Women of the Military

Being Part of the Initial Invasion of Iraq

Episode Summary

Jodie’s military service laid the foundation for her over a decade long career in Intelligence and National Security. Jodie held various roles including Force Protection and Security Supervisor in Al Kut, Iraq, and Security Analyst for the Department of State in Kabul, Afghanistan. In her last role before making a full transition to the nonprofit sector, she was an Intelligence Advisor for the Marine Corps Battle Simulation Center in Camp Pendleton, Ca where she provided unit commanders, Marines, and sailors intelligence collection training in preparation for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Episode Notes

Jodie decided to join the Marine Corps in her junior year of high school. She knew she wanted to join the military and wanted to go the toughest route. She chose intel because she thought she would be sometime like a 007. Her job was different than she expected and at first, it was a lot of exercises and planning. Then September 11th happened and everything changed.

She said that her job became more real and there was a lot more training and preparation. In February of 2003, she was in Kuwait preparing to go into Iraq. Before the initial invasion, her team was instructed to write a letter home that would be sent back to the states with all of her things if she died. This put the reality of war and the cost of war into the forefront of her mind and she used that experience to push herself through. The initial invasion had her out on the front lines doing her job and being equal with the male Marines beside her.

By the summer they were being redeployed back home but returned to Iraq in February of the following year. The war had completely changed. The Iraqi people who had once been welcoming had now become the enemy. It went from conventional war to an unconventional war and she found limitations in doing her job. She would arrive at bases to gather more intel and would be told women were not allowed. This was a struggle and she felt discrimination and couldn’t fully do her job. She wanted to transfer to counterintelligence, but this career field wasn’t open to women. So, she decided to leave the military.

There were not transition programs like there are today and she found herself back in her hometown working as a waitress. She took a trip to California to reconnect with friends from the Marines and while she was there started looking at classified ads to work there. One of her former Marines offered to take her resume and was able to secure her a job. She had a successful career in the intel field, but was ready for the next phase and started working for a non-profit. She found serving others especially veterans to be fulfilling and currently works for The Foundation for Women Warriors in Southern California. Their mission is to help women veterans and their children so that their next mission is clear and continues to impact the world. 

Today, Jodie is the Chief Executive Officer of Foundation for Women Warriors, a 100-year-old nonprofit organization that works with women veterans to utilize their strength, resilience, and achievements to overcome obstacles as they transition to civilian life. Jodie accepted her current position as CEO of Foundation for Women Warriors in 2016 and has since used her experience and expertise, not only to expand and revitalize FFWW’s programs maximizing impact but has led a nationwide campaign inspiring the country to reconsider gender roles, veteran stereotypes and the capabilities of women. Foundation for Women Warriors, under Jodie’s leadership, has transformed into California’s preeminent women veteran service agency, committed to empowering the resilience and professional development of women veterans.

In addition to Jodie’s military commendations, she is a 2020 Presidential Leadership Scholar, recipient of the Los Angeles Business Journal’s 2019 Woman of Influence award, in 2018 was awarded San Diego Business Journal’s Business Women of the Year Award, and in 2017, she was named one of the world’s 130 Women of Impact by Impact Mania. Jodie currently serves on the SoCalGas Community Advisory Council, California Women Veterans Leadership Council, is a member of the Carlsbad Women’s Club, Veteran of Foreign Wars, Women Marines Association, 100 Women Who Care Orange County, and Women Give San Diego. Jodie holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Masters in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego. Jodie currently resides in Carlsbad, California.

Connect with Jodie:

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Foundation for Women Warriors:

www.foundationforwomenwarriors.org

Instagram

Twitter
Facebook

Related Episodes:

