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S1E2. In this episode, Marine veteran and non-profit leader, Tabitha Bartley shares with us the story many women face within the military, but more so, the challenges they face once leaving the service.

More information about Tabitha Bartley.

AUTO-TRANSCRIBED – PLEASE FORGIVE ERRORS AND TYPOS

Aaron Spatz  00:05

You’re listening to America’s entrepreneur, the podcast designed to educate, entertain, and inspire you in your personal professional journey. I’m your host, Aaron Spatz. And on the podcast, I interview entrepreneurs, industry experts, and other high achievers that detail their personal and professional journeys in business. My goal is to glean their experiences into actionable insights that you can apply to your own journey. If you’re new to the show, we’ve spoken with successful entrepreneurs, Grammy Award winning artists, best selling authors, chief executives, and other fascinating minds with unique experiences. We’ve covered topics such as how to achieve breakthrough and business, growing startups, effective leadership techniques, and much more. If you strive for continual self improvement, and enjoy fascinating and insightful conversation, hit the subscribe button. You’ll love it here at America’s entrepreneur the best first question, I think, to ask maybe, so why did you choose to join the military? And specifically, why did you choose to join the Marine Corps?

Tabitha Bartley  01:10

Yeah. So I actually, like in high school had no desire didn’t really know anything about the military. I’m sure recruiters probably came to my school, but I don’t remember them, you know, ever giving a presentation in class or anything like that. And it was about a year after graduating high school, I was attending the local community college and I got a random phone call that I answered normally, I don’t answer random phone calls, but I did. And I was like, call me on a good day. I actually have some time I’ll come in, but there’s, there’s no way I’m going to join the Marine Corps. There’s just there’s no way. So I get there. And like the first part of our conversation was about the New York Yankees. And Bernie Williams was a huge Bernie Williams fan. And he was originally from New York. So he was a huge Yankees fan. So we kind of just like bartered back and forth about that. And then the conversation, you know, started changing. And he started telling me about the Marine Corps. And I know you’re in the Marine Corps. So you’re familiar with the benefit tags? Yeah, I can’t tell you exactly which benefit tags I picked. But I know that they were the top three were all the intangibles which, knowing what I know. Now, the recruiter knew that right then and there. They probably had a good shot with me. Nobody joins the Marine Corps for the tangibles. It’s those intangibles. And the thing that really stuck with me is he told me a story about how on one of his humanitarian missions that he had been on. other branches of service had tried to get provisions into the humanitarian missions into an area that they hadn’t been able to, because when they would try, you know, there was ShotSpotter, and all sorts of different scenarios. And he was like, so his unit ended up going in. And because of that uniform, and kind of what it represented, they were able to without any issues, get the provisions in and kind of fulfill that part of the mission. And that really spoke to me because I’ve always been a person that I want to do good in the world, not great things. But good things, I want to make an impact. And the way he presented it to me, it was kind of like, okay, I think this is this is somewhere that I could, I could do that I could kind of yes, at times see the worst of people, but also see the best in people. And then he also told me about the job that I picked, which was public affairs, and he really went into public affairs and all the different things I could do with that. And I was just like, I had no idea the Marine Corps even offered something like that, right? Like, again, I wasn’t really like immersed with the military and the Marine Corps. So I didn’t even know that that job option was there. And it really, it really resonated with me, you know, journalism, photography, getting to really interact with people. So I was, by the end of it, I was like, yeah, actually, this is, this is for me, just, yeah, this is what I want to do. And that that process, for me was actually really unique. I had to wait five months to even join the delayed entry program because of the job I wanted. And then another 11 months in the program, and that that really blessed me because I really got to interact with the recruiters and Gunny Rod was my first mentor in the Marine Corps. And I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor to start off with before I even you know, became a marine and earned that title. So he had a huge impact on that and I just I always look back like if he had never called me and again, I worked for the recruiting station. So knowing how random that phone call even even was. It was just amazing and kind of like I’m a person that believes in fate and that things happen for a reason. And it definitely did happen for a reason.

