Manatee Women Veterans Plan

Laura Lynch (right) standing in front of Edward Jones' officeGrowing up in rural Virginia, Laura Lynch didn’t come from a family of means, but she always had a sense of where she wanted to go after high school. And she knew the military would jumpstart her life by giving her a paycheck and travel opportunities.

“I knew it was my ‘ticket out of town,’” said Lynch.

Although her father was both an Army and Navy Veteran, and her Grandfather was a Marine who served both during WWII and the Korean War, Lynch selected the Air Force, knowing there was a slightly greater number of women in that arm of the military over the others and because it was more technically focused.

Along came a Linguist opportunity in Intelligence as a Cryptologic Linguist. Having grown up watching James Bond movies and with Language Arts being her favorite subject in school, Lynch thought it sounded cool and took the DLPT Language Proficiency Test and passed. She was assigned the language of Russian and trained for two years.

Laura's medalsStationed in Japan, Lynch served for an additional four years on  active duty. When deployed to Kuwait in 2002, she volunteered for the military police for a few months, resulting in an Air Expeditionary Medal. She also received a Joint Commendation Medal awarded by Intelligence Squadron for working on a classified assignment involving four branches of the military.

Upon discharge, Lynch had a choice to stay working in the Department of Defense which would have meant remaining in Washington, DC, or transferring with her husband. She chose the latter and transferred her skill set, which included helping to rewrite Standard Operating Procedures and office coordination, into the Employee Benefits arena for 10 years, then moved over to Human Resources at Bealls for five years.

The death of Lynch’s grandfather in 2016 after his 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s and helping her 88-year-old grandmother work through the complexities of her finances, was the beginning of Lynch’s transition to her current position as Financial Advisor. It was then that she realized how complicated trying to figure out your finances can be, especially for older women in a generation less inclined to be knowledgeable about their finances and save less than men but live longer than men.

“Having to turn on their business brain at the most stressful time opened my eyes to this area where I could be of service. I think Air Force Veterans are always looking for that mission to be of service to people and feel valuable,” said Lynch.

Her grandmother is now 92 and living in an assisted-living facility.

“She’s a fireball and a great inspiration to me,” said Lynch.

Then in 2018, she helped her mother when her father died expectantly of a stroke at only 68.

Lynch also mentioned the need to help women who have to deal with the upheaval of divorce and whether they have enough money in times of need.

When a Bealls colleague of Lynch’s moved over to Edward Jones in 2017, Lynch began researching that company and its products/services. Shortly after, she joined the firm and runs the University Parkway branch, where she serves about 125 Manatee and Sarasota clients annually.

Lynch cites the Air Force for helping lay out the foundation for her to build a business.

“It taught me self efficacy. I learned the value of teams and developed a strong work ethic—grit and determination from rotating 12-hour shifts. You learn flexibility in the military. You learn to go with the flow,” said Lynch.

Lynch is active in the community. One of the groups she belongs to is the Sarasota Veterans Group and has helped several Veterans as they transition from military to civilian life to strategically manage the money they receive so that it is spread out over the years to help them when thinking of a new potential career, planning for their children’s college or other short- and long-term financial goals.

“Helping people plan out what’s most important and setting priorities is very rewarding, especially having come from a rural background and help close the wealth gap. It’s really important for me to work with clients to address long-term care needs,” said Lynch.

Laura Lynch donning her Air Force hatLynch occasionally will don her Air Force Veterans hat when she’s out and about and has been looked at with surprise on occasion. Recalling one event, a tractor show in the middle of the state a couple of years ago, Lynch noticed several people with confused looks on their faces. One man in particular came up to her, looked at her hat, then locked eyes with her again and asked, “Who served?”

“I calmly answered, ‘me,’ and he walked away, looking more confused,” said Lynch.

Lynch hopes more young female Veterans would opt to wear hats to identify themselves.

“Female Veterans should stand out because if they don’t, they may lose their connection.

Lynch also has made Alzheimer’s awareness a core mission of hers. She has served as the Chair for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s annual event for the past two years, wanting to help show support for those caregivers like her grandmother who took care of her grandfather by herself for 10 years.

“Alzheimer’s is an extraordinarily costly disease and can erode wealth. No one wants to have those tough conversations,” said Lynch.

This year’s walk is scheduled for November 21.

To get in touch with Laura Lynch, call (941) 870-2862 or email [email protected]

Never Give Up

Janet Erdman with some team membersJanet Erdman has vivid stories of the Navy to share. Her nearly four years of service started off with having an upper-respiratory infection during boot camp and an ongoing drive to keep going.

During her time at Field Medical Service School at Camp Pendleton (Oceanside, CA), she remembers begging the drill sergeant to get back in line after getting pulled out for turning her head and vomiting. Her squad cheered her on as she ran back to assume position. She made it through all the other humps (hikes) while in full gear, until the very last hump when she stepped in a hole while marching and twisted her ankle. She explains that they had to wear full gear during the exercise and when she fell as soon as they started marching, her heavy gear pulled her down, and she landed on her back and couldn’t get back up.

“I know what a turtle feels like,” said Erdman.

With a family history of military service, giving up was never an option.

“I never wanted to be looked down upon. I wanted to fit in, keep up. Years later, one of my platoon members told me, ‘out of all the girls,’ I was the one they respected because I kept going and never gave up,” said Erdman.

Interested in nursing and realizing the big expense that it would entail, Erdman looked towards the military to help out with tuition. She went to school in San Diego and became a Combat Hospital Corpsman then after at Field Medical Services School she had to prove herself again as one of only about 14 females in a 160-student class.

Janet ErdmanErdman served for three and a half years until the birth of her twin sons at National Naval Medical Hospital (the place where she was currently assigned) in Bethesda, MD.

She moved back to Bradenton, the place she had called home since high school where she tried to continue her nursing career. Although the Hospital Corpsman experience was equivalent to an Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), this experience didn’t translate to a hospital LPN position so she ended up taking a job as a hospital aide at both Blake and Manatee hospitals for about five years. Then she became a 911 dispatcher. After a couple of years, still determined to apply her intensive medical training to her civilian career, Erdman took a big risk by joining a startup, as only the second employee hired.

Erdman’s intuition paid off, and the organization grew rapidly, evolving nearly 20 years later into ISO Claims Partners, a Verisk Business (claims compliance solutions—from extensive MSP services to efficient EDI reporting—as well as proven predictive analytics that improve workers’ compensation and liability claims management). Erdman believes her military and medical training and experience has helped her be a more effective liaison between Operations and IT as their Business Analytics Director.

“The service provides a lot of stability through rules and guidelines which some people need. You think some of the training is trivial at first but realize later that if you don’t follow rules or do it the wrong way, it can end up costing lives. The military pushes you so you want to do better. You don’t want to fail,” said Erdman.

Go to Manatee Women Veterans Week Webpage

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