Championing Our Service Members – Ep.90

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May 17, 2023
Our Independence Day – Ep.91
May 31, 2023

Founder & CEO of Vanguard Veteran, LLC and author of “Beyond ‘Thank You For Your Service,’ The Veteran Champion Handbook for Civilians” Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Kathy Gallowitz shares tips and tools for organizations to build relationships and show support for veteran employees in the workplace. 

Melyssa Barrett: Welcome to The Jali Podcast. I’m your host, Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around equity, diversity, and inclusion. Each week I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share or is actively part of building solutions in the space. Let’s get started.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Kathy Gallowitz. She is a force to be reckoned with. She grew up as a Navy brat, served nearly 30 years as an Air Force officer, and is married to an Army combat veteran. She’s the founder and CEO of Vanguard Veteran, LLC, author of Beyond “Thank You for Your Service” , The Veteran Champion Handbook for Civilians, and has master’s degrees in nursing and political science.

She is an award-winning businesswoman with firsthand experience hiring veterans, and she coaches employers on how to excel with hiring and retaining veteran talent in ways that strengthens their workforce. Her Veteran Talent Academy equips employers to find, hire, and leverage veteran skillsets. Kathy also equips volunteer faith community leaders to build military ministries to cultivate mutual support, a sense of belonging and a spiritual resiliency for military connected people. You can learn more by going to

President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country. I thought it was a perfect time to launch this episode and let you hear from Kathy Gallowitz.

I am excited again this week, as I am every week, to have a wonderful, fabulous person that we have the pleasure to meet, Kathy Gallowitz with Vanguard Veteran. And I am just excited to talk to you about not only your military service and all of the things that you have been doing, but I love the fact that you even have a book out called Beyond “Thank You for Your Service” . Because I know that’s one of my go-to, is thank you for your service, but it’s like, “What else could I be doing, should I be doing?” And I am so excited to talk to you and hear about all the things that you’re doing doing.

Kathy Gallowitz: Thank You.

Melyssa Barrett: So thanks for being here.

Kathy Gallowitz: Hey girlfriend. Thank you for having me, Melyssa and Jali Enterprises, love the name of your business. Well done.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes, thank you. Thank you.

Kathy Gallowitz: Hey, can I start off, before I talk about my book, just give a little bit about my background story and kind of please why I do what I do?

Melyssa Barrett: Please, yeah.

Kathy Gallowitz: Okay, thank you. First of all, May is Military Appreciation Month. All month long, well all almost all month long, there are lots of days commemorating different aspects of the military. May 12th is military appreciation month. They are definitely warriors in their own because of the support and sacrifice they give their military members. So if one, get out there and thank them or do more, or do more,

Melyssa Barrett: Absolutely. My son and daughter-in-law.

Kathy Gallowitz: There you go. So the 20th of May is Armed Forces Day, celebrating those who are currently serving, your son and then your daughter-in-law, military spouse. She’s got two days that really she could be thanked.

Melyssa Barrett: Celebrated, yes.

Kathy Gallowitz: Celebrated. I love that. And then 29 May is Memorial Day, honoring those that we have lost. So this is a really special month, and I hope that anybody listening will celebrate military connected people every day. But on the 12th, on the 20th and on the 29th, you have even more special reasons to do that.

Okay, with that background, I want to tell you that I grew up in a Navy family. My dad was a pilot and a communication engineer. I lived overseas with him, I’d say about five to six years. Went to a French-speaking preschool and-

Melyssa Barrett: Were you in France or?

Kathy Gallowitz: In Paris, France. Yes, ma’am.

Melyssa Barrett: Oh, nice. Okay.

Kathy Gallowitz: And we left right when President de Gaulle said, “It’s time for all Americans to leave.” So we did.

The longest place I ever lived was in Fairfax, Virginia, for seven years. And in the middle of my junior year in high school, my dad comes home and he says, “Honey, I got orders to go be a commanding officer on a small island in the North Atlantic. I said, “Dad, no.” I said, “I’ve lived here seven years. I have my first boyfriend, just got my driver’s life. I’m a varsity cheerleader. There’s talk that I could be captain of the varsity cheerleaders next year. I’m in Girl Scouts. I’m about to finish my gold award. But most importantly, I have the strongest sense of belonging I’d ever known.”

