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DHA Celebrates the Women Building a Resilient Nation

Image of Images of four women. The Defense Health Agency celebrated Women's History Month by hosting a panel discussion called, “Women building a resilient nation.” Throughout history women have overcome great adversity and significant obstacles to become leaders and pioneers, using their talents and ideas to strengthen our nation. Photo: DOD

"When we honor and reflect on the achievements of great female leaders who preceded us, it's important to remember that essentially nothing came easy for the women who were the first to lead in their respective fields."

With these words, Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ron Place, director of the Defense Health Agency (DHA) opened the agency's panel discussion honoring Women's History Month. The theme of the panel was "women building a resilient nation."

The panel, featured Holly Joers, Air Force Brig. Gen. Anita Fligge, Army Col. Jenifer Meno, and Air Force Maj. Lindamira Nkwenti.

They each shared their perspectives on what it means to build resilient women.

Bounce and Bounce Back

When defining resilience, the panelists said it is the ability to grow through difficult circumstances and to use that growth to influence others.

Fligge, director, operations, strategy, education, and training and DHA's chief nursing officer, remarked, "Given the circumstances that [Helen Keller] was given, she showed nothing is insurmountable if you have the drive, the passion to overcome obstacles in life."

Meno, the DHA's deputy assistant director, strategy, plans, and analytics, added, "What I've learned not just from Keller and also Ruth Bader Ginsburg is it doesn't matter how big you are, or if you're a superstar or whatever. How do you influence by your words, actions, and your passion?"

Joers, program executive officer for the program executive office, defense healthcare management systems, added, "While [perseverance] is a characteristic of resilience I like to frame it as the physical and mental fortitude to withstand the everyday pressures."

Nkwenti, integration officer for the DHA's director's action group, replied, "Think of resilience in terms of understanding what your capacity is; how much you can take; also what your limits are, how much you can push. When we talk about resilience we talk about bouncing back."

It's Okay to Ask for Help

All the panelists saw asking for help as essential to becoming more resilient. Nkwenti asserted, "I strongly believe we are only as strong as our capacity to be vulnerable. We have to create new spaces not just for ourselves but as an organization where people feel comfortable to say, "'I need help.'"

"It takes a strong person to ask for help," she said. "That to me is part of being resilient."

Joers added, "No one carries the load by themselves, even these great historical figures. They had someone to help them get through things."

Echoing this sentiment, Meno remarked, "It's okay to go ask for help because we can and we should."

Focus on Your Goals and Dreams

The panelists agreed that a driving force for building resilience is the ability to focus on goals and dreams.

Meno stated, "I also say resilience is, 'hey, how do you reach for the stars?'" Citing Florence Nightingale's passion for caring for our nation's service members, she added, "she focused on that. It wasn't about anything else."

"We have to maintain those goals and aspirations and not let anyone deter us," she said. "It's about not letting anyone get in the way of those dreams you have."

Resilience: An Important Part of Service

As Place put it, resilience is about "how we persevere, how we bounce back, how we console each other, how we express ourselves. It's an important part of serving our country, a character trait that we should be building together."

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Last Updated: July 11, 2023
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