The history of military women is fascinating when you have a chance to discover it. Gen Mari Eder was given a book on the women of the Civil War and she found it fascinating and wanted to learn more and is now working to share more stories of military women. Gen Eder has so much wisdom packed into this episode.
Major General Mari K. Eder is a retired U.S. Army Major General, a renowned speaker and author, and a thought leader on strategic communication and leadership. General Eder is the former Commanding General of the U.S. Army Reserve Joint and Special Troops Support Command, former Deputy Chief of the Army Reserve and former Deputy Chief of Public Affairs for the U.S. Army. She was the closing keynote speaker at WIN Summit 2018 and recipient of the 2018 Trailblazer Award.
General Eder is the author of “Leading the Narrative: The Case for Strategic Communication,” published by the Naval Institute Press. Out soon, her new book is titled: Step Out of Line, Ladies: Stories of Courage, Sacrifice, and Grit – the Women of WWII.
General Eder has served as Director of Public Affairs at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and as an adjunct professor and lecturer in communications and public diplomacy at the NATO School and Sweden’s International Training Command. She speaks and writes frequently on communication topics in universities and for international audiences.
She is a trustee with the U.S. Army War College Foundation and has served as a senior advisor and Director with the Foundation for Self-Government, and as a communications expert for the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General.
Mari joined the Army to get out of her small town. She had wanted to be in Public Affairs, but she started out in the Signal Corps. She served on active duty for her first tour then left the military.
But she missed being part of the military and was able to go back into the Reserves. Because of her civilian career was able to work in the Pubic Affairs area that she wanted to be in since when she joined the military. She talked about the challenges of balancing the Reserves and a civilian career. Over time she learned that there are times when she needed to focus more on her civilian job and other times she needed to focus on her military career.
One of the hardest times was when she was working full time and also attending Air War College via distance learning. She said she quickly learned to write the papers first so she could have a two-week break instead of using the two weeks to write a paper and never get a break.
Making O6 to General
Her goal was to make it to the rank of Colonel (O-6) and when she was selected for Brigadier General she was surprised and honored. She was promoted to Major General and with 36 years of service, it was time to retire. She had her change of command and then a few weeks later had her retirement ceremony. Because she had given so much of herself to the Army when she finally was done her body was tired and she got sick. She said she was barely there for her retirement ceremony and slowly began the transition to civilian. We also talked about being invisible after leaving the military and how sometimes our voices are not heard because we are overlooked for our gender.
She wanted to do something different after leaving the military so she has become an author. Because she loves reading and learning about the history of military women. After reading a few books (links below) about military women she decided to write her own book. She told so many stories of military women throughout history that I either didn’t know about or had only learned about after starting the podcast. There is a rich history of women who have come before and women who continue to make changes for the military. And the women who follow in their footsteps.
She encourages women to join the military even if it is only for a few years. Do your research and pick the right branch and job for you (need help? check out this free guide). The military can open so many doors and will change you as a person.
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