Now, I’ll be truthful, I didn’t say that when I was 16. But now when I’m much older, as I reflect back on that, I had the strongest sense of belonging I have ever had to date after living somewhere for seven years, having lots of friends. So I ended up moving and graduating. I left a class of 400 and graduated in a class of 30 on a Department of Defense High School in Keflavík, Iceland.

Melyssa Barrett: Oh my goodness.

Kathy Gallowitz: Yeah, it was transformative. It was tough. But then I went on to go to school in Germany for about a year and a half. Went to three different colleges. My dad paid for nursing school. Air Force nursing was my first choice career. Spent 29 years active reserve and guard and IMA. That’s another status.

Melyssa Barrett: What’s IMA?

Kathy Gallowitz: Oh, it’s Individual Mobilization Augmentee. Did that for about a year when I was pregnant with our third kid.

Melyssa Barrett: Oh my goodness.

Kathy Gallowitz: Yeah, so it was challenging as a wife and a mother to balance all the demands of a military career and to do my level best in those other roles as well.

So the thing I’m most proud of, Melyssa, in my military career was as a public affairs officer in uniform. We started a statewide outreach office in response to 9/11 to educate and engage civilians in support of troops and their families. Because as you probably know, the reserve component, which is guard and reserve, two different branches, 80% of that workforce is part-time military.

I was part-time military, but the lion share of my career, I was full-time guard. Okay, that’s about 20% of us. But if 80% of us are support time military, that means that they have a civilian employer where they get… That’s their bills paid, and that’s really important, and or they’re going to college and getting potentially college tuition reimbursement.

So at the top of our list in response to 9/11, was educating and engaging employers about the value of veteran talent and helping them understand that they were part of the national security team. Because at this point, they kind of had to let the people go, but we wanted them to keep the job.

And so we were building relationships, and then in 2009, I had the opportunity to make this statewide. It went from a base to the entire state. And what we did was really try to help employers develop best practices for hiring veterans. And this was in response to something like an 11% unemployment rate for veterans. And then the hero on the stage really is the US Chamber of Commerce in hiring our heroes. They started a nationwide program that’s now embracing military spouses to help job seekers prepare better and also help employers.

So when I retired in 2016, we had reached out to employers and healthcare providers and educators and lawyers and leaders of diversity inclusion, as well as clergy. And so when I retired, it was me. I said, “I’m going to narrow it down to employers and clergy.” Because I think those two stakeholder groups, if you will, have the biggest opportunity really to influence quality of life of our veterans and their families, and by so doing improved workforce and community. So it’s a win-win-win when civilians are brought on board.

So the book called Beyond “Thank You for Your Service” , the Veteran Champion Handbook for Civilians showcases predominantly Ohioans, about 20 Ohioans, who truly did improve quality of life, workforce, and community by doing small things. That no action is too small. Everybody can do something. Or if you have a big title and a big center of influence, some of the big things that these civilian veteran champions do, and I’m always trying to hunker down to the practical stuff. Okay? Theory and knowledge is good, but actions is where it’s at. Okay? Actions is what make the difference. Actions are stronger than words, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Definitely.

Kathy Gallowitz: So for each story, these civilian veteran champions offer tangible actions that you can take from your perspective to be that civilian veteran champion. It also talks a little bit about my story growing up in a Navy family, working around 85% men my entire adult life. And it’s really interesting if you think reflect on, okay, well, why am I the way I am and was that military service? Was that family of origin? Well, that was military service too. Was that current family? Well, that’s military too. So in my case, the military influenced everything about me.

Melyssa Barrett: Did you marry military as well or?

Kathy Gallowitz: My first husband was career Air… Was not career, but he was in the Air Force. I married an Air Force physician. Go figure, as a nurse. And now I am married to a courier active army soldier with four combat tours.

Melyssa Barrett: Oh, wow. Yeah.

Kathy Gallowitz: Yes. I have a lens for some level of understanding from a lot of different vantage points. And so I think it’s probably safe to say, Melyssa, that most things about me have been influenced by military service, and so I want to share that with our citizenry and help them do more.

Melyssa Barrett: And I know you talk a lot about corporations and clergy really understanding the value of our veterans.

Kathy Gallowitz: There you go.

Melyssa Barrett: And I know you’ve done a lot in recruiting as well, to make sure that veterans and their wives have the opportunity to be hired and employed. Are there specific things that maybe you can highlight in terms of what are some tips and tools that people might want to think about?

