Weight Loss After Serving

credit: Photo by Lindsey Saenz on Unsplash

By Nicole Terwey, 
Life Coach, Sport Nutrition Specialist, & Fitness Coach

In the eight years I spent on active duty in the Navy, about half of my time was spent on keeping extra weight off. This was true for me and for many of the other military women I worked with, lived with, traveled with, and read about.

AN OVERWEIGHT OFFICER

Being overweight as an armed forces member was not ideal. It was not how I imagined my role would be as a military woman. When I joined the Navy, I imagined myself resembling the quintessential modern military woman – fit, in control of her actions, confident, and proud. Those things had nothing to do with how my clothes fit, but when my uniform got tighter and larger over the years, I felt like I was getting left out of my own vision.

I noticed I started pulling myself away from activities, trainings, courses, TDYs, and other opportunities that I may have enjoyed because I was becoming heavier and more insecure of myself as a Naval Officer. I did not look the part I imagined I would when I joined back in 2004. So, to feel better and more in control, I followed what my military sisters were doing, which was to exercise ad nauseam and eat minimally over the week, then feast on the weekends because we “worked hard” and deserved to “play hard.” Its how the boys do it, anyway.

I did this for years.

When I made the decision to get out of the Navy, I vowed to find a way to make weight loss permanent, enjoyable, sustainable, and worthwhile. Not just to fit into a uniform or a look because I was no longer going to be wearing those clothes, but because I could. I did not want to repeat the misery of being overweight in the military in my new life as a civilian. My body, weight loss, and feeling fit have always been something dear and important to me.

DEPRIVATION & MILITARY WOMEN

Since getting out of the Navy, I have seen something in military women that I did not expect: deep deprivation.

As a civilian now, I attend as many military networking events as I can, because I love connecting with the people I meet. It’s like being back in the military but the guys have long hair and the girls are wearing long, beautifully manicured nails. The sea stories are the same, and the memories and laughter are just as good, if not better. But there aren’t that many women that attend. Where are they? Where are my sisters?

The reason, I’ve been told, is because we don’t connect with the word “veteran.” For the majority of people in the U.S., the image that comes to mind when we think “veteran” is a Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea, or WWII male who is in his 90s wearing the ball cap of the operation or ship they were on. And people across the country love our veterans, but military women can’t connect with that representation because we served, dare I say it, differently.

This is what is actually happening: We don’t stop and take a step back long enough to see how much has changed in the past 50-70 years. We’re not fighting the way the brave men of the 1950s fought… and thats OK. Maybe we didn’t “fight” at all – but we still served. We still followed rules, orders, traditions, and served at the best of our capacity. And that is more than enough. “Veteran” means “having served,” and that’s what we did.

However, because we believe, in our minds, that we are not “enough” or not “similar to the real vets,” we feel inadequate or left out. When we feel that way, we hide, or don’t go to events that we wish we had attended, or we say goodbye to everything about the military including the things and people we loved.  We end up leaving ourselves out of what could be real and amazing for us. And then, we feel bad about feeling inadequate and left out, and sadly, many of us will eat and/or drink to feel better. The added weight can make us feel even more inadequate and unwanted, and we prove to ourselves that no one wants to be around us… we don’t even want to be around ourselves.

This is a hard truth to see. We are causing our own misery by believing we are not deserving enough. We don’t stop and step back far enough to see that, truly, nothing and no one is making us feel inadequate or left out. It’s our own thinking that is causing us to not show up how we want to or how we could. Though it feels justified and true because many military women seem to have the same sentiment, it’s still not a fact; otherwise, every military woman would be struggling the exact same way, but we’re not. What happens is we hide from our own lives and feel so terrible about what is unwillingly being created that we seek food, alcohol, or solitude to feel better. In reality, those “solutions” only make us feel worse. And that’s where I have the good news…

credit: Briana Vandenengel, owner of Vandenbri Photography

HOW TO FEEL BETTER

I want to help women and men lose weight and keep it off forever because it’s possible. However, that won’t happen when we’re feeling inadequate, left out, or unworthy.

