Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Corie Weathers of Military Culture Shift Is Helping To Change Our World
Be authentic with all, transparent with some, and intimate with few. I can’t take credit for that quote, but it has served as an excellent reminder of how to have “smart trust” as Steven Covey would say. Authenticity is everything to me, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should be in my inner circle. Having a few safe, close, and honest friends who are available to listen, not judge you when you fail, and hold you accountable to what is most important is not only needed but critical to wellness.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Corie Weathers.
Corie Weathers, licensed professional counselor (LPC), is a sought-after speaker, consultant, and award-winning author. Corie has focused her career for the last 20 years as a clinician specializing in marriage, the military culture, special forces, and leadership development. In addition to providing subject matter expertise on military culture, Corie consults organizations and institutions on building trust, creating impactful programming, and working within a multi-generational team. Her advocacy has included being a part of Second Lady Karen Pence’s Military Spouse’s Employment Working Group and contributing to the passing of a Congressional Bill for licensure portability.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
The moment we entered the military community as an active-duty military family, it radically shifted my perspective of service to others, courage, and being a part of something bigger than myself. Living and working among a tribe of people who were willing to walk with you through the toughest moments, raise their children to do the same, and sacrifice their lives and conveniences for others was humbling to say the least. They are a small percentage of our American population (1%) that I felt deserved the very best care and support. It has been my honor to give my talents to bring healing to service members and their families through counseling, coaching, advocacy, and teaching.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
In 2015, I was awarded the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year opening up the opportunity for me to travel with the Secretary of Defense overseas to visit troops in their deployment locations. I traveled to Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, and the Persian Gulf visiting troops of all branches. It opened my eyes to deployment, serving our country, and a greater understanding of how our country works with our allies to protect and defend against terrorism. I was the first military spouse to travel overseas to see deployment that wasn’t a service member or DoD staff. It changed my view of everything, to include my own marriage, which is why I wrote my first book Sacred Spaces: My Journey to the Heart of Military Marriage.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was invited to travel with the Secretary of Defense, I was completely out of my element. I was not officially part of the press but not quite a guest of the SECDEF, either. No one knew which category to put me in, so I sat with the press on the plane and other times was pulled by the SECDEF staff to join them. The first few days I was like a lost puppy, not knowing what to do with myself or the situation. When we were in Afghanistan, I was following the SECDEF staff when they were all going into a building with Secret Service guarding the door. As the staff walked through, the agent stopped me and asked, “Who are you and why are you here?” It was actually a profound question that seemed much bigger than the moment. I was battling so much insecurity and imposter syndrome, I simply answered, “I don’t know!” He answered, “Well you can’t come in here — the SECDEF is meeting with the Prime Minister of Afghanistan!” As I was awkwardly escorted back to the press team, embarrassed, I realized that if I didn’t know who I was or what I was there to do, the trip would be a waste. I was there to visit and talk to troops. They were my tribe, my people…not the press, or the DoD staff. Once I leaned into that, I launched into my own mission and purpose. The result months later was my first book Sacred Spaces. The lesson was that I first needed to define who I was and what I bring to the world. No one else will define that for you and by letting the world try, we give away our opportunity for personal greatness. The second lesson in all of this was that I just needed to be me- not the press and not a member of the staff. No one else on that trip was capable of truly connecting with the troops around us on the level that I could as a military spouse. I was instantly received as an extension of home — a reminder of their mothers, wives, and family. I was enough.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
My book, Military Culture Shift: The Impact of War, Money, and Generational Perspective on Morale, Retention, & Leadership came out on November 14th, 2023. Based on over 15 years of research and my professional work with thousands of service members and families, this book aims to help military, political, and civilian leaders address the current state of our military after enduring the longest war in American history. With all of the US military branches struggling to reach recruitment goals, I am bringing research and my clinical perspective to the important work of healing our current cohort of warfighters and restoring trust between the American people and the military institution. We are 1% of the American culture and that is not enough to truly protect and defend our country. By consulting on the internal culture of our military community, I hope to better the lifestyle for families, boost morale, and make the community a place people can thrive in.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
The most surprising was when I made a video that went viral about my struggles to transfer my counseling license from state to state as a military spouse. I had fought for years going through the right channels with no help, losing income, and growing more frustrated. When I realized it was something that thousands were also going through, I made a humorous but honest video telling the story and pointing out the problem. I had no idea that Congress was trying to pass a bill to support military spouse licensure portability. My video went viral through the Department of Labor and ultimately reached the Senate where they used it as a way to push the bill into law. Since then, states have agreed to expedite military spouse licenses, offer temporary licenses, and even joined compact agreements with other states. It is the one time I “stormed the castle” but it was worth it to open doors for other professionals trying to sustain their career. In my new book Military Culture Shift, I wanted to share positive stories of other leaders changing lives through kindness, selfless service, and compassion. Each chapter includes one of those examples that I hope will inspire leaders to choose people over their own success and the mission.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
- Do not take the all-volunteer force for granted. The American culture continues to be divisive politically and opinionated about the direction of the military- and they should be as taxpayers. The military community exists to serve on the nation’s behalf and be “sent” when there is a need for national defense, deterrence, and/or humanitarian aid. Yet, with only 1% serving and fewer Americans having a personal connection to someone in the military, we are becoming the “other”. Historically, villages would send their warriors to fight on the people’s behalf but would welcome them home with reintegration ceremonies to hear the warrior’s story and share in the responsibility of “sending” them. If the military-civilian divide continues to grow, America’s sons (and perhaps daughters) will be forced to serve in drafts.
