My name is Jaclyn Kirkwood. I grew up in Southern Illinois on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri. When I graduated from high school in 1997, I was seventeen. My mother offered to pay for college, but instead, I decided to join the United States Marine Corps. At the time I wasn’t sure why I wanted to go to school and I felt it was time for me to be on my own. Joining the military provided the opportunity for stable pay, travel and adventure, and the challenge I was looking for. I went to boot camp in 1997. My Military Occupational Specialty was Motor-Transportation. While serving I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan; Quantico, Virginia; Miramar, California; Kuwait and Iraq during the invasion of Iraq in 2003; St. Louis, Missouri; Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; and Sacramento, California. I retired in June of 2015. While serving, I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business and a Master of Art in Management and Leadership.
After retiring I worked at a local lobbying firm for six months but I felt the need to serve the community more. In August 2015, I began working at The Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento. I absolutely loved being able to help the community serve At-Risk Youth. I’ve been blessed with being able to participate in Rotary, FBI Citizens Academy, 2017 Leadership Sacramento Class (Metro Chamber), and the Women Veterans Alliance. My current focus is serving as President of Women Veterans Giving, non-profit supporting women veteran entrepreneurs. I am currently the Vice President of Operations at Goodwin-Cole Company in Sacramento.
In 2016, I was fortunate to be selected for the Heroes to Heroes Journey to Israel. The organization gives American disabled Veterans the experience of a lifetime and is designed to educate, motivate, stimulate discussion and bonding with peers and be a springboard for emotional and spiritual healing both during and after the experience. We spent ten days in Israel on a life-changing trip. I connected with American and Israeli female soldiers and reconfirmed my life to Jesus in the Jordan River.
My transition out of the military hasn’t been easy but I wouldn’t take a day back of the time I served. It has made me who I am today and for that I am thankful.
When we first met Jaclyn Kirkwood, her petite size belied her inner strength and resolute spirit. Jaclyn’s voice was full of pride as she shared her background and the attributes gained from her military experience. “The skills and training I received in the Marines noticeably impact my life every day. Involvement with several Sacramento leadership groups is a direct link to my background as is my passion for making a difference by serving others.”
Jaclyn chose the conference room at the Children’s Receiving Home where she worked as the Executive Administrative Manager. Highlighted on the wall behind her is a shadow box displaying the U.S. flag she received upon retiring from the U.S. Marines as a Gunnery Sergeant in 2015. A cherished photograph of Jaclyn receiving confirmation of her faith in the Jordan River, part of the Heroes to Heroes Journey to Israel, is seen on the conference table in front of her laptop; to the left, informational brochures about the Children’s Receiving Home are a reminder of Jaclyn’s future path and strong dedication to helping others.
Photo by James R. Morrison Photography