Sirens: How to Pee Standing Up – Episode 87

Serving in Iraq (the Kickoff, the Surge, the Drawdown) – Episode 32

West Point to Iraq – Beyond the Point – Episode 19

Episode Transcription

Amanda Huffman  00:00

Welcome to Episode 91 of the Women of the Military podcast. This week my guest is Jodie Grenier. Jodie served in the Marine Corps from 2000 to 2005. I'm really excited that her interview lines up this week with the anniversary of September 11, happening on Friday because she talked about her experience of being in the Marine Corps and how it changed when September 11 happened. She also served in the initial invasion into Iraq and then served again in Iraq in 2004 to 2005, she ended up leaving the military in 2005 because the career field counterintelligence that she wanted to move into didn't allow women and that law was changed in 2016. Today, Jodie is the chief executive officer of foundation for women warriors, 100 year old nonprofit organization that works with women veterans to utilize their strength, resilience and achievements for overcoming obstacles as they transition into civilian life. This is another great episode. So let's get started. You're listening to the woman of the military podcast where we share the stories of female servicemembers and how the military touched their lives. I'm Amanda Huffman. I am an Air Force veteran, author of Women of the Military and a collaborative author and Brave Woman Strong Faith. I'm also a military spouse and Mom, I created Women of the Military podcast as a place to share stories of military women past and present with the goal of finding the heart of the story while uncovering the triumphs and challenges women face while serving in the military. If you want to be encouraged by the stories of military women and be inspired to change the world, keep tuned for this latest episode of women of the military. Welcome on the show. Jodie, I'm excited to have you here.

 

Jodie Grenier  02:02

Thanks so much, Amanda. I'm excited to be with you as well.

 

Amanda Huffman  02:05

So let's start off with why did you decide to join the military?

 

Jodie Grenier  02:09

Oh, geez. So I'm originally from Connecticut, and my mom had me as a young single mother. And so growing up, I didn't necessarily have the resources to go straight into college. I also no credit my 16/17 year old self when I started looking into the military with being forward thinking, I knew that I did not want to stay in the town that I lived in. And I knew I didn't want to go into debt for college. And so I found myself at the recruiters office, probably my junior year of high school thumbing through the book, trying to find a job that was a good fit for me.

 

Amanda Huffman  02:47

And did you go to all the recruiters or did you know right away that you wanted to be in the Marine Corps?

 

Jodie Grenier  02:52

No, I went straight to the Marine Corps recruiter for me. I had a bit of a rebellious side and High School and though I played sports, I didn't typically stick with them. But I was very physically active and had a bit a chip on my shoulder and thought, Well, if I'm going to do something, I want to do what is perceived as the most difficult and so the Marine Corps did not disappoint. It ended up being a wonderful fit for the time being.

 

Amanda Huffman  03:23

Yeah. So you started looking in your junior year? And then did you get all your stuff figured out your senior year?

 

Jodie Grenier  03:30

Yeah. So I went in my junior year and look through the book, and you know, the book of all the different jobs and I thought intelligence was going to be more like being double oh seven, and much to my dismay, it was not, but I did end up selecting the intelligence field. And so I later became an intelligence analyst. But by picking that I wasn't sure whether I was going to go to the Defense Language Institute whether I was going to work in signals. So pick that out my junior year. But I didn't actually go to maps until that summer and I needed my mother to sign off when she was, you know, happy to do. So she actually questioned me, you know, only four years. You can't sign up for a and I think she was in a hurry to get me out of the house. Yeah, so I signed up that summer going into my senior year. So my senior year, I really knew I knew what I was going to do after high school. And I shipped off to boot camp four days after I graduated high school. So it was a rather quick turnaround.

 

Amanda Huffman  04:32

Yeah, that's kind of crazy to think that like you graduate in four days later, you're off to boot camp. 

 

Jodie Grenier  04:38

Right? I spared no moment.

 

Amanda Huffman  04:41

But it sounds like you were like, ready, like you knew what you wanted to do. And you're ready to leave the smaller town that you grew up in? And

 

Jodie Grenier  04:49

Yeah, absolutely. I think I always felt like a bit of an outsider in my town. So I grew up in the city of Waterbury for quite some time. The time I was born until my freshman year of high school, I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through eighth grade. And then I moved to a small little town that bordered right next to the city. And the experience from switching from a Catholic school to a public school and then from a big city, you know, somewhat of a decent sized city to a small town was quite shocking for me. And I had to start all over again. So I didn't quite ever really feel like I was a part of a community there. And I think, if anything that accelerated my desire to get out of that town,

 

Amanda Huffman  05:35

Yeah, that makes sense. And marine boot camp is segregated men and women, right, correct. Yes. So what was that experience like to go to boot camp? You're probably one of the youngest.

