News: Program for female soldiers offers mentorship
Story by Spc. Jacqueline Dowland
CAMP HOVEY, South Korea - At times in a woman’s career or in her personal life, she may need guidance on the best way to approach a situation. Female soldiers with 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, gathered for a Lady Spartans Women Mentorship Program brunch to introduce to female soldiers the benefits of mentorship at Hartell House at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea, Jan. 24, 2014.
The program, which is voluntary to join, encourages female soldiers to find a mentor for guidance and advice in all areas of life from military career to finances.
While it is mandatory for each battalion or brigade to have a women’s mentorship program, the coordinators of the program try to make the program one that females will want to join voluntarily.
“It’s a way to get the females to empower each other,” said Sgt. 1st Class Vernisa Pope, 1st Brigade noncommissioned officer in charge in S-4 with 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, originally from Chicago. “It provides guidance through professional and personal development.”
Included in the program’s activities are health forums and Zumba classes to draw in new members and make the program exciting for existing members.
“We want to ensure that the females have something to take back to their units and share with other female soldiers so we have more females join every day,” said Pope.
The coordinators of the event pour their individual enthusiasm and dedication into the program. This commitment and interest in the program is evident in the approachability felt at the program’s events.
“I can openly talk to a senior noncommissioned officer or a senior officer about my ideas or goals and I can have that person share their experiences with me,” said Reina M. Garay, a truck driver with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, originally from Fort Lewis, Wash.
As many units are predominantly male, female soldiers will always be outnumbered by men in the military. As a result, female soldiers may feel as though they face difficulty seeking advice on subjects a male soldier may not be able to offer advice on.
“I was in an infantry unit until I made staff sergeant,” said Pope. “A male cannot teach a female everything that they need to know in the military or in their personal life.”
Having the ability to advise and mentor other females motivates and inspires the members of the committee to guide female soldiers in any way they can.
“I have a big pride and a passion for this program because I can take things I’ve learned and share them and mentor other females,” said Pope.
All subjects are open for discussion and advice, not just military-related issues. This open approach benefits women participants as it allows them to seek guidance in any area of life they may be facing.
“This will help us if we decide to stay in the military or apply for a civilian job,” said Garay. “If we want to go for an interview we’ll want to carry ourselves so that people will be impressed and we can seek advice on how to do that from our mentors.”
Members of the program are excited that they are part of an opportunity to seek risk-free advice and counsel in a comfortable environment from women they can trust.
“I think that females especially need to know about this,” said Garay. “I’m really going to push this forward to all the females because this is a great program.”