When we step back and look at the facts, this is what we’ll find:

  • )  We served X-number of years in the Armed Forces (if you raised your hand and swore an oath, you served)
  • )  We wore a military uniform
  • )  We went through basic training of one form or another
  • )  We were trained in one job, or many jobs, and did them the best that we knew how

And that’s it. These are facts that all military women and men can share no matter what decade, era, operation, or war we served in.

No one member is better than another. Even those souls who gave their lives, they still did the job they were trained in and did the best that they knew how. I promise you this: if you compare your actions to theirs, you will always feel unworthy. It’s not fair to you, not fair to those around you, and not fair to those who died, because I don’t believe they died so that you would live your life feeling unworthy. That’s not how they would have wanted you to live.

Back to the point at hand. By looking at the list above  of things that ALL service members share, we can see that how we choose to think about those facts is what determines how we feel about ourselves. That means that feeling inadequate and unworthy are optional. You have the option – and have always had the option – to feel however you want about these circumstances. Ask yourself these questions:

How would you rather feel about these facts? What do you want them to truly mean to you?

The women I see most often at veteran events have beautiful answers when I tell them this. They say they feel proud and content about having served. They feel delighted, pleased, and successful. How is it that other women feel inadequate or unworthy when they did the exact same thing? It’s because of the thoughts they are choosing to believe. There is a difference in how you feel when you think, “I did my time and it was enough” (probably feel pleased) from “I didn’t do enough in my time” (probably feel unworthy, or like an impostor).

Notice how what you feel determines how you act and behave? When you believe that you did your time and it was enough, which creates the feeling of pleasantness or contentment in you, you don’t judge yourself or your actions when you served. You may notice you don’t even compare yourself to others and what they did; it’s not a factor. You may even notice you stay in touch with your military friends and keep up with them over the years. You hold on to precious military emblems and gifts that you gained over the years. You may also notice that you have more power and confidence to make changes in your new civilian life thanks to what you learned and gained in the military. This creates a more fulfilling life that you’re proud of – not hiding from.
The opposite will also manifest in your life. If you believe that you didn’t do enough in the time that you served, you may feel a sense of unworthiness. When you’re feeling unworthy, you may hold back from things you want to do – staying connected with friends or meeting new people. You may stay at home or pursue jobs that don’t really interest you. You may notice that you don’t take care of yourself and give in to urges more frequently for food and alcohol so that you can feel better. Maybe you develop habits that produce instant gratification because they offer you reprieve from the feeling of unworthiness in your body. This creates a life that is not enough for even your own expectations where  you are not doing enough of what you want in your own life.

These scenarios don’t apply to every military woman who gets out, but from all the women I’ve spoken with and read about – and from the multitude of support groups, speakers, and events designed to help military women when they separate – this is the trend I see.

Weight gain is a symptom of what we’re doing and not doing. Our lack of action is coming from how we’re feeling about ourselves. And how we feel about ourselves only comes from ONE place: our own mind. Our own thoughts about ourselves. When you change your thoughts about yourself, you change your results.

No matter where you are at the moment with your weight or with your life after the military, you have the power to change it. You do that by asking yourself better questions than you are now. For example ask yourself, “How do I want to define what veteran means to me?” or, “How would I rather choose to think about myself as a veteran, or former member?” Your answer might feel better, and when you’re feeling better, you’ll show up differently and in ways that serve you instead of hurt you. By doing this, you can change your life in ways you didn’t know were possible.

credit: Briana Vandenengel, owner of Vandenbri Photography

About the Author: Nicole Terwey is a certified life coach, a sport nutrition specialist and certified fitness coach. After serving in the U.S. Navy for eleven years as an Intelligence Officer and earning a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership, Nicole embarked on helping women and men with the mental-emotional component to weight loss. Her personal struggles with years of weight loss and weight gain at the Naval Academy and her time on active duty led her to find her solution for permanent weight loss – the cognitive element, the mental strategy. Combined with her knowledge, experience, training, and coaching skills, she now works with women and men who want to lose weight once and for all by tackling the hardest part of weight loss: undoing urges around food. Nicole offers a free Undoing Urges Mini-Course at her website

Sign up for a Sport you Suck At

(It Might be the Best Thing you Do)
Janell (Peske) Hanf, ’10

Three of us sheepishly teetered about, skating slowly around the outer edge of the ice. We figured we should get used to skating with gear on before we tried to add any other equipment to the mix.