 

Jodie Grenier  05:47

Yeah, I think it was. I wasn't prepared. At least. I remember being a bit shocked that I was there with all women. I knew going in that I was going to be In a woman Platoon, but I don't think I had ever been around that many women in my entire life and I wasn't really fazed by the yelling or the screaming, I think growing up on the east coast and being Irish and Italian, do a little bit of yelling at one another. And so I kind of looked at their drill instructors like, okay, I can deal with this. You've never met my mom, but we are very passionate people. And, and so I think more than anything, I was just shocked at how many women there were. But, you know, I knew it was a game that I had to play in order to get on the other side into Neo is a very small sacrifice for know the promise of the future of being a marine.

 

Amanda Huffman  06:47

Yeah, I didn't actually know this until yesterday when I did an interview with a marine and he was like, Yeah, why why are you guys all like not segregated and I was like, I don't know because it's just normal and So do you think that there's an advantage to being separated? Or do you think that the Marines should switch over like the all the rest of the branches? 

 

Jodie Grenier  07:08

That's a really good question. I think as we move towards a more equal and progressive future, having non segregated or coed boot camp would definitely be the route to go. I do think that there maybe some advantage, you know, or there maybe was an advantage given the environment back then, as you see, and all girl high schools and all girls schools have women that have you know, their confidence is increased by being around more women. But I think what problem that presents is that don't have men who are observing women actually completing things successfully, or, or even out running them. And so without that opportunity, I think it causes some implicit and explicit bias. I think as we move towards, you know, all MLS is are now open all job fields are now open to women, that it just makes sense. And no, it should be no longer of an advantage. Actually, I think it puts us at a disadvantage. Yeah. Like it might give you the confidence to get through it in the beginning. But then when you go into your career, then you're you are coed and mixed together. And then, yeah, that makes sense. I know what you're trying to say as I'm failing to articulate what he said, in the environment is we don't work with all women, like we used to, you know, on the waves in the wax. And so I think about, you know, when I went to my first duty station, I was outnumbered. You know, I think back then maybe the Marine Corps was around 5% women. I was in a unit with hundreds men and I was like, one of just a couple women and so the sooner we can kind of commingle I mean, it just makes sense. A lot more sense these days.

 

Amanda Huffman  09:02

Yeah. And so you joined in 2000, which was before September 11. Did you see the military change as the war happened? or What was your experience like?

 

Jodie Grenier  09:12

I did, I don't think that I realized how how much of a change was being made. But you know, I think for me personally as an intelligence analyst, when I went to my first duty station we did a lot of Wargaming and preparing and learning about enemy order battle, which layman's terms is like enemy weapon systems and you know what their most likely course of action is, and learning those things in an environment where I felt like men definitely had an advantage because they watched things like GI Joe and war movies where I wasn't necessarily exposed to that so early on, it took me a while to get a grasp on some of the herbage and Just kind of wrap my head around the big picture. But once 911 happened that really solidified how important my job was. And, and it gave it a different meaning. And so, you know, after 911 occurred, and I was at Camp Pendleton first Marine Division during 911 actually, we, you know, we got into work that morning and watch the towers fall from our TVs in the jeetu intelligence operations center for the first Marine Division. And actually, one of our Marines was from New York and and being from the east coast in Connecticut, we call ourselves the best small town in New York, though, we're not actual New Yorkers. It just it really hit home and it was a very uncertain time. And it really, you know, we banded together and we weren't sure what was going to what the future was gonna hold, but I remember it being in this very weird purgatory of You know, not knowing where we were going to go but knowing we're going to go somewhere and I think the the time in between 911 and and for me going to Iraq drastically changed. Now we're working on all different contingency plans. And really, I mean, our free time is limited. And we found ourselves in Twentynine Palms doing training a time, it just took on a whole new, serious and purpose driven field.

 

Amanda Huffman  11:29

Yeah, so it was like you're doing exercises and you were preparing. And then it was like the real thing and changed everything about what you guys were doing.

 

Jodie Grenier  11:38

Absolutely. And I think I was 18 years old at the time. So I went from the small town in Connecticut and thinking, you know, I was going to be 007 to now. You know, our country was in crisis and had been attacked and it just became this very real feeling for me that never really excited and at that point,

 

Amanda Huffman  12:07

Right, yeah, it changed everything. That's Yeah, that's crazy. So you said Where did you say you were based at the first time

 

Jodie Grenier  12:16

Camp Pendleton, California.

