This week on the Women of the Military Podcast I talked to Lesley Lykins. She shared her experience of serving in the Navy. She was a Public Affairs Officer when social media became a new resource that the military relied on. It was exciting to hear the changes she watched happen and being on the front edge of that experience. She also talked about her deployment to Afghanistan. It was coming home to a job that demoted her, a family that was broken without her, and her civilian friends who didn’t know how to talk to her that was the real challenge of deploying.
Listen to When Public Affairs Changed:
In this episode we cover:
- Joining the Navy through ROTC
- The changes the Navy went through when women were allowed on new ships throughout the fleet
- Switching from being a Surface Warfare Officer to a Public Affairs (PA) Officer
- How the internet and social media changed the PA career field
- Transitioning from Active Duty to Reserves
- Deploying as a Reservist and coming home
From Ohio to the Navy
Lesley was raised on a farm in Ohio. She grew up learning how to milk goats. She accepted a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship to Boston University as a method of escaping Ohio. After graduating with a degree in General Management she started her career driving warships for the Navy. After three years in the Navy’s Surface Warfare community, she was selected as one of the Navy’s 200 public affairs officers.
She had opportunities to collaborate and lead major Navy outreach opportunities. One opportunity included New York City Fleet Week. She left her active duty career in the Navy by standing up the Navy’s social media program. When she left active duty she signed up to be part of the Naval Reserves. As a civilian, she had a brief stint as a community manager for SocialMedia.org. Then she was blessed to be introduced to the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). It was her pleasure to serve as the association’s Community Manager, Director of Member Engagement, Marketing Director and Executive Director.
Serving in the Reserves as a Public Affairs Officer
As part of her Navy Reserve obligations, she deployed to Afghanistan in 2018 for a nine-month mobilization in support of U.S. and NATO military operations. She struggled in her transition back home following her reserve mobilization. But with time and working through her feelings and her families she was able to adjust back to normal life.
She is currently an active reserve Navy Commander with 18.5 years in the Navy. In June, she left her role with CXPA and she is now working with her husband to launch a gym and personal training business in their new home in Florida. She recently started working again. She is currently the Director of Marketing at South Bay Hospital.
On the home front, she spends time fundraising for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She is an active participant in her church and is a leader. She is also a wife and mother of four young children.
Connect with Lesley:
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