Dr. Julia Woodhouse
Veteran | 30 Years in the U.S. Army
SGM (RET) Dr. Julia Woodhouse, PhD, US Army, Paralegal Specialist/Law Office Manager – Current/Sexual Assault Response Coordinator/MADD Program Manager
I served in the military for 30 years and retired in 2005, a reason that I joined the military was that I was looking to attend college and leadership skills and to be able to emulate a true leader. I was a Paralegal 71D and then the MOS changed to 27D and Law Officer Manager. I arose to the rank of Sergeant Major in the Staff Judge Advocate Office.
A lesson I learned is to trust your judgement. I saw a lot of abuse. I saw a lot of favoritism. I saw systemic racism. I saw it in leaders. It made me realize I must trust myself and not others because some are going to veer to the right or the left. My job is to go straight ahead. The military motto is “Lead from the front.” My motto is live from the rear because if I am at the front, I cannot see those behind me. There are bound to be stragglers. You know, in a formation, we always want to make sure everybody is dress right dress and marching forward but there are some that are not going to be able to march at the same beat. So, I want to be at the rear so that I have full visibility of everyone that I am leading because then I can encourage them to push forward. This experience has made me a better person in the military.
Any growth I accomplished in the military was by watching poor leadership. Watching how leadership abused the privilege of leading others. You can always see when someone else is doing something wrong and you learned from those opportunities.
I would like to lead into patriotism. I heard one of the police officers from the capital building state, that he loved this country, but this country will not love him back. I love the experience that the military offered. But there are times in the military that I was not provided the best atmosphere our best resources for me. That is why I go back to what I stated at the beginning of trusting myself. And the greatest family that you find everywhere is your battle buddies, Angela Moore and I were like family.
We were stationed in different places. Our families did many things together that made being away from our families better. I also felt during this time that patriotism in a way failed me because when my daughter passed… when my daughter was born, I was in Panama. They knew that she was born with cerebral palsy and it was a lot of bad things that happened with the doctors. And when I got to my unit, my daughter was still in the hospital. My First Sergeant said to me, “you need to Soldier, and you need to put your kid in a in a home”. I was just an able body to him. I was not someone that was cared for.
So, making those friends along the way is a great thing. But the negative part of patriotism, you know, when you see someone not serving me, not being there for me, not being that leader. That is why I say a lot of times. You still go back to I must trust my own judgment.
But, Hallelujah 30 years in a military and finally transitioning to civilian life. I went to home and it felt nice to not have to worry about formations and all of that. So, I did not have a terrible experience with the transition. While I was on transitional leave Blair college called me and asked me to work for them since I had legal experience, I became their legal department chair. I was asked to help in another department, algebra. I had multiple areas I was working in as the chair, Criminal, paralegal studies, Homeland Security and Algebra. I did this for a while without extra pay and got to a place where I needed to take a step back. I could not wear that many hats and be efficient.
So, I found a found a job at the Air Force Academy in administration, I worked with the Dean of faculty, I was in that position for 19 months. It was challenging and I really like it. I am now in a different role. I worked on Peterson Air Force Base as an administrator while working on my doctorate. I am now a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator/MADD program Manager for Evans Army Community Hospital. I have a different role in working around service members that need my help. It is helping those that are hurting.
What would I say to others transition into civilian life?
Make sure you give it you are all in the military so that there are no regrets. Make sure that you treat people right. Make sure you set better examples than those that led you and then try to leave the military in a better place and then when you transitioned out. Get all that you can, your education. Make sure that you have everything that you had planned to do in the military, whether it is the schooling all the military schooling as well as civilian schooling. Because when you start getting up in rank, we spend so much time taking care of others, we neglect taking care of ourselves. I call that dereliction of duties as well. So, I try to do both, train hard and then when it was time to take vacations we vacation, hard yes, you know, but in a fun way. So that would be my advice to those transitioning do all you can, so you do not have to worry about regret.
What to consider for those wanting to serve their country?
It goes back to when we first went in wanting to go to school, college, or education. I have learned that serving my country meant my presence deterred the enemy, that would be one way of thinking of serving. If you want to get an education understand that there is going to be more. You are going to grow up and want to learn leadership skills. You want to learn how to follow first. Those that you are following, if they are not being good stewards of that responsibility, know that those too are teachable moments where you can learn from. And then help others along the way.
So, if it is something that you really want to do in the military think about it.