FORT MEADE, MD, UNITED STATES
FORT MEADE, Md. -- For one Army Reserve sergeant major, private sector and military experience are core factors that have guided her personal and professional journeys to advocacy and support. Choosing to leave an established career behind to seek new initiatives to meet the challenges of this new global era has led to an interesting new career path.
Sgt. Maj. Caterina Veronesi, operations sergeant major for the 354th Civil Affairs Brigade, has a background in the corporate world, but she decided to take a detour from that career path into one that will make a difference in facing challenges locally and globally.
Now the operations sergeant major for the 354 Civil Affairs Brigade, Veronesi is a former strategic research manager for Daymon Worldwide, a brokerage firm for manufacturing and retailing communities. Veronesi decided to leave the private sector after she was deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom, when she worked with international organizations for humanitarian initiatives.
“I felt I was overtaken by this global consciousness to seek a more unique position to do more on a humanitarian level,” she said. “I wanted to look for an opportunity to help change the way our nation may be perceived.”
Veronesi said she wanted to take her experiences and turn them into something that has meaning.
“I felt like that as result of the experiences I’ve had, I wanted to do something that could affect a change from a community standpoint,” she said.
After deploying to Iraq from April 2006 to November 2007, Veronesi’s became an advocate for helping Soldiers transition when return from deployments. Seeing the hard work and sacrifice of the Soldiers she deployed with took her on a personal journey that made her realize that Soldiers who sacrifice so much during a deployment deserve and need help when they return home.
“I’m working with an organization back home to help with Soldier reintegration back into the civilian community,” Veronesi said. “The unemployment statistics for veterans returning home is petty high. Help is definitely needed in that area. I’ve always had a connection with community even before my extensive experiences, but now it has definitely grown.”
Veronesi expressed concern on how people and communities come together as whole.
“Lately the only time we really are face-to-face is in a catastrophe or an emergency situation,” she said. “The world we now live is taking the human touch process away from helping.”
A native of Connecticut, Veronesi decided to use her skills and resources to give back locally.
“Back home I’m sharing all the information about opportunities with combat veterans, so that they can engage too,” she said. “Right now I’m involved with Female Soldiers Forgotten Heroes, a transitional house for homeless female combat veterans with or without children who were honorably discharged. I also work with Home for the Brave, a similar program but for males.”
Giving something back in this fashion is an honor, Veronesi said.
“Putting into action and giving back is my reward,” she said.
Veronesi is taking her experience in marketing and civil affairs and bridging the gap between military and civilian businesses and organizations. By networking and building relationships with different organizations, she said it is amazing to her when she runs into contacts from different businesses who attend military events she works on.
Veronesi helped garner major contributions and grant money with FSFH.
“Being involved with this project, I was able to help raise more than $100,000 in donations and more than $400,000 in grant monies for the Pfc. Nicholas A. Madares Home for Female Combat Veterans,” she said.
One of Veronesi’s fellow sergeant majors said she is a mission-focused leader in all aspects of her life.
“She is an on-point Soldier and does what she can to take care of soldiers,” said Sgt. Maj. Rhonda King, logistics chief for the 352nd Civil Affairs Command. “I admire her ability to get down and dirty with other soldiers and that her focus is always on the mission.”
Veronesi said she uses tools she’s picked up in both of here careers to benefit others.
“When you are a leader, civilian or military, you want to have as many resources and courses of action as you possibly can. It is not always for yourself,” she said.
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This work, Army Reserve NCO uses civilian, military backgrounds to benefit veterans, by SGT Erick Yates, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.