Kathy Gallowitz: Okay, I’d like to offer tips and tools to the business community, to civilian employers to help them excel with veteran hiring and retention. Okay?

First of all, there’s an incredible return on investment. All right?

Melyssa Barrett: Absolutely.

Kathy Gallowitz: Research over and over shows show up to work on time or mission focused, productive, loyal, tech-savvy, know how to work in chaotic times or manage risk. The Society of Human Resource Management captures a lot of that information, as does the Institute of Veterans and Military Families so that the civilian reference, and that’s more of a military reference, so it’s got to be good.

But I highly encourage anyone who’s listening, who’s involved in talent attraction, hiring managers, HR professionals, DE&I, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah.

Kathy Gallowitz: Work to attract this talent to your company and learn about military culture so that you can be more sensitive, culturally aware, which is what we all want in the DE&I world. We want that generally in life, in life and country, or at least we should, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Absolutely.

Kathy Gallowitz: And when really only three out of 10 of us in our society are even eligible for military service because of things like ability to pass the tests, the intellectual tests, ability to pass the physical fitness tests, health restrictions, legal restrictions. You really are dealing with certainly a very highly motivated group, but a special group of people who have the, I want to say oomph or desire, will, capability to do the tough stuff, especially people who have been to combat.

I haven’t done that. I haven’t been in harm’s way. I’m just so grateful for those really unique and incredible people who can do that. My husband is one of them. And so veteran hiring is not charitable work. You don’t do it because it’s the right thing to do necessarily. You do it because you have an incredible worker. You have an incredible worker who’s going to help bring your workforce into the future. They understand policies and procedures. They understand change. They’re highly adaptable.

So other tips and tricks are look in your veteran community and start being known in it. Okay? Find sources of veteran talent, either at agencies or nonprofits or special service-related groups. I know where to send everybody to look for those. And hunker down for the long haul, be proactive. And the recruiting strategies that I talk about work not only for veterans, they work for other groups of people that might not be obvious or underfoot, if you will. And if you do well at going beyond sourcing and being more of a resource, being a resource to that talent, holy cow.

Well, the beautiful thing about the military population is that we are a tight-knit group, especially the guys. They are battle buddies. We are tribe. And it’s very real, Melyssa. It’s very real. We have so much in common, so much familiarity and a strong bond. And so guess what? If you do well by one or two of those people, their tribe is going to be paying attention, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah.

Kathy Gallowitz: And that works for other groups of people as well. But I think there’s something very unique about the bond that military people have, so go out… A construction company told me once, “Oh yeah, I found a service member in a local RED HORSE unit, which is civil engineers, and they go to the battlefield or places and build cities, build camps. He got a couple of those employees, and guess what? They slowly started attracting more and more people.

That’s how it works. So be on a lookout for sources of talent, understand military culture, understand military skills translators, and I’m going to put a link in the chat note about what those are. Those are really the starting place to understand how military job transfers to a civilian job.

But there’s more to it than that. There’s levels of responsibility. There’s rank. So you got to consider the totality of it. The person’s interests. Because when you serve in the military, you may not get to serve in a place that really is your strength or that really excites you. So a lot of military people want to do something different, or they’re still in an exploration mode of, “Okay, well what do I really care about? Who am I really? Where do I really want to be and what do I really want to do for the rest of my life?” Because in the military, you’re pretty well, you get a wishlist, but oftentimes, depending on the needs in the military, that wishlist is not honored.

How about your son? Did he get to go work or be where he wanted, do the kind of job he really wanted?

Melyssa Barrett: He started out in the guard, and then now he’s active duty military up in Portland and doing a lot in training and all sorts of training, whether it be diversity, equity, and inclusion or otherwise.

Kathy Gallowitz: Well, is that one he wanted to do. Did he want to want to be a trainer or did he want to do something else?

Melyssa Barrett: He’s one of those people, I think he started out wanting to be a translator and because he is really good with language. But this kid is good in everything.

Kathy Gallowitz: Good for him. Yeah.

Melyssa Barrett: So he could really kind of do whatever.

Kathy Gallowitz: So let’s talk. What’s your son’s name?

Melyssa Barrett: Paul.

Kathy Gallowitz: Paul. Good for you, Paul. Sounds like a bright kid. Thank you for your service. Right on. So let’s talk about Paul. Paul’s good at stuff. He’s got a lot of interest. He sounds like a bright guy, right?

