‘The detour is the path’

Plans are made for flexing and adapting, former Marine pilot says.

November 5, 2020

When Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour recalls the chaotic details of a mission during the Iraq War as a U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot, she asks attendees at the CUNA Lending Council Virtual Conference to identify the most important factors for success.

Among the suggestions were teamwork, confidence under pressure. But Armour, America’s first African-American female combat pilot, says her flight plan was the No. 1 reason she succeeded.

“Our plan gave us the framework for when stuff hit the fan,” she says. “We could flex, adapt, get back on course, and accomplish the mission. It’s all about flexibility and adaptability in the moment.”

She says credit unions face a similar situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We don’t know what today—let alone tomorrow, next week, or a year from now—will look like,” Armour says. “Credit unions are a direct connection to our communities. We need them more than ever.”

She recalls how Navy Federal Credit Union provided vehicle and home loans—along with personal service—in her personal financial journey.

As the first African American female combat pilot in the U.S. Armed Forces, Armour faced numerous challenges in her professional journey as well.

“We all have challenges and obstacles,” she says. “Some are more unique than others. The key is to acknowledge the obstacles but not give them power.”

Like her mother once told her, “suck it up, dry your eyes, and get back to work.”

“That’s flexing and adapting,” Armour says. “The detour is the path. We get back on course and we accomplish the mission.”

Likewise, credit unions have “to be OK with being uncomfortable in letting things unfold” during chaotic times such as the pandemic, she says.

“Your friends, your families and your members are depending on you.”

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