Women in the Military – Ep.94

Giving Ourselves Permission – Ep.93
June 14, 2023
Inclusive AI – Ep.95
June 28, 2023

On this week’s episode, Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Kathy Gallowitz shares her experience serving in the United States Air Force, discusses the advancement of women in leadership roles within the military and offers advice to young women entering the service.

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.

We are excited, again, to have Kathy Gallowitz with us and many of you remember her from a previous episode on the Jali Podcast and we talked a lot about your book Beyond “Thank you for Your Service,” which was awesome. But I really wanted to have you even come back and talk a little bit more about your own journey as a lieutenant colonel in the military, which you don’t see a lot of women lieutenant colonels around. So I’m hoping you can share a little bit about your own journey, and then we can spend some time just talking about some of the things you’re doing these days.

Kathy Gallowitz:  Oh, well, thank you Melyssa, so much for having me back. And thank you for being a veteran champion, and caring about the needs of the military and broadcasting and cultivating interest and doing your good job. So where do you want me to start?

Melyssa Barrett:  Wow. Well, where did you start? I mean, why did you even go into the military? Let’s start there.

Kathy Gallowitz:  I was born into an active duty Navy family. My father was a pilot and a communications guy. So I was born in Pensacola, Florida, when he was at Navy pilot training, and then had the opportunity to go to preschool in Paris, France.

Melyssa Barrett:  Nice.

Kathy Gallowitz:  Where I learned to speak fluent French. And came home as a young kid, I don’t know, it was probably what, five years old or something, and I remember waving up at the Statue of Liberty, holding my mom’s hand and think, “Wow, isn’t she impressive and beautiful?” I didn’t know anything about America. That was kind of one of my early, profound impressions about being from the United States of America. Right?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Kathy Gallowitz:  So then we continued to move every two to three years as is custom for active duty people, and had the chance to develop a sense of belonging by living in Fairfax, Virginia for about seven years. And in the middle of my junior year, my dad came home and said, “Honey, I have orders to be a commander of a communication station.” And I said, “Dad…” I’m 16 years old, just got my driver’s license or close to it. I had my first boyfriend. I was a Girl Scout completing my gold award. I was on the swim team, doing real well. I had all kinds of friends in my neighborhood and at school, when you go into the school cafeteria and you’re looking around, who am I going to sit with? That was super easy, felt very included. And I was a varsity cheerleader and the board on the street was that there was a chance I could be the captain as a senior.

I was like, “Dad, no! No, we can’t move now!” Well, guess what? I decided that I would go and move with them. And so left a class of 400 in Fairfax, Virginia, and ended up graduating in a class of 30 on a military base from it was called Alfred T Mahan High School in Keflavik, Iceland.

Melyssa Barrett:  Oh, my goodness.

Kathy Gallowitz:  Out in the middle of the North Atlantic, out in the middle of nowhere. So that was a-

Melyssa Barrett:  Wow.

Kathy Gallowitz:  … huge transition, made an impact on me in many ways, of course. And then I had the opportunity to go to college in Germany, and Air Force nursing was my first choice career. My parents paid for nursing school. So it’s very common for people who are born into military families to want to serve. As I understand it, upwards of 80% of the all volunteer force come from military families. And that’s no surprise because we are taught to love our country, to put the needs of the military, our country before ourselves. And you grow up around such military customs and courtesies, respect, patriotism, I mean it just is part of your DNA. And so I joined because I love my country, but then there were other elements, Melyssa, like the leadership emphasis.

I knew that I was going to have reoccurring opportunities to test my leadership muscles, so to speak, and to develop as a leader. I knew that the military offered all kinds of educational opportunities. And so I wanted to take advantage of that, inside and outside the military. Then, people who join the all volunteer force are values based, highly diverse people. And having lived overseas about eight to 10 years, lived in Italy, Iceland, England, Germany, I just loved being around people that were different from me, experiencing different cultures. And so the opportunity to work alongside those folk inside the military was very stimulating to me.