Melyssa Barrett: He is.

Kathy Gallowitz: Okay, so let’s say he serves for four years. He’s living in Oregon?

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah.

Kathy Gallowitz: And you’re in California. Okay, so Paul, after four, six years decides, “I want to try something different. Maybe I want to get out of the military.” So Paul can either stay in Portland, he can take a job anywhere else, that he is looking for a great opportunity. Or he say, “I miss my mom, honestly, good thing I want to come back home and be near my family.”

Well, no matter where he goes, in that scenario, he has lost his tribe. Okay? He has lost his network. He may come home and you may have longstanding relationships that you can parlay to help him look for a job. But more often than not, as you know as life goes, after four to six years, you move home. Your friends are different, your friends have new friends. You’re different from your other friends, and so you’re really started starting from scratch.

That’s the social support piece. The other thing that’s really interesting is I can relate with Paul in that I have a lot of interests, like to do a lot of things, and I’ve had some good success, and I think I had 17 different jobs in six different industries. Okay, well that proves that you can perform, that proves that you can adapt. But where is your sweet spot? What really makes you tick? And when you figure that out, oh my gosh, the satisfaction, the joy, the matchin.g that your life is just like-

Melyssa Barrett: On fire.

Kathy Gallowitz: Thank you. Well put. And so there’s a lot to that last piece. There’s a lot to that last piece for anybody. I’m a leadership development coach on the John Maxwell team, and oh my, there’s so much to personal growth. There’s so much to becoming who you are. There’s so much to understanding really what you’re all about, and that’s a lifelong journey.

So it’s not just military people, but military people are potentially searching for their next me, if you will. And they’re coming from a very different environment, highly structured, very hierarchical, very clear decision making process. Lots of trust between coworkers more often than not. A rack and stack system, that your uniform is a walking resume, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Kathy Gallowitz: Well, in the military life, there’s very little structure, some decision making, but certainly not real clear. The expectations generally aren’t as clear, and you don’t understand people. You don’t know where they’re coming from. You don’t know if you can trust them. So it’s a real adaptation. So I don’t know, I hope that’s some tips and tricks.

Melyssa Barrett: No, that’s awesome. That’s awesome, I think. And it’s so interesting because, and shout out to my Visa folks, we had a military employee resource group there, and quite a lot of military that we hired, and they were incredibly awesome all the time. And-

Kathy Gallowitz: Oh, really? Well, okay, let’s see. Let’s see. How many credit card companies are there in the military, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Well, Visa is more about payment technology, so we focus on the network, and so we’re mostly interfacing with the financial institution.

Kathy Gallowitz: I see.

Melyssa Barrett: But what’s interesting is there’s a lot of risk management, as well as security.

Kathy Gallowitz: There you go. Good on you.

Melyssa Barrett: And so I think the translation-

Kathy Gallowitz: And technical skills.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. And the translation from military to corporate, I think in our case was maybe a little easier than in some of the other industries.

Kathy Gallowitz: Well, good for you for being aware, being a pioneer, innovating and getting after it, because that’s what it takes. It’s just like, “We’re going to do this and so how are we going to do this? Then let’s make it work.” But they were awesome all the time, huh?

Melyssa Barrett: All the time. All the time. Like-

Kathy Gallowitz: Describe that. What are the top three awesomeness characteristics?

Melyssa Barrett: Well, so what’s interesting about where I worked is, and especially you’ll probably see this in payment technology a lot, everybody’s trying to flatten organizations. So even though there’s still hierarchy there, they’re really trying to figure out how do we help collaborate more so that you have what they call diversity of thought, but also really innovate at the same time so that you get all of that information going into the innovation.

And I think military is so interesting to me because while they… A lot of times there is a little bit of rigidness to making sure that you are getting it done. But they also, they tend to have lots of different thoughts about what works, what doesn’t work. And so bringing them in gets you that execution of how you get after whatever it is you’re going after. It’s like the results matter. Right?

Kathy Gallowitz: Exactly. Well put.

Melyssa Barrett: So anyway. I mean, I have nothing but love.

Kathy Gallowitz: So let’s talk another tip and trick through employee resource groups. Okay? Getting your veterans involved in every aspect of your new veteran hires lifecycle. That is take them to the career fair, if you still do those. Bring them on Zoom or Teams, if you do it virtually. Bring them to the interview so that they can pick up on things that maybe you miss and interpret questions. Ask a veteran to look at the resume if you have time. And I encourage you to take a second look to read the cover letter with the resume, if there is one anymore these days. I don’t know, with APS, I’m not sure how that plays out.