Girls! What are you doing? Grab your sticks and get in the middle of the ice!

There was only one response…  A motivated, “Yes, Coach!”

What the heck was I thinking, that I could actually do this? It was the first day of practice. Somewhere around 6 AM. That’s when the ice was open. Ice hockey was a sport I always wanted to try. It was the very first season for a Women’s Ice Hockey team at the Naval Academy and they were taking anyone interested. I figured, if they needed players, and weren’t even holding tryouts, I had nothing to lose, so I signed up.

As a southern California kid, I grew up mostly swimming and running. I played one season of water polo and did a couple summers of junior lifeguards. I was used to water in liquid form. Minimal gear. Individual sports. In the temperate year-round climate of California.

This was winter. This was cold. This was a team sport. This was the inaugural season of Navy Women’s Ice Hockey. And I could barely even skate!

So, why did I sign up for this?

I wanted to stretch myself and have fun. Throwing myself into a brand new sport as a senior in college, especially one as complex as ice hockey was a serious challenge. I loved it. That season was awesome.

What did I love about it?

The Chill. The feeling of the cold when you step on the ice and feel the chill wash over your face. The contrast of the sweat worked up between shifts with the icy air when you watch the next lines skate. How your water bottle stays cold. The refreshing feeling when you take your sweaty gear off when the game is over.

The Team. I loved being on a fierce team sport. I loved singing our alma mater, “Blue & Gold” sweating from our own match – not just as a spectator after Navy Football games.  At our senior night, we even sang the national anthem – that must’ve been an interesting sight for the spectators that night: a trio of hockey players, all geared up, who also happened to be singers are in the Women’s Glee Club .

The Experience. If you were to look at my statistics.… yeah don’t even look for them. I had no stats. I didn’t even score once. I don’t think I even had a single assist. But I was out there every game. I would aggressively throw myself from one corner of the ice to the other to hold my position and stay with my opponent as best I could. That season, regardless of the score, I learned and grew as an athlete and as a teammate. Taking myself so far out of my comfort zone not only made me a better midshipman, but a better warrior, more prepared for the rigors of Marine Corps Officer training in Quantico. Thanks to hockey, I wasn’t intimidated by aggressive or physically demanding pugil stick bouts or ground fighting. Even if I sucked in a match and royally lost, even if I was matched against someone who was significantly out of my weight class, it was just like hockey: You’re up! Get out there and go for it.

When I moved to my first duty station, the local rink’s community recreation league had a coed novice team, “D league.” I enjoyed those seasons and feeling the chill and the team camaraderie again. Since my son was born, I have only played hockey once, at a Naval Academy Women’s Ice Hockey alumni game three months after my son was born. It was “the mids” vs “the ma’ams” (the mids won). I love hockey, and I’m grateful for learning to pursue and commit to something that I had no background or talent in.

What did hockey teach me about handling failure or setbacks?  Find the fun. It’s just like falling on the ice. It is ok to fall during a game, especially if you’re playing hard. If you’re scared of falling, you won’t be giving your all. Trust the gear to protect you if and when you fall. it’s okay if you don’t skate great, just get out there and go for it. When, not if, you fall, get up as quickly as possible and keep going.

Don’t settle for nervous, scared, and intimidated and wait for the perfect time to try something or put off competing until you’re great.

Be aggressive, find a supportive team and coach who will give you a chance and give you the instruction and encouragement to learn as you go.

Leap off the bench. Skate your heart out, and get after it.