 Of course, I liked the idea of traveling, and last but not least, the opportunity to be physically fit. I loved to exercise. I appreciated that external influence to make me do push-ups, do sit-ups, and prepare for my physical fitness test, because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have done it. So there were a lot of reasons, but the primary one was that I wanted to serve my country, that’s the why.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, that’s fantastic. I would be the one that needed probably that push to do the push-ups, because I didn’t take that route and I’m feeling it now.

Kathy Gallowitz:  It’s tough to have that internal discipline. So that external discipline I think really helps. You know?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes, for sure. So then knowing that you went into the military and ended up retiring as a lieutenant colonel, I mean, how did you get to that level within the military? Because we all know with so few women, it’s got to be challenging to break some of those ceilings.

Kathy Gallowitz:  When I was in, it was probably about 15% overall that were women. I served 29 years, joined in 1981, and I joined the Nurse Corps. So really the lion’s share of people I worked around were women in nursing at that time. I mean, that certainly shifted a great deal. But living by our core values, service before self, excellence in all that we do, and integrity, I mean, I was just always that person who strived to do better, really got a lot of pride in my performance and doing my best to be an effective leader, just really doing what was expected of me and more. And it’s not just a task, it’s how you do it.

And so I was just one of those good workers who wanted to make a difference, frankly. And so I got promoted early because I joined a special program in the Nurse Corps. I went from lieutenant to captain in two years, instead of four. And then every rank that I was eligible for I met, and was able to take. And what was interesting about my career was that I made lieutenant colonel fairly early in my career, just based on where I was and my job performance. And then frankly, I was lieutenant colonel for 14 of my 29 years.

Melyssa Barrett:  Wow.

Kathy Gallowitz:  So I got promoted kind of early, if you will. But then my career management after that was not ideal, because Melyssa, I moved in the direction of what I thought my strengths were, my unique opportunity to contribute. And then I joined the Guard, and it’s very, very, very competitive to join the Guard, frankly, because most people have been in the same organizations all their career. And I was a newcomer, because of all the moving I did, and I left active duty. And most of the people in the guard were not on active duty. And then I didn’t really position myself to compete for the jobs that would give me a real good chance for being promoted. I knew kind of what my internal gifts were and I moved in that direction, because that’s where I felt I could really make a difference.

Melyssa Barrett:  Wow. Okay. So then in terms of your experience in the military, how would you say that your experience kind of influenced your approach to leadership?

Kathy Gallowitz:  Well, couple things. I knew that leadership is based on trust and relationships, and those were always very important. And yet,~ in the military, because of rank and hierarchy, sometimes the task can kind of trump the relationship, which is not good. But the demand on the workers is huge and leaders have to make tough decisions. I believe that we as leaders need to be good role models and lead by example. So I think I did a good job with that, for sure.

And I worked hard to develop relationships, but it was challenging in that, frankly, I had a lot of workload as a newcomer and a lot of expectations placed on me. And then in particular, I’m thinking about my experience in one of the Guard units that I stayed for a long, long time. And then I worked around 85% men, I mean, these were great guys doing great jobs, mostly physicians and pilots. But as a female, I was the senior ranking female and really the only officer on the base full-time. And with the gender sort of differences and the rank differences, developing relationships is delicate. I’ll just put it that way.

There’s rules in the military about what we call fraternization, enlisted and officers aren’t supposed to be, necessarily, the best of friends. Mean certainly you’re collegial, you’re professional, you’re great teammates, but it’s not really encouraged for you to have relationships outside of the organization. And so I really did my best to perform well, to be collaborative, and really not rely on rank, because that’s not the ideal approach. But sometimes the job just needs to get done and we need people to jump in and we say, “Salute, smart, and move forward,” right?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah.

Kathy Gallowitz:  So just in taking care of your subordinates, the people that work for you, that’s really an important element of the military leadership mindset. We like to say that “whether peace, time or wartime, I mean, you can get hit by a bus tomorrow, peace time, and be gone or wartime worse,” right?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah.

Kathy Gallowitz:  And so you have to prepare people on your team to do your job and to be transparent. I mean, that’s a real important part of what we do and we need to continue to do. Does that answer your question?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, I love it. And there’s so many nuggets in there that are applicable to so many other areas, which is awesome. So then do you think that there… are other things you could suggest for women going into the military today?

