FOUNDATION FOR WOMEN WARRIORS & HEATHER PENNEY, MAJOR, U.S. AIR FORCE

The Foundation For Women Warriors Mission Statement:

“At Foundation for Women Warriors, we are on a mission to serve women veterans and their children so that their next mission is clear and continues to impact the world.”

The Foundation For Women Warriors Vision:

“A world in which the service of every woman veteran is honored, and she can achieve the quality of life she fought for.”

The Foundation For Women Warriors is a 100-year-old nonprofit organization devoted to honoring and empowering the women veteran community. Empowerment & Support of women veterans lies at the core of the organization. Frequently eclipsed by their male colleagues, the organization honors, empowers, and supports the women who answered the nation’s call to serve.

The Foundation For Women Warriors Programs

Designed to enhance the personal and economic well-being of women veterans and address the growing needs of the increasing population of military women transitioning to civilian life.

The Foundation For Women Warriors History

The association took birth in 1920 under California Soldiers Widow’s Home Association. Back then, it used to help the mothers and widows of soldiers lost in the Spanish American War and World War I. The organization has been running during its 100 years old history consistent with its WWII values: independence, dignity, and love of country.

Starting in 2002, the organization broadened its scope to include its service to women veterans, enabled by the vision to build sustainable, impactful programs in Support of military women (both veterans and widows).

In 2005 the organization changed its name to Military Women In Need Foundation. From the foundation was born a public charity, Military Women In Need (MWIN)  which, was the charity branch of the organization that ran five core programs (Home Visits, Resource/Referral & Advocacy, Emergency Subsidies, Housing Subsidies, and Care Club). MWIN served (and continues to serve) female veterans and survivors of veterans from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War.

In 2010, MWIN shifted its program focus from long-term housing subsidies to short-term, high-impact emergency subsidies, which resulted in spectacular program growth. MWIN dropped its age requirement and served individuals of all ages, including women veterans and survivors with minor dependent children.

In 2016. Military Women In Need (MWIN) changed its name to Foundation For Women Warriors (FFWW) to energize the women veteran community.

HEATHER PENNEY, MAJOR, U.S. AIR FORCE

Most commonly recognized for her service on September 11, Heather “Lucky” Penney was part of the first wave of women who went directly into fighters from pilot training.

She grew up around aviation and warbirds as her father, John Penney, was a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. John flew during the Vietnam War and later became a commercial pilot for United Airlines

Heather “Lucky” Penney

Penney got her pilot’s license at 18. In 1996, she applied and was accepted at the District of Columbia Air National Guard, and then two years later, she was commissioned as an Air Force officer. She went to Texas to begin her undergraduate pilot training. That is where she earned her nickname “Lucky”. She was among the first wave of U.S. female fighter pilots. Heather, the first and only woman in the 121st Fighter Squadron, deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom for initial combat operations as a night-time SCUD Hunter in the western deserts of Iraq, also supporting Special Operations Forces. She flew the F-16 for ten years before having to make the difficult decision to leave fighter aviation as a single mother.

On September 11, 2001, Penney and Colonel Marc “Sass” Sasseville were chosen for a dangerous, fatal mission. Penney was just a first lieutenant serving as a training officer with the 121st Fighter Squadron of the District of Columbia Air National Guard when she was told to intercept United Airlines Flight 93, which was believed to be headed to the U.S. Capitol, at whatever cost. There wasn’t enough time to outfit their aircraft with live ammunition, so their only option was to run into the airplane. That would mean sacrificing their lives. At the time, Penney didn’t realize that there was a chance that her father could be the pilot of that flight, but when asked if that would have changed her mind about her mission, she said it wouldn’t have changed it. However, the brave, heroic passengers fought back against the hijackers, and the plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania during the fight.

Heather “Lucky” Penney

She went on to fly two combat tours in Iraq and eventually took a job at Lockheed Martin, where she worked to communicate between engineers, programs, and Air Force customers as the Director for Air Force Aviation Training Systems. Heather served as the National Chair for the Commemorative Air Force’s RISE ABOVE: WASP program from 2016 to 2017, telling the story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots to inspire young girls to follow their dreams. Currently, she is a Senior Resident Fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies and works on defense policy, research, and analysis.

Heather “Lucky” Penney

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