Speaker:Carol Barkalow, Army Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.d)
Guest speaker at the LWRWC meeting held at LWR Town Hall on November 10, 2016, was Lieutenant Colonel (LTC), retired, Carol Barkalow.
Carol Barkalow, was one of the first women accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Of the 119 women accepted in 1976 Barkalow was one of 62 who graduated in 1980.
Since retiring she has devoted her time to helping homeless veterans through her charity “Heaven on Earth for Veterans, Inc.” which provides a soft place for veterans to land by providing quality living spaces.
Also famous for her riveting book “in the Men’s House“ published In 1990, detailing her four years as a member of the first class of women to graduate from West Point. The book also highlights her first eight years of active duty service. LTC Barkalow has also testified before Congress on the subject of women in combat. In 2012 she was honored by the Florida Business Professional Women’s Association as a “First Woman of Tampa Bay.” Carol is a highly decorated officer who served her country with distinction.
The LWRWC members were impressed with Carol’s poignant account of how she had her life completely planned before graduating from high school. She excelled in both academics and sports and wanted to serve her country so her goal was to get an ROTC scholarship, serve five years in the military and then become a high school coach. Then fate stepped in to skew her plans.
Since her high school graduation coincided with the first time West Point was accepting women applicants, her guidance counselor suggested that she apply. Carol followed that advice, but still planned on pursuing her chosen career path. Ironically, she was among the first group of women to be accepted into West Point, but did not get her coveted ROTC scholarship, hence history was made and Carol began her trailblazing journey as a woman officer “in the Men’s House.
Carol graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in May 1980 as a second lieutenant in the Air Defense Artillery. After three years she switched to the Transportation Corps. She has held a variety of command and staff positions including Staff Officer, Company Commander, Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff of the Army; Battalion Executive Officer, Plans and Operations Officer, and Battalion Commander. She also served as a Division Transportation Officer with the 24th Infantry Division during Operation Desert Storm. Lieutenant Colonel Barkalow retired on Sept. 1, 2002 after more than 22 years of service.
Her personal life goal is to give back to the community by making a .make a real difference to improve the lives of veterans. Accordingly, in 2013, Carol co-founded a non-profit organization, Heaven on Earth for Veterans, Inc., that focuses on providing safe, affordable, furnished living quarters to military veterans in need of housing.
Currently, their eight houses in St. Petersburg can accommodate 28 veterans who are either homeless or in need of assistance. Each veteran has his/her own bedroom and they share the common areas of the house. The veterans’ common background of service facilitates mutual support and companionship in a safe environment. To date, more than 100 veterans have benefited from living in these homes.
Articles about Heaven on Earth for Veterans have been written in the media and Carol and Sheila Mutascio, her spouse and co-founder, have also been honored by the City of St Petersburg as official Sunshine Ambassadors for outstanding goodwill and valuable contributions. Carol was just recently honored by the Military Officers Association of America at their National Conference in October as a Community Hero for her efforts in helping veterans in need. Carol and Sheila have a dream to one day establish the “Veterans Village of Tampa,” a pay as you go community for veterans in need that provides a Hand-up rather than a handout.
Carol also gives back by serving as a dynamic motivational speaker. She developed a presentation called “A PASSION for Leadership”, using the experiences during her 26 years in uniform to convey her definition of effective leadership that she presents to local and national audiences . Although she is highly competitive, Carol believes that a good leader should help weaker team members reach their full potential instead of trying to get rid of them. She also believes that one should not fear failure because it serves as a valuable learning experience on the road to success. Her acronym for “PASSION” crystalizes the sage life lesson that she enthusiastically shares .Passion stands for: People –Attitude -Self-responsibility- Self-esteem-Integrity- No excuse