Kathy Gallowitz:  It’s exciting, Melyssa, because about 20% of all the recruits are now female. The VA is doing a great job trying to be sensitive to and do outreach to and provide programming for women who serve. I guess about 40% of the women who serve enroll for benefits at the VA, so that’s a pretty low number. And the VA’s working on that, and being very proactive in that space. So that’s a good news story.

I’ve had this conversation with a few women and there’s a podcast for anybody who might have a child or you as a listener, if you’re considering joining, the podcast is called Women in the Military. Amanda Huffman interviews women from all different career fields. And she’s written-

Melyssa Barrett:  Nice.

Kathy Gallowitz:  … another book, Girls in the Military, I think I’m getting that title wrong, but she’s the author of two books, Amanda Huffman. So please check her out if you’d like to know more. But for me, if I were advising, say, an niece or my daughter, I would say, “By golly, go for it.” Why? Because our country needs you, number one. Number two, because it’s great growth and leadership opportunity, and social education, because of the diversity. And be willing to potentially take a little bit of a risk, face your fears a little bit.

We need capable people to serve in these roles. Even more so, because, really only three out of 10 American citizens are eligible to serve. So if you’re eligible, that means you meet the weight, physical fitness requirements, score requirements, and you haven’t been in trouble with the law. And so some of those really rule a lot of people out. And then health requirements too is really important. So go for it, but be armed, be prepared with the knowledge that you know need to have a strong self-esteem, that you need to have an understanding of what boundaries look like and what a slippery slope could be in relationships that could not be in best interest.

You need to be alert. You need to be aware. I mean, you don’t need to be overly vigilant, but you need to be realistic. And the other thing I like to share with people is that give everybody the benefit of the doubt. Men and women, our roles, our relationships, the way we relate to each other is shifting over the last decade, really. Women’s roles in the workplace are becoming more and more prevalent. And so give men the benefit of the doubt. Most guys are great guys. Most guys want us there. Most guys take care of women in potentially risky situations. A lot of great guys doing a lot of great things.

And then also be responsible for your own behaviors. When you start developing friendships with the opposite sex, just be aware of cues or messaging or where you can create misunderstandings, is this friendship or is it more? I mean, that’s a delicate dance for the woman to navigate that. And then if it’s going in a direction that is uncomfortable, be prepared with your bold face. A pilot told me, “A bold face is…” Interestingly, so, pilots have on their leg a checklist that they use every time they prepare to takeoff or landing the plane. It’s checklist driven, so that you don’t miss anything. And the things that are really important are in bold face type.

So if you’re in a sticky situation, an awkward situation, have your bold face line that you can say that will diffuse an awkward situation, and allow you to leave with grace, without being overly aggressive, without being just yucky. Do everything you can to preserve the relationship, but be prepared to know how to establish and reinforce boundaries. That’s important. And do a damn good job, I’ll just say it that way. Your job, your reputation, your relationships, your credibility is based on how well you do your job and how well you contribute. So focus on doing a good job.

It’s interesting, Melyssa, because after you’re in a while, you really don’t see gender. You forget that you’re the only female in the room. It’s just not something that you think about. And one quick story. I did a lot of community outreach at the Guard base. I was the community relations manager, and so I was off base quite a bit, meeting with the community. And one particular day I went to a woman’s meeting, and it was almost palpable. I think it’d been so long since I was surrounded by a group of women, that when I approached these women, they were all dressed very nicely. And it just felt a lot softer. It felt warmer to me. Not that the military environment is cold, don’t misunderstand me, but we’re a high and tight kind of operating machine, and there’s jokes and there’s opportunities for friendliness, don’t get me wrong, but I was just so excited to be around women again.

I was like, “Wow, I need to do this more.” And so as I’ve separated, I’ve really worked harder and harder to have more women friends, because the biggest thing about being a woman in the military is that it can be kind of lonely. It can be kind of lonely. Because the people that you can develop friendships with is pretty limited. I mean, the people that I had things in common were people that were my rank or higher.

