Team Bragg Equal Opportunity presented a Women’s History Month celebration at the Iron Mike Conference Center, March 29.
“’Cause I’m a woman. Phenomenally, phenomenal woman, that’s me,” recited Ashley Connors as she performed Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” to begin the event. She was recognized by Brig. Gen. James Smith, commander, 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, for her performance.
Montgomery County, Tennessee Commissioner, Tangi C. Smith, was the main speaker of the event. A retired Soldier, Smith spoke about her career and how she handled transitioning out of the Army.
“Don’t wait until the last minute to transition out of the Army,” she said. “Get the best of both worlds because sometimes when the civilian world got a bit overwhelming for me, I went back to what I knew with the Army, and got some continuity. That’s what that transition year is for.”
She began as an intern for a talk show in Nashville, Tennessee during the last year of her service. She left the show soon after she retired. As an intern, Smith had worked for free, and the talk show wasn’t prepared to begin paying her, a situation Soldiers and veterans often find themselves in.
Seeing a need for change, Smith decided to do something about it. She founded Women Elevated, a service to help veteran men and women who are in the situation of becoming jobless or homeless.
She opened up a rental property in Clarksville, Tennessee as a place for people facing this dilemma to stay until they get back on their feet. Veterans can come to Women Elevated no matter their needs, even if it’s for a little bit of help between paychecks.
During this time, Smith met the mayor of Clarksville. They soon became friends and the mayor encouraged her to run for Montgomery County Commissioner, but Smith was hesitant at first.
“I was never looking for fame or money, I just wanted to help people,” she said.
After some soul searching, she decided to begin to campaign for commissioner.
“The day of the preliminaries, we got a present from the Army, orders for my husband to Hawaii,” she said. “I had thought the Army dictating my life was over. My husband was supposed to go to Korea.”
She left Tennessee in the middle of her campaign to see her husband in Hawaii, but after discussions with him, she decided to go back to Tennessee and finish out the campaign.
Smith went to the polls and voted for herself, but turned down going to the watch party, thinking that she wasn’t going to win. Later that evening, she got a phone call.
“The newspaper called me and said, ‘How does it feel to win? You have over 70 percent of the vote, you unseated a 17 year incumbent,’” she said.
She has been serving as the Montgomery County Commissioner for the past year.
She closed out her speech by telling the Soldiers to go for their dreams.
“You can put your dreams on a back burner, but don’t leave them there. Come back to it when you have time. Go for what you want to do,” she said. “You are stronger than you imagine.”