Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Myths and Truths about Life After the Military

I always welcome hearing from other's perspective.  In light of that, one of my readers Emma is guest posting about an interesting topic--service members transferring from the Military to civilian workforce.  Thanks for broadening our perspective, Emma!

Emma is a mid 20-something year old with a passion for life, love, fitness, and helping others. She loves to be active and get involved in as many sport and community activities as possible. Emma is currently studying to become a Career & Life Coach, and loves to network with people from around the world! Check out Emma’s blog at

Myths and Truths About Life After the Military
Every veteran’s situation is unique, some transition from the military after a minimum commitment while others retire after a much longer career. Either way, the transition can present some challenges. Often, these challenges are compounded by the myths you have probably heard concerning the transition. Let’s take a look at a few common myths and learn the truths that can set you on the path toward success.
Myth: Finding a non-military job after a long time in the military will be overwhelmingly difficult.
Truth: Many skills used in the military are transferrable to private-sector jobs. Firms such as Recruit Military specialize in connecting military veterans and military spouses with companies seeking to fill open positions. Recruit Military also offers assistance with resume writing, hosts job fairs and supplies several other job services to veterans and their spouses.
Myth: Job applications are difficult and time consuming to complete.
Truth: Companies today understand the importance of attracting the best employees to fill open positions. In order to do so, many companies have simplified the application process by partnering with mobile recruiting programs, like JIBE to allow job seekers to easily upload resumes and other pertinent information directly from computers, tablets or smart phones.
Myth: Because you were discharged with a service-related injury you will have a hard time finding a job.
Truth: In addition to laws that give preference to veterans applying for certain jobs, the government also has several programs available to assist disabled veterans seeking to reenter the workforce. You may be eligible to receive on-the-job training, vocational rehabilitation, personal counseling and more. These programs are committed to providing disabled veterans with the help they need to find and maintain gainful employment.
Myth: Looking for a job is simply a process of sending out a resume and waiting.
Truth: There’s a lot more to finding a job than simply submitting resumes. You need to network, make follow up calls and sell yourself to potential employers. Attending job fairs and social events will help you get your name into the right circles. Employers won’t be knocking on your door looking to hire you, it is your job to get out there and sell yourself!
As you make the transition into civilian life, you’ll learn about some wonderful resources available to you and in time, opportunities you never dreamed could come your way.
There is a strength that can be found in this path.  But, you must also find strength to remain on this path. 

I walk around my house, slowly becoming a home, trying to decide where to start next.  What box to unpack now.  And where to put it.  What needs to go to a new home. 

I want the boxes gone.  Done. 

We have moved four times in the last year-ish.  Before we even arrived back in Texas (much to our surprise), we had our assignment changed five times.  All this following a deployment.  Surprisingly, I handled it okay.  At times, I became irritated or frustrated.  Cranky.  But, mostly, I just swung with the changes.  I have seen so many boxes in the last year, packed a place so many times (and so quickly), that I am sick of seeing and smelling cardboard.  And it does have a smell.  It fills your home quickly.  Amidst this latest move, I started to say, If I ever see a box again, it will be too soon.  I never finished the sentence. 

In two years, we will pack up this home and head out again.  Move again. 

And that's okay.  I have the strength to do it.  I might not be thrilled about unpacking today, or clearing the moving clutter off that counter AGAIN.  I might kick the packing paper after I stub my toe on a box for the umteenth time, but I move forward.  Because I muster the strength. 

The strength I see in my husband, who makes the biggest sacrifice.  Always prepared to make an even bigger sacrifice.  The strength I feel when I look at our neighbors here on post, all moving through the same life.  The strength I am reminded of when I pull the pictures and photos out of boxes and hang them on the wall.  Those things are our home; they move with us.  Everywhere.  The strength I hear when we are sitting in bed at night, and Taps plays out all over the Army Post on the loud speaker in the darkness.  I stop cold every time. 

There's a strength I grasp when my girls are wrestling with more transition, scared of change.  I become the pillar that they need when everything around them is changing and being packed in paper and boxes.  When they cry out they don't want to leave their house again.  The strength I force when talking deployments and moves...because they are real.  And always inevitable. 

There's a strength I feel when I am reminded again that that I am a Third Generation Army Wife.  A sense of pride.  I can do this, because my mother and my mother's mother walked this path. 

Yes, I can unpack one more box.  Put stuff somewhere.  Record more damage.  And more.  And then more.  I can move again when the time comes.  I can hug away the fear, kiss the tears.  I can stand tall and proud and firm for my Soldier.  I can hang more pictures, knowing they'll come down all too soon.  I can get irritated over the chips and gouges and then get over it. 

Because of the Strength.  The Strength I feel.  And the Strength I make.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

She and I were sitting in the vestibule.  She's at that fun age where she's constantly making noise and moving at Mass.  So, there we were.  With a sweet, older woman to our left, and two loud chatty women to our right (but that's a vent for another day).  I was singing one of the songs as the priest prepared Communion, was feeling such great peace.  All of a sudden this woman was standing before me.

"Why are you not in the choir?"


"Why are you not in the choir?" 

I pointed to the cuteness personified sitting on my lap.  "Because of her," I laughed.

"Oh, don't let that be an excuse.  We can work around that."  (Trying not to get offended at that.)

"Well, thank you, ma'am.  I have another little girl, too, so I just feel more needed in the pew." 

"That voice is a gift.  Don't waste it."

When I was in middle school, my voice was enough to offend cats.  It was horrible.  I don't know why.  But, it was.  By high school, it was alright, so I joined the choir.  I have always loved to sing.  I sing in the car, while cleaning the house, walking through the grocery store with my girls.  They love to hear me sing.  Sometimes, when we are home, I will sing Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" with accompanying stage antics, much to the girls glee. 

"O-gain!  O-gain!"  Mary giggles
"Again, Mommy!  Again! " chimes Elizabeth. 

And I do.  With great joy. 

In the grocery store, I've been stopped by people and told to audition for American Idol (whatever.  That's for REALLY good people!).  I've received the advice before about joining the Church Choir.  I don't think my voice is that great, but apparently it's improved since middle school. 

But, thing is, I don't want to be in the Church choir.  I don't want to audition for those shows.  Some people were born to sing in front of the congregation.  Some were meant to sing in front of millions.

Me?  No.

I was born to sing next to tiny beds.  I was meant to sing over a bassinet.  I don't need fame out there.  I have it at home.  I have my small audience right there, that loves my crazy stage antics, that cheers while I sing. 

When my oldest girl was an infant, she would scream for over twelve hours a day.  A horrible, gut-wrenching scream.  Colic.  My all-time nemesis.  I would put her on her tummy across my thighs while rocking her.  I'd put her tiny aching belly across the boppy on the floor and rub her back.  I'd put her in bouncy seats and swings.  I'd hold her, talk to her.

Nothing worked.

Except for one thing.  Singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."  I started singing it once when she was just days old, when I was out of my mind crazy.  And she stopped.  She stopped screaming, and just looked at me.  And for the first time since her birth, I felt a connection.  She was hearing me.  I would sing it for hours, sensing the comfort.  Sensing the connection.  I still sing it to her.  She loves it, requests it.  It makes my heart happy. And hers, too. 

No.  I do not wish to sing in front of hundreds.  I do not want to sing in front of millions.  I just want to sing for the little souls with which God blessed me with.  That is fulfilling enough for me.