And more often than not, Melyssa, these women had husbands, had children, and in some cases, they were part-time military, had a business. And so those were their priorities. It’s just like any working mom who has to prioritize her business and her family above her social life. And that’s really apropos for women who serve in the military. They have just very limited time. So you’re kind of on your own socially, which is kind of tough, but you just find support other places.

Melyssa Barrett:  I love it. I love it. And I know you were given a shout-out to Amanda Huffman, and her book is called A Girl’s Guide to Military Service, and then she has another book called Women of the Military.

Kathy Gallowitz:  Good job. Thank you.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes, we want to celebrate women, anybody who’s doing the work. So-

Kathy Gallowitz:  Well, and what’s exciting in this day and age is that more and more jobs, if not every job, is open to women in the military. That’s a success story. And when I speak to one of my superiors, my boss in the Army, because I worked for the Army for about 10 years, she was like, “Yeah, this is what we need. Because the only way you can get promoted in the military is to have had these experiences leading in different roles,” right?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Kathy Gallowitz:  And so that creates advancement opportunities for women that really weren’t there before. And women, you think, “Oh man, can she be brave on the battlefield? Can she lead men?” The answer is absolutely, yes.

Melyssa Barrett:  Absolutely.

Kathy Gallowitz:  I mean, the bravery that women have demonstrated in the battlefield brings tears to your eyes. And I always tell stories about my husband, who was a career active army soldier with four combat tours, and he would say some of the finest leaders that he worked for were women. And in his case, if someone was potentially being disrespectful inside the military or outside the military, he would stand up.

There was one story where he was in Iraq and the woman was in charge, and the woman was trying to develop relationships with the locals, with an Iraqi, I believe it was. And the Iraqi, the treatment and the belief in women’s roles in Third World countries is very different, and-

Melyssa Barrett:  Very different.

Kathy Gallowitz:  … so they went to my husband, who was one of the senior ranking males in the environment and said, “Nope, she’s in charge.” And so that kind of support, I think we can expect. There’s some challenges, certainly we can talk about that if you want, but it’s really overall a good news story. More roles coming to be, more ceilings being shattered more and more… I mean, there’s the first female leader of the Coast Guard.

We have, recently, the first female Blue Angel pilot. It goes on and on. I mean, it’s really exciting times for women in the military. And kind of the last bastion in our profession when 50% or more of women are graduating from medical school, 50% or more are graduating from law school. We’re still at 20% recruits in the military. But as I understand it, at the Air Force Academy, about 30% of cadets are female. So it’s slowly happening. And with people like Amanda, really educating women, and you asking these questions of people like me, I hope that more and more women will do it, because it’s in your best interest, more importantly, it’s in our country’s best interest to have our best and brightest serving in the armed forces.

Melyssa Barrett:  And absolutely. I love it. This is great. I mean, it’s always strange to me when we’re just talking about firsts and we’re in 2023. And we’re still talking about the first time you have a woman Blue Angel, or you know?

Kathy Gallowitz:  Right.

Melyssa Barrett:  It’s amazing that it would take this long that we would just be hitting firsts. So-

Kathy Gallowitz:  But you think about it in our lifetime, this is pretty personal, but my mother was not happy in her marriage, but she never worked. And if I remember correctly, women in her day and age couldn’t even get a credit card or get a mortgage. In our lifetime, Melyssa, right?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah.

Kathy Gallowitz:  so she was kind of stuck, based on her… And oh, by the way, a military wife, it was difficult for a military wife to work, and in her day, you went to college to get an MRS degree, right?

Melyssa Barrett:  Mm-hmm.

Kathy Gallowitz:  And so think about that. I’m 60 years old, but in 60 years, we went from, okay, women can go to school to get an MRS degree, and now 50% of women are getting law degrees or MD degrees. I mean, yeah, 60 years. So as you know, being a DE&I expert, change is super slow, but it’s a-

Melyssa Barrett:  It is.

Kathy Gallowitz:  … it’s a great time to be a woman in America. It’s a great time to be a woman in the military.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, that’s fantastic. Let’s pause for a moment. We’ll be right back.

