Melissa went from serving in the Navy to supporting women veterans. Melissa joined the Navy because she was looking for something new. She ended up becoming a supply troop and while at A-School met her future husband. He went to the West Coast and she went to the East Coast. Through cards, letters, and phone calls they stay connected and eventually got married. Today, she runs Women Veterans Alliance and helps connect women veterans not only with a community but resources.
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Melissa went to Basic Training in Florida and A-School in Mississippi and was eventually stationed in Virginia. Growing up in California meant that moving across the country was very different. She met so many people who had different experiences. At school, she also met her husband and when they started dating in Mississippi faced lots of looks for dating a black man. She also experienced her first sexual harassment when the commander of the boot camp made a comment about her chest.
Being a supply troop
She was assigned to a small ship with about 100 people most of them related to diving since the mission was salvage. Because of this she was responsible for most of the shop. There she learned a lot about what it meant to run the supply office. She also had a chance to deploy to the Mederterainian. One of her favorite memories is when they went to Venice the ship was small enough to pull into the Venice canals.
When she got home from the deployment she wanted to find a way to get back to the West Coast. She was able to arrange a swap and moved to California. Her next ship was a destroyer tender and was much larger. She was thankful that she had had the experience on a smaller ship because she understand the ins and outs of supply. In her new job, she was only focused on a small tiny piece of the supplies required for the ship.
Ally for women veterans
Today she runs Women Veteran Alliance and was recently published in a collaborative book called Unstoppable: Being Fierce, Fearless & Unf*ckwithable in Life and Business. We talked about the importance of sharing stories and helping women veterans and also the next generation of women to serve.
Connect with Melissa Washington:
Melissa is an Award-winning advocate, speaker, author, entrepreneur, CEO, publisher, and proud Navy veteran. In 2015, Melissa founded Women Veterans Alliance—a national organization that seeks to empower and positively impact the lives of women veterans. Three years later, she established the nonprofit wing of WVA, Women Veterans Giving. Both entities offer women veterans opportunities to gain valuable career experience and successfully integrate back into civilian life. WVG also helps fund women veteran-owned businesses, which are often overlooked by other organizations. In 2021, Melissa expanded her role in the community by co-founding Women Veterans Magazine—the first publication of its kind to serve California’s more than 165,000 women veterans.
Mentioned in this episode:
My new book (coming soon) A Girl’s Guide to Military Service