac-tices and using key ingredients native to East Africa to provide extraordinary healing and re-juvenating properties for the global market.I wanted Kandaka Saa to give back to my homeland, as it is women who have preserved our traditional beautication practices for over thousands of years, and so I’ve made the com-mitment that Kandaka Saa will source key in-gredients from women-owned small businesses.Kandaka Saa products are made in small batches to ensure freshness. As we grow as a company, so do our suppliers, who in turn em-ploy local women to help meet the quantities we require, thus helping their local commu-nities and economy. I believe in empowering women at any scale, because I know in my heart we naturally give back to our families, communities, countries and the world. at is my commitment to you and to the Sudanese and South Sudanese businesswomen who sup-ply Kandaka Saa's quality ingredients.matter the kind- must be accompanied with a sound and precise nutrition regiment. The key focus of attention to perform a successful training and reach a stage to compete as a bodybuilder is understanding nutrition and its role in building the body, and creating the standard needed to succeed in the sport. I have reached a point with my long-term clients where they would reschedule or let me know as soon as they walk in that it was a busy day and they have not consumed enough for the workouts, and I am able to make load adjustment or even change the entire workout if needed. I give them a heads-up about the week's split, so they are mentally prepared for the session. I nd them more prepared nutritionally; and in the long run, stay on track toward their goal of stepping on stage and succeeding. REFERENCE: Tykhorskyi, Oleksandr et al. “Analysis of the Morphological Changes in Beginning Body-builders Due to Resistance Training.” Journal of Physical Education and Sport 18 (2018): 382–386. Web.Founder, Suzan K. Slaughter /KANDAKA.SAFIA WWW.KANDAKASAFIA.COM
34Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comTAKING A BREATH
35Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021BY DR. RUTH MOORE AND DR. RICHARD MATTHEWSTAKING A BREATHFOR PTSDRELIEF?MANY VETERANS, AND CIVILIANS AS WELL, HAVE EXPERIENCED TRAUMATIC EVENTS DURING A CHAPTER OF LIFE. THESE EVENTS OFTEN REDEFINE THE VERY NATURE OF HOW WE PERCEIVE LIFE AND CAN HAVE PROFOUND EFFECTS ON HOW OUR BODIES AND MINDS FUNCTION. Some of these causal connections have been studied extensively and point the way to-ward some practical techniques that can im-prove health, function, and quality of life. e connection we’re talking about today is that of breathing and trauma or PTSD. To under-stand this connection, we rst must cover a bit of functional neuroanatomy, and we promise it won’t hurt!Our bodies have two separate nervous systems constantly at work. e one we’re all familiar with is the voluntary/sensory nervous system, also known as the somatic nervous system. It’s what provides us with conscious awareness of the body-things like touch and temperature, as well as the ability to move the body when we decide to move. e other half of the nervous system is known as the Auto-nomic nervous system, (ANS) and this part isn’t under our voluntary control. In fact, there isn’t really a sensory part to it at all, so there isn’t much of a conscious awareness of what this part is doing.So, what does the ANS actually do? It is what controls and powers your body to do all of the things that it needs to do, such as regu-lating and keeping your heart pumping, your stomach and gut digesting, regulating body temperature in hot or cold environments, and many other functions. To do this, the ANS is divided into two parts: the Sympathetic sys-tem, also known as Fight, Flight, Faint, or Freeze, and the Parasympathetic system, also known as Vagal system. e Sympathetic sys-tem works a bit like the gas pedal in a car, and Vagal a bit like the brake pedal. e Vagal sys-tem, through the Vagus nerve, powers most of the digestive function. For that reason, it’s sometimes also called the Relax and Digest system. So many names, we know (!!!), but the pattern of function is what is important.When your body is in Fight, Flight, Faint or Freeze (4F) mode, your digestion is inhib-ited. at’s because if it were a real ght or ight situation, digestion isn’t as important as survival! It also means that if you’re somewhat stuck in 4F mode, you can’t digest properly, and that imbalances gut bacteria and causes a cascade of problems. Our modern life is full of slow-simmering triggers for 4F mode; whereby some might say 2020 was 365 days of 4F triggers, as an exam-ple. People have endured many stresses with isolation, employment changes, interpersonal relations, and community/ social pressures. In the body’s 4F mode, blood pressure becomes elevated, hormones and neurotransmitters are (CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)
36Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comaltered, and the function of every part of the body is changed. When this is a long-term change, these alterations move us toward a sick, dysfunctional, and uncomfortable disease state. For female veterans, the most common and stress-based conditions that arise can be autoimmune disorders, diabetes and pre-dia-betes, cardiac issues, thyroid issues, reproduc-tive issues and miscarriages, excessive weight gain or loss, metabolism shifts, undened neu-ralgia, and chronic pain in the head or back. When treating their patients, both Dr. Matthews and Dr. Moore work with several complementary and alternative therapies to help balance the ANS system and reduce the eects of stress-based illnesses. ey know that in order for the body to be comfortable, and as functional and healthy as possible, it is essen-tial to achieve a balance of 4 F and Vagal states. So where does this tie into PTSD, traumat-ic life events, and stress? Breathing! Breathing is the thing that connects these events and a 4F dominant shift in function.When we breathe in, we bring the body a fresh batch of oxygen, which is needed for function and energy. When we breathe out, we allow the body to rid itself of carbon dioxide, the waste product produced from that energy cycle. Traumatic life events and PTSD result in altered breathing patterns, and these breathing patterns trigger a 4F mode shift. Shallow, faster breathing is highly associated with earlier trau-matic life events and PTSD. is breathing pat-tern causes us to build higher levels of carbon dioxide in the blood and tissues, while reduc-ing the vital oxygenation of the brain, muscles and other tissues. e shift to 4F mode furthers this by constricting blood vessels and reducing blood ow. In case you wondered yet, wearing a mask also drives up carbon dioxide levels, and is one of the reasons that mask wearing triggers anxiety in some individuals. Higher carbon di-oxide levels can be buered by the body to some extent, but chronically the elevation results in a reduced pH in the tissues of the body. is re-sultant acidity boost is irritating and is thought to be one of the changes causing panic attacks and also long term problems, such as bromyal-gia, chronic pain, and chronic fatigue.e brain is of course the most sensitive part when it comes to reduced oxygen and el-evated carbon dioxide. In addition, one of the most vulnerable parts of the brain is the frontal lobes-the part responsible for self-control and personality! Do we see a connection between trauma history, PTSD, and behavioral/per-sonality issues? Yes, denitely, and breathing changes are a piece of that puzzle which we can inuence to produce some relief.When we see people with these abnormal breathing patterns, what we see are changes in how much air is moved and also how the breath-ing movement happens. To put it simply, stress breathing patterns aren’t just shallow/faster breathing, they are also upside-down breathing that utilizes the upper lobes of the lungs and di-minishes air capacity in the lower lungs. What we mean here is that normal breathing originates in the diaphragm and belly; and uses the abdomi-nal (transverse abdominus) muscles to push the last bit of air out. If a deeper breath is needed, the chest wall and ribs move, starting at the bot-tom, then maybe the upper ribs if a total capacity breath is needed. is upside-down breathing does not help the stale air and any bacteria es-cape from the lower lungs, and this reduces the amount of fresh, healthy oxygen that the body receives from the alveoli diusion process.Stress breathing also inhibits posture because body movement starts at the upper chest, lever-aging the neck and trapezius muscles to initiate the air movement instead of the diaphragm. is is both inecient as well as damaging, as these muscles aren’t designed for that purpose. So what we see clinically is a tight and tender neck and upper shoulder muscles, with lots of myofascial trigger points providing painful stimulation. In addition, the abdominal muscles get weaker, making the belly look bigger or abbier than it really is. Essentially, the core muscles of the ab-domen lose their tone and this aects the posture of the back, neck, and pelvis – causing both im-balances and pain as the muscles, joints and liga-ments are being forced into unnatural positions.When someone learns to breathe more deeply, more slowly, and correctly, the eect on mental and physical health can be truly transformative. When proper breathing hab-its are established, the lungs operate more HOw breatHing wOrks
37Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021eciently, as the lower lungs can fully expel stale air and bring in fresh air that passes into the blood stream easier. e changes take time, but are very much worth the eort.Learning and performing breathing ex-ercises has been validated in research to help regulate a person’s heart rate variability and reduce both the acute and chronic symptoms of PTSD. Breathing exercises to improve breathing habits can take many forms, such as focused belly breathing (thing yoga), box breathing (think biofeedback), and very slow exhalations (think meditation and mindful-ness). It’s always more benecial to breathe in through the nose and not through the mouth, because the nose connects to the olfactory nerve which passes stimuli to the amygdala. e amygdala is the gatekeeper to the brain stem (hippocampus and hypothalamus) and is the primary regulator for the Autonomic ner-vous system.So for our readers, this is a good point to put in some breathing exercises! In many dif-ferent Japanese styles of martial arts training, the concepts of Ibuki and Nogare breathing describe the timing, force, and tonality of the breath. Sometimes, we need to derive force and strength from our breathing, ie. when we are lifting weights or diusing an impact by tight-ening muscles. is is best seen when we exhale with power or make a sound as we exert force with our bodies. We can also use sound with re-laxation breathing, as when we make the sound of ohm when we exhale and meditate. In either case, we are consciously connecting our minds to our breath for our health.Belly / Diaphragmatic BreathingWhen we learn to breath with our dia-phragm, if we are like most adults, we need to retrain our shoulders to remain still and allow our abdominal muscles to work e-ciently. is is because we have used our chest and back muscles since about the time that we started to walk. To learn this exercise, it may be easier to start in a laying position with the hands on the lower abdomen and the back, at on the bed or oor. At the intake of breath, the shoulders should remain still while the ab-domen rises. is is the motion to repeat in a seated, then standing position. At the exhale point, the abdomen should become attened as the abdominal muscles learn to contract naturally. Box BreathingBox breathing is a more structured form of diaphragmatic breath, in that the respi-ration process is broken into 4 parts. In-hale: Usually by nose to a count of 4 sec-onds, pause 4 seconds, exhale by mouth to a count of 4 seconds, and pause again for 4 seconds. Variations of box breathing can (CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)1. SLOWLY TAKE A DEEP BREATH IN2. FILL YOUR LUNGS WITH AIR3. YOUR ABDOMEN EXPANDS4. EXHALE AND YOUR ABDOMEN CONTRACTS INWARDDIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHINGbeLLY / DiapHragmatic breatHingDRAWBACKS OF A BAD POSTURE• SORENESS & PAIN• ARMS NUMBNESS• POOR DIGESTION• NEGATIVE MOOD• LOW SELF ESTEEM• POOR CIRCULATION• FATIGUEBENEFITS OFA GOOD POSTURE• PAIN PREVENTION• HIGHER MOBILITY• BETTER BREATHING• POSITIVE FEELINGS• HIGHER SELF ESTEEM• GOOD CIRCULATION• ENERGY EFFICIENCY• IMPROVED CONCENTRATION• LOOKING GOODIMPAIREDPOSTURECORRECTPOSTUREprOper pOstUre
38Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comhappen with advanced practice, whereby a person can change their heart rate variability and improve both lung capacity and blood oxygenation with a 4 second inhale, 4-5 sec-ond hold, 6-8 second exhale, and 4-5 second hold before inhaling.Nadi Shodhana (Alternat-ing Nostril breathing)Using this type of breathing is a self-help that uses neuroscience (brain dominance) and timed breathing to concentrate and destress. Holding your dominant hand up, fold over your pointer and index ngers. en place the hand over your nose as in the pictures. Use your thumb to press on one nostril as you inhale, then move your hand so the ring nger depresses the other nostril as you exhale. Keeping the hand in the same position to inhale, then move the thumb to hold the nostril to exhale again. Repeat this pattern with deeper and deeper breath pat-terns until better focus is achieved and stress is reduced.Prolonged ExhalationProlonged exhalation is Dr. Moore’s fa-vorite breathing exercise because it combines visualization, with both timed breathing and progressive muscle relaxation for those who are locked in a stress cycle. It is practiced in many cultures but is most prevalent in Chinese and Japanese exercises. Whether in a seated or standing position, a person straightens the back and then breathes in abdominally. When a person exhales very slowly, he or she visualizes a stress or prob-lem owing down the arms from the shoul-ders and neck and is then released from the hands into the air before the next inhale. e next inhale brings a visualization of fresh air or water washing the vestiges of stress away, and then is exhaled with the same visualiza-tion of release. is can be done as often as needed and where-ever a person is. An ex-cellent (and free) guide for this exercise can be downloaded at https://www.scribd.com/doc/137180966/Lam-Kam-Chuen-Every-day-Chi-Kung.naDi sHODHana(aLternating nOstriL breatHing)BOX BREATHINGBENEFITS OF BOX BREATHING1. BRINGS BALANCE TO YOUR MIND AND BODY2. REGULATES YOUR NATURAL RYTHM3. EFFECTIVE DEALING WITH STRESS, ANXIETY & ANGERHOLD FOR 4 COUNTSHOLD FOR 4 COUNTSEXHALE FOR 4 COUNTSINHALE FOR 4 COUNTSbOx breatHing
Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021In conclusion, Dr. Matthews and Dr. Moore are experts in helping their patients relieve stress-based health issues. To date, they have brought forth a year of articles that have taught about stress-related illnesses and the complementary health options available to help female veterans and their families take back their health, as they learn to live healthy lives again. For work in brain-based vestibular health, lyme mitigation, stress based illnesses, and dy-namic gut health, Dr. Matthews is available at the Center for Integrative Chiropractic Neu-rology (https://www.neurodoc4u.com/). He has written e Symbiont Factor, How the Gut Redenes Health, Disease and Human-ity available at https://www.amazon.com/Symbiont-Factor-Microbiome-Redenes-Hu-manity/dp/1500553948/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UT-F8&qid=1487207776&sr=8-1&key-words=the+symbiont+factor.For work in behavioral health, stress based illnesses, and integrative medicine, Dr. Moore is available at her practice at http://www.downeas-twellness.com. As a veteran and also a survivor of military sexual assault, she has written a high-ly acclaimed book on overcoming adversity. Building Resiliency: 32 Days to a Better You, is available at http://www.DrRuthMoorebook.com and will soon be available through Amazon and other book sellers.Dr. Matthews can be reached atwww.neurodoc4u.comDr. Moore can be reached at www.downeastwellness.com.Dr. Richard Matthews is a Board Certied Chiropractic Neurologist who specializes in brain based, vestibular health and functional medicine. Dr. Ruth Moore holds Fellow status with the Complementary Medical Association and is a Board Certied Clinical Aromatherapist and Integrative Practitioner who specializes in Cognitive Behaviorism and Holistic Health. Together they are The Integrative Docs. Each half of this professional team has their respective practices in Ellsworth, Maine; but as siblings, they serve as medical advisors to AVOW Magazine and collaborate as consultants for organizations around the country. Dr. Richard Matthews’ fascinating book that teaches about Gut Health in a fun and interesting way. > www.amazon.com/Symbiont-Factor-Mi-crobiome-Redenes Humanity/dp/1500553948Dr Matthews’ blog: > thesymbiontfactorblog.com/ABOUT THEDOCTORSThe Symbiont Factor, How the Gut Redenes Health, Disease and Humanity by Dr. Matthews.Building Resiliency: 32 Days to a Better You by Dr. Moore.39
Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.com40Katherine Miller, USA / DirectorNevada Department of Veterans ServicesColonel (U.S. Army, Retired) Kat Miller over-sees her department’s mission of connecting Veterans and their families to benets they earned. Before working with Nevada veterans, she served 34 years in the United States Army – 32 years in the active force and two years in the Nevada National Guard.Beginning her career as a soldier in the Women’s Army Corps, Miller attended Of-cer Candidate School and achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant prior to receiving her commission as an ofcer. She culminated her military service with assignments as a military police brigade commander serving in the United States and in Afghanistan, and as the Commander of the Department of Defense’s largest correctional organi-zation. After retiring, she taught college at the Universities of Maryland and Nevada. Her education includes a Master of Science Degree from the U.S. Army War College and a Master of Public Administration from Roosevelt University in Chicago. She lives in the beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills with her family and enjoys traveling around the state skiing, hiking, and hunting for gold and other shiny things.Melissa Washington, USN / Founder - Women Veterans AllianceAward-winning advocate, speaker, author, entrepreneur, CEO, publisher, and proud Navy veteran Melissa A. Washington wears many hats. Yet woven throughout her diverse pursuits is a mission of service—and a passion to empower her fellow women.In 2015, Melissa founded Women Veterans Alliance—a national organization that seeks to empower and positively impact the lives of women veterans. Three years later, she established the nonprot