Written by Crystal Ward Kent
Today, Lynn Daigle Powers of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services/Verani Realty in Nashua, New Hampshire is a real estate agent on the rise, but a few short years ago, she was leading a very different life. Here is part of her journey.
Huddled up in a sleeping bag in the cold mountains of Afghanistan, U.S. Army Lieutenant Lynn Daigle Powers could only think of the warmth the dawn would bring. It was 2012, and women were not yet allowed to serve in combat roles, but Powers was part of a Cultural Support Team attached to Special Forces units operating in hostile territory. Her role, and that of others chosen for this duty, was to befriend village women and form a social bridge between the military and the locals. Powers had trained hard to get here and was well aware that a lot of eyes were watching how she performed.
As a teenager, Powers knew that she wanted to serve her country, but was also motivated by her family. “My dad taught me that I could do anything I set my mind to, and my mom always supported me. My older brother, Chris, and I were also always competitive; he especially inspired me. I knew the Army would challenge me in every way possible.”
She enlisted at age 17, going to college, taking Army ROTC, and serving in the Army Reserves all at the same time. After receiving her commission, she embraced Army life, traveling the world and experiencing “so many things that other people never get to do.” When the opportunity came to be part of a Cultural Support Team, Powers jumped at it. “We learned basic Pashtu, but I also had a female interpreter working with me,” she explains. “Our goal was to build relationships with the villagers so we were careful of local customs. I always wore a hijab (head covering) along with my uniform and gear as a gesture of respect.”
Powers’ team primarily operated in the mountains, where the days were warm but the nights were bitter cold. “It was also incredibly dry and dusty,” she says. “There was dust on everything and you could never get it all out of your things. When the wind blew, the visibility dropped to zero. When on patrol, you had to stay up close to the guy in front of you because you literally could not see him. It would have been very easy to get separated and lost. It was a challenging environment, but you adapted.”
After her tour, Powers came away with a good understanding of the Afghani people, and many special memories. “Life there is much slower and simpler; they live on ‘Afghan time,’” she says. “We are all very much driven by the clock and schedule everything, but over there, people just go with the flow. They eat, they go herd the goats or do chores, have dinner, then to bed. Everyone works very hard—even little children are out carrying bundles of sticks—and they are proud of their work. I found them to also be very kind and very social. I was even invited to a wedding while there! The whole experience was unforgettable.”
Forging a New Path
Powers was embedded with male soldiers and knew that part of her job was to break down barriers. “I knew I had to work harder, and do more than anyone else,” she recalls. “I had to prove myself. For the most part, the men in my team were very professional. If you did your part, you were part of the unit. We took care of each other. Overall, I had a very good experience. But, at that time, there were still Army personnel who had a different mindset. I remember talking to an Infantry Colonel who recognized my achievements, but said that most women couldn’t keep up, couldn’t carry their weight etc. I pointed out that I, and many women liked me, routinely carried 65-, 70- and 80-pounds of gear, including weapons; that we crossed desserts and hiked mountains, and didn’t ask for help. In fact, every woman chosen for the Cultural Support Team program was unique and powerful.
“I don’t think I changed that officer’s mind,” she continues. “But he did give me a challenge coin as a gesture of respect. I’m proud of whatever part I played in being a role model. Believing that we could do these things showed others that we could, and since then, more doors have opened for women in the military.”
Powers left the military with a Captain’s rank and after receiving the Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge. She married a fellow soldier, Pat, and after they both finished their service obligations, they began house hunting. She had not yet decided on a career, but her husband, noting her enthusiastic attention to detail as they compared homes, suggested real estate. “I thought, ‘He’s right!,’” laughs Powers. “I love working with people; I’m energetic by nature, and I love homes. I also thought this would be a career with flexible hours which would help with family life.”
She became a real estate agent in 2013 and hasn’t looked back. “I love the challenge and the fact that the job is different every day. Becoming an agent is truly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I’ve been fortunate to reach my goals. I set my sights on being Rookie of the Year for Verani and I achieved that. I literally went around knocking on doors. It showed me that I could make this work. Now, I’m building my business and even starting my own team!” Powers has since received the 2018 Achiever of the Year and the 2018 Leading Edge Society Award.
Powers enjoys helping everyone, but especially likes working with military families in need of housing. “I understand their needs, whether they are being transferred to the area or are retiring from the service,” she says. “I also have experience with Veterans’ Administration loans and can easily walk them through the process. I love helping fellow vets realize their real estate dreams. I also like working with first-time home-buyers and those who are upsizing due to changing lifestyles. It’s exciting to see people realizing their goals.”
When she’s not working, Powers is busy being a mom to Hannah, 3 and Connor, 1, and serves as a guardian ad litem with CASA, a nonprofit that supports abused and neglected children and helps them transition to better lives. “I’m just trying to be the best person I can be,” she says. “I know that I’m lucky to be where I am and I’m very grateful. I don’t take anything for granted!”