Iron Woman!

Erica Wetterlind, Staff Writer

In between her training, classes, career and picking up her children, a successful woman found the time to wow this interviewer with her humble nature and numerous accomplishments. Senior social work major and psychology minor, Holly Stenglein, has dedicated her life to helping veterans.

Early this year, Holly began her senior internship with the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs in the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP). At HVRP, Holly began advocating for homeless veterans by breaking down barriers towards employment. Initially Holly would assist caseworkers by contacting clients and making sure they had basic essentials. In doing this, Holly soon realized that while she had been set on graduate school, she was already doing what she loved.

“I realized I wanted to be a caseworker,” Holly said passionately.

Holly excelled at her internship and received an opportunity that any intern would leap at. Holly’s boss offered her a full time position at HVRP. As of Jan. 12, Holly accepted her position as Pierce/Thurston County HVRP Coordinator. Holly is living her dream and making sure veterans have what they need to instigate positive change in their own lives.

“It has been better than I ever expected!” exclaimed Holly.

In between advocating for veterans, raising her two children, and attending class, Holly still manages to find the time to take care of herself. She trains and participates in triathlons!

“In my free time, which I don’t have a lot of, I train,” stated Holly.

Currently, Holly is training for a half Iron Man this fall at Lake Stevens. Exercise has helped Holly heal from the effects of multiple deployments.

“I have PTSD. Exercise is so important to me. It’s the best therapy for me. It helps me heal,” said Holly.

In addition to making such an impression at her internship and receiving a job, Holly’s boss was also aware of Holly’s love for exercise. While Holly has been actively participating in triathlons for some time, she did not have a bike. Humble Holly was taken by surprise when her boss called her on stage at a convention and presented her with a $5,200 bike, a gift from HVRP. With tears in her eyes, Holly nervously gave a speech and thanked everyone for such a wonderful gift.

“I was worried that I sounded ridiculous, so I was really happy when people came up to me and told me that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” said Holly cheerfully.

Holly is still competing, attending class, taking care of her children and working full time at HVRP. Holly’s passion for working with struggling veterans comes from her own experience,

“As a veteran it is hard to come forward and say you have a TBI or PTSD,” stated Holly.

Holly’s own experiences have led to her an altruistic and budding career. Already she has made quite the impression in her field, no doubt as a result of her passion and empathy,

“I care about people in general, but veterans have a special place in my heart,” Holly said.

The world can expect great things from Holly. She is a veteran, a mother of two, a student, an athlete and now the official Pierce/Thurston County HVRP Coordinator!

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