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The Impact of War series is made possible by generous contributions from Richard P. Brown, Jr. and Suzanne and Ronald Naples.

The Impact of War

Alfeia DeVaughn Goodwin

March 30, 2011

Returning veterans sometimes struggle to find ways of applying their new experiences and skills in civilian life. For Alfeia DeVaughn Goodwin (ALL-FEE-uh d-VAUGHN Goodwin) it meant refocusing her mission from soldiering in Iraq to policing in Philadelphia. Geoff Gundersdorf (Jeff Gun-ders-dorf) reports as part of our Impact of War series.

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HOST INTRO: Returning veterans sometimes struggle to find ways of applying their new experiences and skills in civilian life. For Alfeia DeVaughn Goodwin it meant refocusing her mission from soldiering in Iraq to policing in Philadelphia. Geoff Gundersdorf reports as part of our Impact of War series

Alfeia DeVaughn Goodwin returned home to Philadelphia in 2004, after serving a year in Iraq as a logistics specialist. The 40 year old mother of three teenagers remembers it wasn't an easy transition.

ALFEIA D. GOODWIN:" It was challenging, because you are dealing with so much. I had to take a moment, I moved in with my mom when I came back from the war. Because you basically, have to take a moment to just calm yourself down".

Before joining the military, Goodwin worked as an HIV case manager and educator. Ten years ago, after getting divorced and losing her father to HIV, she felt the need to make a change in her life. Her brother was in the army at the time and she decided to follow his path and enlisted. Not long after, Goodwin was deployed to Iraq.

ADG : "Iraq is a very loud noisy, chaotic place, all of the time. It's a situation where as a soldier you feel that you are surrounded by chaos at all times. But as soldiers we make every sense of attempt to follow with our routine".

Once she returned home, Goodwin says, the support of her family and other soldiers in the area helped her transition to civilian life. She was still in the National Guard and it's during one of the regular reservist's training sessions that she found her new career path.

ADG "I was at drill actually with a soldier and she is a police officer. She says to me you ever think about becoming a police officer. And I said no. She said oh, I think you should".

Goodwin decided to take the idea seriously. Police departments across the country actively recruit veterans. The transition from soldier to police officer is common. Research conducted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police came to the same conclusion. Col. Arnold Daxe, led the study as the project manager for Employing Returning Combat Veterans as Law Enforcement Officers.

Col. Arnold DAXE: "Take a good hard look at the skill sets that veterans bring to the table and one of them right off the bat is leadership and another one is discipline, and another one is they have an operational efficiency because they are used to taking orders and in many cases giving orders".

In collaboration with the Department of Justice, the national research project led by Col. Arnold Daxe, studied the issues surrounding returning combat veterans who enter or return to law enforcement careers. The study concluded that a soldier's expertise in firearms and tactical skills, their ability to react and make decisions under stress, and a greater willingness to involve themselves in dangerous situations are a good match for police work.

After completing her shift for the day in North Philadelphia, Officer Goodwin stops into a local pizza place close to her headquarters.

ADG. "Hey, What's up Chief? He's an army Sgt. too and he just made Sgt. here in the police department".

Goodwin often runs into other veterans on the police. The process of acclimating from the battlefield to protecting the streets of Philadelphia can have its challenges. For Goodwin, and other soldiers, it helps to understand the parallels between the rank structure of the military and the police.

ADG. "We go through the rank structures. Like me, I have been a private, specialist, sergeant, second lt., first lt., captain and for other soldiers who have been through the rank structure, it's about how can I help you?

After returning home, Goodwin decided to serve her community in yet another way. While in Iraq, she was inspired by the role of the Chaplain and admired the relationship and the trust they held with soldiers. She decided to follow her calling and since she returned home from Iraq, she has become Pennsylvania's first African American Female Chaplain for the National Guard. Recently, she has also become an Associate Pastor at Zion Baptist Church in North Philadelphia.

ADG: "With all of the hats I wear, all of the activities, that I am part of. That is the one thing they all have in common, is how can I serve in this situation? How can I be of the greatest use?"

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