When former Army Captain Daniella Young was recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center after being evacuated from Afghanistan, she had an “a-ha” moment.
She was at one of those classes where you learn how to paint, which was intended to help the patients be social during their recovery process. But for Young, someone who likes to analyze and pick apart the challenges in front of her, this creative process was about something bigger.
“My first thought was, ‘Oh I can do this,” she remembered thinking. “Really all it is, is being able to look at something and deconstruct it, figure out what resources you need and how you get to the end of that.”
With that moment serving as her catalyst, Young founded her company TaskForce Art, an organization that uses seminars and networking events to coach other women, military spouses and veterans through conflict and change.
And just like what she was taught in the hospital, Young is utilizing artistic exercises to help others overcome their personal vulnerabilities so they can understand that anything is possible.
“It’s more about taking people outside their comfort zone, and people realizing that they can do big massive projects that they never would have thought.”
Young joined the military after graduating college and went on to serve in two different tours in Afghanistan where she was the captain leading the intelligence unit for helicopter pilots. So she may know a thing or two about giving others direction, even if it may seem as simple as using a paint brush.
“I really like the element of coaching people through an art session as a means of showing them that, ‘Here’s something you didn’t think you could do,’” she said. “If you try new things you might discover something that you’re good at that you didn’t know.”
Now Young has partnered with Bunker Labs, the national veteran military non-profit that helps veteran start-ups, to launch a networking series, “Find Your E.G.O – Entrepreneurship, Growth & Opportunity”, that will bring together female veterans and military spouses for a night of conversation and community building.
The first night of the series, to be held December 16 at the Riveter, will focus on the themes of “tribe building and connections,” said Young.
This issue of community hits close to home for Young, who knows firsthand the challenges of re-building one’s life in new and foreign places, something many spouses and veterans encounter when they’re being moved around the world.
“It tends to be even more challenging to network or build your tribe because you’re moving or your husband’s in Afghanistan and you have a toddler,” said Young, whose own husband is currently serving a 30-day international mission.
“Going into a world or place where I’m super unfamiliar and then being very successful, that’s one of the things that I want to try and give back to veteran women,” she said.
Guest speaker Marjorie Eastman, a former female captain, will co-host the upcoming evening with Bridge Guerrero, the first woman to be on a special missions team. There will also be several spouses on hand to speak about the merits of having their own careers.
So often, said Young, spouses are accustomed to hearing that “the husband is more important than you or the mission is more important than you, the children are more important that you.” But, she added, “you can have an amazing career if that’s what you want.”
Women comprise 10 percent of the military yet most outreach organizations don’t typically reach the needs of these women or spouses. Young wants to change that.
“Nobody can be happy just staying at home all the time, especially when your spouse is in and out the door constantly and you’re dealing with all of that stress,” she said.
By gearing the night to be all for women, by women, Young hopes that these veterans and spouses, who often feel isolated and forgotten, will be given the opportunity to come together, take their mind of things and open up to strangers.
30 day countdown! This is gonna be an awesome event. Calling all women in the military community Greater Seattle… https://t.co/t7IUK3QGxf
— Daniella Young (@CDaniellaYoung) November 16, 2017
Especially when it’s hard for most people, even close family, to understand the struggles of saying goodbye to a husband or spouse who is leaving for a six-month tour overseas.
“The only thing that helps is somebody saying I understand,” she said. “It’s so easy to form really strong connections with people that have shared similar experiences.”
Eventually Young hopes to expand “Find Your E.G.O” into a nation wide series with corporate sponsors, but for now she’s focused on building the space for women in Washington to come together and find one another.
“I think it’s really finding my voice in reaching out to these women, connecting with each other, connecting with all the resources that are out there for us and having a space where everyone can transition successfully and find out who they are.”