Our Chance to Know Her is Gone, but we can Remember Her – CTICS (IW/EXW) Shannon Mary Kent

By Captain Reiner W. “Mike” Lambert

Who was Shannon Mary (Smith) Kent and why should you care?  Two good questions rolled into one.  There are billions of incredible people in this world.  There truly are.  They are waiting patiently to have their stories told.  You may even be one of them.  In this big, big world, we can’t know them all but it would be good to know a few.

In that incredibly crowded space, I’d like for you to know about Shannon Mary Kent.  If you don’t know her already, it’s too late.  She’s gone.  But, it’s not too late to know about her.  So, I’d like to help tell part of the story of this amazingly brave, sweet girl.  She NEVER cowered – ever.

I’d like for you to know enough about this brave, sweet girl to care about her. Care about the family she left behind – a husband, Joe, and two sons, Josh and Colt; sister, Mariah; Mom, Mary, and Dad, Stephen – and perhaps care enough about her legacy and memory to write a personal letter to the Acting Secretary of the Navy asking him to name a Navy destroyer after her – USS SHANNON MARY KENT.  She never once worried about recognition, but she is certainly worthy of it.

16 January 2019 marked the end of her young, vibrant, meaningful, and significant 35 years of life.  She spent nearly half of her life in the Navy.  She spent her professional career in the top-secret world of the Navy Information Warfare Corps.  She was practically unknown to the rest of the world.  Unknown, that is, until she was murdered by a terrorist who detonated an improvised explosive device in Manbij, Syria.  16 January 2019 marks the day that her existence and murder were made known to the entire world.

As a 19 year old, she joined the Navy in 2003 and attended foreign language school at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California.  In seven short years she was able to distinguish herself as the top linguist in the Department of Defense while serving with the Naval Special Warfare Support Activity TWO in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She spoke Afghan-Dari, Arabic-Algerian, Arabic-Egyptian, Arabic-Gulf (Iraqi), Arabic-Levantine, Arabic-Standard, French, Portuguese-European, and Spanish.

Prior to her assignment in Syria, Shannon had deployed four times for combat operations on Navy Special Forces actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. She deployed twice with SEAL Team 10 and twice with SEAL Team 4. Syria was her fifth combat deployment in 15 years – and her ninth deployment overall.

Where do we find such brave women?  They come from all over America. SMK spent much of her career in harm’s way.  According to the Center for Military Readiness – “Since the attack on America on September 11, 2001, a total of 149 women deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, and Syria have lost their lives in service to America.  Most Americans, and even members of the media, are not aware that 149 brave servicewomen have died in the War on Terrorism. With few exceptions, news stories about their tragic deaths usually appeared only in the military press, or in small hometown newspaper stories and television accounts that rarely capture national attention.” Six of those 149 women were serving in the Navy.  Only one of those women took the fight to ISIS in Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve – Shannon Mary Kent.

She is the only enlisted woman ever to be honored with a memorial service in the USNA chapel.  During that service she was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and a Combat Action Ribbon.  About a month later, on 28 February 2019, General Nakasone, Director of the National Security Agency presided over a ceremony to add Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent’s name to the NSA/CSS Cryptologic Memorial Wall in a solemn ceremony.

Her Cryptologic Warfare Activity SIXTY SIX Shipmates say that CTICS (IW/EXW) Shannon Mary Kent exemplified the Navy’s core values of HONOR, COURAGE and COMMITMENT every moment of every day of her life. Her murder stunned her teammates. Many still have not recovered from the agony of her passing.  She meant so much to so many.

There is NO QUESTION that CTICS (IS/EXW) Shannon Mary Kent is worthy of having a Navy destroyer named for her.  A better question might be – “Is the Navy worthy of having USS SHANNON MARY KENT in its service?”  I hope and pray that it is.  I’ve have always told my Sailors – “The Navy will never love you as much as you love the Navy.”  The Navy proved this to be true when they found her physically unfit to be commissioned as a naval officer but fit enough for her fifth combat deployment.  Now, the Navy can show its love for Shannon by naming a ship after her. She certainly loved the Navy, and her Sailors (senior and junior) loved her dearly.

Don’t allow the memory of Shannon Mary Kent’s extraordinarily significant life to disappear.  She deserves to be remembered.

