News & Events

Operation Reinvent Stages Workshop at Fort Campbell

The latest Operation Reinvent workshop took place at Fort Campbell on September 29th and 30th. Over 40 women participated and the sessions, designed to prepare the women for their transition to civilian life, were a huge success.

FORT CAMPBELL PROGRAM

Fort Campbell Program














The event received national, local and military media coverage:

From NPR:

Even With More Gender-Neutral Army, Outgoing Ft. Campbell Soldiers Get Crash-Course On Womanhood by Blake Farmer

The Army has more women in its ranks than ever, and they’re being considered for jobs that were previously reserved for men. But even as the military becomes more gender-neutral, the Pentagon has noticed women stepping out of uniform have a tougher time parlaying military experience into a civilian job.

No one has a firm explanation. But there are a few theories. And at a couple of installations, including Fort Campbell, outgoing soldiers are now offered a crash-course in womanhood.

“Hoops, studs? Pants, skirt? Hair up, hair down? There are just so many more options for females,” says Harold Riggins, who leads the Fort Campbell office that helps soldiers find civilian jobs.

“I mean, we have one standard uniform, everybody kinda dresses alike. So as these young ladies are exiting the military, we want to give them every bit of knowledge that they need to succeed in the civilian workforce,” he says.

Of the 40 female soldiers who signed up for this two-day class, some show up at a retreat center on the sprawling installation in their fatigues and combat boots, with their hair in the regulation bun. Others experiment with some business attire.

By the end of this bootcamp, put on by a new non-profit called Operation Reinvent, everyone is looking the part. The event includes a full makeover.

Founder Julie Lewit Nirenberg, whose career is in magazine publishing, argues women soldiers suppress part of themselves.

“It’s very important for our ladies to reconnect with their feminine side,” she says. “So yes, the makeup might sound like [fluff]. It’s not.”

Attendees also get to pick out a designer outfit to jumpstart their civilian wardrobes.

When Denise Brant retires next year, she’ll have 20 years in the Army.

“It’s kinda awkward because I’ve been looking in my closet. I’ve got church clothes. But I don’t have any dress clothes. I’ve got uniforms,” Brant says as she inspects blouses. “So I’m in the middle of a mess right here.”

These women hold military jobs ranging from human resources management to HVAC repair. There are truck drivers and physicians. Some want to do a total 180. Many see a natural crossover.

Kirsten McKenney is an intelligence analyst who says the first time she went home, she noticed she had become different from her high school friends.

“I don’t know, they’re like a lot more girly and stuff than I am,” she says.

McKenney says the friends she grew up with also seem “more complacent” than her sisters-in-arms. That’s a point teachers drive home — don’t forget everything you learned in the Army.

“I think a lot of women in the military have a lot stronger personalities,” she says. “A lot of the women I work with are more goal-oriented, go-getters.”

McKenney’s goal is to become fluent in Arabic and move to the Middle East. She says she wants to work with non-profits that empower women — it’s unclear if makeup will be involved.

Dani Ticktin-Koplik, a professional image consultant, teaches a group of about 40 female soldiers during a transition assistance class at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Dani Ticktin-Koplik, a professional image consultant, teaches a group of about 40 female soldiers during a transition assistance class at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Julie Lewit-Nirenberg and Nancy Northrop observe hairstyling / makeover in action

Julie Lewit-Nirenberg and Nancy Northrop observe hairstyling / makeover in action

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