SHILOH, Ill. – Not all recruits are 18-to-24-year old males. Some are stay-at home moms or have prior service experience, like Capt. Jennifer Meier, S3 operations officer for the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command’s 842nd Transportation Battalion. She brings with her diverse life experiences that contribute to her success, and it’s that diversity in the Army’s ranks that make the Army stronger.
Meier is key to her unit’s operations and, most recently, operations supporting exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 at the Port of Beaumont and the Port of Port Arthur, Texas.
“Capt. Meier is absolutely critical,” said Lt. Col. Gordon Vincent, 842nd Transportation Battalion commander. “She's our battalion operations officer, but in this case, she's also been the mission leader for DEFENDER-Europe 20, and she's also been center to the movements we've had down in Port Arthur.”
Meier, graduated from high school in 1994 in Bismarck, North Dakota and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“I served four years in the Marine Corps,” said Meier. At the end of my enlistment, I ended up getting married and had a baby, and so, I was a stay-at-home mom for a number of years. As our son got older, I slowly ventured back into the workforce until I became the director of a nonprofit organization that works with special-needs, young adults.”
With her military experience and her social work in the civilian sector, Meier thought she might be able to combine the two. She applied and was accepted into the U.S. Army’s Officer Candidate School program.
“I have a background in social work. I was hoping to transfer that over to the military to assist Soldiers who may be struggling returning from deployment and help get them integrated back into their family lives,” said Meier. “However, I didn’t have my degree yet for counseling. So, I had to go with the needs of the Army, and I ended up in the field of logistics -- and I love it.”
She may not be doing social work, but her experiences have helped her excel at her job, especially the aspect of communication.
“I talk to people all day,” said Meier. “It’s about building those relationships with those key partners.”
Meier has been at the 842nd for about 10 months. She is their lead planner, responsible for cultivating partnerships and relationships between SDDC, military units, commercial partners and other government organizations.
“She really performs a decentralized focus for our planning and execution efforts,” said Vincent. “She integrates across our staff, and then she also serves as an external conduit to the units that are coming down to us at all of our ports.”
“I'm also responsible for developing the plans and the concepts of operation for the missions,” said Meier. “I work with our terminals and our Transportation Management Team to develop those plans, and then, we also communicate those with the port, of course, and the external partners, as well, to ensure that the plan is sound.”
Meier went on to say that she doesn’t do it alone, and that it takes her unit’s entire team of Surface Warrior professionals to get the mission done.
Meier is looking to the future to better the logistics field, herself and others by continuing her education.
“I would like to complete a degree in logistics management with an emphasis on humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and then after I retire, potentially work at the Red Cross or FEMA to provide disaster relief assistance when catastrophic events happen.”
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