Shannon’s death is a reminder that, as Katherine Center says, “We are writing the story of our only life every single minute of every day.”  Shannon Mary Kent’s story ended much too early. She wasn’t ready to stop writing her story.  We owe it to her to keep writing it for her.

So I ask you to please sit down and write a letter.  She fought for you, won’t you join the fight for her?  Won’t you help keep the story of Shannon Mary Kent alive?

Please send your letter to:

THOMAS B. MODLY
Office of the Acting Secretary of the Navy
1000 Navy Pentagon, Room 4D652
Washington, DC 20350

Short bio:
Captain Reiner W. “Mike” Lambert is a retired naval officer.  He started his career as a Cryptologic Technician Interpretive Seaman (CTISN – Russian linguist) and attended the Defense Language School in 1975-1976.  He was commissioned in 1982, commanded U.S. Naval Security Group Activity Yokosuka, Japan, and served as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s Staff Director for the Detainee Task Force examining detainee abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay Cuba.  He retired in 2006 following that assignment.  Today he runs The FARM at DEER HOLLOW with his wife Lynn.  He is also a Principal with Top Corner Consulting.

 

Feb 7, 2020: Five for Friday in honor of Black History Month

Welcome to Friday, Sisterhood!! It’s Five for Friday, and in honor of Black History Month, we bring you five kickass examples of African American women in the service! Check out these amazing women leaders, and then share your stories with us. You can reach us via DM or by emailing sisterhoodofmotherb.editor@gmail.com.

Janie L. Mines (UNSA ’80) was the first African-American female graduate of the United States Naval Academy. After serving in the Navy Supply Corps, she earned an MBA from MIT in 1998. With numerous corporate leadership positions under her belt, Mines founded her own consulting firm, Common Sense Business Services and the Boyz to Men Club, a nonprofit that supports economically disadvantaged youth in Fort Mill, SC. She is a member of the Defemse Advisory Committee on Women in the Service, and the author of No Coincidence, Reflections of the First Black Female Graduate of the United States Naval Academy (Lightening Press, 2018).

ADM Michele Howard (USN, ret.) (USNA ’82) was the first African-American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship (USS Rushmore), the first admiral selected from the class of 1982, the first female USNA grad to achieve flag rank, the first female to serve as a four-star Admiral, the first woman and first African American to serve as Vice Chief of Naval Operations, AND the first female four-star to command operational forces as Commander Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa (Note to self: NEVER compare myself to Admiral Howard). At her retirement in December 2017, Howard was appointed a J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Visiting Professor of International Affairs at George Washington University, where she teaches cyber security and international policy.

2nd Lt. Emily Jazmin Tatum Perez (USMA ’05) Was Command Sergeant Major at West Point, making her the highest ranking African American cadet in history at the time. A tireless advocate for those in need, Lt. Perez had already established an HIV/AIDS ministry at her home church, and trained as an HIV/AIDS counselor with the American Red Cross. She commissioned into the Army Medical Service Corps in 2005. In 2006, Lt. Perez was killed in the line of duty when an improvised explosive device detonated by her Humvee. She was the first female graduate of USMA to die in combat, and the first ever female African American officer to die in combat. Rest in peace and power, Lieutenant.

Natasha Sistruk Robinson (USNA ’02), Captain Tasya Lacy (USNA ’97), Dr. Tracey Nicole Hayes, (USNA ’92) and QuaWanna Reddick Bannarbie (USNA ’99) are founding Board Members of Leadership LINKS, founded in 2015 to educate and equip servant leaders who are committed to using their skills and resources for the greater good of humanity. Leadership LINKS’ flagship program is the Walk in Purpose Summer program for girls, which prepares rising 6th through 10th grade girls for innovation, executive leadership, and entrepreneurship. The organization also sponsors LINKS to college, Global Leadership Experiences Tours, and the LINKS mentoring program for 6th through 10th graders. Thank you ladies, for an amazing example of lifelong service!

