By DAVE PHILIPPS
OCTOBER 17, 2015
DENVER — At a weekly meeting in the country’s oldest Veterans of Foreign Wars post, a Marine began by asking members to close their eyes and inhale.
“Bring your hands to your heart center,” he said. “Notice all the air that is moving around you.”
It was Tuesday at V.F.W. Post 1: yoga night. Wednesday is meditation. Friday is photography class — unless it is open gallery night, when hundreds of civilians peruse veteran artwork while a D.J. spins records. The post hosts a monthly film series. And meetings often have as many backward ball caps as V.F.W. hats.
Do not come expecting a bar. There is none.
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Today Secretary of Defense Ash Carter participated in a Lean In Circle at the Pentagon alongside LeanIn.Org Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg. Lean In Circles are designed as a peer-to-peer mentoring network. This circle included 15 military women of all ranks and services who were able to freely and confidentially speak about the professional challenges they have faced being women in the military. After the hour long circle, Secretary Carter announced that he will be encouraging circles to take place throughout Department of Defense, saying the program is a positive addition to his ongoing efforts to enhance workforce culture and collaboration within the department.
“DoD is a learning organization, and Lean In Circles give our people a way to do what they do best: learn through mentorship, peer to peer and bottom up, by brainstorming with colleagues and by being able to let their guard down,” Secretary Carter said.
Lean In Circles provide all women, including women in the military, an opportunity to learn and grow from each other. Sheryl welcomed the secretary’s support for expanding Lean In Circles within the Defense Department.
“The Department of Defense is the largest employer in the country, and I’m thrilled it is expanding Lean In Circles across all branches and with civilian personnel. My thanks to Secretary Carter and the DoD for taking this important step for equality.”
Lean in Circles are free to join and lead, and can be held online or in physical settings. With the secretary’s support, circles will be allowed within DoD facilities and can be held before, during and after normal work hours.
Free educational materials, chapters, and specific information for military circles can be found online at leanin.org/military.