Eva Henshaw - A Civilian in the Military: Pride and Purpose

As a network support manager at CFB Greenwood, Eva has seen many changes over her 30 years of service as technology has evolved rapidly. Her current work involves networking systems that allow real-time, high-quality video to be delivered from military aircrafts so decisions can be made promptly on the ground. It’s work that helps the military on missions overseas and helps protect Canadian families here at home.

“In a fire or a flood situation, for example in Winnipeg, we would be able to use that aircraft, fly over and take video, and transmit that video immediately to the decision makers to make better decisions on what needs to be done,” says Eva.

Her favorite part of the job is solving problems and troubleshooting, although there can be a lot of pressure when an aircraft is scheduled for a flight and she has to do a fix, fast. “It’s very nerve-racking at times,” she admits.

“The military environment has trained me well over my years. With all of that training, there are pretty much no troubles I can’t solve. I’m pretty confident in the work that I do.”

One of the highlights of her long career was being sent to work in the field, in the Middle East. “As a civilian you’re not used to that environment, so it gives you a sense of purpose and makes you appreciate what’s going on and the importance of your job. It makes you feel proud.” Being a civilian in the military environment is a unique aspect of Eva’s career. Eva sees the challenges but also recognizes the benefits. “You have to learn about military culture and the way military personnel think. Their focus is very different, but very needed. Once you get used to it, you can’t imagine working anywhere else.”

Eva also recognizes the important role civilians play in the military. As military personnel move in and out of the base, it’s up to Eva and her fellow public service professionals to provide the continuity, hold the history and keep things steady.

Between working on a military base and on networking systems, Eva doesn’t have a lot of female colleagues at work.

“You get used to working with a lot of male colleagues, and I find sometimes I have to prove myself a little more,” she says. “Once you’re comfortable in what you do and you’re confident in it, your male counterparts see that competence, and your gender doesn’t really matter.”

Still, Eva finds her work so rewarding that she’d love to see more women get into the field and experience the challenges and fulfillment she enjoys.

Eva believes in her work, and takes pride in being a professional member of the public service. “We have our hearts in it. We’re very proud of the work we do and we want to deliver the best that we can for Canadians.”