 

Amanda Huffman  12:18

And what were you guys you guys were doing exercises and you're preparing and 9/11 happened and it kind of like made it so that you guys were doing more exercises and more stuff in the field. Right? Getting ready for whatever was coming. So was there like a time of like you said there was like this purgatory where you were like in between knowing what your determine like, how long did that period last before you went?

 

Jodie Grenier  12:44

I ended up going to Iraq or excuse me Kuwait in February of 2003 and was based at basically at a staging area for almost a little bit longer than a month prior to us. invading Iraq. So we're at the staging area collecting as much information as we could about, you know, where threats were. And then, you know, we kicked off that air attack on March 19, and then moved into crossing the line of departure. So I would say the purgatory was that time between, you know, September 11, until we really figured out that we were then deploying to Iraq, though, I will say we were we were preparing other units that were then going to Afghanistan. Obviously, Afghanistan kicked off a little bit sooner or much sooner than that Iraq. So it was probably a couple months, maybe a year before we went into Iraq that I knew it was imminent, that we were going somewhere.

 

Amanda Huffman  13:51

Yeah, so make sense. And you were part of the initial invasion into Iraq. So what was that like to be able to be a woman And like be kinda on the front lines of or would you say like you're in the initial invasion, so and there isn't really a front line. So what was that like?

 

Jodie Grenier  14:09

Right? So I recently wrote my reflection on this. And it was it was pretty cathartic and therapeutic to sit down and take a reflection given that the 17 year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq just passed. So when we got to Kuwait, we had brought a ton of stuff with us, you bring a c value, bring your your pack, we were told to, you know, just take what you need that can fit in your pack, because that's all you're gonna have. And we had a Gunnery Sergeant who was like our senior staff and staff non commissioned officer, bring us around in a school circle and he said, You know, I want you to write a letter home and this letter is only going to be delivered to your family. If you're killed in action, so it's going to go in this bag with the rest of your stuff that's going to remain here in a conex box. And if you're killed in action, it's going to go home. So I want you to think long and hard about what you want to say to your families. I think you probably added some things about like, don't be petty if you have any type of broken relationships, this is the moment to fix them. And that really hit me like a ton of bricks. At this time. I was 20 years old, you know, my relationship with my my mother had definitely gotten better because I was no longer living in her house breaking her rules, but there No, it was loaded. It was loaded. What do I write in this letter? So you know, I had some time to reflect but it was like how do I justify this potential future death to my family, but also how do I justify my wife up until this point to myself, I didn't know much about feminism didn't get any women's history classes in high school. And so I'm writing that letter. One I think my mother for her sacrifices. Like I said she was a young single mother up until she met my stepdad and my sisters were significantly younger than me. So my sister Josie, who's also an Air Force veteran, is eight years my junior and then my sister Julio is 14 years younger. So they have a timer. 12 inch thick. I think my mom, that was very emotional. And then I also think my stepdad for his patience, because I was definitely more of a Hellraiser than a bookworm. And then, when it came to my sisters, we were still reeling from 911 and feeling very vulnerable. And I think regardless of where I stand on the war, now our actions seemed somewhat justified in the absence of a lot of information. And so to me, I justified my my potential future death and my service as a means, you know, I simply wrote to my sisters, no, I died for you. Freedom so that you as girls and young women know that nothing is off limits you. And that was a very sobering moment. But aside from 911, actually crossing the line of departure, that moment has been cemented in my mind forever as that was the day I really moved to my life's purpose, my life's work, and no any decision I were to make thereafter and so writing that just prior to do the invasion of Iraq, I think I really, I gave myself this that kind of drove me through when you talk about like the actual invasion and we were no we swapped in between the back about Humvees that was not fortified by any means. It was like back then it was like plastic, you know, plastic and almost 10 material. And then we also were in a five ton that we were facing outward with our weapon, and we were sitting on sandbags in the middle and it was, it was An exciting and a very uncertain time. And, you know, we will leapfrog with our got a forward unit that would go ahead of us and build up calm and the war and then we go and relieve them, and we take calm and the war, and we outcast, our supply chains. And I mean, I remember, you know, it was, I don't think as a woman, it really hit me. Like, I felt like a marine. Because in that moment, there was nothing different about me, compared to the man to the left or right of thing. We were all living in the same experience and doing the same thing.

