JACKIE KIRKWOOD'S BIO: My name is Jaclyn Kirkwood. I grew up in Southern Illinois on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri. I decided to join the United States Marine Corps at age 17. I made this decision for a few reasons; my mom offered to pay for college but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to go to school for and I also wanted to be on my own. Joining the military provided the opportunity for stable pay, travel & adventure and the challenge I was looking for. I joined the delayed Entry Program in 1996 and I went to boot camp in 1997. My Military Occupational Specialty was Motor-Transportation. While serving I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan; Quantico, Virginia; Miramar, California; Kuwait & Iraq during the invasion of Iraq in 2003; St. Louis, Missouri; Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; and Sacramento, California. I retired in June of 2015 as a Gunnery Sergeant. While serving I earned a Bachelor in Arts in Business and a Master of Art in Management and Leadership.

After retiring I worked at a local Lobbying firm for 6 months, but I knew I needed to serve more. I started working at The Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento in August of 2015. I have found that I absolutely love being able to help the community serve At-Risk Youth. In January of 2018, I started working for a veteran owned and ran business in Sacramento called the Goodwin-Cole Company. I have been blessed with being able to participate in Rotary, FBI Citizens Academy, Women Veterans Alliance and Metro Chamber’s Leadership Sacramento. I recently started Women Veterans Giving and I am serving as the President.

In 2016, I also was fortunate enough to be selected for the Heroes to Heroes Journey to Israel. The organization gives American disabled veterans the experience of a lifetime and is designed to educate, motivate, stimulate discussion and bonding with peers and be a springboard for emotional and spiritual healing both during and after the experience. We spent 10 days in Israel on a life changing trip. I connected with American and Israeli female soldiers and reconfirmed my life to Jesus in the Jordan River. In 2017, I returned on the journey as a Mentor to 10 females.

My transition out of the military hasn’t been easy but I wouldn't take a day back of the time I served. It has made me who I am today and for that I am thankful.

If you are a woman veteran dealing with post traumatic stress or military trauma, contact Women's Veteran Alliance for helpful resources.

Military Appreciation is sponsored by Bonney Plumbing, Electric, Heating & Air.