Press Release for Wednesday, March 6, 2019
UNF Hosts ‘Rising Ranks: Women Veterans Through the Ages’ Panel Discussion
Media Contact: Amanda Dawson, PR Specialist
Department of Public Relations
The University of North Florida’s Military and
Veterans Resource Center, with the Northeast Florida Women Veterans
Association, will host a “Rising Ranks: Women Veterans Through the Ages” recognition
event 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, March 13, at the Adam W. Herbert University
Center, Building 43, Board of Trustees Ballroom, Room 1058.
This event is part of the Northeast Florida
Women Veterans 2019 Recognition Week, Monday, March 11, through Friday, March
15. The program and panel discussion will feature women veterans with decades
of military service, spanning the 80s, 90s and 2000s to the present day.
The program will provide awareness about women
veterans by featuring a female panel sharing their personal service
experiences, discussing challenges they faced while serving and exploring how
military gender demographics have shifted through time.
Featured panel veterans are retired Coast Guard
Petty Officer 3rd Class Michelle Veal, retired Army Col. Dr. Linda Connelly, retired
Navy Cmdr. Amanda Hawkins, retired Air Force Master Sgt. Marrian James and Marine
Corps Staff Sgt. Amanda McGhee.
Veal first joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1984.
During her service, she participated in over 2,000 search and rescue missions
including the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster and Recovery Mission. While stationed
in Miami, special duty assignments included a multi-agency law enforcement task
force under the direction of the Secret Service for the protection and planned
emergency water extrication route for the visits of Pope John Paul, President
Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy. She participated in Operation Zero
Tolerance, a maritime drug enforcement program whereby she and her crew were
featured on the ABC Evening News with Peter Jennings. Currently, Veal works as
a physical therapist and a realtor; she is also a member of the Navy League
Connelly graduated from the Mobile Infirmary
Hospital School of Nursing in Alabama and completed a philosophy of nursing doctorate
at Barry University in Florida. Her areas of research interest include disaster
preparedness, nursing simulation and care of veterans. Connelly served as a
citizen soldier for 25 years before retiring as a Colonel. During her time in
the reserves, she served as the deputy commander of the 345th Task Force in
Iraq. Her last tour was as a drilling individual mobilization augmentee in the
Office of The Surgeon General of the Army in the Chief of the Army Nurse Corps.
Presently she is an assistant professor of nursing in UNF’s Brooks College of
Health, School of Nursing.
Hawkins earned her designation as a naval flight
officer for her first operational tour in Hawaii in 2000. Most recently, she
served as the Executive Officer and Commanding Officer for Patrol Squadron 16. Hawkins
served in the Weapons and Tactics Unit at Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Two
and later at Patrol Squadron 30 where she helped to establish the Maritime
Patrol and Reconnaissance Weapons School. Hawkins retired from the U.S. Navy as
a Commander in 2018 and started her own business, Ursus USA LLC, as an
environmental and human capital consultant. She is actively involved in the
non-profit organization Women in Defense, serving as the First Coast Chapter
James enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1989
and retired as a Master Sergeant. James holds three Meritorious Service Medals,
three Air Force Commendation Medals, four Air Force Achievement Medals, a National
Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal and the Korean Defense
Service Medal. She is a member of the National Defense Transportation
Association, Charleston Women in International Trade; Lupus Foundation of
America, Florida Chapter; and has officiated basketball for over 26 years.
Since 2005, McGhee has actively served in the U.S.
Marine Corps. She was promoted to her current rank of Gunnery Sergeant.in July
2018. McGhee served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009 and was
deployed to Afghanistan during 2011 and 2012. Her awards include the Navy
Achievement Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. She is majoring in public health
at UNF and is part of Jacksonville University’s NROTC. She is also an active
member in Eta Sigma Gamma, a club dedicated to health education promotion.
This free event will include complimentary
breakfast; registration is required via the website. For event questions,
contact Theresa Hammock, MVRC coordinator, via email.
UNF currently has 181 female active-duty or
veteran students. Some of these students will be featured on yard signs throughout
campus during Women Veterans Recognition Week.
The MVRC’s mission is to provide a broad range
of student services and resources focused on the unique needs of today’s
military veterans, service members and their families to enhance their smooth
transition from the military environment to campus life, leading to academic
success and post-graduation employment opportunities.
UNF, a nationally ranked
university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who
are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their
own futures through a well-rounded education.