wing of WVA, Women Veterans Giving. Both entities offer women veterans opportunities to gain valuable career experience and successfully integrate back into civilian life. In 2021, Melissa expanded her role in the community by co-founding Women Veterans Magazine—the rst publication of its kind to serve California’s more than 165,000 women veterans. Launching in Jan-uary 2022, the annual magazine speaks to the issues that affect women veterans, while providing them with local and national resources. Phyllis J. Wilson, USA / PresidentMilitary Women’s MemorialWilson is the President of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foun-dation, and is responsible for the operation of the Military Women’s Memorial. Chief Warrant Ofcer Five (CW5) Phyllis J. Wilson, U.S. Army (Retired) completed 37 years of military service. She is a life member of numerous Veteran associ-ations - VFW, DAV, AUSA, USAWOA, MOAA, ROA, AMVETS, AUSN, and the American Legion. She is also a Daughter of the American Revolution as well as a descendant of the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayower in 1620. Wilson holds two Master’s Degrees (Management and Public Administration), two Bachelor of Science degrees, and is a registered nurse with experience as a director of nursing. She was inducted into the Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame in March, 2017. Wilson joined the Associ-ation of the United States Army (AUSA) Board of Directors in 2018 and was invited to be an AUSA Senior Fellow in 2019, serves on the Board of Directors with the Army Women’s Foundation and Allied Forces Foundation, and is a member of the Board with Policy Vets.Keynote SpeakersLas Vegas / October 8 – 10, 2021SPONSORS
41Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021Conference AgendaFRIDAY, Oct. 8, 2021Opening Session5:00 PM - 6:30 PM / Cohiba 6&7Speaker - Katherine Miller, USADirector, Nevada Department of Veterans ServicesSpeaker - Melissa Washington, USNCEO & Founder, Women Veterans AllianceSATURDAY, Oct. 9, 2021Saturday Morning Session9:00 AM - 9:45 AM / Cohiba 6&7Speaker - Phyllis J. Wilson, USAPresident, Military Women’s MemorialHow to get on Commission or Board10:00 AM - 10:45 AM / Cohiba 9Speaker - Zoe Dunning, USNBoard Member, California Veterans BoardThe Winners, Witches, and Flying Monkeys of Workplace Bullying: 10 Steps to Survival Success10:00 AM - 10:45 AM / Cohiba 8Speaker - Jacqueline Garrick, USAFounder, Whistleblowers of AmericaThe ABC’s of Taxes Effecting Veterans (Personal & Business)10:00 AM - 10:45 AM / Cohiba 11Speaker - Kasey Ortiz, USMCEnrolled Agent, EA, The Tax Tip Diva LLCWomen in Media Panel11:00 AM - 11:45 AM / Cohiba 9Speakers - Babee Garcia (Journal-ism); Amanda Huffman (Podcaster); Lila Holley (Author), Ashley Arnold (Executive Producer)Today’s Leadership Skills for Tomorrow’s World: Busting Myths About What Leadership SHOULD Look Like11:00 AM - 11:45 AM / Cohiba 8Speaker - Linda Patten, USALeadership Trainer for Women Change-makers, Dare2Lead With LindaFederal Contracts11:00 AM - 11:45 AM / Cohiba 11Speaker - William Osgood, USMCPresident, CFR & AssociatesHelp Veterans Find Their Purpose and Passion After Military service1:15 PM - 2:00 PM / Cohiba 11Speaker - Kelley Rheault, USAFFounder and Coach, The Transitioning WarriorSpeak to the Skin You Are In - Representing Diversity in the Work Force and Overcoming Unconscious Biases1:15 PM - 2:00 PM / Cohiba 9Speaker - Danelle Barrett, USNIndependent Director, Federal Home Loan Bank of NYVoicing Your Value1:15 PM - 2:00 PM / Cohiba 8Speaker - Ariel Shivers-McGrew, USACEO, Tactful Disruption, LLCMarathon of One Tagline: Transform, Renew, ReInVentU2:15 PM - 3:00 PM / Cohiba 11Speaker - Demika Jackson, USACEO, ReInVentU, LLC - Nonprot SolutionsJumpstart Your Journey! Learn the Surere Ways to Expressing Yourself Creatively2:15 PM - 3:00 PM / Cohiba 8Speaker - Siobhan D. Cunningham, USAFFounder, Siobhan DeAnn LLCHow to Maximize 24 hours & Get More Done Effortlessly2:15 PM - 3:00 PM / Cohiba 9Speaker - Dr. Paris Love, USACEO, Paris Love Productivity InstituteCelebrating Purposeful Progress3:15 PM - 4:00 PM / Cohiba 8Speaker - Nichelle Webb, USMCOwner, Leatherneck Cane Corso KennelInterpersonal Communication: Thinking Differently to Communicate More Effectively3:15 PM - 4:00 PM / Cohiba 11Speaker - Deanna Parker, USMCProgram Manager, EBV & V-WISE, In-stitute for Veterans & Military FamiliesForward March! Self Image is More Than My Afppearance3:15 PM - 4:00 PM / Cohiba 9Speaker - Stacey Bulluck, USACEO/President, Ordered Steps IncSATURDAY EVENING Small Business Awards Semi-Formal Dinner Event6:30 PM-9:00 PM / Cohiba 6&7SUNDAY, Oct. 10, 2021Breakfast - Closing Session - Community GiveBack8:00 AM-11:00 AM / Cohiba 6&7MORE... FRIDAYLifetime Members Special Event1:00 PM-2:30 PM / TBA Info Desk3:30 PM-6:45 PM / Cohiba 3Headshots3:45 PM-4:45 PM / Cohiba 6&7Previously scheduled appointments only.Mix & Mingle7:30 PM-9:30 PMin the Havana RoomTheme: Dress as someone famousSATURDAYMorning Walk6:30 AM-7:30 AM / LobbyInfo Desk | Store7:45 AM-5:00 PM / Cohiba 3Breakfast7:45 AM-8:45 AM / Cohiba 6&7Exhibitor Marketplace8:00 AM-3:00 PM / Cohiba 5Styling Boutique Sessions10:00 AM-2:30 PM / ChurchillHeadshot Sessions10:30 AM-11:50 AM / Cohiba 3Previously scheduled appointments only.Book Signing1:15 PM-3:00 PM / Cohiba 3Painting Class1:15 PM-2:30 PM / Cohiba 1Line Dancing3:00 PM-4:00 PM / Cohiba 4 Wine Tasting4:15 PM-5:00 PM / Cohiba 1SUNDAYMorning Walk6:30 AM-7:30 AM / LobbyStore8:00 AM-9:00 AM / Cohiba 3Creating cards for veterans in Nevada Veteran Homes
Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.com42Lila Holley, USACEO & FounderCamouaged SistersLila Holley is the visionary behind the Camouaged Sisters brand. This multi-award winning, ve-time Amazon #1 bestselling author is also a combat Veteran. Lila is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Ofcer Four with multiple deployments to Iraq, the Philippines, and Bosnia. She has been featured on Hufngton Post (huffpost.com), forbes.com, and blackenter-prise.com, theroot.com, and the Black Girls Rock social media page. Her story has been high-lighted several times on KWTX (CBS afliate) Channel 10, The Wright Place TV show, and KPLE-TV Christian television and in Simply Elevate Magazine, the Anchor News newspaper (Waco), and multiple times in the Killeen Daily Herald newspaper. Lila’s children are also published authors. Her 15-year-old daughter self-published three books and was a nalist for the IALA 2016 Youth Author of the Year award. Lila’s adult son self-published two books and has created a wonderful life for his family in Kansas.Babee Garcia, USMCDirector of Digital Strategy and Content Military Veterans in JournalismBabee Garcia is an award-winning communications professional with a demonstrat-ed history of military and media experience.She is currently a TV News Producer for CBS19 in Charlottesville, VA. She transitioned out of her previous job as the Digital and Press Assistant for Representative Mikie Sherrill’s district ofce.She earned her Bachelor’s in Journalism in January 2019 at Montclair State University, where she also earned multiple accolades.In addition to her experiences and skills in journalism, she is also a Marine Corps veteran. She was honorably discharged as a Corporal in March 2016, and worked as an Aviation Supply Specialist in MCAS New River, NC. Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors and is the Director of Digital Strategy and Content for the nonprot Military Veterans in Journalism.Amanda Huffman, USAFOwner, Airman to Mom LLCAmanda is a military spouse and veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer including a deploy-ment to Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career. She is an author, podcaster, blogger, freelance writer, and speaker. Amanda began the Women of the Military podcast in 2019. Each week a new episode is released highlighting a woman who has served or is currently serving in the military, and occasional episodes providing advice for the next generation of military women. In 2019, she also published her rst book, Women of the Military. Because of the podcast, Amanda created a free Girls Guide to the Military to help young women begin their path to military service that you can download on her blog airmantomom.com Amanda is also a freelance writ-er for We are the Mighty, Clear-ance Jobs, and SpouseLink. She has also been featured on Military.com, Military Spouse Magazine, Military Families Magazine, and MilspouseFest.Ashley ArnoldOwner and Executive ProducerDASH ProductionsAshley Arnold is an owner and Executive Producer of DASH Productions and Tello Films. At Tello, she produced the recent LGBTQ+ women’s holiday lms “I Hate New Year’s” and “Season of Love” along with the sci- feature lm “Riley Parra: Better Angels.” Addition-ally, she has held a variety of producing roles on several web series and short lms.She is also an owner and director of ClexaCon, the largest entertainment convention focused on LGBTQ+ women, trans and non-binary represen-tation in the media. She has worked with lmmakers and guests from the industry and facilitated panels, workshops, screenings and networking events for content creators and lmmakers. Before becoming a lmmaker herself, Ashley attended Penn State University where she majored in public relations. Ashley is a founding board member of The Visibility Fund, a 501c3 non-prot organization that gives grants to lmmakers from underrepresented communities to support their storytelling.Panel Speakers
43Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021Zoe Dunning, USNBoard Member - California Veterans Board Dunning served on active duty for six years, then transitioned to the US Navy Reserve, and retired at the rank of Commander. She publicly came out as a lesbian in protest of the military’s policy prohibiting LGBT service and was one of the first service members to be prosecuted under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. Having prevailed in her discharge hearing, Zoe went on to become a founding board member of the Servicemem-bers Legal Defense Network. President Barack Obama honored Zoe for her tireless commitment to equality in the military by asking that she stand beside him as he signed the historic Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010.Linda Patten, USALeadership Trainer for Women ChangemakersDare2Lead With Linda Patten’s leadership experience spans the military (including protocol ofcer to a 4-star general), corporate, and entrepreneurial arenas. She has trained thousands of men and women to step into their natural and powerful leadership roles. Her high-caliber interactive keynotes and trainings are based on her ground-breaking Comuential™ Leadership Model featured in her #1 international bestseller. William Osgood, USMCPresident - CFR & AssociatesOsgood leads a small business veteran advocacy and is a Certified Business and Executive Coach with CFR & Associates. As a certified business coach, he has logged over 5,000 hours coaching, consulting, and working with over 200 business owners and small businesses. William served in the USMC (United States Marine Corps) for three years prior to his medical discharge. He has three companies; CFR & Associates, CFR Supply Chain Management (CFR SCM), and CFR Staffing & Recruiting. SessionSpeakersJacqueline Garrick, USALCSW-C, BCETS, SHRM-CP, WPAExecutive Director, FAR Group (SDVOSB)Founder, Whistleblowers of America Garrick founded Whistleblowers of America as a nonprot in 2017, providing voluntary peer support to those suffering the impacts of Workplace Traumatic Stress. She developed the Whistleblow-er Retaliation Checklist© to identify negative psychosocial impacts on victimized employees and provide forensic testimony. She is on the Advisory Boards for ConsenSys Health and Parrhesia, a British charity devoted to whistleblower research. Professor Garrick, has taught for the University of Southern California, School of Social Work, and has supervised interns from the University of West Florida. She is also founder of the Workplace Promise Institute.She was a U.S. Army Ofcer and also served in executive positions at the American Legion, the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Defense (DoD), and with the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. She is a recognized public servant with multiple awards. She is the founder of the FAR Group, providing consultation to public and private organizations that need development, advocacy, and educational support. Garrick is a published author, media source, and an international public speaker having worked on projects in the former Soviet Union, for the US military in Germany and Afghanistan, and the World Health Organization in Switzerland. She is a social work master’s graduate from Temple University with additional training at Johns Hopkins and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is a licensed social worker (LCSW-C) in MD and is credentialed through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM-CP), a Board Certied Expert in Traumatic Stress (BCETS) and Whistleblower Protection Advocate (WPA).Kelley Rheault, USAFFounder and Coach / The Transitioning WarriorRheault brings a unique blend of business, entrepre-neurship, training, and military intelligence enterprise to the table. She was in the USAF as an airborne German linguist with special assignments to NATO. After serving, she earned her business degree from Montana State University, and for 24 years she has run her own agency with LegalShield specializing in employee benets. In 2018 she launched “The Transitioning Warrior”, a Veteran’s organization that supports military men and women in discovering their purpose and passion after they leave the military. She serves on the MISSION UNITED of Broward County Florida’s Advisory Counsel where she leads the women veterans initiative. Her mission is to empower others to be happy and fullled in their careers which leads to living a more purposeful and joyful life!
44Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comDemika Jackson, USACEO - ReInVentU, LLC - Nonprot SolutionsJackson is U.S. Army War Veteran, President of the Jacksonville Veterans Chamber of Commerce, and the Chief Executive Ofcer of ReInVentU, LLC. Her company assists veteran and nonprot organiza-tions with strategic planning, organizational develop-ment, professional, and grant writing services.She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Armstrong Atlantic State University and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration and Master’s in Psychology. She is a certied trainer in a variety of disciplines including over 15+ years of experience within nonprot, military operations, leadership development and training, sexual assault prevention, mental health, and program development.She provides education as a Dean of Students, advo-cacy as a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and Department of Defense Mobile Training Consultant, mental health services as a Clinical Program Coordi-nator, and additional programs to assist communities in thriving. She serves on several boards including the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women, Mayor’s Hispanic American Advisory Board, The Mission Continues, and the Annie Ruth Foundation to name a few, as well as several veteran organizations.Siobhan D. Cunningham, USAFFounder - Siobhan DeAnn LLCCunningham, LCSW, is the Founder and CEO of Siobhan DeAnn Consulting, a strategic coaching agency specializing in integrated behavioral health care implementation, program recommen-dations, and leadership education to women vet-eran entrepreneurs. Siobhan has over 13 years of experience helping civilian and military families connect the dots between what they’ve learned and what they do. She has a passion for helping women veterans create the boutique-style busi-ness of their dreams.Ariel Shivers-McGrew, USACEO - Tactful Disruption, LLCMcGrew is a PhD Candidate of Business Psycholo-gy, consulting at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She currently serves as an adjunct pro-fessor at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology teaching counseling theories and multicultural counseling. She is a contributing author to Teaching Beautiful Brilliant Black Girls. She has helped support the EDC in the white paper series development for the Women Veterans in STEM Pipeline project. She is a published author, counselor, advocate, entrepreneur, and military veteran. As Founder and CEO of Tactful Disruption, LLC®, She is a scholarly practitioner who is on a mission to “boldly edit workplace italics”. McGrew has a master’s in arts in Clinical Mental Health counseling. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), a Qualied Mental Health Professional (QMHP), and certied nonprot professional (CNP). SessionSpeakersKasey Ortiz, USMCEnrolled Agent, EA - The Tax Tip Diva LLCProud Marine Corps Veteran, Author, Prestigious Enrolled Agent, and all-around Diva! After serving her country as an active-duty Marine for nearly 6 years; she was required to take a medical discharge and wondered what career path to pursue. Multi-talented and interested in several different paths, a decision to take a tax class was made. There, she learned her military discharge pay had been incorrectly taxed and immediately amended her taxes, received a refund, and thought to herself; “How many other people out there don’t know the tax laws and tax information crucial to protecting their family income?” Over the next 15 years, she worked for many of the big-name tax agencies, eventually being offered the opportunity to lead a franchise’s tax ofce and made the ofce #1! It was a rst for the franchise owner in the history of the San Diego County ofces. Disappointed with the ‘cookie-cutter’ approach of the big-name tax agencies, she was convinced that going independent was the only way to incorporate her philosophy of educating the client. Following that passion, she opened Tax Ofce and success-fully grew it for the next 14 years before selling the business. Continuing with her passion of educating the client; The Tax Tip Diva was created on social media to educate Individuals and help new or established business owners regarding tax issues affecting their income. Her passion has continually been working with small business owners on tax strategies along with Compliance Issues, being a regular speaker as a way of sharing tax tips.Danelle Barrett, USNIndependent Director / Federal Home Loan Bank of NYWith over 30-years in the US Navy, Former Rear Admiral Danelle Barrett served as director of current operations at US Cyber Command and the US Navy’s deputy chief information ofcer and director of cyber security. Assignments included deployments to Iraq, support of operations in Afghanistan, and providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. She holds four Master’s Degrees and is author of the Amazon Best Seller “Rock the Boat: Embrace Change, En-courage Innovation and Be a Successful Leader.” She is a keynote speaker, consultant, and an independent director on several corporate boards.
45Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021Dr. Paris Love, USACEOParis Love Productivity InstituteLove, CEO of the Paris Love Produc-tivity Institute, is one of the country’s foremost organizational and produc-tivity coaches. A best-selling author on Amazon.com, highly sought-after speaker, and former U.S. Army Ser-geant, Love has a tremendous talent for bringing order to chaos, and for providing her clients with streamlined, efcient, manageable approaches to running their lives and businesses. After many years of working with a wide variety of clients in a host of set-tings, she’s honed in on her specialty: helping overextended professionals overcome the barriers that keep them disorganized, dissatised, and discon-tented in their life, business, or career.Deanna Parker, USMCProgram Manager, EBV & V-WISEInstitute for Veterans & Military FamiliesParker serves as the Program Manager for both the Entrepre-neurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) and Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) Programs.She is a four-year veteran of the Marine Corps, serving in various roles including legal chief and transportation dispatch chief before leaving the military as a sergeant. During her time in service, she received more than a dozen honors and was deployed to Afghanistan and North Africa.Nichelle Webb, USMCOwnerLeatherneck Cane Corso KennelWebb is a retired First Sergeant of the United States Marine Corps after serving 23 years, four months, and three days of active duty. Upon retirement Webb received her certification as a Marine Instructor with the United States Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (MCJROTC). Her current po-sition is the Senior Marine Instructor for the MCJROTC program at Desert Hot Springs High School, in Desert Hot Springs, California. As a Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff) owner and breeder since 2004, she fell in love with the breed. Due to their rarity and breeding, the Cane Corso is considered an elite breed among the Working Dog breed and can be expensive to own. Webb made it her mission to breed quality Cane Corso’s with reputable lines that were affordable for other Service members, like herself. She has been placing Cane Corso’s with service members, in forever homes, for over 10 years.Stacey Bulluck, USACEO/PresidentOrdered Steps IncBulluck is an author and transfor-mational speaker committed to igniting resilience and building the life skills of her clients and audiences. Through her messages of inspira-tion, motivation, and transformation, individuals regain power to become emotionally healed and capable of persevering through opposition, mak-ing us stronger and better equipped to fulll purpose.She is a 2021 best-selling author of two solo books and one anthology: “I Am My Sister’s Keeper,” “Beaten Oil,” and “Regain Power Through Resilience: Don’t Let Your Brain Go Numb.”wOmenVeteransUncOnference.cOm
Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.com46BY KAREN STEINBOCKPOST-MILITARY CAREERS: WHY WORKING YOUR WAY UP MIGHT BE A LOSING STRATEGY
47Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021It's common for women leaving the military to overlook the many times we jumped (or were dropped) into something new and used our skills, talents, and work ethic to create great successes. Instead, we tend to think about the overall path of our military careers – doing our jobs, accumulating years, and checking the boxes to make the next rank - “working our way up.”Because we're conditioned to correlate pay and status with time in service and incre-mental promotions, women in uniform may sell ourselves short when looking for our rst post-military jobs. In particular, those leaving the military after 4-10 years frequently consider entry-level positions when they could be aiming higher. We often don’t understand how to cal-culate our value in the civilian world, so we rea-son that we should start small and build up. In reality, we’d benet from considering the skills and resources already at our command.Check Your Beliefse “work my way up” mentality is often rooted in limiting beliefs.Beliefs we have to “pay our dues” before we’re worthy or capable of holding a higher positionBeliefs that in order to eectively lead oth-ers we have to be experts in their workBeliefs that we’ll look absurd or otherwise be judged for aiming too highFear that we might actually get what we want and then not be able to deliverBeliefs we’re not ____enough. Fill in the blank with your word of choice - experienced, capable, knowledgeable, old, creative, talent-ed, etc.ese beliefs are so important to recognize, because where you start can have a signicant impact on your civilian career trajectory and earning power. More than that, it will impact your life and job satisfaction. Aim too low – go for that job that doesn't excite you, but feels like a safe, reasonable, respectful place to start - and you’ll rob yourself not only of a higher salary, but of amazing opportunities for work that could challenge and thrill you.Ready for some good news? You get to choose which beliefs you keep and which ones you replace with dierent thoughts and beliefs that will better serve you, for example:I’ve already paid any dues owed. I’ve worked hard and developed a skill set that en-ables me to succeed at challenging, high-level positions.I’m not being hired to be an expert in oth-ers’ work; I’m being hired to use my unique skills and experience to support and lead those who are the work experts. ere are other ways to understand their needs and capabilities be-sides doing that work myself.Who cares if others think I’m aiming too high? It’s more likely they’re not thinking about me at all. Besides, nothing has been “too high” for me so far. I know I can deliver because I know how to leverage my skills and resources to get the job done.is work is exciting to me, and I know that when I’m lit up by what I’m doing, I’m an unstoppable force of awesome!Consider What You’ve Already AccomplishedHow many of those jobs and tasks the military assigned you – the ones you ended up totally crushing like the badass you are – would you have felt condent and experienced enough to apply for yourself?You didn’t start over as an O-1 or E-1 at each new command in order to work your way up. Heck no! You PCS’d in and supervised people who were more experienced in their tasks and were more knowledgeable about cer-tain topics than you.No one really cared what you’d done before (CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)On the surface, the military seems like a “work your way up” organization. After all, pay and title are based on rank and time in service; but if you look past the pay structure and consider the work, most military careers are loaded with tasks, jobs, and leadership roles for which one has little or no direct experience. The military says, “Do this thing. You haven’t done it before, but we know you have the skills and resources for it,” and so you take it on, gure it out, and nd a path to success.
48Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.com– they judged you on how you showed up and performed in this job. With each new role you expanded the collection of skills and strategies in your toolbox for learning, connecting, un-derstanding, and producing results.Why, as a civilian, should you start low and work your way up when you’ve proven time and again that you can be successful wherever you start?BUT IS WORKING YOUR WAY UP SOMETIMES THE RIGHT STRATEGY?Yep. ere are times it denitely makes sense. And there are times it denitely doesn’t. Let’s dive into each of these a bit more.4 Times When Working Your Way Up is Selling Yourself Short1. You're Making is Choice Under the Inuence of Limiting Beliefs or FearI would circle this three times and underline it twice if I could.is is where too many women sell themselves short.Nearly all of us are at risk for doing this – either con-sciously or subconsciously. We think maybe we're not quite ready enough, or per-haps we're letting a little imposter syndrome get the better of us. If you nd yourself trying to rationalize the decision to go for a lesser job – to convince yourself that you’re doing the right/safe/smart/reasonable thing, that's a red ag. Extra red if while you're rationalizing, a part of you is wishing you were bold enough to go for the opportunity you really want.Don't fall victim to this B.S. You are talent-ed, skilled, and capable of far more than you re-alize. We all are. Seek some input from a mentor or trustworthy friend (one who is committed to telling you the hard truths and to helping you be your best.) Working with a professional coach – someone who will challenge you to ex-amine your assumptions and beliefs – can be a powerful way to gain additional insight.2. You Don’t Really Want Your Bosses’ Job or Any of the Jobs Above Youe thing is, I’ve never wanted my bosses’ jobs. For too long I thought I was supposed to, but I would look at their jobs and think, “Ick; no thanks.” en I’d judge myself as being unmoti-vated and lacking commitment. Double ick.ere’s this unreasonable social expectation that we all should want to “move up” to the job above us, and then to the job above that one. If that is what you want, great – go for it and crush it! But working your way up is the ultimate losing game if all you win are promo-tions into new jobs you don’t like.Once I realized I could choose a job I was ex-cited about and use that job to develop and rene skills that would help me in any future pursuits, I stopped wasting energy on what the future "up" looked like and started stretching toward more exciting and challenging now opportunities.3. It Doesn’t Align With Your Valuesink. About. What. Matters. To. You.I know people who’ve spent 20+ years in a company and enjoyed the vast majority of that time – promoting internally, creating great op-portunities for themselves, doing wonderful work, supporting employees, and experiencing fullling personal growth along the way. is will likely never be me. Don’t get me wrong; this is a perfectly lovely path. In fact, part of me is jealous of these folks; their path sounds so nice, clear, and relatively predictable – but it’s just not the right t with what I value.I value having the freedom and exibility to pursue new interests and ideas, and to apply the skills I’ve developed to dierent opportu-nities. More than feeling fully prepared to take the next incremental step up, I enjoy the exhil-aration of feeling I'm just a bit over my head in an exciting new job or project. I appreciate feeling free to do the best work I can do with-out having to worry about whether or not I’m pleasing the right people or doing/saying the right things to get promoted. It’s not that I’m opposed to promotion within an organization, but my experience has been that those internal "up" opportunities rarely check the boxes on my personal values list.Dedicate time to thinking about what you value, and let that be an important guide in your career decisions.4. You Want to Maximize Your Earning PowerCompanies may pay internal promotions less than they pay external hires. What seems like a sizable raise to someone promoting within the organization may actually be a lower salary than the organization would have to oer external candidates in order to be competitive in the labor market.Also, new hires will often come in at higher salaries than current employees doing the same jobs. is happens a lot, even in great companies. It’s re-ferred to as pay compression or salary compression. Below are a few articles that explain this phenomenon.Consider that while you working your way up in one company may feel more secure nancially, it may be costing you more than you realize.-Forbes: A New Study Concludes That It Literally Pays To Switch Jobs Right Now -Forbes: Employees Who Stay In Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less (over their lifetime)-Fortune: Why New Hires at Your Company Are Getting High Pay but Older Employees Aren’t Getting Raises-Salary.com: A Beginner’s Guide to Pay CompressionIt’s common for a hiring manager to choose a less experienced candidate they know, trust, and are condent they can mentor and train over the “riskier” candidate who looks more qualied on paper, but is unknown to them.
49Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021SO WHEN DOES IT MAKE SENSE WORK YOUR WAY UP?e answer to this question is "when you have a really good reason." So what's a good reason? Here are a few:4 Times When Working Your Way Up is a Solid Strategy1. To Prepare for Your Next ingSometimes you have to take a step "back" in order to change course and move forward on a better path. You're not settling or selling yourself short. is isn't an action being tak-en because of fear or limiting beliefs. You're responding to real barriers, challenges, and opportunities that exist. ere are a number of situations that fall into this category. Here are a few:A. e career that interests you requires skills or expertise you don't haveYou just know in your heart that sales is your jam. You’re charming, extro-verted, love travel, and are good with numbers. But aside from a retail job in high school, you have no actual sales experience. It’s probably not reason-able to expect to walk into a Director of Sales position. You might have a ton of leadership, project management, and operational experience, but that likely doesn’t transfer directly into relevant sales expertise.I’m not saying you’ll have to start at the very bottom, but you’ll have to adjust expectations. You may need to work in sales a while before looking to step into a higher leadership role. See C. below for why it might make sense to pursue internal promotion in these situations.B. e company will pay for a degree, certication, and/or excellent trainingGrad school is ridiculously expensive. Many certications and licenses are, too. If you need these to get into the career or job you want (or to get to the next level), then it may be a good nancial decision to take a lower salary if the company will foot the bill. Upon completing the degree/cert/training, you'll likely be in a position to seek a higher position and salary, either within your same company or elsewhere.C. e job you want typically requires or “prefers” degrees, certications, or years of experience you don’t yet haveMany organizations will consider pro-moting internal candidates who don’t meet all preferred job requirements. Your company-specic expertise, credi-bility, and relationships can really be a benet here. Hiring managers are hu-mans, and most humans feel safer going with what they know. It's common for a hiring manager to choose a less ex-perienced candidate they know, trust, and are condent they can mentor and train over the “riskier” candidate who looks more qualied on paper, but is unknown to them. (BTW, this is also (CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)
50Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comwhy networking to nd a job is so much more eective than blindly applying.)is can be a good way to go if you have to start low to gain a little expe-rience but want to level-up quickly. I’ve seen people get internally pro-moted into roles they would have needed 1-3 more years of experience (and possibly a degree or certica-tion) to land if they’d tried to apply at another company in the industry. is path may enable you to acceler-ate the beginning of your new career when you don’t yet have the relevant experience or requirements necessary to compete for higher level positions at other companies.2. You Really Want to Work in a Specic Or-ganizationPrestigious consulting rms, exciting tech companies, unique startups… Some compa-nies are just hard to get into. ey’re popular and receive applications from loads of high-ly-qualied candidates and/or they don't have many job opportunities available. Other com-panies prefer to only promote from within. In these cases, you may have to start lower than you’d like just to get your foot in the door.3. You Prefer Consistency and Relative Pre-dictability Over Big Changes and Dierent OpportunitiesWe all deal with a lot of change in our lives, whether we want to or not. Some people prefer to minimize change and disruption where they can, and nd it more enjoyable to stay in a com-pany they know. ere are certainly benets to staying with a company over time: understand-ing the culture, expectations, and history of the organization, building long term relationships, having a deeper understanding of the compa-ny's work and of your work, internal promotion opportunities, and fairly reliable incremental increases in salary and time o.If what matters to you is consistency, pre-dictability, and long-term relationships, then staying with a company and working your way up might be a perfect t. If your goal is to nd a company and stay there, it's extra important to ensure you're coming into the organization at the right level for your experience. Starting low can be hard to overcome in this situation and can really cost you over time.A note: Although longevity with a com-pany often oers a measure of security. I have been repeatedly shocked in my civilian career at the lack of loyalty shown by organi-zations (even good ones) to their employees when it comes time to make changes. High performers, great team players, strong lead-ers –I've seen them all get dropped when the company decides to “restructure” or “make budget cuts.”I share this not to discourage you, but be-cause it was such a shock to me the rst few times I saw it happen, and I think it's both helpful and important to have the possibility on one's radar when making choices and mov-ing forward in a civilian career.4. You're Intentionally Choosing a Job Below Your CapabilitiesMaybe you want a job that’s easier so you can focus your energy on family, your health, hobbies, volunteer work, or that side hustle
51Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021Links that may be helpful for you:About: www.sixmoresteps.com/about/Original posts on www.sixmoresteps.com blog:Part 1 - Post-Military Careers: Why Working Your Way Up Might be a Losing StrategyPart 2 - 4 Times When Working Your Way Up is Selling Yourself Short Part 3 - 4 Times When Working Your Way Up is a Solid StrategyKAREN STEINBOCK, NAVYKaren is a Navy Veteran, nurse, leader, photographer, inventor, sort-of adventurer, pretend athlete, wannabe writer, my dog’s second favorite human, podcast addict, sometimes socially awkward introvert. Navy Nurse from 2002-2007. Deployed to Iraq with Bravo Surgical Co, 1st Medical Battalion.WWW.SIXMORESTEPS.COM/SHOW-UPyou’ve been wanting to get up and going. Maybe you're burned out and need a break to try something new and interesting.ere are all kinds of super valid reasons for pursuing a job below your capabilities; but if you go this route, be strategic about it. Make a choice that’s going to set you up for your next thing by helping you learn a new skill set, building relationships, provid-ing you with experience that will be valuable in future pursuits, or by providing you with time outside of work to build your future in other ways.A few years ago, I left my Director job with a healthcare organization and accepted a job coaching inventors around licensing their product ideas (my former side hustle.) I made less than 50% of my healthcare sal-ary, but I learned a ton about the industry, developed some new skills around coaching and teaching, and built connections and re-lationships with wonderful, fascinating peo-ple. Also, it was a lot of fun, and that's a valid reason, too. Totally worth it!THE BOTTOM LINEHow and where you start your post-military career can have a massive impact on your earn-ing power, job satisfaction, and future options.If you’re choosing to start lower than you’re capable of to work your way up, be sure you have a good reason for doing so. Understand the potential short-and long-term costs and benets. ink about what you value and how that aligns with the choice you’re making. Be sure it’s a thoughtful, conscious choice and not limiting beliefs or a lack of clearly dened val-ues getting the better of you.Seek support from friends, mentors, and coaches as you think through your options, and remember, there's no one perfect decision. Wher-ever you land doesn't have to be permanent.e truth is, if it doesn't go right for you, you can recognize it (hopefully quickly), reas-sess, adjust, and try again. So worry less about making the right choice, and focus your energy on being thoughtful and bold and on making a good choice that aligns with your values. is will provide a solid foundation from which to keep learning and growing.
Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.com52BY MAJ. MICHELLE LUNATO, 98TH TRAINING DIVISION PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICERThough she knew nothing about the U.S. Army, it captivated Kiaveth Vasquez. Intrigued, she immediately thought, I can do that; it cannot be that hard. She stashed the memory to the back of her mind from that day on. e young girl didn’t have time for dreams back then. She had bigger issues to deal with. Vasquez and her two brothers had been kidnapped out of the United States by a fam-ily member in 1994 when she was eight years old. ey were smuggled out of California through Mexico, into Guatemala, and then eventually, El Salvador. e three siblings en-dured a number of challenging years, but one home in Guatemala went past challenging, it was just horrible, said Vasquez.“We call it the Hell House, for all the torture my brothers and I endured.”Eventually, another family member res-cued the kids from that house, and they were able to start enjoying their childhood. Unfor-tunately, returning the three children to the United States had become problematic. Due to various reasons, the children would have to wait until they were 18 years old to reen-ter the United States, where they would then have to prove their citizenship. e process of proving citizenship for abducted children back then was complicat-ed to say the least, explained Vasquez. Trivial elementary school records and photographs from earlier family Disney trips had become vital documentation.rough a lot of work and persistence, Vasquez and her brothers were ultimately al-lowed to return home to the United States; however, their homecoming was not a smooth transition. “I had been out of the United States for 10 years, after all,” explained Vasquez. “I was nally able to come back home, but didn’t know English. I understood a little, but if peo-ple were to speak fast, I could not understand what they were saying.”In addition to the language barrier, the years apart did not help Vasquez’s relationship with her father. ey fought a lot, and one day, she decided to run away, making herself homeless. Life on the street quickly remind-ed Vasquez about that Army commercial she saw in Guatemala, and that distant dream in the back of her head moved to the forefront. She wasn’t a lost little girl anymore. Now she had the chance to dream. So, in 2006, Vasquez joined the U.S. Army at 19 years old.Vasquez remembers her rst day at Basic Combat Training vividly. Before she was even o the bus, she heard all kinds of scream-ing—but she could not gure out what was going on exactly. e drill sergeants were yell-ing and talking so fast, and her English was still not that good. “at’s when I got scared and thought, What did I get myself in to?”Private Vasquez quickly found a friend, though—her rst battle buddy, Pvt. Mol-son. Whatever Molson did, Vasquez did. She mimicked her moves, her words and her nerve. “When I got scared or intimidated… seeing her do it gave me the courage to do it.”As the weeks progressed, Private Vasquez realized the drill sergeants were actually there to help the trainees and she decided that was her next goal. “Yes, the drill sergeants yelled at you, but the patience that they had to teach you, to mentor you, to develop you made me think, Once I graduate, that’s going to be me. I am going to be a drill sergeant.”Of course, a brand new private cannot become a drill sergeant, so Private Vasquez’s goal was placed in the long-term category. e young soldier developed through various roles and gained invaluable experience during three deployments to Iraq (2007-2008 and 2010-2011) as an ammunition specialist. As the years progressed, she became a noncommissioned ocer in the 25th Infan-try Division in Schoeld Barracks, Hawaii. Shortly after, she was stationed in the 82nd (CONTINUED ON PAGE 54)TO HELL & BACKSHE WAS 12 YEARS OLD AND IN GUATEMALA WHEN SHE SAW HER FIRST ARMY COMMERCIAL. LIKE A MINI ACTION FILM, THERE WERE SOLDIERS RAPPELLING OUT OF HELICOPTERS AND INTO WATER.
Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 202153natiOnaLHispanicHeritage mOntHseptember 15 - OctOber 15
Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comAirborne, where she was nally poised to reach her goal of becoming a drill sergeant. Unfortu-nately, the U.S. Army was going through a lot of changes and drawdowns at the time. When Vasquez’ contract came to an end, she was dev-astated. “I was heartbroken because that was my ultimate goal, to be a drill sergeant, and I couldn’t do it.” Vasquez did not give up on her dream, though. She had been through far more dif-cult challenges in life, so she waited for an opportunity while working, earning a Bache-lor’s Degree, and starting a family. One day, a glimmer of opportunity arose. In speaking with a former soldier of hers, Vasquez found out that the U.S. Army Reserve had open drill sergeant positions, and there was a unit near her home in Bakerseld, California. e combat veteran did not waste any time calling the local U.S. Army Reserve unit 98th Training Division (Initial Entry Training) to in-quire about the opportunity. It was true; the unit did need more drill sergeants, but they needed a specic type—a Cavalry Scout Drill Sergeant. at meant Vasquez would have to rst join the U.S. Army Reserve, become a drill sergeant can-didate, and then complete and graduate from both the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy and the Cavalry Scout Transition Class, which had just opened up to women soldiers.With two deployments under her belt al-ready, Vasquez understood the importance of this opportunity and said she had complete re-spect for Soldiers in combat roles such as Cav-alry Scout. “It takes a lot of skill to make de-cisions when everything is chaos around you.”Without hesitation, Vasquez set her plan into motion and joined the U.S. Army Reserve in 2015. And like before, she knew it would be a long-term goal. After her third deployment to Iraq in 2016, while serving with the 163rd Ordnance Company from Los Alamitos, Cal-ifornia, and reaching the rank of sergeant rst class, Vasquez’s time to become a drill sergeant had nally come, but it was more challenging than she thought. “I knew it was going to be hard, but it was a true wake-up call for me,” said Vasquez who is now the First Sergeant of Alpha Troop, 2/415th Cavalry One Station Unit Training, 1st Brigade, 98th Training Di-vision (IET) out of Fresno, California.Being a candidate at Cavalry Scout Tran-sition Class at Camp Shelby, Mississippi took everything she had, mentally and physically, Vasquez admitted. “e rst few days were brutal. We were introduced to over 80 tanks and helicopters that we would eventually be tested on. e second day, we had the physical tness test, followed by the physical demands test consisting of dierent activities that would challenge us as Bradley crewmen. en, on the third day, we had a 12-mile ruck march.” Being only 5’1” and 135 pounds did not benet Vasquez with any tasks, but with all that she had gone through, she said she had no choice but to succeed. She was determined to be a drill sergeant; quitting had never been an option, and never would be. “As a Soldier, that is the rst thing they tell you, you will never give up. You will never quit. As an NCO, you cannot quit. And as a drill sergeant, there is no way you are quitting. And as a mother, no, I am not going to show that to my children.”When Candidate Vasquez got to the most gru-eling parts of the course -the times where doubt and exhaustion begged her to quit- she dug deep and thought of her ve-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son, and the example she was de-termined to set for them. “I want them to grow up and not be afraid. at whatever they want to do, they can accomplish. Of course, they need to understand that they need to put in the work and don’t expect anything to be given to them… but, they can achieve anything they set their minds to.”And achieve it, she did. In May 2019, Sta Sergeant Vasquez graduated from the Cavalry Scout Drill Sergeant Transition Class, making her one of only two females in the entire Army and Army Reserve to earn this job skill at the time. Vasquez said she never set out to be a trail-blazer, she just really wanted to become a drill sergeant and did everything she could to earn the job. So she urges other soldiers, both men and women, to never let obstacles and other people’s opinions stand in their way of a goal, regardless of how hard it is. “You are going to have a lot of naysayers, but let that be your mo-tivation. Let that be your drive to succeed, to achieve that goal, and don’t give up. Whenever you feel like your mind or body is going to give up, remember why you are doing it.” As a new drill sergeant on the trail, Vasquez ADVANCEMENTWith the recent changes of the Army opening combat roles to women and the new Army Combat Fitness Test basing test standards on jobs instead of gender, Vasquez sees progress and opportunity. “I appreciate that the Army is leveling the eld. If you want to go to a combat [job], there you go. The doors are open.” However, Vasquez reminds people that just because the doors are open, doesn’t mean success is automatic for everyone. Each job in the Army has standards to meet and if someone really wants a particular job, they can achieve it, regardless of their gender; it just takes some hard work and dedication. “When you have heart and dedication, and you really want to do something, we are all equal and we can accomplish anything.”Vasquez uses this equality and hard work mantra on the trail with Basic Combat Training recruits, and tries to give every recruit the opportunity to work toward their own success. The transition from civilian to soldier is particularly harder for some trainees than others though. With all of Vasquez’s experiences in life, she doesn’t see these struggling recruits as problem trainees, but rather as leadership opportunities. 54
55Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021remembers the rst time she felt the importance of her role. As a Reserve drill sergeant, she was entering into the middle of this particular Basic Combat Training cycle to help out her active duty counterparts. And on that cycle she discov-ered a trainee who was struggling -someone who the other drill sergeants had not been able to mo-tivate. She sat him down to talk and to nd out why he was resistant to the transition from civil-ian to soldier that he himself had volunteered for. “He grew up with just his mom who had two to three jobs, so it was just him a lot of the time. So now he comes to Basic Training and he has a male yelling at him, when his father gure was never there. So he was hesitant to that male presence,” explained Vasquez. Knowing that fact, Drill Sergeant Vasquez was able to explain to the trainee that the drill sergeants were just trying to help him gain skill, strength, courage and condence. “You are our future. When I am old and in diapers, you are the one who will be in charge of our military. I want you to take care of my chil-dren. So you have to understand what we are doing — everything has a purpose.” Shortly after their talk, the other drill sergeants noticed a dierence in the resistant trainee. He worked a little harder, had less attitude and started to improve. Her peers were taken aback and asked her what she said to the trainee. Vasquez explained that it was more about understanding the trainee’s perspective than forcing her message. “I didn’t tell him anything. He told me his story and I just listened.” Of course, personally getting to know every single trainee in a Basic Combat Training Cycle is not a realistic expec-tation for every drill sergeant, but that doesn’t mean the drill sergeants don’t make a dierence. In fact, the role of drill ser-geant is something Vasquez sees as a privilege. “It is such an honor that you are the rst men-tor for civilians, who are not being forced to come into the Army—they are volunteering, and you are their rst mentor. at is a huge responsibility. We train the sons and daughters of the American people. And there is no great-er honor than that.”With the title of Cavalry Scout Drill Ser-geant now obtained and in-progress, Vasquez has started out on her next long-term goal: a political leader. is is not the type of job one can just jump into, though, so this Army Re-serve Soldier is laying the foundational steps for that part of her journey. In 2021, Vasquez began working on her Master’s Degree in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations at American Military University. To augment her ocial studies, and make up for her years out-side of the United States, Vasquez said she en-joys reading a lot of history books in her spare time. “Because of my background, I missed out on a lot of U.S. History, so I try to catch up so I can understand what’s going on, what’s happened and why we are here today.” Being a mother of two children comes with its own list of responsibilities too though. But it is a role Vasquez loves and even nds time to vol-unteer in the community with other children as a soccer coach for two separate groups: 7-10 year olds and 11-14 year olds. Spending this extra time with her children, and their soccer teams, comes with its own set of challenges, said Coach Vasquez. “My kids keep me on my toes, and I try my hard-est to understand that they are little kids.” In other words, Vasquez doesn’t go full drill sergeant mode on them, but she does disclose her drill sergeant status to the parents just in case they interpret her loud voice as aggressive, rather than just a way to ensure all the kids can hear her on the eld. e authoritative drill sergeant voice is not the only benet Vasquez brings to the kids soccer teams. She admits to having the teams do some Army physical readi-ness training exercises as well.Volunteering as a soccer coach is fun, but to really get to know her community’s needs; and because she knows what it feels like, Vasquez makes it a point to regularly volunteer with the home-less. “Being that I was homeless at one point, I don’t want anybody to feel that way—to feel hunger, to feel that nobody cares.” Simple acts like bring-ing bottled water to the park on hot days may seem insignicant, but to some it means so much, said Vasquez explaining how one man called her his ‘angel’ because he had just prayed for some cold water since the water foun-tain water was so hot.On other days, Vasquez volunteers as a mo-tivational speaker for the Kern County Leader-ship Youth Association. In this role, she shares her story, and parts of her journey through life. Sometimes she explains how she moved past the trauma of being kidnapped and taken out of the United States. Other times, she explains how she overcame years of being told she had no value and used that as motivation to work hard and make her own success; yet other times, she talks about pushing herself and working hard to achieve her goal of becoming a drill sergeant, even after all the delays and chal-lenges. No matter the exact topic, Vasquez and other Youth Association volunteers promote one theme: Don’t let your circum-stances determine your future or your goals.Getting out in the community in these ways helps Vasquez not only learn about her commu-nity’s needs, but it also helps her instill values into her own children; it’s just something she said she was driven to do. “I try to give as much of my time to the community and my kids as possible. It’s something that we are losing now -our morals and values. Despite how dierent we may think, we are still humans, and we need to be more kind.” (CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)Don’t let your circumstances determine your future or your goals.
