By Sandy Meyer
Jill Andrews has had many important roles during her life. She currently serves as the Senior Solutions Expert at Superior Residences in Brandon but once upon a time she served our country as one of the last of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC).
The Women’s Army Corps was a volunteer program created out of necessity during World War II as a way to free up male soldiers for combat. These women served as additional resources in noncombatant roles. The role of the WAC evolved over the next several decades, eventually being disbanded in 1978 when female units were fully integrated with male units.
In 1975 Andrews was in the first group of women sent to Fort Jackson for basic training. “We really blazed the trail in having women on a base that was normally all men for Basic Training. This was when they were first integrating men and women with the same standards,” she said.
Andrews admits that she hadn’t thought much about her military service over the last several decades until she recently recorded her story for the Veteran’s History Project for the Library of Congress. “It was really nice to make me stop and think about my military service,” she shared.
She remembers being ostracized at the time, not only for being a woman in the military, but because it was at the end of the Vietnam War and “joining the military wasn’t the thing to do.”
After serving stateside and in Germany in the hospital food service as a dietician, Andrews stayed in the food service industry upon return to civilian life. She worked as an executive chef at a restaurant in Destin before being asked to help manage food service at a retirement home.
She says she wouldn’t be where she was today if her work in food service hadn’t led her to the retirement business and eventually to assisted living. “This is my love, my passion – working with those with dementia and teaching the world about what it is.”
Andrews is proud to have her story be recorded permanently in our country’s history and to this day she still lives her motto “Inspire and Serve”.