Felicia Barnett got her first call to Iraq when she was 20. Her daughter, Ari, was just four months old. But she had only one week to prepare for deployment. She left Ari with her parents in Oregon. She had to miss a lot of Ari’s firsts - her first words, watching her crawl, her first Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Although she had to make a lot of sacrifices in the military, Felicia remembers her work on combat communications in the Air Force fondly. “It was very rewarding because I was making sure the phones and computers were up and running as the soldiers on the front lines would need them," she says.
Felicia Barnett with her husband and four children
Transitioning to civilian life
Felicia served for eight years, and decided to separate from the Air Force at the end of her enlistment to spend more time with her family, as her husband is on active duty and they have four children now. But her transition to her civilian life was far from a smooth one. “For almost a year, I couldn’t land even an interview,” Felicia vividly recalls her frustration. Then she went back to a school refreshing her business management skills. Soon she got an interview, her first, with TD Bank, in 2012. “TD took a chance on me.” And she has been thriving since then.
Now a fraud insights manager, Felicia finds it particularly gratifying to work with her colleagues on the financial crimes group. When she was traveling in Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia with the military, she witnessed a lot of human trafficking firsthand. Unable to help, she felt it was eating at her soul. Now she can escalate a case if she detects something related to human trafficking. “Now I am able to help on that front.”
Another connection that Felicia feels personally between her military career and her work at TD is the diverse culture at both organizations. She grew up in a homogenous culture in rural Oregon, and had never seen more than a few people of color. Thanks to the melting pot in the military, she met her husband from Cleveland, OH. At TD, she started out feeling a little lonely, not seeing a lot of other veterans. Not anymore. “For me, I’m incredibly proud to be able to wear both my Air Force pin and my TD Bank shield, as I think both represent strong organizations that really value diversity and that’s something I truly care about.”
Outside work, Felicia loves going camping with her husband and children.