Summer 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.com56Kindness can go a long way, but the world still needs people of action, and Vasquez said she is determined to make a dierence in her community as well as the Army Reserve, since her future lies in both. And this drill sergeant certainly does not want to be the kind of lead-er who does not practice what she preaches. “ere is so much work to be done. I tell my Soldiers, get promoted and try to x things in a positive way. And so, that is what I am trying to do on the civilian side. I don’t like how things are, so I am getting educated; and with me vol-unteering, I can get more knowledge about the people who need help the most. And hopefully, one day I can get up there, and do something in a grand scheme.”Ultimately, that grand scheme all circles back to her rst long-term goal of becoming a drill sergeant. She didn’t realize it when she was 12 years old watching that Go Army commer-cial, but the drill sergeant motto of ‘is We’ll Defend’ has been her mantra for everything she has strived for. Regardless of the role she is lling, Vasquez lives by the motto, because for her it means everyone is equal and deserving of respect and a fair opportunity. It means there are rules, regulations, policies and laws to stand by and uphold for the prosperity of people and their organizations. It means that she belongs to a country that she will defend from all threats. “Ultimately, it’s everything,” said Vasquez.“It’s what we are, what we stand for. We will defend what we know is right.”
57Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021(CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)57Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Summer 2020Active | Guard/Reserves | Veterans | True Stories | Real LifePUBLISHED QUARTERLYSUBSCRIBE TODAY FOR YOUR PRINTED SUBSCRIPTION OR FOR FREE ONLINE READINGVISIT AVOWMAGAZINE.COMThe Premier Magazine for Military Women by Military Women
Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.com58armY spc sagen maDDaLenaOLYmpic sHarpsHOOter OperatiOn HOmecOmingYosemite Highway 120 Chamber of Commerce with Sagen at Around the Horn BrewerySagen’s convoy parade in historic downtown Groveland, CaliforniaAfter two hours of paintball target shooting, Sagen enjoys a rest on top of a U.S. Army Humvee.Appearing in photo are current military members, veterans and CalVet reps who are also veterans.Also shown are the Honorary Mayor of historic Groveland, California, and her posse.
Sagen signing autographs for her fansSagen speaks to students of Tioga High School in Groveland, California59Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021Sagen with Christina Wilkinson, publisher of AVOW MagazineSagen takes on her mom, Susan Maddalena, in a watergun shootout and...Susan Maddalena wins the mother against daughter shootoutSagen at Rush Creek Lodge at Yosemite with a member of her marksmanship teamPHOTOS COURTESY OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY / MAJOR MICHELLE LUNATO
Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.com60MISSION SIX ZEROBY SARAH SPRADLIN, USMC
61We are an unmatched tribe of warriors, intimately familiar with the unique challenges brought on by our service and sacrice. Although we’ve transitioned from the battleeld to the board room, we continue to serve this great nation and stand together as champions of change. We work daily to preserve and advance a leg-acy of service, strength, and sisterhood for generations of women who came before us and those who wish to follow in our footsteps. Yet, despite our dedication to success, courage during times of adversity, and drive to excel, the pandemic created a vortex of volatility, uncer-tainty, and oppression that sucked us in like a force of nature. Whether we like to admit it or not, it rocked our tribe. As a Marine veteran, a mom, a daughter, a partner, an author, a grad-school teacher, and a business owner with a doctoral-level education, it rocked me too.Over the past couple years, many of us found our-selves feeling lost-only to discover we could no lon-ger navigate the proverbial fog of war with the same sense of poise and perspective we had before COVID hit. Regardless of any routine we attempted to im-plement, our ability to enter ow state often seemed like an insurmountable task. Our emotional triggers were set on rapid re. Notwithstanding our self-aware-ness, education, and proven track record for eectively dealing with chaos, we experienced decision fatigue at the cyclic rate. In turn, everything became a priority which meant nothing was a priority and we accept-ed the comfort of procrastination vice the deliberate discomfort of growth and healing. As a result, many of us questioned our sense of self, our self-regard, and although we maintained a vast and viable support net-work, at times we felt invisible. We convinced ourselves we didn’t have enough time or energy to do what needed to be done. We convinced ourselves we don’t have the time or energy to grow and to heal personally, because every moment of time and every ounce of energy we have left, we give it away to someone else in need. We selshly continue to put everyone else’s needs in front of our own. Yes, selshly. We’re programmed to put others rst, to give back, to protect those who cannot protect themselves. We inherently put person-al well-being, growth, and healing on the back burner while we create heat for everyone around us. Time is our most precious resource, and we give what little time and energy we have to others because our understanding of authentic servant leadership has become distorted. is approach to life, living, and serving others is selsh and backwards at best. If we fail to collectively prioritize our well-being, our mental, emotional, phys-ical, social, professional, and spiritual growth and heal-ing, we will never become the best version of our-selves. We must stop putting our needs aside, altogether. We need to step up and serve ourselves – each of us need the oppor-tunity to holistically grow and heal as we work to serve others fully and authentically. How can we expect to ever serve others fully and au-thentically if we are only half as good as we know we can be? Fortunately, the team at Mission Six Zero (missionsixzero.com)created the Total Warrior Growth Model and the Deliberate Discomfort Challenge (missionsixzero.com/challenge), because a key factor of our success is deliberate discom-fort - the fundamental mechanism that fosters growth for any true commander who executes as an authentic servant leader. And at Mis-sions Six Zero, we forge commanders. e Deliberate Discomfort (DD) Challenge is the only program (CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE) Women from around the globe are ocking to the challengeon their journey towards holistic personal growth, healing, and authentic servant leadership.Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021
62Fall 2021 • www.AVOWMagazine.comthat supports this exact initiative. Women from around the globe are ocking to the challenge on their journey towards holistic personal growth, healing, and authentic servant leadership. A 60-day journey designed to help you rede-ne who you are as an authentic servant leader -and more importantly, embody the servant leader you want to be: a servant leader capable of giving others the best and most complete ver-sion of your evolving self. e challenge paral-lels the company’s best-selling book, Deliberate Discomfort. Deliberate Discomfort follows the jour-ney of Mission Six Zero’s President, Jason Van Camp as he embarks on a journey as a new Green Beret commander taking over a team of combat-hardened Special Forces veterans. Twelve decorated Special Opera-tions Forces veterans take you through the intense, traumatic battles they fought and won, sharing the lessons learned from those incredible challenges. A cadre of scientists further break down those experiences, trans-lating them into digestible and relatable ac-tion items, sharing with our conventional service members how they can apply them to their own lives. To date, Mission Six Zero is one of the most dynamic and successful leadership development companies operating on the world’s stage. Following the atrocities of 9-11, Jason meticulously organized a team of elite special operations veterans and cou-pled them with an all-star lineup of highly skilled scientists to create what the world came to know as the Deliberate Discomfort Total Warrior Growth Model. Serving cor-porate clients from Vivant Home Security to BD Medical and professional athletes from the Minnesota Vikings to the New York Jets, Mission Six Zero’s Total Warrior Growth Model and DD Challenge ensures we turn good leaders into great commanders, be-cause authentic commanders have experi-ence, battle scars, and strive to holistically develop themselves as servant leaders on an enduring basis.Mission Six Zero brings to life the Green Beret motto of De Oppresso Liber, a Latin phrase that roughly translates “To Liber-ate the Oppressed.” We believe that we can empower everyone struggling personally or professionally to liberate themselves from their internal oppression. The research is compelling and alarming. The COVID pandemic impacted an unprecedented number of our women warriors who con-tinue to struggle with internal oppression. As a Marine Corps veteran myself, this is an unsettling trend. We are the force to be FACES OF THE CHALLENGE
63Facebook.com/AVOWMagazine • Fall 2021reckoned with – not the other way around and we need to continue to promote pro-grams like the Total Warrior Growth Model and DD Challenge to liberate our sisters in arms and authentically serve them through these challenging times.Last week I had the pleasure of a hearing another beautiful success story from Nura H., a current DD Challenge tribe member. Nura is an American citizen born in Somalia, raised in Syria and the United Arab Emirates, and educated at the University of Denver in Col-orado. Because she chose to take on the DD Challenge – to get uncomfortable – to liber-ate herself from her internal oppression and become the commander she always wanted to be, Nura is now living her best life – mental-ly, emotionally, socially, physically, spiritually, and professionally as a successful software en-gineer in Cork, Ireland.I asked Nura why other brilliant, bold, and tenacious women like herself should join the Deliberate Discomfort Challenge. Without hesitation she exclaimed, “Because you’re worth it. Because your growth is worth it, and because the world needs you!” Programs like the DD Challenge ensure we can continue to stand together as champions of change, preserve and advance our legacy by being the best versions of ourselves right now to authentically serve and support fu-ture generations of women who will serve this great nation in the years to come. Take the journey with me and the team at Mis-sion Six Zero. Re-dene what it means to develop and deliver authentic servant leader-ship. Build a holistic foundation of personal well-being whereby authentic and enduring servant leadership can ourish and endure for future generations to come.Nura H.SARAH SPRADLIN, USMCDr. Spradlin is a leading expert in the study of emotional intelligence as it relates to talent acquisition and succession management planning, transformational leadership & organizational resilience. She has multiple publications and is a member of the Society of Industrial Organizational Psychology, Society of Emotional Intelligence, and the Emotional Intelligence Training and Research Institute.• Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Northcentral University• MA in Criminal Justice from American Military University• BS in Psychology from Virginia TechMISSIONSIXZERO.COM Programs like the DD Challenge ensure we can ... authentically serve and support future generations of women who will serve this great nation in the years to come.
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