The Women of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion
This all African-American, all volunteer battalion in the Women’s Army Corps adhered to the motto “No Mail, low Moral.” Despite hostile treatment from male soldiers, the women of the Six Triple Eight created an effective tracking system, located thousands of individual service members, and processed and average of 65,000 pieces of mail per shift. A six month backlog of mail, stacked in a freezing warehouse in Birmingham, England, was cleared in three months. The 6888th then embarked for Rouen, France shortly after VE Day. Denied official military status, the Six Triple Eight was nonetheless the only all African American unit of women deployed overseas during World War II. A monument commemorating their service was dedicated in 2018. A bust of Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Charity Adams, graces the monument in the Buffalo Soldiers Monuments Park in Ft. Leavenworth, KS.

Wow, It’s Been a Year

By Shannon Martin McClain ‘98

When I told the ladies who are the heart of Sisterhood of Mother B (SOMB) that I wanted to write something commemorating our first year and looking forward to the second, Kate asked if our theme was, “Wow, it’s been a year.” And, I think that, yes, that is the theme. Wow, it’s been a year. When we started this journey, we had no idea what we could do (or what it would take), but we had a common vision: to provide a platform for USNA Alumnae to share their voices; to improve the network of support for women graduates; and to help develop our future leaders. We wanted to do all of these things with the overarching goal of improving the institution that formed us; It was an ambitious vision, but we exceeded our own expectations. We hope we have met yours.

The SOMB is first and foremost, a platform for Alumnae to share their voices. To that end, this year, we published 39 blog articles and 15 Waypoints podcasts featuring women (and a few men) from different eras, covering a range of subjects. From the funny stories shared Army Week on Waypoints to the sometimes difficult memories of the women of the early classes and the harrowing accounts of sexual assault, your words, and those of the Seven Sisters, have inspired me. They made me laugh, cry and feel every emotion in between. They connected me to the Sisterhood in ways I could not have imagined last year.

We have had 52 weeks of Waypoint Wednesdays, Throwback Thursdays, and Five for Fridays on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The goal with those posts was to spark memories and ideas while developing and strengthening the bond between women graduates of all years. Improving our support network and our common bond is difficult when less than 6000 women have attended the Naval Academy, and we live and work around the world. We have spent so much of our time isolated from each other, that we often felt alone in our experiences. Our weekly antics on social media have helped us connect with each other. Along the way, we shared something about ourselves – the awful swimsuits of the early years, the changing rules regarding uniforms in classroom buildings, the ebbs and flows of acceptance within the brigade. We shared moments of rebellion, perseverance and courage that bring us closer together. At least, it has brought me closer to all of you.

During three sales of SOMB gear, we raised money to support Friends of Naval Academy Music and send three young women to Naval Academy Summer Seminar. Those funds directly supported our vision of developing future leaders. We have highlighted the efforts of fellow alumnae who are working to develop our future leaders at USNA, in the Fleet and in their own communities. We hope their work will inspire and encourage others.

We measure so much of our lives today. There is a metric for nearly everything. How many words did we write? How many likes or followers did we gain or lose this week? How many link-clicks or listens? How much money did we raise? At the most recent Board of Trustees Membership Committee Meeting, the Women’s SIG received an annual “engagement” score of 35 (out of 100) based on the Women’s SIG engagement with the Naval Academy and the Alumni Association. That’s down from 51 last year.

I am not sure that metric fully captures the engagement of USNA Alumnae. I am just as interested in the quality of our engagement with alumnae as I am with the number of link clicks. Qualitatively, our year here at SOMB has been nothing short of amazing. You have blown us away with your engagement. Your responses have encouraged us and improved our processes on multiple occasions. There was the time when one of you stopped by the Pentagon office of one of our authors to thank him for being a part of the solution. Or when others asked us (not realizing it was us) if we had heard of the Waypoints Podcast and suggested we listen. You have suggested guests for Waypoints and contributors for the blog. When my editor’s inbox lights up with a new message from one of you thanking us for an article, sharing your own take on a subject, or submitting your own article I recognize the quality of your engagement. You comment and share our content overs social media with thoughtful responses.

