Posted by Jim Bolas
Club Meeting Program Schedule
June 14th– Charles LaValee – CEO – Variety Children’s Charities
June 28th– Changing of the Guard
Program – Journey to Normal – JulieHera DeStefano
JulieHera, a native Pittsburgher and graduate of CMU with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts. DeStefano served as the Managing Director and Producer of an award-winning off-Broadway theater company. She has also performed in New York off-Broadway, regionally with the Theater Of The Stars, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, and Pittsburgh Playhouse, and was seen in the movies The First Wives Club and the Preacher's Wife.
DeStefano conceived the idea for Journey to Normal (
in the spring of 2009 after seeing the challenges of a woman veteran returning from a tour in Afghanistan with a lost arm and having to make a peanut butter sandwich for her two year old. She has developed her experiences with women veterans into a feature-length documentary and online narrative film archive (
Journey to Normal recognizes the strength and resiliency of our women in uniform and explores the unique challenges they face rejoining their families and communities after a deployment to the combat zone. At the invitation of Task Force Medical-East, DeStefano spent just over 3 ½ months as a solo embed with the US Military in Afghanistan, filming and interviewing over 100 women about their experiences in the military, their lives back home, and what they envisioned for their reintegration. DeStefano is currently filming stateside with a number of these women and their families to document what their journey home has entailed and what they would most like the American public to understand.   
Key points made in Ms. DeStefano’s presentation were as follows:
  • Acknowledged that despite not having served in the military she is attracted to the passion and resiliency of women military veterans and wanting to tell their story of how they cope with serving America in foreign missions and having to deal with challenges while on those missions as well as the challenges they face returning to normal family life after the mission.
  • Some of the basic challenges men and women in military service face while on mission are long hours, basic hygiene, fear and uncertainty, the constant stress of combat, injury and death, periods of deafening silence, monotonous routine, separation from family, the difficulty of communications with back home. 
  • She believes a change in the national narrative would be beneficial to helping male and female military veterans more readily re-engage into our communities after returning from their service where veterans may need to deal with physical/mental disability requiring extensive therapy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicidal tendencies, loss of military camaraderie and fellowship and loss of purpose after experiencing a defined service in the military.
  • Rotary is a non-political large international organization operating with a motto of “Service Above Self” helping the needy in our communities which would be in alignment with what veterans are used to in operating in a large non-political military organization serving above self all over the world in protecting the interests of America and its allies. Therefore, recruiting veterans to Rotary may be a win-win.
JulieHera DeStefano with Club President Heather Dieckmann