Small U.S. flags attached to sticks that lined the planters like a line of people guiding the way to the 800 building.
This is where an all female Honor Guard from Travis Air Force base and one of the campus’ own female veterans, Darlene Arrigo, sang the U.S. national anthem. It was the start of a celebration for the women veterans.
Many women veterans do not identify as such and tend to be passive of the fact that they have served in the Armed Forces. This is why on Thursday, March 20 at 10 a.m., Las Positas College held their second annual “Honoring Women Who Served” event in the little theater.
Mary King, army veteran and Senior Director of PG&E, was one of the speakers that was present and actually spoke about how hard it was for her to transition from being in the military to corporate America.
How she felt she had to learn to be the same as all of the people around her, when really she did not need to hide the training she had from the military.
Some of the last words that King said during her speech at the event were how women veterans should be proud to say what they are and should not diminish their accomplishments from when they served.
“Every one of you should be proud to be a veteran. I will say that women veterans really don’t like to self-identify, we say, ‘Well yes, I was in the service but I wasn’t in Afghanistan.’” King said.Ashley Freitas Staff Writer
“Many of us weren’t in Afghanistan. It doesn’t mean you weren’t ready to serve. It doesn’t me you didn’t take the oath that you put on the uniform. You are a veteran and you should be proud of it. Because veterans don’t
need to blend in, we need to stand out. All of our experience, everything we bring to the table we need to bring to corporate America,” she said.
After King had finished speaking, the event moved on to a panel of women veterans, which included Shea Losh of the Coast Guard, Roxanne Cato of the Army Reserves, Stephanie Justice of the Army, Kristen Akers of the Army, Lieutenant Colonel of the Army Vicki Hudson, Frankie Stoneham of the Army, with retired Navy Chief Kelly McFarland, who was the emcee of the ceremony.
They answered some questions such as what were some of the most positive aspects that they found while serving.
Many of the panelists’ answers included discipline, structure, pride and losing fears, as well as the benefits.
Another question was when they transitioned out of the military, did they face any particular challenges? And if so, what were the biggest ones and are they still hanging on? Some of the ideas that were brought up by the panelists were a loss of the camaraderie that was felt while they were in the military.
“Job hunting. The three main reasons were problematic: one was knowing how to do it. Two, being in a situation that limits itself for career hunting. Three, the physical ability to do it,” McFarland said about the answers at the end of the question.
As the panel was ending a question came up, one that people may think about when it comes to veterans. How can they be helped?
There are programs that are set up within the military itself now to help aid veterans into transitioning from military to civilian life, as well as many support groups that have come to be in many different areas with different specialties.
“It’s not enough to just hire veterans. It’s not enough to work with veteran owned businesses. We need to keep them while they’re here,” King said in her speech.
But it didn’t stop there. The Livermore Chapter of the Daughters of American Revolution, represented by Kathy Chase, gave out five $500 scholarships to Mona Peterson, Danielle Rivera, Florence Foster, Roxanne Cato and Margreet Alverez.
And King, after raising what she said was “$67,000 from the active employees at PG&E who wanted to help veterans,” presented Shea Losh and Kristin Akers with scholarships, as well.
The audience stood and applauded. Those that were serving saluted the panel, and soon pictures were being taken of the scholarship winners.
Friends and family of the panelists began to crowd towards their loved ones.
A clear sense of closeness could be felt throughout the auditorium as people slowly began to make their way out to the courtyard just behind the 800 building, where PG&E had kindly donated lunch to those who were attending the event. The closeness of these people who had just one thing in common was evident.
What was equally as evident was the amount of appreciation those who served or had served felt for being recognized for their service as they received thanks and handshakes from the many people that passed by.