Aaron Spatz  05:07

That’s a fantastic story. And especially when you start talking about the intangibles, because I really do believe that’s where that’s where a lot of us end up in terms of that decision making process. Now, that’s not I’m not bashing on people’s reasons. It just seems like a lot of us are electing to go that route because of all the intangibles. But do you mind sharing with us a little bit about something of some of the things that you got to do in that role?

Tabitha Bartley  05:35

Yeah. Yeah, so I saw our schoolhouse is actually Fort Meade, Maryland, and all the branches of service for that military occupation, they go to the same school house. So from the get go, I got to interact with all the branches of service, which was really unique. And I think a great way to start off kind of my career in the Marine Corps, getting to interact with other branches. And then I, weirdly enough, I really wanted Quantico, Virginia, I have no idea why I knew nothing about Quantico. And we got you know, when you get to you get a pick, like, I think you had three choices, and it was like East Coast and West Coast are overseas. And I picked east coast as my first like really wanting Quantico not knowing anything about it. And I ended up getting Quantico and I was so blessed with the things I got to do at Quantico. But even more so the leadership at Quantico, I started out working for the Conoco century as a journalist for taking photos and writing stories. And we were, we were producing a lot of content. I think at one point, we were like, seven to 10 stories a week. And our leadership was very much like go find your own stories and find things that interests you. And the not the first story I covered. But the second story I covered, I actually got to take underwater photos of McQuiston structures getting promoted underwater, and it was such an amazing experience. And it just kind of pushed the like, I got to see more. And I got to know more about the Marine Corps and all these crazy jobs in the Marine Corps and what other people do. And in that, I got to start doing some volunteer events and the Public Affairs Office there, they, they had a community relations program. And the chief billet got to run the volunteer program and do a lot of other stuff in the community. And I was, as soon as I picked up PST, I was like, I need that. That’s the bill that I need. That’s the position I need to be in. And luckily enough, I, I got to do that as a lance corporal, which was kind of crazy, especially being at Quantico. There’s a lot of lot of higher ups and I got to sit in on a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise and just experience a lot of things and go into the community a lot. I was getting to do talks at elementary schools and middle schools and just tell them how cool my job was in the Marine Corps. And it, it was really cool to see the interaction from like young females and thinking, oh, like, I never thought of the military, either. I didn’t even know women could serve in the military. Or I didn’t know that they could do that, or that you didn’t have to cut your hair, you know, all those misconceptions. And I really liked going places and having those conversations and kind of changing that thought. So I spent four, three and a half years at Quantico. And it was it was an amazing time. And then the time, you know, came to decide to re enlist and I re enlisted and I specifically to do Marketing and Public Affairs at a recruiting station was one of the only MLS is that you had to actually like interview for. Ended up I got to be the Marketing and Public Affairs marine at recruiting station, Columbia, South Carolina. So I spent my last four years there and I got to do just an amazing number of things from marketing and marketing campaigns to the Marine Corps educators workshop, which was honestly my probably my favorite event that I ever did in the Marine Corps and I got to it every year. We would get to take educators to Parris Island for a week and show them the entire transformation from civilian to marine. And what I loved about it was, you know, we didn’t get the educators that were like pro military or, you know, I don’t want to say not supportive, but like, great, were advocates about it or had a lot of knowledge. So we definitely, we focused on those educators to bring them so it was amazing to me take them there, and to be able to have a complete conversation with them, you know, no hidden curtains, we didn’t like hide anything from them, it was just this is the Marine Corps. And this is how we make Marines and just better informing them so that they better could inform their students again, uh, you know, this not everybody’s cut out for the Marine Corps made to be a Marine. But when you don’t have the right information to give them to weather even know that that’s an option, it was just really cool to see these educators kind of change their mindset. And, you know, by the end of the they would, they would have students that they thought would be a great fit, or just in general have better knowledge about the Marine Corps and how to better guide people. And that was, that was an amazing experience for me. I mean, I’m still in contact with majority of those educators today, where, you know, they know all about my family and my kids and how I’m doing post force Marine Corps and in the civilian sector now. And I still keep track of what they do in their schools. So it was, it was really awesome to make those connections. And I was blessed that I got to do that in three states. So it was really cool experience.

