*The Freedom Sister’s Reboot graduation class #71 walked the stage at the Beverly Hills hotel last week.
A Freedom Sister’s Reboot program representative handed certificates to 12 women, each with a goal to reboot her life while changing the focus from the military’s agenda to her own. Watch video interviews below.
Reboot founder, Maurice D. Wilson, president/national executive director of the National Veterans Transitions Service, Inc. Shook hands with the veteran women and also gave hugs where inspired.
“We’ve transformed the lives of over 1200 individuals with a 97 percent success rate and we believe that this is the right way to transition and reintegrate our service members from military life back to the civilian world. Its probably the only best way,” said Wilson.
It was an extravagant ceremony; a luncheon, complete with lights camera and action on the red carpet. Plus, “Have and Have Nots” actor Ro Brooks was there. He came to support the women and said that Reboots initiative is important to him. Both his daughter and his sister respectively serve and have served the U.S. military.
Program sponsors, organizers, mentors and graduates talked to reporters about the importance of the programs mission, their hopes and dreams and also about the graduate’s plans after the ceremony.
When asked about her volunteer mentorship, Freedom Sister’s Reboot program mentor, Valerie Blackburn said:
“I’m doing this because its my way of thanking them for their service. And so if I can take some of the professional knowledge I have and the experience that I bring to help them transition to a new life how awesome is that.”
The women ranged widely in age, some leaving the military after more than 15-20 years of service and old enough to have grand children. Others with fewer years of dedicated service behind them and vibrant enough to start new families or fresh ambitious careers.
Many of the women spoke of the challenges of leaving the military and re-integrating.
“You spend 9 weeks training how to be a soldier and you’d think civilian would come back to you naturally but it doesn’t. I couldn’t dress myself for a year afterwards. I couldn’t figure out what went together if it wasn’t green. I didn’t know what I want. I knew what I didn’t want to do but I didn’t know what I want to do and there’s so many choices in the civilian world,” said US Army Captain and Veteran, Heathra King.
Freedom Sister’s Reboot Class #71 Graduates are: Us Army Veteran, Eve Estrada, US Airforce, Lora Pietszak; US Army Veteran, Doreen Ferris; US Army Veteran, Pamela Richardson: US Navy Veteran, Yolanda Franklin; US Navy Veteran, Monikkachelle Santos; US Army Veteran, Yesenia Hall; US Marine Veteran,Christina Silva; US Army Veteran, Heathra King; US national Guard Veteran, Julienne Wills.
“The hardest part is the job and the two biggest things as a women when you apply for a job you kind of know you’re going in there and you’re going to do a good job. That’s what the military has taught you to do but when you go in civilian life and do it they take it as pushy or like you are trying to be a man when really you’re just trying to come in and go full force and get the job done, said Yolanda Franklin.
“The second thing is a lot of employees get offended by it because they don’t understand the work ethic of the military… The program has really brought us together to teach us what it is that’s interfering with our progress,” Franklin said.
Class #71’s graduation keynotes speaker, Jennifer Brofer, a Marine Corp veteran told reporters yes, “Their are obstacles, but women veterans have that grit necessary to push past the obstacle, and I think if they embrace their network they’ll be very successful when they transition out of the military.”
Former Reboot graduate; Class #35, Lisa Garisto sang the National Anthem and sharply polished hotel waiters served and elegant lunch of sauteed chicken breast and vegetables following a salad of baby greens and mushroom shoots. It was an inspiring afternoon, full of promise and support of 12 deserving women. The luncheon took place in the Beverly Hills Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.
Although the Reboot program started in 2010, the added mentor program sponsored by Ford motors is in its inaugural year.
Watch the red carpet video interviews: mentors, supporters and graduates get personal. Clip Features, The “Have and Have Nots” actor Ro Brooks
Ex-military Women/Freedom Sister’s Reboot Class #71 Interviews
Freedom’s Sister’s Reboot Graduation: Class #71 Photo Gallery