Age: 33 | Washington, D.C.
U.S. Air Force, Operation Enduring Freedom, 2004-2006
Presidential Management Fellow, Office of the Secretary of Defense
Karen Courington has logged over 1,900 flying hours as a U.S. Air Force C-17 pilot. She has flown missions across the world and in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Karen grew accustomed to the support and the camaraderie of the Air Force—making the transition from active duty to the Reserves a challenge at times.
Initially, Karen had the misperception that because she wasn’t wounded or hadn’t served in the wars we tend to associate with Veterans—World War II, Korea, Vietnam—that she must not be one. It took meeting fellow women service members in Washington for her to say, “I’m a Veteran.” Karen went on to use the services and benefits that she earned—with a promise to continue serving in some capacity.
Working with other Veterans, Karen helped improve Post-9/11 GI Bill legislation and was a founding member of Georgetown University’s Student Veterans of America chapter. She also volunteers with Veteran organizations in and around the DC area. Karen believes that her fellow Veterans are going to be future leaders and contribute greatly to our society.
“Plenty of people are going through the same transition that I did and plenty more are coming down the road,” Karen said. “Now, we’re seeing more support for Veterans from the community and the government, and Veterans are going to school and engaging in their communities. Change is happening”
Watch Karen's video