By Heather Byington, Service Leadership Corps member
When I left home in 1993, I vowed I’d never come back for anything longer than a visit. Home was Detroit. What I didn’t realize until I had some separation was that the negative feelings I had about the city were a result of my home life and the fact that one of my friends had been carjacked. He was murdered at 19, and his killers were 15 and 16-years old.
On paper, I’m one of those vets who lack job stability and goal attainment after serving. Nearly four years after retirement, I’m back to square one. I wear many part-time hats: platoon leader, personal trainer, student, and Lyft driver. It’s not the traditional definition of success, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
No one’s story should be suppressed or ignored, but all too often, that is the case for women veterans. We strive to empower women veterans to be leaders in and through our programs. We want to highlight one such story in anticipation of our 4th annual Women Veterans Leadership Summit and in celebration of International Women’s Day.
Aryanna Berringer is a Women Veterans Leadership Summit attendee and an active volunteer with our Pittsburgh service platoons. Here is her story as told by her. If you’re as inspired by these stories as we are, consider donating. Your support empowers women veterans to realize their full potential as civic leaders.
Meet the group of exceptional women veterans who are on the frontlines of community change. There were a total of 75 participants attending the Women Veterans Leadership Summit, and while every woman who attended is a rockstar, we wanted to share a sample cross-section of 10 participants from across the country as examples of the variety of backgrounds, experiences, and stories that are represented at our summit each year.
77 dynamic women veteran leaders will gather in DC for this weekend for our 3rd annual Women Veterans Leadership Summit. Together they’ll engage in communication and writing workshops, experience inspiring speakers, and grow their personal and professional networks.
This is a unique forum to exchange ideas and solutions around the challenges women veterans face while developing pathways to increase women veteran leadership within their communities.
As we countdown the days to the summit, we want to highlight some of our participants and how they came to The Mission Continues. Here’s Karen Quiles’s story.
How the Military Empowered Me
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I grew up in a very humble environment and I had a simple upbringing. Growing up in Puerto Rico was hard for me in many ways. I felt like a lot of programs were out of reach. I started working when I was 15 and became homeless in my late teens, on top of a lack of educational opportunities, family problems, and an unstable government.
On May 18th, 50+ women veterans gathered in San Francisco for The Mission Continues’ second annual Women Veterans Leadership Summit. These women have been impressive agents of change in their communities, using our programs to their fullest potential and beyond.
On the rare occasion that 50 women gather together in the military, their male counterparts hover anxiously outside the room, wondering what conspiracies they must be plotting within. So you can imagine the awe and great personal fulfillment I felt when 52 women veterans from The Mission Continues – representing all five branches of the military – came together for the first time in April to share stories, to laugh, and to learn.
Last weekend in New Orleans, close to 60 women veterans from all over the country gathered to discuss everything from how to get out of debt, to owning your identity as a woman veteran, to starting a business, to making sure you get the full range of women’s health services offered by Veterans Affairs.
The summit was filled with valuable lessons, professional networking, and leadership training. Attendee Meosha Thomas applauded the summit, saying, “weekends like this help change the narrative of what women veterans look like.”
A member of the Los Angeles 1st Platoon breaking down walls for the Stevenson Project.
We are days away from the inaugural Women Veterans Leadership Summit in New Orleans. Soon 50 women leaders from the Mission Continues network will gather to share insights, challenges, and wisdom with other women “in the trenches” of service and business. Today we are taking a closer look at what inspires and drives our peers to be leaders in their communities. For Army veteran and Service Platoon Member Nicole Thomas, attending the summit is a unique opportunity to connect with like-minded peers. Continue reading “Gearing up for Women Veterans Leadership Summit”