Aaron Spatz  11:11

That’s like, a very critical role that you filled, I mean, because you really were an ambassador, for the Marine Corps to the community, especially when you’re on the recruiting duty side of things, and then not, you know, obviously some, some some of the other things that you were doing as a community community relations representative there in Quantico, it really cool because you’re getting to go out and kind of tell the story and show a different side of the military that people may not always understand is there, they see what’s on the recruiting posters or on the or on the commercials on TV. But they don’t always see something that doesn’t look like that. And so you’re able to kind of handle some of the misconceptions through all that.

Tabitha Bartley  11:54

Yeah. And it’s, it was really nice, because because I wasn’t a recruiter, kind of that initial shock, they would sometimes be a little more open with me from the get go. Or, like, I got to do a lot of practical application classes where I would take over a teacher’s class and teach a marketing class or teach a photography class. And obviously, I was still talking about the Marine Corps and the things that I had done in the Marine Corps, but they were just, like you said, seeing it kind of in a different light, light and a different perspective. And I love that I love and maybe it’s just because I’m kind of a blunt person. I also like having those hard conversations. And I think that they need to be had, and you can have them and talk about them. And you know, be honest about what is going on in the military, the rink, or in even in the civilian sector, but also showing like the good light of it, and the things that are changing and how they’re changing. And I think that really resonated with at least the people that I interacted with, you know, that’s that’s what they wanted, they didn’t want someone to tell them just all the good and fluffy, it was all of it. But when the good outweighs the bad, you know?

Aaron Spatz  13:01

Yeah, for sure. And it’s, it’s helpful, because then there’s this degree of trust that’s built when you, when you feel comfortable in, you’re able to share with somebody, like, Hey, here’s, here’s the awesome stuff about it, here’s some of the negative things or some of the things that are going to be challenges. And people really appreciate that, like they don’t want to just be sold to. And I think it helps you not actually having been a recruiter and having quota that you had to meet. I mean, it totally takes all the pressure off. So you have complete freedom to just be you. And and I think in a lot of ways, you, you probably, and I’m sure you already know this, but you probably recruited a few people straight in just just because of your ability to just be incredibly open.

Tabitha Bartley  13:47

And I think it’s even just being able to see somebody that you can relate in or see yourself, man, even just a tiny bit like as being a woman. And I always talked a lot about being a wife and a mother because that was the beauty of the Marine Corps is that was an open conversation with Marines all the time, right? I never had to hide that I had kids or anything like that. But kind of the perception a lot of times, especially in the high schools, it was like, Well, you can’t do that, right? And it’s like, well, no, no, you can and we have these great benefits to that. help our families and help us be not just a good mom or not just a good Marine, but a good mother as well. So I was I really liked talking about that. And I again, I have just been blessed to always be surrounded by amazing people. And I had an amazing command at Quantico and the recruiting station in Colombia and amazing recruiters. I mean, I just worked with great people so it wasn’t like I was really trying to help them it was really like they would just welcomed me along to come along to things and I just get to tag along.

Aaron Spatz  14:51

You’re probably the secret weapon on those on those Tagalongs.

Tabitha Bartley  14:56

Sometimes, maybe, but a lot of times I felt like It was, it was very much like we were, we were a team, and they saw the value in me as much. And as females in the military as much as you know, like I was advocating for it. It was genuine from from them too. I mean, especially my, my co, Columbia Mater, Nash was just was just phenomenal. And sometimes I think spoke my praise a little too, too high. But that allowed me to, to be able to lead and do my job because I was I was corporal in a command of, you know, everybody was at least a sergeant. And I was a corporal so, but I was able to put my opinion out there and kind of my expertise and be and be heard, which was, you know, the same thing couldn’t be said, for every MTA MPAs talk a lot about how hard the duty isn’t, it is if your command doesn’t, doesn’t back you or see the value in you. And I had a command that really saw the value, not just in me, but in that billet in that position.

Aaron Spatz  16:05

You’re not only advocating for the veterans community or for the military, but you’re also an advocate for women, and showing them a different side. So you like you’re able to relate to them and really answer questions, being able to maybe maybe shut down some lies that have been spoken, but then also you’re able to connect with with with other women that have served. And so it’s talk with us a little bit about that.