I want to shift, because I know with all of the work you’ve done in the military, even as a military family member, a spouse, et cetera, you are a significant champion for veterans, and you are doing so much in the community. So I want to just have you talk a little bit about Vanguard Veteran, and some of the initiatives that you have going on to really help the military and their families because it’s so amazing.

Kathy Gallowitz:  Well, I appreciate that. So the mission of Vanguard Veteran is to equip civilians to become veteran champions, people who have never served, people who don’t understand military culture. There is such a gap in our society. We call it the Military/Civilian Divide. I wrote the book Beyond “Thank you for Your Service: The Veteran Champion Handbook for civilians to give people some practical strategies, some practical actions that you can take from wherever you are in your community, be you an employer, a lawyer, a doctor, behavioral health provider, an educator, community leader, or someone who is a leader in our faith communities.

The book is chock-full of practical suggestions. It’s available on Amazon. I hope you will get it, and figure out how you can do more to build mutually beneficial activities and services in ways that promote quality of life, workforce, and community. So Vanguard Veteran has zeroed in on improving workforce and community by helping civilian employers excel with veteran hiring and retention.

Because research shows, the Society of Human Resource Management, the leading HR profession in the country, says, “Their survey of employers reports that 68% of employers find that veterans are better than, if not much better than their civilian counterparts.” And 60% of employers, a different study, say that “veterans stay longer than their non-veteran counterparts.” So I work hard to help employers understand military culture, how to interview, how to onboard and retain and build brand ambassadors in the community that will leverage their military friendly, if not veteran ready brand.

Then the other piece that I’m real passionate about is equipping volunteer faith community leaders to build military ministries inside their congregation in partnership with clergy. Melyssa, this is a way for military connected people to gather, to bond, to find ways to support each other through practical things, helping somebody move, helping them through a deployment, attending a 70-year parents anniversary party, just having friends and helping each other like friends would. Fostering a sense of belonging, because when we leave our uniform behind, oftentimes we feel very lost. We’ve lost our identity, and we need to belong to a group that understands military, military mindset.

And then we work hard to promote spiritual resiliency through prayer. Now, you don’t have to be a pastor, a nurse, really even a veteran or counselor to do this. You just need to care about military, have a strong faith, and have some leadership skills. I offer a monthly coaching call the first Sunday of every month to equip volunteer leaders to do this. And I stay alongside you to help you make decisions. So that’s one way to learn about it.

My website is vanguardveteran.com, and if you’re an employer, I’d like to offer you some show notes, Melyssa, to put a veteran ready assessment in there. And would also love an opportunity to do an introductory call to see how or if I may come alongside you and help you distinguish your company as veteran friendly, and move towards developing a veteran talent acquisition and retention strategy. So-

Melyssa Barrett:  I love it.

Kathy Gallowitz:  … there you have it. There you have it.

Melyssa Barrett:  That’s awesome. I will definitely take those notes and would love to put them in the description, so people know that they can not only access you, but really access all that you’re doing. It’s absolutely fantastic. So-

Kathy Gallowitz:  We as a nation have a lot of work to do. I think this is-

Melyssa Barrett:  We do.

Kathy Gallowitz:  The book features mostly Ohioans who have done this work. When I was the director of community outreach for the Ohio National Guard, we built a statewide outreach program to educate and engage civilians in support of troops and their families. And we did this in response to 9/11. And so I saw firsthand how much satisfaction, and if not joy, honestly, our citizens feel when they’re like, “Oh, yeah, now I know what to do. I want to help more, but I feel awkward. I don’t know how to do it.”

And so if you give people an idea and you encourage them, you inspire them, you thank them, I mean, just think of the goodness that can happen, instead of us staying in our silos-

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Kathy Gallowitz:  … and not reaching out to each other and not building those trusting relationships for those who have sacrificed so much for us. There’s just a lot more work to be done by each and every one of us. And so I want to move the veteran champion movement and invite people to be a part of the win.

