By: Lauren Marie Feringa
There are very specific challenges for female Veterans transitioning into the civilian sector, but a movement has been taking place that’s helping. Transitioning can be a daunting task for anyone, but especially for women, many of whom have allowed the military to define them and their future options. Guidance can help, but as a female where do you receive this guidance from? Almost all of the current transition assistance is tailored to military males. That’s where “Redefining Your Future” comes in. It’s a movement intended to be a community for service women and women veterans who have transitioned or are transitioning out of the military.
Redefining Your Future was created by Retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant Shellie Willis after she witnessed the lack of support and guidance offered specifically for women during their transition. She wanted to have an impact on the female Veteran community and bring them together to support each other during the turmoil that comes with transition. This kind of community promotes discussion and an open forum for women veterans to receive guidance from people who have walked the path they are on.
People ask, what is the difference for females entering the workforce as opposed to males? When men enter the workforce there are transitional hurdles they have to navigate, but most transitional platforms are geared specifically to them, and there are many sources of information that can answer questions and give guidance. Women, on the other hand, don’t have many options that are specific to understanding their struggles—transitioning isn’t all about doing hair and learning the differences between the categories of dressing for the civilian workforce. But redefining this new career path, and accepting the transition with a group of women going through the same experience, helps these veterans face what they have with a village of people beside them.
Shellie says this platform is “Calling attention to veterans individuality as opposed to their unit.” By seeing themselves as individuals, they take the first step in moving forward after being part of a large cohesive team. There have been two Redefining Your Future events, which have consisted of 2 days of coaching and discussions that end with walks down a red carpet. This symbolic walk represents attendees’ first step in transitioning as redefined women.
You can follow Shellie and Redefining Your Future on Facebook @RedefiningYF where you can learn about upcoming events and tune in for weekly videos.