Laurie McGraw is speaking with Inspiring Women Lita Tomas and Jean Marie McNamara, a mother/daughter duo who have just published their memoir: Lita & Jean: Memoirs of Two Generations of Military Women.
Hear Lita and Jean talk about:
- Lita: Breaking new ground: a divorced woman in the 1970s was not allowed to join the military nut Lita found a way to provide stability for her young daughters. Many firsts including becoming a mechanic and being in one of the first gender integrated units.
- Jean: Service was always a calling: joining the Army National Guard as a medic felt important and the learning about various health conditions was a dream. A devastating injury ended her military career early though.
- The road to recovery is long and requires advocacy: Jean has been in a long recovery and is still in it. But the care she needed was not readily available. Lita became Jean’s strongest and most vocal advocate. Today on their podcast, PodcastDX, Lita and Jean talk about how to advocate for yourself/a loved one when receiving treatment.
- Why the Lita and Jean Memoir? finding so many similarities between their service stories first led Lita and Jean down the path to a memoir. But the memories of how hard it was to get the care for Jean and other incidents were very painful and raw for both. They share this to heal but also to advocate loudly for change.
- Harassment: Lita and Jean close out this conversation with strong advice on harassment. Seeing it, you need to speak up. Experiencing it, you need to speak up (and keep records). Harassment of any kind is unacceptable.
Recommending military service: Both Lita and Jean are strong advocates for military service while at the same time being very open regarding its flaws. They strongly believe that service to others is a lifelong journey. Whether that means the military or just finding ways to help others does not matter. But service does.
Lita Tomas is the co-author of Lita & Jean: Memoirs of Two Generations of Military Women. An Army tank mechanic turned global logistics manager, Major Lita Tomas enlisted as an E-1 with the U.S. Army in 1977, the first-year women were integrated into regular units. With a master’s degree in recreational therapy, five years in the Air Force, and a lifetime of fighting injustice, taking on everyone from the Catholic church to Congress, she’s whom you want on your team. When not feeding the ducks, chickens, dogs, and cats on her youngest daughter’s farm or cheering on her grandchildren, you can find her working on her informational patient advocacy podcast: PodcastDX. Lita currently resides in Downers Grove, Illinois, with young-onset Alzheimer’s disease, her two rescue dogs, and her one remaining undonated kidney.
Jean Marie McNamara:
Jean Marie McNamara is the co-author of Lita & Jean: Memoirs of Two Generations of Military Women. Like her mother, she has a passion to help others and enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard as an E-1. She has worked as a medic, NBCR Officer, and as the Deputy Director of her local ESDA. After an injury, Jean retired as a 1LT and explored the challenges of recovery and endurance, working to claim new pathways of service and meaning. As a co-host for the Award-winning PodcastDX, she loves to research diagnoses to feature. Her wry sense of humor has been bolstered by bureaucracy.
Their book: Lita & Jean: Memoirs of Two Generations of Military Women from Masterwings Publishing can be found HERE.