Melyssa Barrett:  Well, and I love it, because we can learn so much. I think a lot of times people think about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we think about ethnicity so often. But it’s the same silos you have with whether it be military or gender, we’re very complex people, so we’re not necessarily one thing.

Kathy Gallowitz:  Absolutely. And I’m excited to see minorities and other subgroups getting some additional sensitivity, if you will. But the military is one of the most diverse groups of people in terms of thought. And there’s people from all walks of life, economic backgrounds, and most ethnicities represented, most religions represented. And so if you’re in the workplace, get to know those people who have served, be an active listener, ask them how you can help and follow through. For pity’s sakes, follow through.

Melyssa Barrett:  I love it.

Kathy Gallowitz:  And then give them an opportunity to shape the goodness in your workforce. Empower them, hear their voice and let them contribute. They have a lot to contribute. Just have to ask.

Melyssa Barrett:  So I’m going to ask you one final kind of hard question, with respect to being a veteran and it obviously influencing your perspective, when it comes to current events, particularly in regards to things like national defense and global affairs, how does that shape your thought process?

Because I think being in the military, I feel like you come with a different perspective when you’re talking about fighting for freedom and all the different jobs that exist in the military, and then to come and watch our government at work or sometimes not work. How does that shape your perspective in terms of the commander-in-chief providing direction, but in some cases, we can’t actually get things done?

Kathy Gallowitz:  Wow, that’s a big question. Several things come up for me. The first thing is to understand and appreciate that when we join the military, we take an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. And with that comes to follow orders and respect the commander-in-chief, pure and simple. We are the arms and legs of our national security strategy, whether or not you support the political positions the military member chooses, it’s an all volunteer force, to do their part, to do what the country, our decision makers, our political decision makers decide we should do. Can that be tough? Heck, yeah. Holy cow.

The other thing that came up for me when you were talking was the withdrawal from Afghanistan. And frankly, the impact that makes on those who have served and lost people through that forever war. And to feel like, was it worth it? Why did my buddies die? And how do you heal from seemingly, “Well, we had a purpose. We had a vision, and then we just folded very quickly”? So my concern more so than political decision makers and how those decisions are made, which I have no ability to influence whatsoever, my concern is how are we taking care of those military members who are affected by that psychologically?

And therein is another important reason why civilian veteran champions are even more important, to go out and befriend anybody who served, in particular, combat veterans and slowly develop trust, slowly become a confidant, slowly do your best to try to support them. I mean, I recently attended a play called Last Out: An Elegy of a Green Beret. Scott Mann, who was in the Afghanistan conflict as a special forces, he tells the story about a lot of the trauma, about the stressors on the families, about how… Gary Sinise sort of compared, because the Gary Sinise Foundation sponsored this film, Gary Sinise sort of contrasted how we left Vietnam and how our Vietnam veterans fared after that to how we left Afghanistan.

And I think our Afghanistan and Iraq warriors are being treated a 100% better. But, Melyssa, you’re asking about the aftermath and the aftershocks that our military members experience, and it is very real. It is serious. It is tough. And it is tragic. It is tragic. I wish we had a better decision making process, but national security politics is a brutal and fierce animal that comes off the rails, and it is what it is. We still live in the greatest country on the planet, as far as I’m concerned, despite the failures of democracy. And so I don’t know, there you have it. How’s that?

Melyssa Barrett:  That’s awesome. It’s like one of those questions where you know you want to ask, but you never know how people think about it. And I mean, I know it’s frustrating for me. I can’t imagine-

Kathy Gallowitz:  Right. And I love the fact that you asked that sort of in a public forum, but it demonstrates that those are the kinds of questions, once you get to know, and you have a level of trust with a veteran coworker, with a veteran in your community, with a veteran in your place of worship after you’ve sat down with them for coffee for a couple times, I mean, they love, I believe, they would love to share that perspective with you. Assuming that you are a good active listener, that you’re sincere in really wanting to develop that relationship, that you’ve invested a little bit of time and energy in that person, and you’re open, being open to perspectives that may be different from yours.

I mean, you can see that I have passion when I answer that, right? Well-

Melyssa Barrett:  Absolutely.