Tabitha Bartley  16:32

Yeah, so I am, I didn’t know how I would do in the civilian sector, just with my personality, it went really, really well, in the Marine Corps. And I, my transition wasn’t, wasn’t an easy one. And there was a moment specifically where, you know, I was just dealing with a ton of medical issues, and just a ton of issues trying to get seen and taken care of. And there was this moment, you know, I, I just remember, remember it clear as day where I’m sitting in my car, in the parking lot at work and on the phone with somebody and I just feel defeated. And I kind of just like broke down and started crying and not really somebody that cries and it was just in that moment that I was like, if I have this huge support system, and I’m feeling this way, I can’t imagine how other female veterans are feeling who don’t have this. So for me, it was really important to figure out a way to okay, how do I how can I help connect us? Because, yes, our stories aren’t all the same. But there’s just so much that we can relate to in that struggle. And sometimes all you need is somebody not to question what you’re going through. But to just listen, and kind of, you know, I hear you. And I understand that, and I’m here for you. So that was a huge push for me to do something locally and in my community. Because I knew that there are female veterans, but we just don’t stand out the way that male veterans do.

Aaron Spatz  18:01

What did your transition look like in terms of your decision to get out? Or, you know, like lining jobs up? Like what, like, what did that process look like?

Tabitha Bartley  18:12

Yeah, so mine was really unique. It was probably about a year before getting out that I received orders to Okinawa, Japan, Korea rise that that was the perfect move for me and what I needed to do, but I had, my grandma had gotten really sick, and passed away when I was in Colombia. And it it was really hard. I lost my grandfather, the day that I was leaving to fly out to MCT, and somehow was able to get pushed back to MCT to attend his funeral. And when my grandmother passed away, it just, it just really hit me. And I have two other grandparents and I knew that if we went to Okinawa, there would be a chance that I wouldn’t be able to come back and say goodbye. And because of how hard that was with my grandpa, and getting the opportunity to come back and say bye to my grandmother, I knew that it was just something that I couldn’t handle, even with the support of the Marine Corps and all the Marines. Family was more important. As much as I loved the Marine Corps and loved what I did. So we made the decision that we were going to get out. And in that year, you know, I went to tabs and started like looking for jobs asserting doing things but then I ended up getting pregnant with my third child and then shortly after that, I turn it returning back to work. I got a phone call to cover an event with the rocking Raiders March they were going the hikes that they were doing through Columbia, South Carolina. That was One of the recruiters was taking his police to it and they asked if I could cover it. And I was like, Sure, of course, I’m the only one that does this job. And it’s an amazing event. And I covered the event and I was hiking with my camera gear and running around trying to get get the shot. And the next day, I ended up in the emergency room. Because my uterus and my bladder had started to fall out of my body. And that was something then that I had months, me trying to get through the TRICARE system to be seen, to see what was going on. And then to get a determination on whether the Marine Corps was going to medically hold me. The the determination was actually decided three days before my EAS, that they were not going to hold me, the medical provider that saw me actually said, you know, this isn’t life or death, plenty of women live with this in the VA config seal. So, although I had been applying to jobs at that time, I couldn’t tell them when I was going to, you know, move back to Indiana or when I was going to be there because I I didn’t know at that time. So it was a whirlwind weeks of trying to get everything packed up to move to Indiana to then try and find a job. So mine was very unique. And I wouldn’t wish my transition on anybody. Wow, any means because as much as I was preparing, I couldn’t give, you know, employers the information that they wanted, which is obviously like when can you start or when he’s going to be here? I couldn’t even answer that. So the transition was was really hard in that regard. And I didn’t really know how to write a resume or to network in that scope, because I was so focused on like, what medically was going going wrong with me. And then I had, you know, built this program for four years that I was so proud of. And honestly, I couldn’t let it go. I mean, I was working the weekend before going to Parris Island to get that determination on what was going to happen to me. And that wasn’t my commands, how we meet you, that was just me not able to let go.

Aaron Spatz  22:11

Of that. Wow, well, thank you so much for sharing all that. That’s, that’s an incredible story. And especially on the tail end of that only having three days from the time that the determination is made to the time that you like, you got to go figure something else out, like that’s a, that’s a huge shock. Like, I mean, I don’t care who you are, and what kind of plans you may or may not have had, like, three days is pretty rough.

