Women’s History Month at PoM: Liz DeLise

By U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey Public AffairsMarch 16, 2023

Liz DeLise is the director of Saturday runs for the "wear blue: run to remember" national, nonprofit organization, and is the organization's local coordinator in Monterey, Calif.
Liz DeLise is the director of Saturday runs for the "wear blue: run to remember" national, nonprofit organization, and is the organization's local coordinator in Monterey, Calif. (Photo Credit: Photo by Winifred Brown) VIEW ORIGINAL

PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (March 16, 2023) – In honor of Women’s History Month, Presidio of Monterey public affairs shares the stories of three women serving the Monterey military community who epitomize resiliency, strength and commitment to our nation. These women bring nearly a century’s worth of collective experience within the military community and positively impact the lives of service members and families each day.

Over the years, they have observed countless changes for women in the military community while serving as active-duty service members, volunteers, spouses, mothers, military children, civilian employees and leaders. Their achievements and contributions significantly benefit our nation through the positive impact these women have in the communities they live in. Here is the story of Liz DeLise, edited for length and clarity.

1) What is your history serving and working around the military community?

I was born into the military community. My dad served in the Army for 24 years, and then I have only had three years of my life where I wasn’t a military dependent. My husband didn’t join until after we were married and later in our relationship. I met my husband when we were in grad school. My husband is enlisted in the Army, and we have five children from 15 to 6 years old and two dogs. I am the director of Saturday runs for the “wear blue: run to remember” organization and the local coordinator for the group.

2) When did you first begin serving or working with the military community and how are you serving today?

I began serving with the military community with the chaplains’ office when I was little. My mom used to work for the chaplain’s office at Fort Drum, New York, when I was younger and so I’ve also always been involved in our Military Council of Catholic Women. We do have an unofficial group here right now that I’m involved in and we’re working on contracting a priest with the diocese. I’ve always been involved in that aspect as well. Then of course whenever there’s a family readiness group, I try to stay involved.

Today, I am the director of Saturday runs for the “wear blue: run to remember” nonprofit organization and the coordinator for the group here locally. We meet to run and remember fallen service members the first Saturday of every month at 8:30 a.m., down at Lower Presidio, right outside the gate so that anyone and everyone can join. However, if there’s ever an MWR event, like there was this month, we will be at the MWR event to help support them. Over the years, my role with wear blue has grown and I now get to also do some work with the White House, such as when they had a conference on health, hunger and nutrition.

3) What do you find most rewarding about serving the military community?

I find watching service members grow over their careers most rewarding about serving the military community. For example, a few new service members had their first wear blue experience here in Monterey and went on to their first duty station in San Antonio, Texas, which also has a wear blue community. I had the opportunity to see them as volunteers in December at the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon; they are now going to be mentors for our Gold Star Youth Mentorship Program in San Antonio as well. I’ve also loved watching service members go from either struggling on their PT run or wanting to improve their PT run time to then being participants in our For the Fighting program and running the Army Ten Miler. It’s also been an honor every time I’ve been invited to a promotion or award ceremony of a service member. Army family is real, we have built relationships and consider some friends to be nieces and nephews or brothers and sisters, etc.

My Bumpa [mother’s father] is 95 years old. He served during World War II and actually was at Fort Ord back then. He rarely spoke about his military service, but he always instilled a sense of volunteerism and the importance of giving back to our community. My mother continued to instill this lesson in me; that giving of your time and talent to your community is just as important; that even if you don’t have the financial means to give to others, volunteerism plays an important role that cannot be monetarily measured. Continuing this lesson to my children is my why; being a volunteer and leader in the community also gives me gifts in return and I’m ever grateful for the community that I’ve been able to be a part of. The military life is a unique one and it’s great to be involved with people who understand what you’re experiencing.

4) Throughout your career working with the military community, what types of changes have you seen for women? What has changed most?

There are more opportunities for involvement at a professional level. It’s not just care packages. I feel like when I was younger and my dad was in Desert Storm, back in the 1990s, I feel like it was baking and care packages and stuff like that, but it’s grown to be so much more, and you see women also developing professional skills alongside their volunteer work. It’s not just providing meals or providing care packages. Now women are executing events that are family days and organizational days and runs and all these different things and having engagement with leadership to help bridge that gap of understanding between what goes on back home versus what they know. You see way more of that and way more collaboration between the two. And there are more opportunities for all women, regardless of their age and their spouse’s rank. Before, when my mom volunteered, it was only the sergeant major’s wife and the commander’s wife, whereas now, I served as the FRG leader of our company back when my husband was a sergeant. So, you can have those roles and opportunities now with more involvement, actual leadership titles of treasurer and funds manager, all these different things.

5) You have a wealth of experience working as a woman in the military community, and you are a leader. What advice can you offer to other aspiring female leaders in the military community?

I feel it’s important to stay involved. That is one thing my mom taught me long ago. But it’s also important to have your boundaries and to know when to ask for help. People want to help. People genuinely want to help. You don’t have to take all the things on by yourself, and sometimes the person that you would least expect is just waiting to be asked. Never be afraid to ask for help and to build your bench, build your team up and have others join you in the cause.

Also, don’t be afraid to tell your story. I feel like more and more stories are finally being shared, are finally coming out how women have served over the years. With wear blue we collaborate with other organizations and one of them is the Military Women’s Memorial. It’s been great to get to know the people who work there and to get to know the stories that they share as well. They do a really beautiful job of not just having the physical structure there in Arlington, Virginia, but of sharing all of those stories of women and their service. It shows the things that women did that they weren’t necessarily supposed to do. It’s really cool to see the advances that women have made over the years and how much they’ve been involved without people realizing it. I feel like as women sometimes we hold back our stories, so just don’t be afraid to share your stories. It’s truly part of history.