Kathy Gallowitz:  … and I’m not even a combat veteran, but I really feel for those… I mean, it’s really hard for people who have lost people to this, and that’s not a question you ask in the first conversation. That’s a question you ask in the third or fourth or fifth conversation, when you have that gut feeling of, “Okay, I think we could handle this topic fine.” And more importantly that you could hear the response-

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Kathy Gallowitz:  … without getting freaked out, and receive it with an open heart and an open mind, and really listen to that person’s perspective. Because my instinct is they would love nothing more than to share some of that to a good listening ear.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, I love it. This is why I love the work that you do, because it’s just phenomenal-

Kathy Gallowitz:  Different.

Melyssa Barrett:  … in helping civilians, really. I mean-

Kathy Gallowitz:  Right, no, that’s the whole point.

Melyssa Barrett:  … even understand, what is going on in people’s heads?

Kathy Gallowitz:  We Americans think we have all the answers, typically. Okay, I’m going to get on my soapbox a minute. And we forget to listen actively, learn from people who are different from us, okay?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Kathy Gallowitz:  And we tend to group ourselves with people who are like us. I mean, that’s just the nature of the beast. And that’s why DE&I is so dang important, right?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah.

Kathy Gallowitz:  But the only way we’re going to knock down those walls, so to speak, is to open yourself up. I love learning from people who are different from me, but that’s comes from eight to 10 years of living overseas, being a minority in my workplace my entire career. I know that I’m different, and I love hearing about other people’s difference. And to me, that’s what makes the world go round.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Kathy Gallowitz:  When we learn from each other and we accept each other and we choose to educate ourselves as best we can, because at the end of the day, that’s really where the magic and the beauty is. And so, please, if you’re listening to this, go out and identify male and female veterans, and develop relationships slowly, and build trust and follow through. When you ask how you can support them, follow through and do it, they will really be grateful for that level of attention and friendship.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes, indeed. Well, and I just want to thank any veterans, anybody in the military who’s listening as well as the civilians. But, really, I do want to just thank all of those that do put on the uniform, because I think there’s probably no better thanks we can give… there’s nothing we could say that could thank them for the work that they continue to do all around the world.

Kathy Gallowitz:  But thank you for saying that. But through your actions, you show your appreciation. And if I may in closing, offer one final tip-

Melyssa Barrett:  Please.

Kathy Gallowitz:  … and that is something you might consider saying, instead of, “Thank you for your service,” you might offer, “Thank you for wearing the uniform.”

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Kathy Gallowitz:  Because when you say that, that indicates some level of understanding on your part, that wearing that uniform, to those of us who volunteer to wear the uniform, it means pride in our country. It means sacrifice. It means respect. I mean, it’s just such a big part of our identity. It means our values, our ethos, and we don’t expect a civilian to understand all that necessarily. But most people really respect the uniform and the people who are wearing it. And so when you say, “Thank you for choosing to wear the uniform,” they’re like, “Oh, wow. They do kind of get it.” It’s it to me, it’s a very sincere comment that gets people’s attention. And they’re like, “Oh, yeah, you’re right. I do love wearing this uniform. Thank you.” Right?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah. I love it. I mean, there’s so many more tools, tips, and education that you provide in your book that I know people will appreciate. So thank you for all you’re doing, and just continue to do what you’re doing. And anything we can do to support, we are happy to do.

Kathy Gallowitz:  Thank you.

Melyssa Barrett:  So I look forward to continuing our relationship.

Kathy Gallowitz:  Great.

Melyssa Barrett:  And making sure that we have the opportunity to really tap into your wisdom, specifically, with-

Kathy Gallowitz:  Thank you. Anytime, Melyssa.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, I love it.

Kathy Gallowitz:  Let’s do this again, when you have another topic that makes sense. And thank you for the opportunity.

Melyssa Barrett:  Absolutely. It’s my pleasure. So with that, we are going to sign off, and I hope all of you will definitely buy her book. So again, Lieutenant Colonel Kathy Lowrey Gallowitz, and she has a book called Beyond “Thank you for Your Service.”

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