Tabitha Bartley  22:40

It’s been a really long and hard process of having to go through the VA system to even get everything service connected, so that I then can be treated through the VA, which was a nightmare. And I kind of did it on my own and wish that I hadn’t done it alone as much as I had because that process was a little overwhelming. And again, feeling like it was a subject that was taboo to talk about. So I couldn’t even tell people why I couldn’t take my kids to event or why I couldn’t go to an event with them. Because you know, even wearing pants or I had to wear dresses or walking too long, I would be in excruciating pain. And that wasn’t something even with, you know, I’ve had surgery on both of my hips that with those I was able to push through. And this issue I wasn’t there’s no pushing through. I mean, I have organs flowing out of my body. And so that was really hard, mentally for me to

Aaron Spatz  23:39

Wow, that’s incredible. And I’m curious with your experience with the VA, because I know that like that’s been in the news a lot. And over the last several years. I think especially with the new administration, that’s been something that’s been talked about quite a bit and I mean, I’m curious what you’re just honest, what your what your honest assessment is, like how was your your time through the VA Did you did you feel like you’re treated in a in a expeditious and fair manner? Or or was it did it mirror more like what we hear about on on the news?

Tabitha Bartley  24:16

Yeah, it’s a good and a bad like on an individual level, like my PCM through the VA is amazing. I go to a small clinic here in Lafayette and the counselor I see for mental therapy is amazing. But anytime any, anything has to go through nd it’s been like, extremely hard to get it through. And when I was first trying to get seen for this, you know, they were telling me that I’d have to travel to Indianapolis to get seen for women’s care because it’s specialty care. And I live close enough to clinic, but a clinic that doesn’t offer any women’s care. And that was kind of the pushing point. It’s like okay, how is women’s care specialty care if every woman needs it? Nobody can answer that to me or Explain to me why I had to travel all the way to Indy risking, you know, losing my job that I had just started. It’s not, you can’t really just tell an employer like, oh, I have all these medical issues that I need to go to Indianapolis once a week to get seen. So it was, it was a lot and I had to push a lot. And I had to demand a lot where I don’t feel like I should have had to demand so much. And then at first, it was almost every appointment, I went to, or every time I went in the VA, there was a comment about my gender of, oh, I don’t know what to do with you, you’re a woman, or I’m not used to seeing women. And it bothered me, because in the Marine Corps, my gender just didn’t seem to matter as much as it did. As a female veteran, all of a sudden, that was like, all they could focus on was that I was a woman. So I had some nightmares. But then I had again, I had some great, great VA workers who were advocates for me, and who took care of me and tried to, you know, push the system and push back and fight for my side. So it’s, you know, it depends on the situation and nurse. And I think there’s a lot in the system that needs to be fixed. And I think one of the biggest things is, like, I would put in a complaint or a concern, and I would ask, Where, where does it go? And how do I follow that? And nobody could give me an answer. Or I would see an error. And I would call them out on it and say, Well, how are you going to make sure this doesn’t happen to the next person? And again, couldn’t get an answer for it. So being really familiar with the AIS system and in try here, and military installations, I am so confused why there’s not something like that through the VA. Or if there is why I can’t find the information easy enough. Right. And again, I’m a super assertive person and I kind of being a journalist and stuff, I really find the answers myself and I still struggled to find the answers to those types of things or how to go through the system.

Aaron Spatz  27:05

Yeah, that was actually my next comment. I was like, knowing knowing the knowing the hard charger, Bulldog. And the tenacity that you bring. When you’re when you’re interviewing people and exactly your background as journalism, you you know, what it takes to go get answers. And if you’re having a hard time getting answers, imagine for the person that is not very, very assertive, and a little bit more held back. And so that’s incredible. It sounds to me that your providers were are, are fantastic, people, they’re doing a great job, but the system overall just it, it needs some continued work. And I, I have no doubt. And I think more conversations like this are only going to help drive those changes. And I am confident and I’m and I’m, I’m cautiously optimistic, you know, that those changes are going to be made in the progress is gonna be made. And I and I don’t think it gets, I don’t think those changes are made unless the story is told. And so it’s important to share these stories.