And then get your current veteran employees to be part of your recruiting ambassadors outside the organization. Deploy them strategically, if you will. Get them involved in veteran organizations, wearing your company t-shirt and speaking boldly about what a great culture, what great company you have. And by golly, I am confident that those veterans will come take a look at your company if you’ve got that ambassador out in the community saying it’s a great place to work.

So if you’re not doing that, do it. Align your corporate citizenship initiatives if you’re a larger company, or your social responsibility. Align your philanthropy and your volunteering in the veteran community because putting your money where your mouth is and walking the talk is an incredible retention tactic for your current veteran employees. That will bring them a lot of pride and satisfaction if they see your company doing more outside the organization. Of course, it makes sense for you, for your brand and your reputation, but that’s really another really good approach.

Melyssa Barrett: Well, and I would say if you’re struggling with your employee resource groups, get the veterans involved.

Kathy Gallowitz: Thank you. Right on.

Melyssa Barrett: Because they’ll actually broaden your horizon and make that culture change in a lot of cases.

Kathy Gallowitz: And that’s another really important piece about military culture, if you will, and that is ask the veteran to contribute. Give the veteran an opportunity to lead. Keep in touch with them, give them feedback if needed. Set and left parameters. We call it your right and left boundaries, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Kathy Gallowitz: Be clear on your expectations, and give them an opportunity to soar. By and large, we have a high index of responsibility and want to do good in the world. And so give them a job and something that’s outside their normal job. It’s something that they’re excited about, and I think you’ll be very, very pleased at the result.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, no doubt. And I should just say thank you for your service.

I love the fact that you have this book on Beyond “Thank You for Your Service” . Can you talk a little bit about veteran champions in terms of being a civilian organization and trying to make sure that we cultivate veteran champions? Because I think it’s great when we can recruit, but quite frankly, some of the challenges that a lot of employers have is promoting from within and making sure that they retain folks that they have.

Kathy Gallowitz: Okay, couple quick thoughts and we can… I just don’t want to lose them. In terms of championing the aptitude of a veteran, really helpful to have professional development, coaching, mentorship in the company. A pathway for advancement, those kinds of things. It’s really great for all employees, but in particular veterans because it’s clear to us in the military how to advance, what we need to do to get the next promotion, financially, rank or whatever. Right?

Melyssa Barrett: Right.

Kathy Gallowitz: And so that’s really in the company’s best interest to retain that talent. Be willing to hire for aptitude and train. We just do so much training. We train and train and train and train and train some more and train and train and train some more. And so we know how to train and do, train and do. So that’s another way to be a champion.

Again, I keep emphasizing understanding military culture. I heard one story one time, a military person just got hired and goes and sits in his cubicle and puts his head down and pounds away on the computer to get the job done. You get her done. It’s the results. It’s the outcome that matters.

Well, he’s forgetting, okay, I should probably talk to somebody once in a while. I should probably try to let people get to know me, and I hate to do this networking thing. It’s not really me. But we can tend to overemphasize the task and underemphasize just relaxing and being social. We’re not-

Melyssa Barrett: Flexibility.

Kathy Gallowitz: Yeah. Well, and we’re anti-social, don’t get me wrong. But a military person feels disconnected from mainstream America, especially when they’re new in the workforce. But I’ve heard people tell me, I had a guy who worked at a big corporation and he says, “I’ve been here six years and I still feel like a fish out of water.”

Okay, so that’s a little bit about military culture. But the other thing I want to touch on is, what do you say? The background is, we appreciate you recognizing our service. That is awesome. And we are so darn lucky that we live in a society that does that as compared to the Vietnam vets and just, frankly, the horrific circumstances that they faced when they came home, and that’s just tragic.

I’m also a speaker, love to give beaches to veteran employee resource groups, business groups, faith groups. So one veteran employee resource group wanted to talk about this. What do we say? Yeah. Do we say, “Thank you for your service?” Because sometimes people look at us cross eye.

Well, I think first of all, that’s more unusual than common, but especially depending on… I’ve never been to combat, so I don’t have that lens. I’m grateful when someone says, “Thank you.” But because military people already feel disconnected, they feel misunderstood. There may be some wounds of war that they’re working through. Not only wounds of war, but… Okay, before the age of 35, I lived in at least 20 different communities. That’s tough. Right?