 

Amanda Huffman  18:41

Yeah, I think I did an interview a couple of weeks ago with someone and they were like, well, what was it like to be overseas? And I was like, I mean, it was the same as the guys next to me and I felt like there was a lot less discrimination than I had stateside because I would like say, I don't think we should do that. And instead of being Like your whining, they will listen to me because we were all in it together. And it didn't matter what you sounded like or what you look like. It was like a team effort and we knew lives are on the line. And so it kind of took away some of the bias that sometimes happens stateside. It's kind of sounds like similar type of thing for you.

 

Jodie Grenier  19:19

Absolutely. And I think when we when we actually so in between when we were moving when we would stand up and operate, we didn't have the privilege or the time to question whether someone could or could not do their job. So during that time, I was a collections analyst. So my job was to take information from all different assets, whether they were grown sensors, or unmanned aerial vehicles, or recon and sniper teams infuse that into a picture where I would then work with the targeting officer from artillery, and we would decide whether we can fly a UAV over and drop Hellfire missiles on a target whether this was something that you could use artillery on to mitigate threats to troops. So in that moment, my job, no, every, every day, people's lives were my hand and my team really had to believe in me, and trust me to get my job done. Otherwise, they couldn't do their job. And I think if there was any, any type of bias or discrimination, it was probably from units or people that did not have an intimate working relationship with me, that allowed them or afforded them the opportunity to hold some sort of bias.

 

Amanda Huffman  20:34

Yeah, I totally agree. That makes a lot of sense. Wow. It sounds like it's such a crazy story to think about, like what you were doing and I mean, I know that women have been there but it's just so it's so empowering to like hear stories from like actual women who are there and to see like what you did, eventually led to the now all jobs are open to women and I think each woman who deployed did their job just because that's what their job was. That's part of why the change happened. And it took a long time. But I'm just really thankful that we can share these stories so that people know what we've been doing from the beginning of the war, and not now it's 2016. And women can be in all the, you know,

 

Jodie Grenier  21:18

Right. Or even when we look back on the Revolutionary War, the women that disguise themselves as men to provide no care to the wounded women have for centuries, for so long, have done jobs outside of these traditional gender roles. And it's just taken a long time for the rest of society to pay homage and open the gate for us.

 

Amanda Huffman  21:43

So do you want to talk anymore about the invasion Did anything happen that was really like something that's stuck in your memory that you just talked about how you wrote and how it helped you with your feelings. Was there something that came up in that writing process that really was pivotal from looking back.

 

Jodie Grenier  22:00

I think, for me, it was two things. One, you know, that exercise of justifying my death to my family or my potential death to my family, obviously, thankfully, I'm alive and then also my life to me justifying What does my life mean? those exercises one, I really I knew in the Marine Corps, I was not blinded to the bias and judgment of women. Up until that point, I had experienced people that, you know, were were judging me based off of a characteristic beyond my own control. But I think for me, it's solidified in that moment. One, this was for my sisters and two, I had a huge amount of responsibility and my job was a very real and and critical component in the war. I had gained so much confidence in clarity and meaning and from that exercise, and that just that carried me through the rest My time in the Marine Corps and up until this point, so

 

Amanda Huffman  23:04

yeah, yeah, that's a really good exercise. I I wish that they kind of made everybody do that before they go off to war, because then it kind of puts it all in perspective. And like you said, it didn't just change like how you got through the war, but like it changed your whole outlook on life. If I do survive the What am I going to do with my life afterwards? right now. So you got home from that deployment? How long were you in Kuwait and Iraq before you came home?

 

Jodie Grenier  23:30

I was in Kuwait from February until we crossed the line of departure in March, and then from March until June, went all the way up to Baghdad, and then back down to D when the end stage there, and then combat operations was announced is over. And it wasn't long after that, that I went back to Camp Pendleton, and then I redeployed to Iraq in February of 2004. And so that deployment, I was there for A year. So a total time military or Marine Corps service in Iraq was about a year and a half.

 

Amanda Huffman  24:06

Okay. And did you notice a difference? Because it was like, was it six, like six, eight months later that you went back and difference in?

