Kathleen “Kat” Everett knows that she did not follow the traditional path to the Army National Guard.
“I graduated college - the University of Montana, Missoula - and had kids, and then I joined the Army Guard,” she said. “I had met some friends who had joined the Guard.”
She remembers that perhaps because she was older than the typical recruit, she had a very different perspective.
“I was a little older than the average person serving, so maybe I watched more than the typical person, who is overwhelmed or dealing with some other things,” she said, chuckling. “My cousins serve in the Navy and the Army Guard. I had great-uncles in Korea and WWII. It was – and continues to be – a proud family heritage.”
But family has multiple meanings for her, due to the close ties that you build while serving.
“For me, being part of the military has been an honor and a blessing, has made all the difference in my life,” she said. “It was a huge turning point in my life, and I am so grateful for everyone who helped along the way. When you say ‘family,’ to me that includes the strong friendships, and the ties that go back the whole way.”
Everett is very proud of the Guard and its focus on helping people. “We help with natural disasters, like hurricanes. The Guard is State affiliated, and populated by citizens, who are also doctors, postal workers, nurses, and others like that.”
Everett has worked for Empower AI since 2004, and she loves her work. “I enjoy my work, which is software development for the Air Reserve Order Writing System (AROWS) program,” she said. “We provide Project Management for the GOTS program, or Air National Guard (ANG) personnel at the ANG Readiness Center (ANGRC) as well as customer support for ANG personnel.”
She chuckles, adding, “One reason why I felt so comfortable as an Empower AI Employee embedded with the Military customer: the acronyms. Having served, you already know so many acronyms. Heck, you can speak full sentences with just acronyms and when I started at Empower AI, the people on my program were talking the insider lingo, but I knew the rank and could understand the jargon, and the acronyms, and the expectations of the military culture. It was such a great fit.”
She credits the military with teaching her many lessons that she continues to use at Empower AI. “The Army Guard taught me attention to detail,” she said. “That helps me in my job every day. And self-confidence, amazing self-confidence. One thing that many of us understand after our service is facing challenges and the attitude: I can handle it. I will be all right. One step at a time.”
She laughs and mentions raising her children: “I would not have guessed it, but it has helped me to discipline my children,” she said, laughing. “Drill sergeants are amazing to watch, they control 60 young adults, they teach them, they get them where they need to be. They have a really high success rate. I would reach back for those lessons, from the sergeant. How to keep everyone focused, and safe.”
“And those lessons helped me to raise my kids, and that led to my proudest military moment,” she said: her oldest daughter graduated from basic training at Fort Jackson. “I graduated from Jackson, and my serving and all of the things I learned and how it helped me, she saw that, and she made the same commitment I had. I was so proud that she could continue the service that I did, to help others.”
When talking about celebrating Veterans Day and Military Family Appreciation Month, Everett said, “Showing appreciation to those who have served in the military is important because I have never met a military person (or their family) who acted as if they were owed appreciation. The military is about serving and protecting. A little appreciation is such a small thing, but it can make a really big difference to those who make sacrifices to ensure the safety and well-being of this country.”