Military Life: Job Searching from Across the County

I’ve officially been applying for jobs in Wisconsin since April 25th!

So far I’ve had two interviews (both with the same company) and I’m waiting for an official job offer early in June (not to jinx myself, but it sounds very promising that I will get the position!)

Having only ever applied for local jobs, I had no idea what to expect when I started this process.

Here are two of my “tips” that I’ve gathered so far!

#1: Be very clear about your relocation in your cover letter. I used something like this:

“I am looking forward to permanently relocating to Wisconsin this summer as my husband transitions out of the military and we return home.”

  • Let them know this is not a “if I get a job I’ll move” type of situation and that you are serious about moving.
  • Be as specific about the date as possible (in my case, I am willing to move before my husband gets out if I get a job, so I put “summer” rather than his actual EAS date)

At first, I was unsure about mentioning my husband or the military. I feel that military spouses in particular often mesh themselves with their husband’s career more so than other non-military spouses. However, this experience taught me to not be afraid of using the “military card”, because it ended up getting me an interview!

#2: Phone Interviews: After completing my first phone screening I was contacted from the agency again and informed that they wanted to move forward with me as a candidate and schedule an in person interview.

This was challenging for me. On one hand, I completely understand that a company would want to meet a candidate in person before offering a job. However, because I’m out of state, it’s a little illogical for them to expect me to spend upwards of $1k to fly out just for an interview.

After discussing it with my husband, my mom (who owns her own business and hires employees often) and other military spouses who have been through the same situation…I decided to be very clear about my situation and offer only a phone or Skype interview.

Initially, my offer was declined and they passed over me as a candidate. It was disappointing, because I really wanted the job, but I felt confident in my choice. It is just not realistic for my husband and I to spend that kind of money for an interview when we are preparing to EAS.

Here is where my comment about using the “military card” comes into play. I got a call later that week from the same company asking me to do a phone interview. They had discussed my situation with the hiring manager (who is former military) and they decided to make an exception for me because of my qualifications for the position. YAY!

Phone interviews are tough! It’s hard to hear if you are on speaker phone, people talk over each other, and you can’t judge facial expressions…your voice has to fully represent you as a person.

At the end of my interview I then offered to fly out and meet them; I wanted to be considered equally to locally candidates, and because I am very interested in the position, I am willing to make the trip now that they are seriously considering me for the position.

This is where my story ends. Right now I’m waiting for a call back by June 9th either offering me the job (which seems to be the way things will go) or asking me to fly out for another in-person interview. I suppose the other option is no call back and not getting the job…but I’m thinking positive!

All in all, this job searching experience has been a huge learning opportunity! But I’ll be glad when it’s over and I’ve secured an awesome job!

Advertisements

EAS Fears

Well, looks like our time as a military family will be coming to an end in a few months. Jeremy has decided to EAS at the end of his current (second) enlistment, after nearly 9 years of service in the Marine Corps.

It’s a decision that I still struggle with. I am happy as a military family; it’s a life that I have thrived in during the last 7 years, and I imagine I would continue to be content for another 11 years until retirement.

249809_10150203587281819_346947_n

Jeremy is a wonderful Marine. He will be promoted this year if he stays in, and I know it’s hard for him to walk away from a career that he has dedicated 9 years too. I know it will be a struggle for him to start over, to go to college and be the “old” guy applying for jobs.

I also can’t help feeling responsible for this decision. Jeremy is getting out because he doesn’t want to have children in the military. He has seen his co-workers break down on deployments being away from their children. Combined with his own less than stellar childhood, he doesn’t want that life for our future children. Because I am the one who wants children in the next few years, this decision to EAS now is being sparked because of me.

Logically, I realize that it’s not all on me. It’s his choice, and I need to respect that.

But I’m afraid he will come to regret this choice. I’m afraid he won’t be happy with a civilian career. I’m afraid that I won’t be as happy away from the military life. I’m afraid we will struggle financially and I won’t be able to be a stay-at-home mom. I’m afraid we will struggle financial in general. I have so many worries and fears.

But I suppose that is normal with such a big change.

