Mentoring was the focus of Installation Management Command-Europe Region Director Diane Devens’ speech March 17 at the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern Women’s History Month 2009 Luncheon.
“I think ‘mentor’ is probably one of the most misused terms in the military, and (Ms. Devens) nailed it because it’s not just telling someone what they need to do to advance, it’s physically walking them through the process,” said 1st Sgt. Crispin Bryant, Headquarters, Headquarters Detachment 357th Air and Missile Defense Detachment, who attended the event held at the Kaiserslautern Community Activity Center on Daenner Kaserne.
About 200 military members and civilians from around the KMC attended the event.
“It’s an honor to be a part of this,” said Spc. Nancy Antoine, from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. “It gives you a sense of encouragement as a mother, wife and Soldier. To be a part of something very special as a woman, and having all these military and civilian women come together for this month, I think it’s a great thing.”
Ms. Devens started her federal career as a GS-2 (General Schedule) employee in 1975. She was selected for the Senior Executive Service in 2000.
“I think my own career can serve as an example to those of you who mentor subordinates today and those of you who are subordinates seeking mentorship,” Ms. Devens said.
Ms. Devens said her first role model was her mother.
“My mom is a real hero in every sense of the word: a career Army spouse who hauled me and my seven brothers and sisters around the globe,” she said.
Mothers as role models really hit home for Capt. John Johnson, HHD, 357th AMD commander.
“I liked her speech because she actually gave information about how she mentored up, coming up through the ranks, and how people were on her to make something of herself – same way my mom did for me,” Captain Johnson said.
During her speech, Ms. Devens said when she thinks about her mother, she also thinks about the resiliency and strength of military spouses.
“I think of just how far women have come and how much they continue to impact positively on the Army and beyond,” she said.
As an example, Ms. Devens introduced the audience to Julie Moore, wife of Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, who was a lieutenant colonel in command of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, at the Battle of la Drang Nov. 14 to 16, 1965, in Vietnam.
“Julie, an Army daughter, an Army wife and an Army mother, brought about a revolution in how the Army views families when she confronted the Pentagon about the callous method of notifying Soldiers’ next of kin whose husbands had died in action in the (Battle of) la Drang in Vietnam, which at that time was via telegram at the hands of taxi drivers,” Ms. Devens said. “Through her crusading efforts on behalf of families she was able to force the Pentagon to institute a new policy within two weeks requiring that an officer and a chaplain personally deliver the sad news.”
During her career, Ms. Devens said she was fortunate to have role models, starting with her first boss, Carol Beecher.
“I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be standing here today if it were not for her mentorship,” she said. “She lived and breathed mentorship and taught me what it takes to be a successful mentor.”
Ms. Beecher even convinced her to stick with college and get her degree.
“She wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and for four years, she changed my work schedule to help me get that degree,” Ms. Devens said.
Phil Sakowitz, Defense Commissary Agency director, was another role model for Ms. Devens.
“Incidentally, don’t think for a moment that just because you’re a woman it means you need to have a woman mentor,” Ms. Devens said. “It was a male mentor who worked two of my career moves and who eventually hired me into the Senior Executive Service.”
Music at the event was provided by the Ramstein High School Jazz Limited Band and The Band – a group of local military and civilian community members who play instruments or sing during their off-duty hours. Since 1987, Women’s History Month has been a national observance to highlight contributions of women in U.S. history.