Melyssa Barrett: That’s a lot of change.

Kathy Gallowitz: That’s a lot of change. And so we’re all kind of working through our stuff all the time, but because of the conditions or stressors of military service, there may be even more. Okay, I think it’s also pertinent… First of all, most important thing is be sincere. Veterans have a very low threshold. We call it a very low BS meter. They can sniff out insincerity in a fricking heartbeat. So sincerity is key. Authenticity.

If you’d like us to go a little bit further, you could say, “Thank you for your service and sacrifice. I’m really grateful.” Look them square in the eyes. Give them a good firm handshake. Show them that you mean it. It’s not a platitude. Right?

Melyssa Barrett: Right, right.

Kathy Gallowitz: Another really beautiful way to frame it is, “Thank you for wearing the uniform.” That is magical. And that wasn’t my idea, it came from a female veteran who’s a podcast host. And what that means to me, Melyssa, is that that civilian has some level of understanding of what it means to me to put on that uniform. That uniform is the American flag almost. I don’t want to overstep. That’s a little much. But I love serving my country, doing something bigger and better than myself.

I’m willing to defend and to protect freedom. I’m willing to raise my right hand and swear to protect the constitution of the United States of America. When I wear that uniform, I’m willing to take a physical fitness test, to get my butt out of bed and get ready and exercise and try to keep my weight down. And I’m willing to live by the core values and the creeds and the warrior ethos. There you go. Wearing the uniform means a lot to people who have worn it. And it’s better if you understand what that means to the person, but it’s also, gosh, that’s pretty insightful of you to say something like that for me.

The other thing is know how to connect with veterans. We’re slow to trust. Do the softball, easy questions, small talk. We’re probably not very good at small talk in return. But just take time getting to know that person and ask how they’re doing. Or a good question is, “How’s your adjustment going after you left military service?” And listen, good eye contact. Just good communication skills. They can tell if you’re just, again, blowing smoke, so to speak. And then once they tell you how it’s going, maybe you can ask, “Is there anything I can do to support you.”

Be careful though, because if you ask that question and you get an answer and you don’t do it, oh boy, that’s, you’re not going to build that… That’s going to hurt your opportunity to build a trusting relationship. So if you offer, be prepared and willing to follow through. It’s just right. It’s just the right thing to do. But it’s really important for someone who’s lost their tribe, who feels disconnected, who may be dealing with stressors of military service or invisible or visible wounds of combat.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, mental or physical, right?

Kathy Gallowitz: Yeah. Be sincere. Be sincere and follow through. It’s just, it’s good practice for anybody, particularly appreciated and needed with veterans.

Melyssa Barrett: Do you think that, in terms of corporations and businesses that are looking to support and really be an ally to our veterans, are there specific things that they maybe should think about? Even when we think about whether it be HR or health benefits or anything?

Kathy Gallowitz: Oh, I love this question, there’s many facets to it. First of all, having a good EAP and good mental health benefits, which is more and more universal anyway because of the influence of the pandemic and our country’s becoming much more aware of mental health. That’s important for the veteran community as well.

Not that everybody has PTSD. The VC says that 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD, Melyssa, that means 80% do not. And even if they do, those of us with PTSD can live full lives without and manage our triggers. So mental health benefits is really important.

Flexibility, the option to work remote. The Society of Human Resource Management says that 68% of employers, or 63%, say that veterans are more adaptable and good remote workers. So that’s pretty sweet this day and age.

I also encourage you to get involved in nonprofits or local organizations where you can build relationships. Now, no disrespect, a care package is a wonderful thing to someone who’s down range and deployed. That’s a nice thing to do. And it’s a good project for veterans and civilians to work alongside each other inside a veteran employee research group. That’s a great way for a civilian to show support.

However, I contend than an even better way to show veterans support is for members of that ERG or your HR leaders, your talent acquisition, your DE&I, your hiring managers, anybody who, your executive sponsors of your DE&I groups, for them to become mentors of transitioning veterans. ACP, American Corporate Partners, Veterati, are two really great mentorship programs that are nationwide that you can do virtually. And it gives you an opportunity to get the company name out, as well as potentially get to know a job prospect.