 

Jodie Grenier  24:15

Oh, it was palpable. So during the invasion, as we're driving north into into Baghdad, you have little kids and families on the side of the road waving flags, and he receiving supplies from us. We were giving out these humanitarian meals, you know, packaged meals to them. And we're very welcomed, even when, you know, we stopped at some of some of our staging areas in in Iraq at the time, we would go to local markets and be well received and work with someone's local communities. That all drastically changed when I went back now we were dealing with improvised explosive devices, we're dealing with indirect fire attacks. It was a very it shifted from conventional warfare where you are targeting military units to unconventional warfare where the enemy is almost hidden and disguised in in the general public. So it was very different. It was, I would say, it was a it impacted me a lot more than maybe the initial invasion, the initial invasion with this exciting uncertain time. My job changed drastically and in 2004 in 2005, I mean, I was there for operation Alsace or Fallujah. I traveled all over the West lm Barre province in Iraq and did intelligent exchanges with counterintelligence teams. I would equate my job at that time to being a gang analysis detective, if you will. We're trying to figure out who is doing what and working with who and shipping what weapons and it was very, very different. In a very volatile time, and you didn't know who you could trust, and it was, yeah, it was difficult. I would say, to give you an example, you know, we had an operations officer from d3. So in our communications that are you have all representatives from your admin from your operations from Intel, that are all working together around this one big area and screen. And so he had wrote a letter to his wife and mailed it off and went to the US, reporter, john, and then we had an indirect fire attack that killed him while he was in the bathroom. And then when he came, No, he didn't come back. And so I yeah, it was just a very, very different time. You know, I was working with a woman who was a translator, we had a tips line, so people would call us She get information and translate it. And then I would take that information and try to corroborate it from other sources and send out you know, essentially, the intelligence I was doing that was driving operations and it wasn't just dropping Hellfire missiles or using artillery it was it was actually sending infantry teams into raids and doing leave behinds and direct action type of movements. So it was just a, it was a very different time, when I would try to go do Intel exchanges, depending on the base that I went to. Typically there was a woman there. And so there was a couple times that I would land off of a helicopter meet with a counterintelligence team and be asked to the base because I was a woman and I wasn't able for whatever reason I was still you know, discriminated against can't have women on our imagery bases yet. We were all in the same country operating typically the same way. So Yeah, is it different? very different and difficult experience?

 

Amanda Huffman  28:05

Yeah. So much change. And like, it's crazy, because it wasn't that long. It was like you were there for the initial agent and then came back less than a year later. And it was like a totally different or, yeah, the people the way that you were treated by your fellow Marines, and just, that's crazy. How much changed?

 

Jodie Grenier  28:24

I mean, it was that shift from conventional warfare to unconventional.

 

Amanda Huffman  28:30

So you got home in 2005. And you also left the military in 2005. So why did you decide to make that switch and get out?

 

Jodie Grenier  28:39

So my last deployment ended February of 2005. And I was due to go on terminal leave, or get out of the Marine Corps in April of 2005. And so while I was in Iraq, I was toying with different ideas about seeing and and I had, I felt Like I had reached the peak of my career as an intelligence analyst all sorts intelligence analyst during Operation Fallujah. I was the intelligence watch officer, while our watch officer went to support another unit and so here I was an enlisted sergeant at the time in a captain's Ville it actually probably a major billet and I've reached a peak and I knew that nothing else that I could you know, given that this was going to end soon that was probably my my idea was that I wasn't going to be able to do much else than that I couldn't go to infantry unit as as we discussed those being picked off the basis I wasn't able to know support their intelligence operations not to move was where I wanted to be somewhere closer, you know, leading small who action provide like actual ground No, just be perfect. The fight and have more of an impact leadership wise. So I knew that wasn't an option for me. I considered briefly about becoming a drill instructor. And I thought, Okay, well know after living through something like this, I don't, I'm not sure that I want to spend the next three years of my life yelling out women I've seen, it just seemed like I could use, you know, my talent or something. Now, given that I had all this skill, I considered going into counter intelligence. I really wanted to do that, however, that women at some point the door where you could go into a corner and tell that you were not part of the actual human intelligence teams. And that really was not something that I wanted to be a part of. So I kind of just told the Marine Corps like I'm taking my ball and I'm going home like I gave you my best and you do not want to support me as a marine to advance myself. career where I want to go. And while I appreciate everything that I gained in this was a very formative time in my life. I didn't, I didn't feel it necessary to sacrifice my own personal strategic plan for the plans of the Marine Corps. And honestly, I'm so glad that I didn't.

 

Amanda Huffman  31:17

Yeah, that makes sense. You are giving your time and you kind of I like how you said you like reached a peak and like you wanted to go the next step. And those doors weren't open for you. And so you decided to make that transition.

