MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. – What started as an idea to give support and encouragement has turned into something more.
Missilia is a new initiative first started to target female veterans, police officers and firefighters, but it has transformed into a movement for women to support other women.
What many might not realize is that the suicide rate for female veterans is double that for civilian women. 42 percent of female veterans said they do not feel respected and valued and one local veteran is working to change that.
Shelly Rood served 16 years in the military. She still works as an intelligence professional and she created Missilia.
"It helps you feel like you're not alone. In the community that we live in, whether you're a veteran or a police officer, we're used to being the only woman in the room," Rood said.
Rood and her team are assembling a box of different items for women.
"We have an all-natural rose facial oil. We have always a healthy snack," Rood said. "There's always one tactical piece in each box. This one is a tactical pen."
The pen has a light on it, and a little crown that could be used for self-defense or as a glass breaker.
"So, if you get trapped in your car or something like that, it'll actually bust glass," she said.
The box also contains an insert that highlights a local woman who is veteran, police officer or firefighter.
Jaquelinn Fernandez is currently a Metro Park police officer who was featured in the Missilia box in October. She is a former Detroit and Warren police officer.
"It was, it was kind of touching because I've never really been recognized before for being a police officer." Fernandez said. "When I worked for the city of Detroit, I saw a lot of things that most humans don't have to see, things that people don't have to deal with, things that they don't necessarily know how to deal with."
Each box comes with a feature story.
"Some of them are sexual assault victims during their time in the military. Some of them, you know, have been in gunfights. They're not easy things to talk about, which is why the suicide rates for these types of females is actually double that of civilian women," Rood said.
"I think that when you're a woman in uniform and while you're serving, you really isolate yourself," veteran Kate Logan said. "That's engrained in you that, to think that you have to blend into your environment right."
Logan served for 12 years including time in Bagdad and Iraq. She said making sisterly bonds with other female soldiers just didn't happen.
"We're almost pitted against each other," she said. "When you are one of the only women, you think that, there's less opportunity for you, and I think that for a long time, and this is in and out of the military, we've seen only a few slots available for women and so it becomes very competitive."
The Missilia box is changing that because, when a woman receives and opens the box, she is welcomed into a community of women like her.
Once the boxes started getting mailed out, something unexpected happened. Women who did not have a military or police background wanted to join the community as well.
"It's a pretty cool group. It's women. It's women's empowerment," said Kelly Adams, a Missilia volunteer.
"I loved her instantly, and I wanted to be a part of it. And the same with her, when she seen the products that I was doing and she saw that I created them for my family, she wanted my products to be a part of the box and so it was just a win-win," said Canetha Amour-Porter, owner of Amour Your Body.
As Rood starts this new subscription box business she has found an army of volunteers, women she has inspired who now want to help other women.
The subscription box costs $30 a month. There will be different items and a different woman featured each month. Rood hopes people will consider the box as a Christmas gift.