No, hiring is guaranteed in that process. But the great thing is you’re learning about military culture. You’re learning about the value of veteran talent. So let’s say in your local community, if you have a parade, if you have a Veterans Day parade, go join that loud and proud and put your company float in the Veterans Day parade. Go support financially nonprofits that are doing great things for veterans. And that’s good. But again, the sweet spot is building relationships.

Our local chamber of commerce, we just started a military transition support program. Whereby we’re going to pair chamber members with transitioning service members, veterans and their spouses to do a very informal job shadow, informal mentoring, maybe three or four times. But it gets that veteran out of there, if you will, active duty mindset or it helps them build their network, but it builds contacts. It builds relationships, and that’s the toughest part.

The biggest part of veteran suicide and one of the precursors is social isolation. Well, let’s not get there. Let’s build relationship. So that that veteran has an opportunity to build their new tribe, be it a social tribe or a professional networking tribe. Focus on opportunities that build trusting relationships and take it seriously.

Melyssa Barrett: I love that. I love that. I recently was at a NAACP conference and met some veterans who had started a Black Deported Veterans of America organization to raise the flag on what’s happening to veterans that go through this process. And then they essentially get deported after their service for all sorts of reasons. And in some cases-

Kathy Gallowitz: Deported means they separated. Right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Kathy Gallowitz: They’re not in trouble. They feel like they’re sort of kicked to the street. Right?

Melyssa Barrett: Pretty much, and in many cases kicked to the street for not really any reason.

Kathy Gallowitz: But not because they got in trouble, but because they weren’t very well-prepared for their transition.

Melyssa Barrett: Well, I don’t know. We could go on. I did a whole podcast episode on it. Thankfully, we had somebody with a lot more knowledge than I talking about it. But it’s just so interesting to me because I think there are so many things about veteran life that the typical average person really doesn’t get. There are so many nuances to the layers of service that you all provide. It’s really incredible to learn. So I’m truly grateful that you’re here.

Kathy Gallowitz: Quick anecdote. Had lunch with a friend of mine who’s a civilian, and she was encouraging me to adopt a strategy in my business and I was like, “Oh, that feels really, really odd.” And I don’t like talking about myself because the military mindset is, it’s not about me, it’s about we. It’s about us. It’s about the country. And so that mindset is very deeply ingrained. Just like the mindset of I got to buck up and I got to get the job done, so I need to be stoic. I just need to get over myself and not have a lot of emotions surrounding… Especially if you’re in combat. Certainly. Right?

Melyssa Barrett: Certainly. Yeah.

Kathy Gallowitz: So that thinking, and I’d never leave anybody behind. I won’t leave a fallen soldier behind. That level of responsibility and thinking, and where does my responsibility start and stop? All those things are very real, and I contend difficult to articulate. I’ve been trained in speaking, communication. I’ve done a lot of inner work. I don’t have it all figured out in no way, shape or form, but it’s hard to articulate and understand these things.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes. Well, and we can talk about… So before, because I know we’re probably coming up on time, but I did want to ask you about, when you talk about men and just the intense number that exists in the military and you growing up and going through your career with so many around, and I hesitate to just say, well, what was that like? Because probably I have no idea.

Kathy Gallowitz: That’s another whole podcast episode.

Melyssa Barrett: I have probably some idea that it wasn’t a cakewalk. But what might you say to somebody, a woman who is looking to go into service about their own career and maybe how they might navigate some of that? Is there any great advice?

Kathy Gallowitz: Let’s start with women in the military. Right now, about 20% of all the recruits are female. And right now, most of the jobs are opening up to females, and we are breaking glass ceilings in the military. Hallelujah. It’s very exciting.

Melyssa Barrett: I love it.

Kathy Gallowitz: I call the military the last professional bastion for women, when about 50 or more women are graduating from medical school, 50%. About 50% or more women are graduated from dental school, law school. The service academies are about up to 30%, or at least the Air Force Academy is in. And currently, I think there’s 18% to 20% women in the military. So women are joining more and more.

I think tips that I would offer any woman, any woman who has aspirations to be a leader. First and foremost, know thyself, understand what makes you tick, what triggers you. Sharpen your communication skills. Be self-confident. You can’t be a wallflower in the military. You’ve got to find your voice and use your voice professionally. You need to understand boundaries.