 

Jodie Grenier  31:28

Yeah, equated to know knowing that you can run a Boston qualifier time, but being told, like, Oh, no, you can only run an 1112 minute mile, like don't go any faster, don't do any better. And that, to me was not an environment that encourages you to be your best or just stretch. And I wasn't willing to stunt my growth for the Marine Corps.

 

Amanda Huffman  31:54

Yeah, that makes sense. So let's talk about your transition. What did you do when you left the military.

 

Jodie Grenier  32:01

Well, the first year I definitely grew, but in some painful ways. So when I got out of the Marine Corps, I went back home to Connecticut, which was not ideal. There. There was absolutely zero talk about what do you do when you get out of the military back then there weren't, you know, programs like the transition programs that we have today, which I feel like the markets oversaturated in terms of what you can, can do and where you can go and what kind of resources there are. So I winged it, my parents did not necessarily have the, the the experience to direct me in one way or another. I went home and I registered or enrolled into a community college. I worked as a bartender and a waitress at two different restaurants and I was thrust back into an environment that did not believe I as a woman do anything of value in the military questioned my service. I mean, this is probably not saying much about my reputation before I left the military, but some thought that I had maybe got thrown out of the military had not been, which to me was baffling. But here I was this completely different person. I had grown so much, I had a completely different perception of myself in the world. And I was back in this box in this little town that did not know who I was anymore. And it was actually the place that I was trying to escape from. So it was frustrating. And when I say I drew I learned a lot about myself. I remember the first time it kind of hit me, I was waitressing at a little Italian restaurant, and this woman was, you know, a bit snarky with me about holding the capers from her salmon. And I remember thinking like I was an intelligence analyst and work for General Mattis. How did I get Hear, like I used to give briefs on how to mitigate threats to troops. And now I'm taking an order about holding papers on salmon or the time you know, like pouring Jager bombs. Jaeger was a huge thing back then being like, I used to direct Hellfire missiles like How did I end up here? And I was just so very frustrated. And I felt like I was someone that nobody wanted to believe I was. And so that first year was difficult, so difficult that I took a couple girlfriends from high school on a trip out back out to California to meet with some of my buddies that were still in the Marine Corps. And while I was in California, I was looking, you know, back then the internet was just starting to buzz. I was looking in a newspaper at the classified ads for a waitressing job because I was like, Well, if I can just go back to California and be around my friends that are still in the military, maybe this this would be better than being in this state. Small town that I was trying to escape. In that trip, I reconnected with a friend that was working out the space and naval warfare center. And he said, Well, when you get back home, just send me your resume, and I'll float it around for you. And I did that. And within a month, I had an interview up to space in naval warfare center. And I mean, to this day, I'm so so grateful that I was that frustrated that I was like, I'm just, I just need to go visit California.

 

Amanda Huffman  35:28

Yeah, that's awesome. And it's awesome that he was able to help you get that job and not just be like, oh, send me a resume. And then like, he actually took action and got it moved around so that you could get that open door.

 

Jodie Grenier  35:40

Yeah, absolutely. I think that's to the benefit of military or Marine Corps culture of, you know, we've no marine behind we're all in this together. I think more than anything, we were such good friends he wanted, you know, he wanted someone at work to familiar and so I did get that job, but first job was I was a curriculum developer for way back in the day we'd call it NBC. But now it's cbrn. chemical, biological radio. So it was a software program that predicted hazards and whether you need to quarantine and actually probably be pretty useful today for what we're experiencing.

 

Amanda Huffman  36:21

Right? Yeah. Right now when we're recording, it's during the COVID-19. So we're all isolating ourselves and trying to get through this. So let's talk a little bit about what you're doing today.

