Operation Reinvent aids the transition from female Soldier to civilian

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Sgt. Maj. Sandra Wiggins discusses makeup and hair tips with a representative from Fantastic Sam’s at the Soldier Support Center, June 9.

Women from across Fort Bragg came together last week for a workshop aimed at easing their transition back into the civilian world.

Operation Reinvent, held Wednesday and Thursday at the Hilton Garden Inn and Soldier Support Center in coordination with the Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program, gave female Soldiers a toolbox of professional skills to use as they begin the search for civilian jobs.

“These women are all within six months of separation from the military who are seeking full-time, post-military employment, said Julie Lewit-Nirenberg, founder of Operation Reinvent. “They’re hirable, they have all the training, they are disciplined, they are loyal, they know how to stick with the mission,” she said.

On Wednesday, Fort Bragg attendees interacted with other female Soldiers from Fort Campbell, Kentucky during a live webcast that featured informational speeches from both veteran and non-veteran business men and women, including Gen. (Ret.) Gale S. Pollock, former acting surgeon general.

The webcast allowed women from both posts to ask questions after each presentation. The attendees seemed impressed by the collaboration and guidance offered by the webcast.

“Getting to do that with the girls at Fort Campbell, since we can’t all be together, I think that was great,” said Sgt. Meghan Lyon.

The second day of the workshop allowed attendees to strip off their military personas and revive their femininity. They received haircuts, styles and professional makeup application from Fantastic Sams, Cut and Color Salons, manicures from OPI and wardrobe consultation from Macy’s.

“(It’s) such a great opportunity for these ladies because for some of them, for the last four or 30 years, they’ve been told how to dress a certain way every single day and now they get to really be themselves a little bit,” said Ed Pethan, workforce initiatives manager for military recruitment at CVS Health, a sponsor of the event. “That’s what’s great about this program.”

These makeovers boosted the self-assurance of many women, including Capt. Kameela Wyatt. “I feel so vibrant. I feel so professional … amazing. I haven’t felt this good actually in months. I feel beautiful just doing this,” she said. “It has given me a lot of confidence and now I feel like I definitely have the ammunition to go out and look for that job.”

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Lewit-Nirenberg hopes the workshop will help these women gain the confidence and essential abilities needed to enter an unfamiliar workplace after years spent in a regimented military environment.

“We want them to feel like when they walk into an interview, they feel like they own the room,” she said. “That they really are there not because of their rank, but because they are confident women.”

For more information about Operation Reinvent and details on future workshops, visit https://www.operationreinvent.org.

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Original Article by Carrie Dungan Paraglide

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