DVNF Veteran Employee Spotlight – Tammi Jean Franklin

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A Female Veteran with a Unique Experience

As part of DVNF’s commitment to serving the men and women who stood in our defense, we understand the importance of having team members who have been in their shoes. The following story gives some background on one of the veterans working at DVNF.

Tammi Jean Franklin, DVNF’s Donor Services Specialist, is a Navy veteran who came to DVNF in 2016. She is a Vietnam Era Sailor, and the story of her military experience as a woman in the 1970’s is best understood through the culture of the time. It’s quite remarkable how far we’ve come since that time.

Tammi Jean served in the Navy from 1973-1977. She enlisted at age 18. In contrast to today’s standards, “girls and boys” were not considered adults until the age of 21 so Tammi Jean’s parents had to sign for her to enlist.

Paving the way

Women weren’t allowed to enter the Navy in all professions until the passage of the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment.

“As an Air Traffic Controller, I was one of those women who entered the Navy in a ‘nontraditional’ job and paved the way for women to come.”

Tammi Jean passed Air Traffic Control “A” & “C” school with flying colors and excelled through the rates from Airman Recruit (E-1) to AC2 (Air Traffic Controller Second Class Petty Officer (E-5) during her 4-year tour of duty.

“I was proud to be in the Navy. Throughout my enlistment in the Navy I wore the same uniform worn by the W.A.V.E.S. during WWII. I was proud to wear that uniform. I loved its history. I’m an unapologetic “God & Country” girl. My interest in the military began while I was in Girl Scouts. Even in scouting I revered my uniform and what it meant to represent the Girl Scouts of Colorado.”

Her first duty station was NAS (Naval Air Station) Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida, beginning in the radar room. She shipped out to OLF Whitehouse Tower where Naval pilots trained to fly at sea at night. At the age of 19 she became a Tower Supervisor and certified controllers for that Tower.

Tammi Jean Franklin at bootcamp and present day as a DVNF employee

Memorable experiences

Two events stand out for former AC2 Franklin:

  1. The visit of President Gerald Ford to NAS Jacksonville, FL, Sunday, 2 November 1975.

“I felt so proud that day to be a member of the U.S. Navy and to witness and salute the arrival of our 38th President of the United States and our Commander in Chief as he addressed thousands of sailors.”

  1. In 1975 Iran was an Allied country. On May 4th King Hussein of Jordan and Shah Paheui of Iran came to NAS Cecil Field, on an aircraft shopping trip.

“I witnessed the impressive display of jet aircraft power.”

Until the late 1970s, Navy women were not allowed on ships. She spent her “Sea Duty” or “Isolated Duty” on what they affectionately called “the Rock.” Tammi Jean’s deployment to NASKEF (Keflavik, Iceland), as part of the Iceland Defense Force, which operated as a NATO base, began June 1977. She got to enjoy all the marvels this Arctic island had to offer, including the Aurora Borealis.

Why she joined the military

Tammi had many reasons for joining the Navy. For love of God and Country, her love for aviation stemming from her father who was a pilot, and her desire to attend college with the GI Bill.

Primarily, she didn’t want to follow the path that was afforded to most women: nurse, teacher and secretary. “I was 18 & wanted to get away from home to do something exciting with my life,” Tammi Jean said.

Valuable life skills learned in the military

First and foremost, Franklin said that the military established in her a whole new sense of pride for her country. As a symbol of her reverence for the flag of the United States and the Navy, she flies both every day at her home.

Some other things she learned in the Navy were to be on time or early, be vigilant and trust the team.

Challenges faced after service

In 1977, there was no processing out of the military. “We left as ‘onesies’ with little to no explanation of our benefits.” In addition, and like so many others leaving the military after Vietnam, there was no welcome home for her.

As with many newly-minted veterans reentering the civilian world, there is a profound loss of belonging to something bigger than self.

“One day I was in the Navy, the next day I wasn’t, and I was flying home alone.”

Advice to veterans in transition

“Know that you are not alone,” Tammi Jean explained. “We’ve come a long way since Vietnam, with the resources and services available to help you reintegrate. It’s up to you to use them. Take advantage of them.”

Her other pieces of advice are just as important.

  • If you’re struggling, seek help. Asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness. Don’t go it alone. Take advantage of the benefits that are available to veterans including home loans, education, medical care, etc.
  • Reformat your language from ‘militaryspeak’ to ‘civilianspeak’, particularly when interviewing for employment. Most employers won’t know that an 11B is infantry or that 15Q is an Air Traffic Controller. Interviewers may stop listening, which is not a good thing when looking for a job.
  • Find a way to give back to your veteran community. Whether it be in the form of work that you do, financial support or volunteer work. It makes you feel good that you are part of the solution.

We’re honored to have Tammi Jean on our team, and sincerely thank her for her service to our country, and all that she is giving back to support her fellow veterans

Remembering Heroes of D-Day

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The overcast sky was an appropriate omen to the reality of that summer day. The humming of planes resonated loudly. Even if the men could hear one another talking, no one spoke a word. There was a certain understanding of what they would soon face, and their likely last moments would be spent in self-reflection. Though internally overwrought with fear, acceptance of their likely fates and recognition of this just cause gave them some sense of serenity.

The droning engines were soon peppered with loud, intermittent booms. A passive thunder on such an overcast day seemed unsurprising. Through the gray fog, a faint glimpse of the rocky inlays of the shore could be seen, the beach shielded from vision by the tall bulkhead of the amphibious boats they occupied.

The booms grew louder and louder. The closer to the shore they came, the harder their hearts pounded. The firing of guns and explosions of bombs paled in comparison to that metronomic thumping in their chests.  The distinct smell of gunpowder filled the air, further fueling their inner angst with adrenaline. Water continued to splash inside what felt like a metal coffin. They couldn’t see the channel’s open water next to them, but felt every percussive shock from the shells exploding around them.

And for a brief, fleeting moment, a final calm came over them. Looking up into the gray sky, thousands upon thousands of white parachutes danced in the wind, inching closer to the water and what awaited them on the beach.

The boat came to a sudden halt. The metal doors swung open and in that moment, they stared their own mortality in the face, and defied every basic instinct of self-preservation for the sake of preserving good in the world. Bullets humming by their ears, brothers in arms dropping into the bloodstained water, shells exploding all around, the rocky hills in front of them seemed miles away.

And today, we are grateful.

June 6, 1944 was a defining day in the history of the United States and the entire world. In the face of danger, uncertainty, fear and doubt, nearly 160,000 Allied servicemen stormed the beaches of Normandy to face the German Army head on. They stood in defense of our nation and made sure that good would prevail.

On the 73rd Anniversary of D-Day, please recognize what bravery really looks like. It is seen on the aging faces of the Greatest Generation. They are the ones who, against all odds, refused to let evil win, and were willing to give their lives for that cause.

To our World War II veterans, your sacrifices will not be forgotten, and the debt of gratitude owed to you by every American might be impossible to repay.

To our Greatest Generation, we say thank you.