- Be cautious to tear down/discredit institutions. Americans have the lowest level of trust and confidence in institutions (government, military, education, faith institutions, etc.) than ever before. Yet, without structure and order, we will have chaos. Although it is good to question authority and structure, Americans should value order where possible and be cautious to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
- Balance the human cost with modernization. As Congress and the Department of Defense consider and debate the defense budget that continues to rise to support modernization and global conflicts, we must consider the limitations of the 1%. The community needs rest or will continue to dissolve without it.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
I believe leadership is an earned position of influence governed by wisdom and adaptability. Everyone has the opportunity to pursue leadership, but it is ultimately given as a fragile gift from those whom a mutual relationship of trust and respect has been established. Today, the youngest generation respects and follows those who are trustworthy and authentic rather than those who hold the most knowledge or experience. Instead, people want leaders who have the heart and wisdom of a teacher, can see the strengths and unique talents around them, and are willing to evolve for the success of something bigger than themselves.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
My video: https://youtu.be/jOnyHDyZC1g
1 . You don’t have to do as the world does to succeed in life and work. In fact, knowing your unique talents, building genuine relationships, and holding tight to your integrity is a far more rewarding path than money or popularity. I look back now and see that it was the “longer” path (which frustrated me in my 20s), but it is one I am proud of today. I was tempted two years ago to expand my business and multiply myself but I decided to remain small and aim to be excellent in what I already have. It was the wise choice for me.
2 . Stay steadfast in character, play the long game, and it will all work out. All of the information coming at us says that you need to hustle, build fast, and look successful. It has been and is a real temptation to “arrive” quickly before it is time or before we have the character to handle it. There have been times I wanted to storm the castle and react in anger at the mistreatment or frustrations of bureaucracy- but again, the “longer path” of a steadfast character is worth the credibility and trust you will receive later.
3 . Humans are more kind than unkind, and kindness has the power to turn a wounded soul. There is more division than ever and the constant availability of global content opens our eyes to the worst that humanity can be to each other. Yet, there is nothing more life-giving than the kindness of a stranger and the thoughtfulness of a friend. Just this week, I have been moved to tears at the kindness of people around me when they could have focused on something happening in their own world. I wish I could have told myself to not only look for that every day but to be that person more often.
4 . Your first idea, possibly even your second, is not likely what you will be doing in 10 years. I have had to become more comfortable with evolving my services over time. Other people might know that from the beginning, but for me, I started out dreaming a picture of what I would do for the rest of my life. The world and people are rapidly changing in not only how they learn, but how we reach them. I wish I had more grace for myself in the beginning to know that my business and my advocacy would evolve over time. I would have been more comfortable and ready for seasons when I was called to change and try something new had I given myself more grace then.
5 . Be authentic with all, transparent with some, and intimate with few. I can’t take credit for that quote, but it has served as an excellent reminder of how to have “smart trust” as Steven Covey would say. Authenticity is everything to me, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should be in my inner circle. Having a few safe, close, and honest friends who are available to listen, not judge you when you fail, and hold you accountable to what is most important is not only needed but critical to wellness.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Simply listen more. Each person in front of you has a story. The Starbucks barista churning out coffee orders, the neighbor with the dog that won’t stop barking, your partner who is in a season of difficulty. Listen to the person in front of you through the context of their story. We make wellness and healing more complicated than it needs to be. Ask someone to tell their story as if it were a novel. Simply feeling seen and heard is the beginning of healing. My new book tells the story of our military community and their story through two decades of war. I hope the reader will hear their commitment, their incredible grit, and also their weariness and heartbreak- ultimately leading in restoring their dignity and place in American culture. It is time to say more than “Thank you for your service” and be willing to hear the burden families voluntarily carried on our behalf.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Everything is grist for the mill” It is a proverb that talks about everything as usable. Grist was the unground “unusable leftovers” of milled corn. This proverb reminds me that anything that happens in life, especially what we think is a setback, can actually teach us how to be better. No experience or situation is a waste when we can assign a new purpose to it and let it teach us something. Each failure and even the lessons others go through are opportunities for us to grow.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Beth Moore. I have watched her rise, fall, get back up again, and lead a generation of women to be authentic, love God, and love others. When I was thrust into the spotlight in 2015 as Military Spouse of the Year, I had no mentor to walk me through how to navigate becoming a public figure. Instead, I watched what she did and tried to follow her example of walking with integrity. More recently, she has shared publicly more of her story and I am even more inspired to learn from her wisdom. She was ripped apart on social media during the Trump years and endured with kindness, mercy, and maturity. I hope I can endure the pressures and temptations of life as well as she has.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can find me on social media (IG, Facebook, LinkedIn): @CorieLpc and at www.corieweathers.com
I also have the Lifegiver Podcast and the Military Culture Shift Leadership Podcast that will supplement my latest book.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
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