OCdts. On Parade

RMC just the beginning for Senior PAO

A/SLt 24498 Noelani Shore (RMC 2009)

For Major 20755 Holly Apostoliuk (RMC 1998), joining the Canadian Forces and becoming an officer was never a question of if, but when.

She is currently the Senior Public Affairs Officer for 1 Canadian Air Division and Canadian NORAD Region, but when she was in Grade 8, she knew that she would one day be a part of the CF.

“I never considered seeking anything but leadership as a career choice. I remember a poster that we were asked to create just before graduating from Grade 8 that illustrated where and what we wanted to be at different ages in the future – for age 25 I had sketched myself in an Army uniform with the rank of major,” she said.

Maj Apostoliuk was in the Army Cadets growing up, and it was then that she decided RMC would be the way she would make her career goals come true.

“My mother returned from a university information session with a sheaf of pamphlets for me about the College. I was an Army Cadet at the time, having joined because I wanted to learn the skill of rifle shooting and thought I might as well learn from the ‘experts.’ My family is intensely patriotic, but I was the first child to join cadets and take an active interest in military service,” Maj Apostoliuk said.

When asked what has made her grow the most as an officer, she responded that it was likely on her first posting and deployment with the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, when as a young lieutenant she had the responsibility of providing public affairs advice to 12491 LCol David Barr (now Colonel) during work up training and deployment to Bosnia.

“What I learned from soldiers doing soldiers’ work throughout the Battle Group and from its leadership still informs my decision-making processes today.”

After five operational deployments, Maj Apostoliuk has experienced many different working environments.

“I served in Bosnia at both the battle group and national command element levels in 2000 and 2003, and deployed with the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to Pakistan in 2005,” she explained. “I supported the Strategic Advisory Team – Afghanistan through a month-long Technical Assistance Visit in 2006, and recently returned from an 11-month deployment as military assistant and public affairs advisor to the International Security Assistance Force spokesperson in Kabul.”

On the last mission to Afghanistan, Maj Apostoliuk worked for Brigadier General 13595 Richard Blanchette and with Lieutenant (Navy) 23258 Marc Wallis.

“I recall with appreciation the teamwork I experienced when part of a very small team on my last mission to Afghanistan. As the Office of the ISAF Spokesperson, we had the challenge of communicating the facts of the mission against a backdrop of insurgent propaganda and creative conspiracy theories,” she explained. “The strength and positivity of our working relationship helped us surmount significant obstacles in accomplishing the mission despite, or perhaps because of, our very different backgrounds and experiences.”

Maj Apostoliuk received the ISAF Commander’s Commendation in 2009 for her contributions to ISAF.

As the Senior PAO at 1 Canadian Air Division, Maj Apostoliuk is responsible for providing the Commander and the leadership team PA advice, leading the Division public affairs (PA) office in providing PA support, as well as providing guidance to Wing PAOs across the Division consistent with the Commander’s intent and with strategic guidance.

“What that means more simply, is that I am the lead go-to-girl for public affairs advice throughout the Division on a wide-range of issues including support to operations, issues and crisis management, community relations, the employment and at times deployment of Air Force public affairs officers, and identifying opportunities to tell the operational Air Force story,” said Maj Apostoliuk. “My responsibilities require a great deal of coordination, consultation and teamwork, as at any given moment Air Force activities may be in support of any of the four operational commands, NORAD, or in support of the Navy, Army – and yes, the Air Force.”

Maj Apostoliuk has had the opportunity to work for General Rick Hillier as his PAO.

“One of my fondest memories is being called ‘bossy,’ I hope in jest, by Gen Hillier when I was preparing dignitaries for the launch of the Military Families Fund. My only possible reply is to plead guilty that I was a product of his ‘get-on-with-it’ leadership,” she said.

“My proudest moments have been those where I felt I was concretely helping, or at least temporarily easing, a bit of the pain for some of the families of our fallen. Their sacrifice and burden is immeasurable,” she said. “The opportunity for me to offer those families some comfort, advice or support has been the greatest service I think I can provide to Canadians.”

When asked if her gender affected her decision to join the Army, or her experiences at RMC, she had this to say.

“The fact that I was a woman at RMC was immaterial to me, and, I believe, immaterial to everyone else. I am more notable for my size, my attitudes, and my approach to work than for my gender, and I do not expect that to ever change. From my experience on deployments it is clear that the Canadian Forces approach to gender is far from universal among our allies, so I no longer take that equality for granted.”

Maj Apostoliuk is married to 20066 Mike Apostoliuk. They have one huge garden, two large dogs, and are expecting their first child.

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