In honor of Veterans Day on Monday, November 11, we asked four Partners HealthCare female colleagues who are Army, Navy, and Coast Guard veterans to share their reflections on their military service, including why they enlisted, what learning experiences they gained, and how they can use those experiences in their roles at Partners. These women also shared advice for individuals who are thinking about joining the military and what can we all do to honor and support veterans.

Debbie Barnes' Reflections
Debbie Barnes is a Finance Coordinator in Partners eCare who has worked at Partners for nearly three years. She joined the U.S. Navy in 1980 and was honorably discharged in 1985. She went to Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, and she received her commission in the Navy Supply Corps.

Debbie’s maternal grandfather and her father both served as officers in the U.S. Army. After college, she was searching for what she wanted to do, and she learned how easy it was to join the Navy. "It was a decision I have never regretted; I love our country and was proud to work with others to serve," said Debbie.

One of the biggest lessons she learned was that it's not always beneficial to speak your mind – even when you are sure you are right. "There's a lot to be said for holding your tongue and choosing your battles," she said. "That was a lesson I was slow to learn, but it has served me well in life since then!" Debbie's favorite parts about being in the Navy were the wonderful people, secure job and excellent training that set her up for future success. Her advice to those considering joining the military is "Do it."

Xiomara Castano's Reflections
Xiomara Castano is a Third-Party Reviewer in Revenue Cycle Operations (RCO) who has been at Partners for almost two years. She was in the Army National Guard from 1999-2005, and she went to Basic Training at Fort Still in Oklahoma. She joined the military because she has a cousin in the Marines who was a strong role model; another major factor was that the Army helped pay for school.

"The discipline and work ethic that the military instills in you is something you get to carry for a lifetime, and it is something that I can incorporate here in my role at Partners," said Xiomara. "Teamwork is essential in the Army and in what we do at Partners. We need one another to get the job done."

Xiomara's really enjoyed being able to travel to places she never dreamed possible before she joined the Army National Guard. Her advice to anyone thinking of joining the military is to be absolutely sure about why you want to join. "The military will test you physically and mentally, but it will make you into a better person," she said.

Clockwise from top left: Debbie Barnes, Xiomara Castano, Jacqueline Garvin, and Deb Littlefield

Jacqueline Garvin's Reflections
Jacqueline Garvin is a Customer Service Representative in Patient Billing Solutions in RCO. She has been with Partners for nearly nine years. Jacqueline joined the Army Reserves in 1984, and she retired in 2005. She was stationed at various locations in Massachusetts throughout her military career, including the 195th Supply in Roslindale, the 187th Infantry in Brockton and the 324th Data Processing Unity at Hanscom Air Force Base/Devens. She also received training in Kuwait and Turkey.

She joined the military because she was young and unemployed. "I saw an ad in the newspaper regarding a bonus for enlisting, and I couldn't pass it up because I was broke," said Jacqueline. "From my military experience, I learned to adapt to change, appreciate and respect people for who they are, give my best in whatever I do, never give up, encourage others, work together as a team and remain cool under pressure. All of these skills have come in very handy in my role at Partners."

During her service, Jacqueline enjoyed traveling to other countries and being exposed to different cultures. Her advice about enlisting in the military is join with an open mind. "If it's what you really want to do, go for it," she said. "It is really rewarding in the long run, and you are pushed to do your best." Regarding what civilians can do to honor veterans, Jacqueline says to try not to turn your back on those who have served and retired or been discharged. She said that she sees so many veterans who have been forgotten.

Deb Littlefield's Reflections
Deb Littlefield is a Senior Facilitator in Organization Development & Training Services at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and she just hit her first full year of employment here this week. Deb attended the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut in 1986, and she graduated as an officer in 1990. She served as the Communications Officer on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter ACTIVE in Port Angeles, Washington for two years. She also served as a training manager at the Coast Guard Quality Institute in Petaluma, California, before leaving the Coast Guard in 1996.

Both of Deb's grandfathers served in WWI, so she joined for the adventure potential. She says that the lessons of initiative, accountability, and lifelong learning still drive her daily. "The opportunity to observe and interact with people 24/7 taught me the importance of valuing relationships and treating people with dignity and respect," she said. "I try to bring these lessons with me to Partners every day."

Deb's favorite parts of being in the Coast Guard were the intense learning experiences and the quality of people with whom she worked. Her least favorite part was the fact that it turns out that she gets seasick, which was an unfortunate discovery. Her advice to civilians about honoring veterans: "If you see someone in uniform getting coffee at the airport or wherever, pick up the tab. If they are traveling in uniform, they are either on orders or have yet to earn the perk to wear civilian clothes. In either case, your action will make them feel appreciated and respected."