One series and two stand-alone articles stand out when I look for the qualitative measure of our voice and engagement this year. The series is from Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month. Those articles were difficult to read – more difficult to write. The feedback was humbling. Women who felt isolated and alone in their experiences discovered that they were not. Women who feared judgment for their decisions, actions, and/or lack of action were relieved to discover support. If authors and readers found some level of healing and closure from those articles, they were a success. “The Battle of Bancroft Hall,” highlighting the experience of Katherine Carradini who did not graduate, is very special to me. So often, non-graduates are unsure where they fit in this exclusive club of Naval Academy Alumni. Her article resonated with men and women who did not graduate and wished to find a connection to that part of their life. If we can bring those alumni into the network of support, then we are succeeding. Finally, our most recent article, by Julianne Vida shows a concrete effort to improve inclusion and diversity at the Naval Academy. Her words have inspired others to speak up and demonstrated the importance of our voices. Our voices matter. Our voices connect us. Our voices inspire others.

Those voices are stronger together, which leads me to our vision for the upcoming year. Beth Ann captured the spirit of our goals when she wrote me earlier this week. “I am so very proud to be a part of a group of badasses who recognize the power in what we’ve accomplished in a system that wasn’t built with us in mind. We must continue to bring representation, understanding, healing, awareness, unity, motivation and strength to identify and highlight true diversity, focused on a stronger Navy, Marine Corps and Nation.” We need practical actions to meet these lofty philosophical goals. What can we do and how can you help?

Engage with the Alumni Association and with the Naval Academy at large. Join a local alumni group and meet up with the area Women’s SIG members. Run for office within the alumni association. Become a Blue and Gold Officer. If you are local to Annapolis, participate in the Character Capstone program or volunteer to be a woman representative at the “Link in the Chain” Battalion events – since we won’t have women as part of the Link in the Chain classes for another six years. If you are transitioning from your Naval Service to the civilian workforce, attend a Service Academy Career Conference or a USNA networking breakfast. I know so many of you already are doing some or all of these things (and so much more), and if that’s you, we would love to share those experiences with the rest of the Sisterhood of Mother B through an article or social media post! All of these things improve our connection with each other and the Naval Academy, and they help the young women and men who will lead our Navy and Marine Corps in the future by normalizing women as full members of the alumni community.

Wonder Woman, Warner Brothers Pictures, 2017

As Kate so effectively pointed out in October, “Representation Matters.”

Help us raise money to meet the Women’s SIG fundraising goals. Those goals support SOMB’s efforts to help send more young women to Summer Seminar and pay the operating costs for the podcast – sponsorship (and help with audio editing) would be great. When you participate in SOMB gear sales, you celebrate the Sisterhood, ensure that we can pay our hosting subscription for the Waypoints Podcast, and provide young women the opportunities to see what the Naval Academy and Naval Service have to offer.

Submit content!!!! I cannot emphasize this enough. We need your voices; your memories of the past and ideas for the future; your leadership successes and failures; your guidance for transitioning to a post-military life and your thoughts on how to make the Naval Service a long, fulfilling career. Your contribution of pictures and stories – great or small – are the heart of this endeavor. So many of you are doing amazing things – we are looking at you who think you are not that big of a deal as much as we are staring at those of you who already know. Your words can do all the things Beth Ann hopes for – represent, understand, heal, provide awareness and unity, motivate and strengthen. You have opinions, and we want to share them. While we were forged in the same crucible, we are a diverse group of women with different backgrounds and experiences. That diversity of thought is what challenges us and makes us stronger. In the coming weeks, I will be updating our call for articles and other content to reflect next year’s calendar. Take a look and plan ahead to see where your voice fits (it fits).

We want this amazing journey to continue, and we need your help to make this year even better. The New Year brings new challenges and new adventures. We look forward to celebrating the Class of 80’s 40th reunion and the 175th anniversary of the Naval Academy. We are seeking ways increase alumnae engagement and build relationships with alumnae from the other service academies. We hope you will join us on the journey, so that next year we can once again say, “Wow! It’s been a year.”