I’m trying to think of the positives…being near family, buying a house, no more moving, being able to settle into a career, having my husband home every night, etc.

breath in…breath out!

5 months and counting down!

Don’t Cry

I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz around the internet about the latest Teen Mom 2 episode that aired on Tuesday.

I finally caught up a few days late and just finished watching it (one of the drawbacks of having your husband home is that you no longer have free reign over the TV lol)

Speaking of having my husband home, the main “drama” I’ve been hearing about the latest episode is Leah’s constant nagging of her husband when he goes out of town. She complains every time he leaves.

The one part that stuck with me most was at the end of the episode when he is talking about going on a five week job, she said that she can’t pretend to be happy when he leaves.

As a military wife, I’ve said “good-bye” to my husband many times; for as short of a time as a few weeks, to upwards of 7 months.

Now, I’m not saying that she doesn’t have the right to complain because “other people have it worse”.  My reasoning in pointing out my own experience in because I’ve come to learn how important it is to “pretend” to be happy when your spouse has to leave.

He doesn’t want to leave. Whether he is going out of town for a five week job, or going to Afghanistan for a year long deployment, I believe that no husband wants to leave his wife. And her certainly doesn’t want to leave his children. 

Crying about it, complaining about it, telling him how sad you are and how you don’t want him to go; all that does is make him feel even worse for leaving you. Because now he is dealing not only with his own feelings of separation and sadness, but he is responsible for your pain. He is the cause of your tears and the reason that you are sad.

So my advice to Leah, and to all military spouses, is to try to pretend a bit; for him. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be honest about your feelings and let him know that you will miss him. But crying about it and complaining about it isn’t going to make him stay (at least not in the military); and it’s likely only going to make him feel even worse about having to leave. 

So try to be a strong partner for him; because that’s what he needs most. 

ImageSaying good-bye to my husband when he left for his first deployment to Afghanistan; 11/3/10

TBT: Marriage Retreat

During the summer of 2010 my husband found out that he would be deploying to Afghanistan that November.

In preparation for his departure, we decided to sign up for a Marriage Retreat through CREDO. I was shocked that my husband even came with me, he isn’t the kind of guy to talk about his feelings with me, much less in front of other people! I was even more shocked that he participated and actually enjoyed himself too.

62763_432602601818_3301601_n

Our retreat took place over the course of three days, Friday-Sunday. My husband had to get his command to sign off so he could take Friday off, and thankfully they didn’t have a problem with it since it’s a military run event.

We drove up to the forest and each couple got their own cabin for the weekend. No TV no internet, just a bed, a shower, and each other.

59850_432602701818_1411054_n

There were probably 15 couples total in our group. We met for classes and discussions during most of the day. The topics were communication skills and other relationships strengthening stuff. There were different activities and discussion topics, along with lectures about statistics and different ways to communicate with your spouse.

The food was AMAZING! We had three meals a day plus unlimited cookies and soda during the classes…probably the best part, no lie!

We also got some time off for “free time” to spend with each other. Jeremy and I took some hikes around the woods and also did a zip line that was on the property.

62204_432601846818_4781554_n

Overall, I would recommend it to any military couple. It gave us the platform to talk about our marriage, our feelings about the upcoming deployment, and all those other “feeling” stuff that is sometimes awkward to bring up out of context. This retreat gave us the context to have those discussions, and I think that we both found it to be a valuable experience because of that.

60051_432602471818_421250_n

What’s In A Name? – Link-up

I’m a day late, but I wanted to participate in this link-up! The prompt is asking bloggers to share the story behind their blog name:

My current blog is actually the second blog I’ve ever created. I decided to deactivate the first one after I started developing my career in Graduate School…I didn’t want client’s to be able to Google me and find my personal blog. Awkward!

So I switched formats (from Blogger to WordPress) and created a new blog, one that wasn’t attached to my full legal name.

I took the opportunity of starting a new blog to also create a new title. My current title is actually part of a quote that I very much relate to:

This quote first came to me when I was searching for “positive deployment quotes” when my husband was first deployed, back in 2010.

I’m a huge advocate of keeping a positive mindset during deployment, I think its is one of the major things that can help military spouses not only survive deployments, but to thrive.