Tabitha Bartley  28:06

Yeah, and like, in Indiana, there’s over 33,000 female veterans, but only 4000 of them are getting any sort of medical care from the VA. So we also have to do our part and in start getting in the system and getting the things that we’ve earned. Because that’s been one of the big things when I interact with female veterans that they feel like, you know, they didn’t, they didn’t earn that right to have the medical issue they have because they didn’t deploy or what their job was, or whatever. And that’s, that’s not the case, if you didn’t have an issue and you join the military, and now you have an issue, then there’s an obligation for them to take care of you. And so that’s one big thing. You know, when I speak to females, I, I asked them, are you? Are you using it? And what’s your experience? And how can I help and I am by no means, you know, a veteran support officer, I don’t know the system, but I know the people here locally that can help them and I can be their emotional support. Or again, if they need somebody to be a bulldog, I have no issues, you know, being that role for somebody or helping them in that situation. But this system isn’t going to get better until we start using it and demanding that it gets it gets better for us because it’s, you know, it’s it wasn’t designed for women, the VA care system was not designed for women. And it wasn’t and that’s and that’s not in a bad way. You know, that’s not who their audience was. But now it is We’re the fastest growing demographic of veterans that are coming, you know, coming out in the next few years. They have to do a lot and they they need to do a lot fast and they need to figure it out. And that first step is kind of I think female veterans being vocal about what their needs are and how they can get those needs and then also a solution you know, I’m a Masterton taught me early on don’t come to me with a problem if you don’t have a solution. So I’ve always made sure to at least, you know, have some sort of solution. I don’t have all the answers, but at least something that may help fix it.

Aaron Spatz  30:14

Yeah, for sure. And I think I mean, personally, right? It breaks my heart to hear people say, Oh, well, I wasn’t this MLS or I wasn’t this or I didn’t go, you know, overseas or whatever. And so I don’t really rate this. And that is such a lie. And part of that’s part of that the military culture, and I get it, there’s a certain edge that the military has, but at the same time, it that I mean, that’s, that’s just a straight up lie. Like if you, if you raise your right hand, you wrote a blank check to Uncle Sam payable up to the amount of your life. And I don’t care what your job was, we’re all one team. And sure, certain jobs are incredibly more dangerous than other jobs. But but at the end of the day, we all raised our right hand. And we were all prepared to do and make the ultimate sacrifice. So I think that’s great. And I, I really see you as a voice. For other women that are dealing with this, and especially on the outside, I had no idea it was this difficult in terms of the so like, how do I say this, like, when I served I, I served an MLS that was not very women heavy. But I still I still ran to them from time to time, didn’t think anything of it, and saw them as my teammates. Granted, they may have been in a different building or doing a different job, but I didn’t really think I didn’t, I just didn’t think much of it. What I what I think surprises me is the treatment on the outside. Because I see here, I see the camaraderie and I see the the network on the outside. And so to hear that there are issues with women veterans getting treated fairly within our own community. Like that’s a problem. And so it’s like, yeah, um, I’m excited for you to share with us some of what you’re what you’re up to now, because it sounds like you’re, you’re a woman on a mission.

