deandria l. hardy
U.S. MARINE CORPS
When she first enrolled as a Biomedical Engineering student at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, DeAndria Hardy never imagined she'd serve in the military. "I was in year four of a five-year program when I realized I hated lab work," she laughs. While looking at alternative career paths, a U.S. Marine Corps recruiter listed all kinds of interesting opportunities; so, DeAndria packed up and shipped out to boot camp.
DeAndria served as an Ammunition Technician and Squad Leader, deploying to Dakkar, Senegal, as part of Operation Western Accord in 2012. She jumped at every chance to assist in teaching African partner nations how to run their military, but it didn't come without a price. As a strong female leader in a traditionally patriarchal society, DeAndria frequently experienced harassment and other challenges in her work.
Once home, DeAndria began having a harder time, struggling with anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She was honorably discharged in 2014 and did her best to move on, telling herself she was "okay" when that wasn't truly the case. Unemployed and experiencing homelessness, DeAndria realized she needed help. "But when I searched for assistance, I could not find any support specifically for women veterans," she says.
In true Marine fashion, DeAndria continued to fight to improve her circumstances: envisioning a program where women veterans could feel seen and supported. She officially launched BattleBetty Foundation in August 2018, providing peer support and a safe space for women to gather. In March of 2021, they expanded to open South Carolina's first Women Veteran Resource Center, with an emergency shelter, a clothes closet, and empowerment workshops to foster community reintegration. Today, DeAndria remains true to her mission: that none of her fellow sisters-in-arms will be left behind.
Learn more about how DeAndria and the BattleBetty Foundation are lifting up women veterans in Spartanburg and beyond at https://battlebettyfoundation.com.
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