There is no denying that there are many negative things about deployments, and I promise you, if you focus on them the time will drag by and you will likely be unhappy for most of that time.

On the other hand, if you look beyond those negative things, you can actually have a shot at happiness during deployment. A positive attitude makes the time fly by so much faster than wallowing in the misery and loneliness. A positive attitude helps your spouse maintain focus on deployment, since they aren’t worried about you or feeling additional guilt for your unhappiness.

The quote choice is also the reason why I chose the cover photo that I currently have, it was from my husband’s first homecoming from Afghanistan.

The smiles say it all.

Military life can be filled with many “imperfections”, but there are also many beautiful moments, like homecomings.

So I choose to be happy. Not because my life is perfect (there are deployments, trainings, work-ups, etc.), but because I chose to see the positives in my life and look beyond the imperfections.

Do Military Families Need Hand-Outs?

I don’t normally post political topics on my blog, because people always disagree. It’s an inevitable result of a 2 party system. However, I felt strongly enough about this topic that I wanted to write a rebuttal, since what I wanted to say was too long to fit in the comment box of a FB post. Since many of my followers are also military spouses, I am expecting some disagreement. Feel free to commend and disagree, but please keep it polite.

A friend of mine shared this status update from a military related “support page”: OSMW Confessions

“Don’t care who gets upset about this: the fact that companies like WaMart do stuff for military families really bugs me. First off, military personnel are paid better than most Americans of the same job skill/background/training. And housing is free, plus your pay increases with each kid you have, meaning some tard toting around five brats gets more income just for having them. Which is ridiculous in itself, but I digress.

SO ANYWAY. There are HOMELESS children in America, there are FOSTER children in America, there are ABUSED children in America, there are broken homes and there are MILITARY VETS who are homeless and could much less get a Christmas present. Whereas people in the military get free (nice) housing and all their needs met in a paycheck and everyone bends over backwards for them to help them out at Christmas.

I don’t care if your soldier is deployed. That’s part of the whole thing. You still have a stable income and your kids are still fed. Therefore you do not need the charity. Others need it more. How dare these women with coach purses and Victoria’s Secret cards take toys for their own well-taken-care-of, free-health insurance, paid-for-by-the-government kids when some parents can’t afford a pair of shoes for their kids and would be more than thankful for a toy or two.

SORRY NOT SORRY

ps. my ex husband is navy, so I’ve seen it all: the people standing in huge lines for a damn ten pound turkey they could’ve picked up for fifteen bucks…women with dependa bags refusing to work but still taking donations for christmas presents. makes me sick and so am glad I’m out of and away from that base!”

The general response to this post was very negative.

Aside from the fact that she came across pretty bitchy and her facts are a little off (you don’t get paid for having more children and housing is not “free”, there is a separate housing allowance on top of basic pay) I agree 100% with her statement.

There were 514 comments on that status disagreeing with her, making me feel like a very small minority for agreeing with her overall point.

So let me break it down a bit and explain why I agree since apparently my logic is not intuitive to most people.

The military gets paid pretty good; I should know, I’m married to a Marine.

But just in case you don’t believe me, why don’t we look at some examples.

Let’s take a hypothetical military family of 3 in San Diego; and just to make it interesting, lets make him an E-2 with 1 year of service. BAH is $1,986 and basic pay would be $1,699.80, according to the pay charts and BAH calculator for his rank and time in service. That brings our total monthly income for Mr. E-2 to $3685.80, before taxes.

Now, let’s do some comparisons.

That monthly income for our E-2 comes out to an hourly $23 for a 40 hour week. I understand that military members often work more than 40 hours a week, my husband normally puts in 10-12 hour days, and that is when he is not deployed. But I think saying that they work 24/7 is a little extreme (which was the argument that many of the commenters made in explaining why military don’t get paid very well). While the military may be “on call” 24/7, they are not working all of that time. But, for the sake of being more realistic, if our E-2 was working 12 hour days he would still be making $15 an hour, which is more than minimum wage.

Now let’s look at someone working full time at Wal-mart. Minimum wage is $8 an hour in CA, making his monthly income $1,280 before taxes. That is 1/3 of what our E-2 is making!