Tabitha Bartley  32:29

Yeah, so I am, I look kind of a driving force and I had tried to go to a few different organizations are just kind of introduced myself to see if maybe I could find a place there. I just didn’t really feel welcomes, or there was just some weird pushback and weird feelings that you know, maybe now I wouldn’t mind it as much for going through everything I was I just didn’t want to deal with that. And I started looking and trying to find an organization for female veterans, meetups, you know, anything like that, and I came across women veterans Alliance. And there wasn’t a chapter here, but they had done a lot, nationally and a ton in California. And so I contacted the President asking if I could start a chapter here in Lafayette to support the Greater Lafayette community, and ended up starting a chapter of women veterans Alliance, and we had our launch event in November. We have a private Facebook group, and we have about 30 females in that. And then about 15 female veterans showed up to our first launch event and it was really crappy weather snowy. So at first, I didn’t think anybody was gonna come. And then we had like, four or five members of the community who came to to show their support and interact with female veterans. And I was, I was kind of blown away, I knew that there was a need for that. But I didn’t know if other veterans would feel like they can come to it, or if community members would really support it, or understand the unique need that is there and why we needed it and kind of why we needed to be separate. And I was blown away with that. And we ended up you know, having a great launch event and huge community support and planning a huge amount of events in 2020 that we were going to do and be a part of. And we got notified on January 1 that they’re deciding to shut down, you know, the chapters for women veterans Alliance, now women’s veterans Alliance organization is still there, they’re still supporting women veterans, they just, you know, decided to shut down their chapters for a number of reason, and I kind of took that as a sign of, you know, in this time period, I I felt like I was doing something but was I really doing enough. And I just kind of took that as Okay, here’s the chance to create your own nonprofit from the ground up, mold it exactly how you want to mold it and make an impact not just on women veterans but on the community. So That’s where we’re at now we’re in the process of creating a nonprofit and becoming a nonprofit. So that we can support female veterans. But in that, you know, kind of my seven year goal with it is that we’re going to do different things to make an impact on the community. And to help kind of change that misconception of what a veteran is, overall, what a veteran is, and what it means to serve as a woman in the military. Because again, I love my eight years in the Marine Corps, and I think that it is a great option for women to serve, they just need to know it. So seven year goal, we’ll continue with our socially social monthly socials, that are just closed group socials, to female veterans where we bring in different members in the community to speak to them and kind of give lessons on different things. And then we’ll house quarterly events where we get female veterans kneecap to kneecap with people in the community and influencers in the community. And my goal is to then, you know, spread out and start having women veterans mentoring high schoolers, not just females in high school, but males, too, because I think it’s important to kind of see women in that authority figure or see women and like what they can accomplish to help kind of change that perception. Because, you know, I think that there’s a, it’s not a military issue, it’s a kind of a nationwide issue on perceptions. And that’s a lot of things. And I think that doing something hyperlocal is the best way to kind of start driving that change.

Aaron Spatz  36:30

No, I think that’s fantastic. And I think you’re, you’re already hitting the ground running and sounds like you’re, you’re already making a huge impact. And so I’m excited to see where all this goes. To kind of ask you a question, I guess would be, you know, for the other veterans, specifically for women, veterans that may be listening to this. And they may not be, you know, within 100 miles of you, they may be across the country, but like, what, what advice would you have for them in terms of their transition? Or, just, as you’ve told your story, like, what like, what are some things that you would encourage

Tabitha Bartley  37:09

them in? I think embracing their authentic selves. For me, I found myself like, who I truly am completely was that the recruiting station Columbia, and I kind of lost myself in that transition for fear of how I would do in the civilian workforce and how they would perceive me. And that’s kind of not who I am at all. So it really, like, dug into me that I was focusing so much on that. So I think the first thing is, you know, being proud and not feeling like you have to hide who you are, if you’re assertive, you’re assertive if you’re not, and that’s fine. And finding how those skills can translate to what you want to do in the civilian sector. I utilize tire heroes to help me with like my resume, and how to have even more civilian eyes, the things I was talking about, and it had a huge impact. And even just having an organization that, you know, they’re not charging money, they’re not charging anything that was willing to support me, that was a huge, like boost of confidence and having somebody like, review my resume that didn’t know me. And to help tailor that to me. And I think honestly, LinkedIn is a huge thing. If you don’t have a network where you’re at then certainly networking digitally. And I’ve, I’ve had just great connections happen on LinkedIn, that I never would have had, if I wasn’t utilizing the platform. And I think that kind of that’s the key is if you don’t have the support system and the network you need reach out or search for those events, because I’m not I’m not the only one who’s you know, doing women veterans events by any means. They’re they’re all over social media, and they’re all over nationally. It’s just finding that support system, I think, is kind of the biggest thing.

Aaron Spatz  39:04

Yeah, no, I think that’s huge. So it really digging into, in networking, specifically, other women veterans in their local community. But then if there isn’t one, then reach out over social media. I mean, that it’s, I couldn’t agree with you more, especially in the power of LinkedIn, LinkedIn is a tremendous platform. And I mean, we’re able to meet all sorts of just cool people, people that we’ve never maybe even otherwise get a chance to meet. So it’s, I mean, it’s pretty cool.

