Still Serving: Military experience shapes Village counselors | The Village Family Service Center

The Village Family Service Center

Still Serving: Military experience shapes Village counselors

Friday, November 10, 2017
The American flag is seen with The Village logo

As we honor all who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, we share the stories of three veterans who work for The Village.

Jim Martini, Heidii Poplick, and Maggie Bohannon continue to serve, but in a different way. All three are counselors – Jim and Heidii see clients in our Grand Forks office, and Maggie in Minot.

In all three cases, they’ve carried lessons from their military experiences into their counseling careers, as well as an appreciation for those who continue to serve their country.

Eager to be a positive force

Jim MartiniDuty called Jim Martini into service, beginning with the U.S. Army in 1966. “My generation grew up in the shadow of the World War II and Korean Conflict veterans and their achievements,” Jim says. “Many of us felt obliged to carry on this honorable tradition of serving our country.

“We were idealistic – some now might say naïve – and were eager to be a positive force in the world,” he says.

Jim spent a year in Korea as a communications Sergeant in a Battalion of the 7th Infantry Division. When he returned to the U.S., he was assigned to a Reserve unit in California and was discharged in 1972. He later joined the South Dakota Army National Guard, trained at helicopter flight school at Fort Rucker, AL, and was discharged in 1988 with the rank of Warrant Officer 3 (WO3).

Jim had several professions, mostly related to aviation, before he entered the Counseling program at the University of North Dakota. He always had a strong desire to help people, and his experiences as a counseling client years before had made a deep impression on him.

Being in the military helped Jim learn to respect the differences between people. He sees both The Village’s counselors and U.S. service members as groups of professional, dedicated people working together for a common goal.

“Like the military, a main goal of a Village counselor also is to help people that we may have never met before, people who may have different values and cultures, some who may not welcome our help, and in the end, to leave them in a better place than when we first arrived,” he says.

A family tradition

Heidii PoplickHeidii Poplick wanted to serve her country, like many in her family before her.

Her grandfather was in World War II in the Pacific, where he received the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Several of her great uncles and an uncle served in Korea. Two cousins were in the U.S. Army when she joined. Her family’s deep tradition with the Army influenced her choice of branch.

“I hadn't really thought about the military until after my first year of college and decided I needed some direction in life and needed something I found meaningful,” Heidii says.

She enlisted as a tactical communications specialist, and worked mainly with strength and personnel management. Heidii was activity duty, which gave her the opportunity to be stationed in both Germany and Arizona before the end of her enlistment.

“My experiences in the Army shaped me in many ways,” Heidii says. “Some of the most important things I gained were an exposure to working with people from diverse backgrounds and how to work effectively as a member of a team.”

Heidii says being both a veteran and a former military spouse helps to build a bridge of trust and develop rapport with some clients who have a military background.

Serving those who serve

Maggie BohannonFew women were in Maggie Bohannon’s career field when she became a Security Forces Specialist in the U.S. Air Force. It was one of the only combat careers available to women in the Air Force at that time and had opened up to them just two years before she joined in 1988.

Maggie had some interesting experiences as a machine gun specialist and learning how to run security operations. “You harden up,” she says.

She always had an interest in psychology and sociology. The Air Force provided her first experiences with what people would call hostage negotiations. “That shaped my interest further in human behavior and what leads to crisis and how do we deescalate crisis. That was a key turning point for me,” she says. Maggie would later help create the Minot Police Department’s first hostage negotiation team and become its commander.

Throughout both her military and civilian experiences, Maggie enjoyed listening to others. “A lot of people came to me with things. People frequently would say, ‘You’re just so easy to talk to.’ ” That led her to pursue a career in counseling.

Maggie draws on her own experiences in the military to provide direction to clients who are service members. It’s gratifying for her to serve those who serve, and in many ways, brings it full circle.

“I served, I wore the boots, I marched. Now I sit in an office, but I still serve others who carry on the mission that I was once part of.”

Maggie Bohannon's combat boots

The Village proudly employs and provides services to veterans. For more information about The Village, call 1-800-627-8220 or contact us online