SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Jodie Grenier joined the United States Marine Corps right out of high school, serving two tours in Iraq as part of the invasion in 2003 and the following year as an intelligence analyst in Falluja.
"My job was very meaningful and purposeful to me," said Grenier. "I fused information from all different sources; whether it was sniper teams, unmanned aerial vehicles, sensors on the ground, and really built a picture to brief unit commanders and mitigate threats to our troops."
Grenier had tremendous responsibility but says the transition to civilian life was difficult.
"Finding employment. Having odd questions about whether I contributed as maybe the same as my male counterparts. It was a bit frustrating," she said.
In her search for a new direction, Grenier came across a listing posted by Military Women in Need, a Southern California nonprofit founded in 1920 as a housing association for widows and war nurses.
The group was looking for a new leader and with a passion for helping others, Grenier stepped in. She also gave them a new identity.
"The first thing I asked was, when are you going to change that awful name? Because 'Military Women In Need' just did not embody the spirit of the corps or the warrior spirit that I think resides in all of our veterans," said Grenier.
The Foundation for Women Warriors was born with a new respect for the contributions and sacrifices being made by women in the military, while still recognizing the unique challenges they can face.
"We provide emergency financial assistance, childcare assistance, professional development, and more recently we opened up a warehouse to offset critical costs like baby wipes, formula, and diapers," Grenier says.
As for that professional development, Grenier says their workshops don't pigeonhole; featuring a spectrum of employers.
"Whether it's finance, tech, aerospace, it can be trades. We've had Anderson Plumbing come and speak about HVAC and plumbing," she added.
There are classes on negotiating salary and benefits, facing financial challenges like rent and childcare, and flexible work schedules for single parents. The support reaches some 1,300 local women and children a year.
"It's a community that I am a part of," says Grenier. "So, it's very personal and deeply meaningful that I'm able to help other women who were in a position like my own."
For her ongoing commitment and service to veterans, ABC 10News and LEAD San Diego are proud to recognize Jodie Grenier with the 10News Leadership Award for the month of December.