*I want to add here that our Wal-mart family would not qualify for food stamps in San Diego because of their income and Section 8 has a 10+ year wait list, which means that they would probably be paying at least $1,000 for an apartment and having to pay all of their bills and buy food with $280 a month. Would you want to live like that?*

However, the original poster mentioned that “military personnel are paid better than most Americans of the same job skill/background/training”, which means my Wal-mart comparison might not be accurate since our E-2 is probably better skilled than a Wal-mart employee, depending on his job.

So let’s take my job. I have a Master’s degree and work full-time in my field as a social worker (not the highest paying career, but still requires an advanced degree). I have been at my job for less than a year, same as our E-2. My hourly rate for 37.5 hour a week is $19 an hour. Which means I am making more than our E-2 if we have him working 12 hour days every day, but less than our E-2 if we have him working a normal 40 hour week.

My point in showing all this math is to demonstrate that military pay is GOOD! (People who calculate only the basic pay and divide it by 24/7 work days to show how “little” military is paid are not being realistic, IMO)

Therefore, when I look at the whole picture of all of the people living in the United States, I can honestly say that I do not consider the military to be a “needy” population (in terms of needing financial assistance from charities).

I see homeless families as needy. I see domestic violence victims living in shelters as needy. I see foster children needy. I see individuals disabled by mental health or physical disabilities as needy.

Those are the people who need a food pantry because even though they are getting disability pay they can’t afford to feed their families after they have paid such high rent. Those are the people that needs financial assistance to move out of a shelter into an apartment because a single mother is starting over after being abused by her spouse and can’t afford 1st months rent and a deposit on her new minimum wage job. These are the homeless families who cry tears of joy when a social service agency donate shoes and they can give their children new shoes for the first time in months or years.

Being a military family I see all that we are offered. I see all of the free and discounted things that are given to military families. Just around the holidays alone I could have gotten a free turkey, a free Christmas tree, free holiday meals, free toys for my children and $300+ dollars from SEARS to by gifts for my family. Just to name the programs that I am aware of.

There are organization that will pay for car payments, auto repair, child care, rent, home repairs, etc. I’ve seen cars donated to military programs. I’ve gotten free glasses from Operation Clear Vision just for being a military spouse, regardless of my income.

Looking back at our income comparison, does our E-2 family need those thing? Or does our Wal-mart employee?

Now, before everyone gets on my case by saying that military families deserve all those things because of their service to this country, let me say that I am not saying that military families are not deserving.

However, is a domestic violence victim living in a shelter with her young children in fear of her life less deserving than a military family? Is a homeless mentally ill woman less deserving? Is a homeless foster youth who aged out of the system and has no family support less deserving?

Does someone need to “deserve” help?

I support the military 100%, but I don’t feel that they are the most needy population in the United States.

It’s not my place to categorize who is the most “needy” or who does or doesn’t “deserve” help, but when I look at this country and all the people who need a helping hand from social service agencies, I see too many people.

And if I had to pick who I would help buy Christmas presents for or a Thanksgiving meal, a military family would not be at the top of my list. And I don’t think that makes me a bad person.

Military Spouses: Don’t Sell Yourself Short

There seems to be a fine line between not taking any credit for being a military spouse, and taking too much.

I think we are all familiar with the “taking too much credit” ones. Having “Proud Army Wife” as your FB job is a dead give away. Along with the ACU purse, with name tapes and rank. These are the spouses that get nicknamed “dependapotamus” and end up on OSMW and Dear Dependa.

BTW: This guys comic strip is hilarious. He has a FB page and a Website

These are the spouses whose entire identity revolves around their husband’s career in the military. They are first to tell everyone they meet that their husband is in the military (if they can’t already catch on by the PT shirts and “Marine Wife: Toughest Job in the Corps” sweatshirt), and then expect the sympathy and “thank you for your service” comments. They are the wives who get offended that not everyplace offers a military discount to spouses, stating that they serve just as much as their spouse.

But then there are the spouses who take no credit for being a military spouse. They are harder to find because they stay under the radar.

