Honoring Women With Recognition and Support
Women in the Tri-State are incredible. It’s a time to honor and remember those who have sacrificed their lives to serve others. It’s also a time for reflection and gratitude. As a motivational speaker, I am often asked to share about my life. I’m grateful that my response always begins the same: I’m proud to be a veteran. It is chiseled on my heart and soul. I am honored to have served my country, and although I was injured in the line of duty, I would do it all over again. It was a personal obligation for me. My forefathers and mothers plowed this country, so I felt I should protect it. Not everyone appreciates this, but it’s my truth. Every good soldier is taught to stand by his/her own convictions and truth; and as all soldiers know, I am the Charge of Quarters of my Soul, Pride, Intuition, Rights, Instinct, and Teachings, my spirit.
Spirit holds double meaning for me, as I am also a woman of strong faith. My faith often leads me to scripture to help me make sense of the world. One of my favorite scriptures states, “No greater love than those who sacrifice their lives for a friend.” Women who serve in any capacity must be celebrated because love is the foundation of sacrifice. Celebration means to recognize and support another’s contribution. Sadly, celebration is not always the outcome.
My status as a veteran has not always been celebrated or honored, my contributions not deemed worthy. I’ve been belittled by other veterans because I am an African American, I’ve been underestimated by other veterans because I am a woman―my idea of friendly fire. Although hurtful and painful, these acts of belittlement prompted me to study the effects of dealing with hatred, all the isms (i.e. sexism, racism, etc.), and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). I used this negativity as fuel and channeled it into positive energy as I work to secure my PhD in Higher Education & Women and Gender Studies.
I know I will continue to achieve my educational goals because I have pushed through other challenges. In becoming a soldier, I had to master physical training, grass-drills, snow-drills, basic training gas chambers, road marches, calling cadence, the General’s Run, carrying Alice Packs, and qualification series at the range. I had to ensure my gig line was perfect and withstand being in the field for weeks to complete Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training. If I can survive all these things–I can resurrect the soldier in me and survive the challenges of my current situations. I won’t be hindered. And there is no option to my plan but success; I am veteran strong and I adore being a Black, female veteran.
I’m grateful to share lessons about my training as a soldier and how I bootstrapped myself through some very rough times. Had I not learned military maneuvers to climb over walls or identify foe vs. friend; I would be scared to take the risk of faith necessary to become an educator, public speaker, earn my doctorate degree, or depart from an abusive marriage. Like many women, I am a survivor.
One nugget of wisdom I’ve often heard from many of my elders is: “Become the change you desire, need, and want; not just for yourself, but for others.” It takes courage to follow your dreams, visions, and follow your instinct for your future. It is because of the courage women muster everyday to march ahead–despite the unique battles we face–that we as women will always be soldiers, regardless if we enlisted or not. I’m no longer active duty personnel, but I am forever a soldier.
As we face our daily battles, I encourage all my fellow women to remember success must be managed and opportunity created. If there is not a window for you to enter into the lifestyle that you want, create the window or the door–and go combat–and kick it in or down. Fight the good fight of faith for what you want, and please keep in mind nothing beats a failure, but a try (aka attempt).
And to all my fellow veterans, especially those who are women and minorities, use the training that was embedded during our formative years as soldiers. Hone in on the skills that allowed you never to give up, never lay down your morals or weapon, and never let the enemy see you sweat. Rock of the Marne!
Venita R. Thomas a native Cincinnatian is the owner/operator and Chief Servant Officer of Venita Thomas Consulting Services, LLC (a faith-based employment and life skills coaching services).
A graduate of The University of Cincinnati and Xavier University, Venita has earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources Management, a Master of Arts in Labor Law and Employment Relations and Master of Education in Human Resources Development respectfully and pursing her doctoral degree from the Union Institute and University focusing on Higher Education and Women & Gender Studies.
Venita’s workposiums entitled "A Resurrected Woman" is an epic seminar and workshop on instructions of courage and faith needed to overcome life's challenges and trials.
A dynamic public speaker and consultant her clientele include Xavier University, The University of Cincinnati, Dress for Success Cincinnati, Beckfield College, The Woman’s Connection of Cincinnati, Essence’s Magazine – Women Who Are Shaping the World 2004 and a host of other social, civic groups and church organizations including several media appearances. “My destiny and purpose is to help women become sufficient in all areas of life, this is done by sharing my life story” Venita states.
As an Army veteran, Venita served as Administrative Publications Officer for the Military Intelligence component of Headquarters and Headquarters Division, Third Infantry, Würzburg, Germany.
Venita is the daughter of [the late] Mrs. Ruth Thomas and Willie E. Thomas, Sr.