Hinesville Rotary Club members heard a presentation by Fort Stewart’s senior female officer Tuesday at the La Quinta Inn in Flemington during their first meeting of 2014.
Col. Dianne D. Pannes, commander of Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Dental Activity Command, talked with Rotarians about a new Stewart-Hunter program called Female to Female. She told them the program is designed to provide female soldiers with an opportunity to expand friendships with other female soldiers, develop life skills and bring them out of otherwise isolated positions in an all-male working environment. She said many of Fort Stewart’s female soldiers are assigned to units in which they are the only female soldiers. They rarely get to interact with other females and typically don’t have anyone mentoring them with personal and professional development decisions.
Pannes said the program, also called F2F, will kick off today at Stewart’s Main Post Chapel with a meeting of Fort Stewart’s 2,500 female soldiers, their commanders and key Army leaders. She told business leaders the F2F program needs businesses and groups to mentor female soldiers with life-skills classes such as financial management, parenting and avoiding high-risk behaviors.
“Units have a monthly requirement to meet,” said Pannes, explaining that F2F program is being implemented at Stewart under 3rd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Mike Murray’s direction. “Maj. Gen. Murray has made it a mandatory. It’s his program.”
Pannes, whose Army career began in 1990, said each brigade is responsible for planning the monthly meeting for all female soldiers within that brigade. Although the brigade will determine the content of each meeting, she said the objective for community mentors should be to provide meaningful, educational life skills and resiliency-building experiences.
She added there are no special qualifications for mentors, though she prefers mentors have an off-post venue to meet with female soldiers. Civilian attire also is preferred, she added.
Once the soldiers are linked up with their mentor or mentorship group, she said her part of the program pretty much is done.
“I get them in the room, and it’s done,” she said. “(The soldiers) are talking, networking, making new friends and meeting like-minded people.”
Club Vice President Brigitte Shanken asked Pannes if it would be helpful if the Rotary Club offered a workshop on subjects like home-buying. Michelle Ricketson then asked about inviting female soldiers to participate as team members with Rotary projects, including an upcoming project to mark storm drains in Hinesville. Pannes responded that these types of community-sponsored mentoring events were exactly what she was hoping Stewart’s mentorship program would accomplish.
Club members then were asked if they’d like to support the F2F program in that way. Several members said yes and asked Pannes if she could allow them to take part in the program.
Pannes thanked Rotary Club members for their support, saying what she was really asking for was their time.
“Fort Stewart is a wonderful installation,” she said, adding that she appreciated the way Hinesville incorporates the base, its soldiers and families as part of the overall community. “We’re a very tight community with connections to each other. I really appreciate your willingness to help with this program.”
For more information about the Female to Female program or to volunteer a community group as part of the mentorship program, call Melissa Reams at 435-9959.