 

Jodie Grenier  36:33

Yeah, so I had a pretty lengthy career in the intelligence field. It worked that one curriculum developer job led to me instructing at Camp Pendleton and then doing a couple deployments as a contractor for doody in the State Department, but I got to a certain point where I was just numb with constant information and intelligence being thrown out me. I just kind of grew exhausted with always being in the red or always being observant and feeling like I needed some sort of reprieve. So I got involved with a startup nonprofit organization and ended up developing their funds and leaving that as the vice president, in that I found I really had a passion for veterans and helping them so I started looking to make a transition into the nonprofit sector back in 2016. I found an organization and I interviewed with them and they had been around for almost 100 years. So now it's called foundation for women warriors back then, it was called military women in need, which was a name that I did not find appealing whatsoever. So one of the first questions I asked was, when are you going to change your name? And so when I got that job, I led the organization through a huge rebrand. They started off serving widows and mothers and war nurses back in 1920. You can give them like homes at a much reduced rate. Over the years, they opened up programs where they started giving out stipends. And so in 2006, they opened up programs where they primarily focused on older generations, they started open up programs for women veterans with post 911. So today we provide emergency financial stipends childcare assistance, which is a huge overlooked component of transition not just for women, for all families work hand in hand with partner agencies to do warm handoffs and resource and referrals. And then we also have a connect with community program, which was really born out of out of the need for women veterans to connect with one another, but also their local community. So we serve all of Southern California. It's a wonderful organization, you have a phenomenal team, and I'm so lucky that I get up every day and get to serve women veteran in a way that served.

 

Amanda Huffman  38:54

Yeah, that sounds like such a cool organization and all make sure to have the link in the show notes. So that people Want to learn more? They can check it out. I think it's really cool when you see how like your experience happens and your life happens. And then somehow you get pulled back into like serving, especially serving the veteran community. And it's just it's life breathing, at least it has been for me.

 

Jodie Grenier  39:17

It really is. I think probably one of the most profound things that can happen in someone's life is for you to be able to mitigate or solve the pain that you experienced in someone else's life.

 

Amanda Huffman  39:29

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that's so it's so cool. And I've really enjoyed learning more about the initial invasion of Iraq, because I've talked to a few different people and like they're at different stages, but I've never talked to a marine about then evasion. So it's been really cool to hear your perspective and just to hear your story and all the cool things that you were doing.

 

Jodie Grenier  39:51

That's so awesome. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to share this with you and I'm so happy that you created this wonderful platform. To get women veterans stories out, it's so important and I, I absolutely adore what you're doing for our community. 

 

Amanda Huffman  40:08

Thank you. And I almost forgot my last question because I got so excited. But if you're gonna give advice to a woman who is considering joining the military, what would you tell them?

 

Jodie Grenier  40:18

That's a great question. I mean, there's so many different variables, if she my former self. I would say, you know, get the easy stuff out of the way first, like your physical fitness, don't let anyone question that you know, that if you're strong in your physical fitness that buys you credibility elsewhere, though, you know, make sure that you're you're up to snuff in terms of your physical fitness. Be, you know, take some advice from from great stoics you know, don't take anything emotional and people attacked, attack your label or your role before they actually No you and so I would say physical fitness be a bit of a stoic but also, I think I was in a position way back in the day where there was like this idea there could only be one woman. And that seldom offered the opportunity where you could pick up and support other women and I see that drastically changing so I would offer go in the in the military, do your absolute best and make sure that while you're doing that, that you're mentoring and helping another woman along the way. And if you don't know if you don't have one seek one out. Yeah, so help other women.

 

Amanda Huffman  41:35

Yeah. And as you know if you have listened to the podcast, if you're looking for a woman to talk to about joining the military, you can always reach out to me and I can connect you with someone or if it's Air Force, and it's officer then I can help you but I have I've interviewed all the branches. So I have a woman from every branch that you can talk to and I think I have officer enlisted so there's plenty of women out there with Talk to you if you have questions, so make sure to reach out if you have questions. So thank you so much for being on the podcast. I really enjoy getting to do this interview.

 

Jodie Grenier  42:10

Thank you so much. And again, I love what you're doing. It's so important. You will be marked in history as a innovator and a storyteller. So thank you. Thank you so much.

 

Amanda Huffman  42:28

Thank you for listening to this week's episode of Women of the Military podcast. Do you love all things Women of the Military podcast become a subscriber so you never miss an episode and consider leaving a review. It really helps people find the podcast and helps the podcast to grow. Are you still listening? You can be a part of the mission of telling the stories of military women by joining me on patreon@patreon.com slash women of the military or you can order my book women of the military on Amazon. Every dollar helps to continue The work I am doing. Are you a business owner? Do you want to get your product or service in front of the women of the military podcast audience get in touch with a woman of the military podcast team to learn more all the links on how you can support Women of the Military podcasts are located in the show notes. Thanks again for listening and for your support.