June 12, 2021, marks Women Veterans Day, and America's Warrior Partnership is grateful to have so many incredible women veterans on the team. We want to take a moment to highlight their leadership and accomplishments below.
1) Who or what inspired you to serve your country in the military?
Krystal Garcia: Growing up I felt the happiest when I was helping others or doing things that made their lives a little better or easier. It became important and fulfilling to feel like I was making a positive difference and putting good back into the world. My decision to serve in the military was fueled by those ideals. The military gave me the opportunity to go to college and continue a lifelong career path of helping others.
Sarah Holzhalb: My Grandpa and my Uncle were the military role models in my life. My Grandpa enlisted at 17 as a Marine and served with the 2nd Marine Division in World War II. He fought in some of the most brutal battles – Tarawa, Guadalcanal, Okinawa, Tinian, Saipan. He had a velvety worn manila envelope of pictures of him and his buddies during his wartime that I was just fascinated looking through as a kid. He did not share many details about his service, commenting, “It was just something I did,” but it was obvious that his service was important to him and he was proud being a Marine. My Uncle served 20 years as a Coast Guard officer and inspired me to be a part of the country’s oldest seagoing service. They were both incredibly supportive of me serving my country.
Innan Johns: My story is different, I joined because I was following the wrong crowd and my daddy wasn’t too pleased when I started skipping my college classes. He was paying for my tuition so I just got tired of hearing BS and joined because it was a job, and I knew after I put in my years, I would be awarded with the GI Bill. It was the best decision honestly because it brought me a family/friends from all walks of life. Now I have some amazing friends from the service.
Kate Migliaro: I was fortunate to have incredible role models throughout life from the love of my parents who instilled in me an appreciation and gratitude for our country to three strong sisters who pushed me to raise the bar higher and do extraordinary things. Service to me is extraordinary and I feel blessed to have served with the brave men and women (including all of my sisters) of this country. There is no greater purpose then wearing our nation’s uniform and sacrificing on behalf of the freedoms we all enjoy.
Dannielle Pope: I grew up hearing stories from my grandfather, a World War II Navy Veteran and my Uncle, a Vietnam-era Marine Combat Veteran. Additionally, I played competitive softball and when you develop a mentality of team sports that meshes very well with the military thought process of team over individual. Ultimately, it was my softball career that provided me the opportunity to attend West Point. Once I visited West Point and met the Cadets and Military Service Members, the rest as they say is history.
2) Is there a specific event or accomplishment within your military service that you are most proud of?
Krystal Garcia: Joining the military itself was a huge accomplishment for me. I can’t describe the pride I felt graduating from Basic Military Training and walking across that field, hearing the music, seeing the flags, feeling the patriotism and pride from everyone there. My family drove 1200 miles from home to support me, the grins on their face, the tears and overwhelming pride in my mom’s eyes. I felt pride in my choice to serve and felt extremely connected with service members that came through before me.
Sarah Holzhalb: During Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, I was Aide to the Admiral responsible for all rescue and recovery operations. The coordination and teamwork were exceptional - from the command centers directing rescue assets and taking emergency calls from the public, boat crews, rescue swimmers and pilots, logistics, administrative and supply teams. While the hurricane and the aftermath were unprecedented, the public truly witnessed the talented, daring, and innovative work the men and women of the Coast Guard do every day. Amidst the chaos and tragedy, there was an overwhelming reaction of compassion, service, and assistance. This was not just among state and federal entities responsible for the response efforts, but within the city of New Orleans, the state, and the region. People came together to help each other.
Innan Johns: The day I qualified as expert when I had the privilege to train with the Special Forces.
Kate Migliaro: I am extremely proud of my service; however, the accomplishment I am most proud of is following my service. I have had several Soldiers reach out to me and share how much they appreciated working with me. As a servant leader, it the the greatest compliment you can receive.
Dannielle Pope: In preparation for our deployment to Iraq I noted a distinct shift when my Soldiers went from from calling me “ma’am” to “XO.” This is a greeting reserved for male and female officers when they attain a level of respect and trust.
3) What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, or what is your personal motto - that has helped shape your life, both personally and professionally?
Krystal Garcia: Be patient and be kind.
Sarah Holzhalb: You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” This is a quote from Marcus Aurelius and his work “The Emperor’s Handbook” is something I read in college and that I’ve had on my desk or bedside table ever since. This quote is similar to one that my parents and my high school and college basketball coaches relayed to me. Whether it is an emotional or mental struggle, you can keep calm, keep your mind centered and overcome any obstacle. The same quote my husband and I apply whenever we are participating in physical challenges – ultramarathons, marathons, a workout, or event that just sucks and hurts. Your mind will quit before your body, and if you can control your monkey mind, your body will follow and keep going. That leads into another favorite motto, “We can do hard things,” which a good friend of mine shared.
Innan Johns: That your dreams will not come true unless you work hard to make them happen. No matter where you find yourself in life there will be happiness, hardship and above most love.
Kate Migliaro: The best piece of advice I have ever received is “…it is not what you are doing in life, but who you are doing it for and with.” This has guided my career and opportunities for both personal and professional growth.
I have two personal motttos:
Leadership is a deep obligation to people. Leaders put the interest of the team above their own.
Karma is a b^&*%. Being a good human is a requirement and givers always get more back than takers.
Dannielle Pope: The best piece of advice I ever received was from my grandfather. We were working together on our farm in Texas, and he told me that I should always “say what I mean and mean what I say.” Keeping the values of loyalty, honesty and integrity at the forefront of my mind has allowed me to develop and maintain long-term relationships in both my personal and professional life.
4) How would you encourage others to honor the women veterans in their lives?
Krystal Garcia: By just being kind, listen to their stories, say thank you for your service and sacrifice.
Sarah Holzhalb: Take some time to learn the stories of the women in your life. Ask them questions about their motivations, accomplishments, and challenges. Be a vessel of support and encouragement to the next generation of girls and young women. So, they may grow to possess a kindness of spirit, and an attitude of positivity, diligence, and confidence to achieve whatever it is they want to.
Innan Johns: Simply by letting the community know to 'thank a female veteran' by having a small recognition lunch/dinner to congratulate the female veterans in their community. Maybe even posting up their pictures in the chapter to let them know of the female veterans in their community.
Kate Migliaro: I would encourage others to honor women veterans by asking them to share their story. Women tend to be shyer than their male counterparts about sharing their experiences particularly those engaged in a combat environment. Give them an opportunity to open-up about their service experience.
Dannielle Pope: I encourage individuals to honor all veterans, although it’s not expected, it’s always nice to hear a simple “thank you for your service.”