Helping Women Veterans Integrate into the Workforce

Helping Women Veterans Integrate into the Workforce

OperationReinventI was honored recently to be involved in an event called Project Reinvent, which was created to help female veterans prepare themselves to successfully integrate back into the civilian workforce.

The pilot event was for 50 women stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and was put on by Operation Reinvent, a not-for-profit organization created to help these women transition. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics: 

  • There are 2.2 million women veterans in the US
  • 100,000 of those veterans are unemployed
  • 20,000 women transition from the military to civilian life each year

In this short video, I share my thoughts on being part of this amazing event. If reading is more your thing, you’ll find a transcript below the video.


Check out the Operation Reinvent Website for more information about this program.

Video Transcript

Hi there. It’s Kristen Harcourt, Senior Consultant with The McQuaig Institute.

Last week I had an opportunity to be part of a really special event done by Operation Reinvent, they’re a nonprofit organization that works with female veterans who are transitioning back into civilian life. They really help them get prepared to go into the workplace, to interview and to hopefully land a really good job in the corporate world.

The session that happened last week was in Fayetteville, North Carolina, at a hotel just outside of Fort Bragg. The morning was really designed to help these women really feel feminine again, so it was all about doing makeovers, getting them comfortable putting makeup on, which a lot of them haven’t done for a long time, and they’re going to be doing that as part of the interview process.

And, also a wardrobe consultation so that they felt very professional, ready to make a really great first impression. And really feel prepared and ready to do well in the interview. The afternoon was more focused on different things that the women could do to really feel like they’re prepared and understand what is going to be happening in the interview. How to really be able to own that room.

And I had an opportunity to do a session with the women in the afternoon that was really focused on helping them to leverage their strengths, to understand what is their natural temperament, personality, behavior pattern; how can they find jobs that are going to be a really good fit for their natural talent.

But also how can they just leverage those strengths that they naturally possess at the same time be aware that we all have blind spots and understand what their specific blind spots are so that they can use that to really make sure they’re really putting their best foot forward in the interview.

And then also, once they start to work for an organization, being really aware of those blind spots so it doesn’t impact their success.

One of the things I felt was really interesting when I started to work with these women was when they started to describe what it was like working in the military. A lot of them they felt that they had to let go of aspects of their personality because the way the military is really structured. It’s around command and control and just really doing what they’re told a lot of the time, which makes sense because they’re out there doing things that puts their life in danger. So, it really is about reacting, doing what they’re told that moment.

When they started to think about going into the corporate world they got really excited to think about the fact that ‘now is my chance to really find a position that going to allow me to thrive, to allow me to use that natural personality, those temperaments, those talents that I bring to the table.’ And that they would really get an opportunity to be in cultures that were very different from what they experienced in the military.

One of the other things that came up when we started to have a discussion is the fact that, when they start to get into the workplace, that a lot of that resiliency that they were able to build by being in the military –  I mean, these females, they’re courageous, they’re strong women – that this can really translate into being very successful in the workplace and being our future leaders.

The work that Operation Reinvent is doing is wonderful and I hope that more corporations are also going to get on board because there’s so much opportunity for these women to really make an impact in the workplace, and really be set up for success.

At the end of the day, I thought that all those women really left that one-day session feeling like they were empowered, feeling like they were ready to be part of that interview process, feeling like they had a lot to give to these organizations and that they have the potential to really thrive. It was a wonderful day and  I felt really honored to be able to work with these almost fifty females, setting them up for success. And I really, really hope that more organizations and individuals will get involved with Operation Reinvent.


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