A Salute to Veterans in the Fabletics Family

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In honor of Veterans Day on Saturday, November 11, we looked within our very own Fabletics family to share the incredible stories of two female military personnel—Sarah Bergstein and Zina DiTonno—who have also both been Fabletics Masters. In interviewing them, we gained invaluable insights into how their military experience shaped their world and continues to impact their lives every single day.

 

Sarah Bergstein

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania and did my undergraduate degree at Temple University in Philadelphia. Early in my college career, I was a pre-med student because I thought I wanted to be a doctor, until I discovered that my real passions were in food, fitness, taking pics, telling people’s stories and traveling the world. I promptly changed my major to journalism and political science, and in that time I did a number of jobs, from serving as a waitress to bartending and from working at Fox29 News in Philadelphia as an intern to working in the Mayor of Philadelphia’s press office. I also did a stint with a financial services company and got licensed to sell life and health insurance. Each of these jobs helped fuel my ultimate passion to work with and help others. It’s in my blood and it’s what fuels me and gives me a sense of purpose. It’s what I want to spend my life doing!

How did you become involved with the military?

Oh my gosh I never planned on joining the military! My family went through a really hard time in my sophomore year of college. My parents lost our home to foreclosure, they separated and my dad lost his job. My younger brother decided to join the Marine Corps as a result and I couldn’t have been more proud. I also felt like there was something more that I could do, too. So I went to a recruiter, found out that I could join the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and become a military officer while attending college and could get a scholarship to pay for school. In the Air Force, I found out that I could work in Public Affairs, which aligned nicely with my education. It felt like everything fell right into place. I became an Air Force ROTC cadet, received a full scholarship to pay for college and commissioned as a Public Affairs officer in 2011. Today, my parents are back together, they live in a beautiful home in Florida and my dad has a great job. It’s amazing how life works sometimes… I’m so blessed!

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What were the best and worst parts of your experience?

I’m fortunate that I don’t have any “worst” experiences in the military, not one. But this question is hard because I have so many positive experiences—from being in charge of entire teams of Airmen as a brand new, young officer, to traveling to Australia, Saipan, the Philippines and throughout the United States. One of the most rewarding experiences in my life has been working with the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware where my team of photojournalists and videographers are responsible for documenting the Dignified Transfers of fallen heroes upon their return home to American soil before they are taken to their final resting place. As a cadet and an intern at Fox29 News, I used to travel to Dover AFB to cover Dignified Transfers covered in the public media and now here I am five years later directly supporting the mission that ensures dignity, honor and respect to our fallen heroes and care, service and support to their families. It has been my honor.

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

I am actively serving today, so I have deep respect and gratitude for those who’ve come before me—those who’ve served, those who lost their lives and fought so that we can enjoy the freedoms and blessings we have today. I’ve met thousands and thousands of military personnel and veterans, and I’m so honored to stand among them. I recently met a 91-year-old female Navy World War II veteran and I was in awe. She was just incredible and I was so proud to be able to shake her hand and thank her for paving the way! Serving my country has only further fueled my desire to serve in other ways—to show up in ways that help inspire, and assist in bettering others. I feel like I’ve been given, and earned, so much in my life and I plan to spend the rest of my life giving back.

Do you look at life differently since serving in the military?

I believe the Air Force saved my life and my future. I wouldn’t be where I am today without having made the decision to serve. I’ve learned so much about myself, the world and have had more opportunities than I ever could have imagined. I just turned 29 and am so amazed at all the things I’ve been able to experience in my five years of service. I lived on the island of Guam and then moved to Delaware and now I’m currently stationed in Florida. The places I’ve been have been beautiful, but the people I’ve met along the way are what stand out in my memory. I do have a greater appreciation for life in general and I know my military service impacts just about every aspect of my life. It’s also how I met the love of my life! 😉

How did the military impact your approach to health and fitness?

I was stationed on Guam from 2011 to 2014 and during that time I competed in my first figure competition, got a master’s degree in Exercise Science, and became a personal trainer and nutrition specialist. My need to stay in peak physical condition for my military service aligned perfectly with my passion for fitness and fortunately I’ve been able to pursue both serving my country and helping others improve their health and their lives. It’s such a perfect duo.

What’s one thing you wish people knew about veterans (or specifically female veterans)?

Every service member has a story. Every service member has a reason they served. Every service member sacrifices in order to serve. Don’t ever be afraid to thank a person in uniform or a veteran if you feel it appropriate. Pass on some thanks for their family’s sacrifices, too. We generally focus on the sacrifice the military member makes for his/her country, but moms, dads, siblings, spouses and children all sacrifice a great deal too while their loved one protects the nation. I once had a woman walk up to me when I was in uniform and throw her arms around me and whispered “thank you” over and over again in my ear. It was the best hug I’ve ever had. I’ll never forget that. A simple thank you goes a long way for such a big sacrifice.

Lastly, I wanted to say Happy Veterans Day to all those who’ve served and are currently serving in harm’s way and at home. Thank you to the team at Fabletics for recognizing the importance of Veterans Day and for allowing me the opportunity to represent my sisters and brothers in uniform.

 

Zina DiTonno

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself

I love God, my husband, family, friends and this country! Since being out of the military, I finished a master’s degree, worked in healthcare, in information technology, as a consultant and currently a privileged owner, teacher and master teacher trainer at Aerial Fun & Fitness. I also stay active with health coaching, and presenting, speaking and writing on health. I also co-authored The Green Smoothie Girls!

How did you become involved with the military?

Both my dad and my mom served and meet in the military! How great is that? It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I would appreciate the greatness of this. Then it was very clear that it was my time to serve.

What were the best and worst parts of your experience?

It’s difficult to pick just one best. One of the best parts was knowing you were making a difference and working for something greater. One time that I vividly remember is in the field, all of our platoon tearing up when anthem was played with a speech about why we are there and those that have gone before. This is something that reminds you to never take our freedom for granted. Other bests were learning leadership, challenging yourself on many levels and watching good leaders in action.

What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

It’s an honor to know that I’ve followed in footsteps of my mom and dad, and yet been able to make it my own by the grace of God.

Do you look at life differently since serving in the military?

Most definitely! It gives you a piece of real confidence to tackle and solve problems, and a level of discipline instilled that carries over into every area. Personally, I think everyone needs to have the experience.

How did the military impact your approach to health and fitness?

This was pivotal. I learned things about myself, pushed myself to be excellent and found out I was good at it. This fitness aspect has carried on in my life and has led me to have a business in fitness and health coaching to give back and help others create their own style of excellence. The dedication to maintain the above 290+ on PT (Physical Training) standards was also another way to build rapport and respect, especially as a woman.

What’s one thing you wish people knew about veterans (or specifically female veterans)?

My perspective was that coming back into civilian life was more of an adjustment than I thought it would be, mainly reentering the civilian workforce. Coming from a very task-oriented environment, the social skills might need a bit of touch up. For others, to appreciate the way we like to get things done and the many different skill sets we end up with. Thanks to the rest of you who have also served! God Bless the USA.

 

Originally published Nov. 11th 2016

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Zinalm
Zinalm

Nice to meet you Sarah!! Thanks for your service!!!!!