When you’re working around 85% men and you’re the only gal in the room, and relationships develop between men and women, you need to understand what are you doing to maybe draw attention that maybe you don’t want? Or how do you be aware? How do you nip it in the bud? What do you do professionally to try to preserve the relationship?

I’ll say it like this. You got to have your shit together, and it’s not easy. It’s not easy because some of the hardest parts for me, be it working with 85%, man, it was just lonely. I had a female pilot friend who, it was 2% of the Air Force at that time were female pilots, and she said, “When the boys go to lunch, the boys go to lunch.”

More often than not in my full-time guard job, I went to lunch alone, because not only is there the gender thing, you have the… Those relationships get messy fast. There’s the genitor complexity, but then there’s the rank complexity. I was always an officer, enlisted people and officers truly, truly aren’t supposed to fraternize because it potentially gets in the way of military discipline. So that’s another difficult thing to manage.

Yeah. So having good civilian, having good support systems and strong space, certainly helps. It’s a great opportunity with the leadership, the learning, the travel, the physical fitness, the education. The diversity of the people just brings tears to your eyes because the way in which our citizens, our American citizens who choose to serve in the military come from all walks of life, all backgrounds, and they’re just rock solid people that you want to know and you want to work alongside.

And is it demanding? Yes, it’s demanding. Does it help you become a better person? Yes. Does it teach you just a ton? Absolutely. So I highly encourage it for everyone, but those are some of the things you should bear in mind if you’re going to join the military. But really, if you want to be a leader at all, those are important things to consider.

Melyssa Barrett: Wow, fantastic. Well, this has just been such an awesome, awesome conversation, and I know that you are doing a lot. So I want to make sure people know how to get hold of you, how to buy your book, where do they go

Kathy Gallowitz: Beyond “Thank You for Your Service:” the Veteran Champion Handbook for Civilians is available on Amazon. Please get it. If you love it, I’d appreciate a review on Amazon. And love to hear it from you at Kathy with a K, K and a Y, at Let me know what you think about the book. Let me know how I can serve you. I’m interested and would love to be a speaker for your next Veterans Day event, your leadership event for women, for your veteran employee resource group. What is a veteran champion? Tips and tricks for hiring and retaining veterans, leadership concepts.

I am helping employers build a more productive workforce by hiring veterans and leveraging their skillsets. I offer Veteran Talent Academy, a course, a couple of times a year, and will come alongside you and help you build connections in the veteran community as well as strengthen your internal processes to be veteran ready.

And last but not least, I love equipping civilians or volunteers. They could be civilians or a veteran, but in this case, to help build military ministries in your place of congregation. This is a place, Melyssa, where military people can come together, share stories, share burdens, potentially get practical support, and foster a sense of belonging so they decrease social isolation, build community, build that new tribe. And I contend, help curb veteran suicide.

So I’m going to send you a lot of links, if you have interest in any of these things. I offer a monthly coaching call for people who are interested. You don’t have to be a nurse, you don’t have to be a councilor, you don’t have to be a pastor. I’ll come right alongside you and equip you with military culture, with some leadership ideas and stay with you on a monthly basis as you build this incredible support system for military connected people. That at the end of the day, you’re not there to fix. You’re there to love on them and help them promote spiritual resiliency through your faith. It’s just a magical thing.

I’d love to come back and talk with you about women in the military, about military ministry.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes. Yes. I would love that.

Kathy Gallowitz: Yeah, let’s do it. Let’s do it.

Melyssa Barrett: Absolutely.

Kathy Gallowitz: And my website is, all that stuff.

Melyssa Barrett:

Kathy Gallowitz: Very, very, that’s right.

Melyssa Barrett: All right, awesome. Well, thank you so much, Kathy, for coming on and giving us such wonderful education. And I will say thank you for putting that uniform on, and I love the fact that I get to learn so much while. I do this. So thank you so much

Kathy Gallowitz: Oh, I love that. I love that. You honor me by returning that to me. Thank you, Melyssa.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes. Thank you so much for being here, and I plan on making sure that people have access to all the links that you provide.

Kathy Gallowitz: Thank you.

Melyssa Barrett: As we go out and market this, I do want to make sure that people have access to that information. And if anybody has any specific questions, you now know how to reach Kathy.

Kathy Gallowitz: Thank you, thank you. Thank you for being a civilian veteran champion, Melyssa, and being a military mom.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes, yes. All right. Thank you so much.

Thanks for joining me on The Jali Podcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.