Tabitha Bartley  39:36

And I also went to a lot of community events like here in Lafayette they have leadership Lafayette and a few other things and I I literally just like Googled leadership Lafayette and of course, there is an organization name that but I just tried to find community events that I can go to and start interacting with people because you also don’t want to just stay in that niche or the veteran community either because you’re now part of a big community. And for me, that was really important to start meeting those people in the community and knowing what those local resources are. Because especially in Indiana and Lafayette, there’s a ton of resources that veterans can utilize that they’re not marketed towards veterans, but they have either you know, subgroups or sub things that they do for the veteran city was really important for me to kind of get familiar with the community. And I was born and raised here. So it wasn’t that hard for me, obviously, I kind of had an idea of where to go. But sometimes it’s just as simple as a community event that you’re passionate about something maybe not related to the military, and going to that, and then seeing what connections you make from that. So that was a huge thing for me, as well as, and kind of, I think the unique thing to what we’re gonna do in our organization is we’re very good, we’re going to be very embedded in the community in those community assets and kind of liaison between veterans who maybe aren’t from here, service members who aren’t from here, and how they can get better integrated into the community. Because that’s one thing and talking with veterans, you hear lots of they don’t you know, really feel a part of the community or they don’t really feel like they know what their purpose is anymore. Like they have a purpose. And I think that volunteering and finding ways of that it’s going to make you feel like you’re a part of the community more

Aaron Spatz  41:28

great words of wisdom there. Your organization. So help me understand this real quick. Is it? Is it still women veterans Alliance? Or is it a new organization that you’re founding right now,

Tabitha Bartley  41:38

it is a new organization that I am founding right now, we don’t have a set name, we’re actually meeting tomorrow in the state of Indiana, you need three directors to start a nonprofit. So as much as I’d like to start it on my own and just get the ball running. You can’t do that in Indiana. So hopefully, by tomorrow, I will have three directors who are willing to sign on to me and then we’ll know what the name can be, depending on the state what it’s looking like right now what I’m hoping for is women warriors united. But again, it I don’t know if by the last time I checked, that name, those naming privileges. As of right now it’s available in Indiana. So that’s what will hopefully be called.

Aaron Spatz  42:20

Nice. Give you the last word here. So any, like any parting thoughts on, you know, trying to integrate out of the out of the military and then back into the civilian workforce is or is there any any trends that you’ve been seeing, other than the things that we’ve talked about already? But was there any, is there any other advice you’d share there? Is there any advice that you’d want to share with with not only veterans, but maybe those on active duty, if there’s any other just lingering nagging thing in the back of your head right now that you want to get out of love to hear it?

Tabitha Bartley  42:57

I think that every veterans story, and every service member story is unique to them. It’s easy to kind of fall into those perceptions or those cliches or how others may see you. And sometimes maybe being too fearful to correct people. And that was something that I’ve always been easy and vocal about whenever I hear something wrong, making sure that I correct it or say that my experience wasn’t that and not ever downgrading anybody else’s story. Because again, although we’ve all served, and we’re all veterans, our stories are very unique to us. And I think that sometimes that kind of, you know, gets overlooked a little bit and just appreciating that and knowing that, although that is the case, you may be the only veteran that that civilian ever interacts with. I know in my office, specifically, one of my co workers, he came up to me and he said, I just realized this the other day, the first veteran I’ve ever worked with Andrea, female. He’s like, it’s just crazy, right? And that kind of stuck to me like, Oh, dang. Well, I hope I hope I’m making a good impression, right? Like, I hope that was a good thing or a good comment. So kind of being mindful of that. But then again, at the same time being true to yourself and not feeling like you, you can’t be yourself.

Aaron Spatz  44:20

Thanks for listening to America’s entrepreneur. If you enjoyed the show, please leave a review or comment on your preferred social media platform. share it out with friends, family, coworkers, others in your network. And of course, you can write me directly at Erin at Bold media.us. That’s a Ron at Bold media.us. Until next time,

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