I went to an event on base a few months ago called “Heroes at Home”. It was a motivational speaking event for military spouses, the Commandant of the Marine Corps wife (she is hilarious!) was the guest of honor, along with other military spouses who had written published books relating to military life.

After the event, one of the wives that was there said to me, “I wish they wouldn’t call us ‘heroes’, we aren’t doing anything different than civilian spouses”.

This stuck with me, because I do think we do more than a woman married to a engineer or most other “normal” civilian jobs.

I’m not one to think that just because I’m married to a Marine that my marriage or my husband is “better” than any other, but I do feel that it is different.

If I wasn’t married to a Marine I wouldn’t have had to cancel our vow renewal because he was told he was deploying, only to have them change their mind at the last minute. If I wasn’t married to a Marine, my husband would have been at my college graduation instead of being in Afghanistan. If I wasn’t married to a Marine I wouldn’t have spent almost 2 years of our 5 years of marriage with him off to some other part of the world in service to his country. If I wasn’t married to a Marine I wouldn’t know a 20-year-old widow whose husband died while serving overseas.

So don’t downplay the service that you do as a military spouse.

Don’t downplay having your husband miss your child’s birth. Don’t downplay the fact that he won’t be meeting your son until he is 6 months old.

I’m not saying that we should all take it to the extreme like some do; there is a difference between acknowledging the challenges of your life, and making your life only about those challenges.

Military families do serve their country, but in a different way then the service members do. It’s not the same; I would never entertain the idea that staying home and waiting for my husband for 7 months is at all comparable to him serving in Afghanistan.

But I do believe that holding down the home front while he was gone is something I should be proud of. It’s something that I should acknowledge in my life.

I do feel that it is true that “any wife would do the same thing” if she was in my position. I’m not stating otherwise. But what I am saying is that not every wife has been asked to. Not every wife is a military wife.

They may have their own challenges that I will never experience, and they should be proud of overcoming them. Just as I am proud of myself for being a military wife and supporting my husband through 2 deployments, numbers trainings and school and a duty station change.

To my fellow military spouses, don’t sell yourself short.

But also, don’t take it too far, it’s annoying lol.

Uncertainty: Part II

The uncertainty finally came to an end today.

We are staying in San Diego!

Jeremy was officially dropped from recruiting school today due to his injury last week. I get to keep my job and he is non-deployable for a while while he heals and starts physical therapy. The doctor says it could be 6 months before he is fully healed.

We were looking forward to going someplace new and hopefully being closer to his family, but there are plenty of perks to staying here. San Diego isn’t the worst place to be stuck for a few more years! Keeping my job is a huge plus, it’s an awesome job and I am very grateful to be able to stay on since I was originally hired as a temp. We are going to start looking for a house to rent since our lease is up on January and we have the new puppy.

In 2 years we can hopefully pay of all of our debt since we are both working full-time, which will prepare us for Jeremy finished up his contract with the military and making the transition to civilians. I will hopefully get enough hours to become a licensed clinical social worker, which will open up job opportunities for me when we move.

All in all, things are pretty good aside form Jeremy’s injury. But mostly I am just happy about knowing for sure where we are going! I can find the good in pretty much anything.

What I dislike most about military life: Uncertainty

You know what I dislike most about military life? It’s not the deployments. I can deal with time apart. It’s not the moving, I am used to living away from family.

What I dislike most is the uncertainty. The “maybe”

The, “you are deploying in December”, and then two months later, after you have prepared for the deployment, possibly held off applying for schools, put off moving to an new place because you are going to go home for the deployment, pushed back your wedding or moved up your wedding…they say “oh wait, your not deploying in December, its July now”.

Are you freakin’ kidding me!

You think I would have learned by now, since almost that exact situation happened to us a few years ago. Jeremy was supposed to deploy the summer after we got married, so we pushed back our big wedding to the following summer. Then they said he wasn’t going, so we moved it back. Then they decided he was going in November, so we again had to move it.

Yet another reason why so many military couples get married in the courthouse, it’s nearly impossible to plan a wedding around the military.

So why am I so upset/annoyed/anxious about this recent “you are moving/your not moving”? I should know how the military is by now.

I don’t mind moving as long as I can plan for it. If the Marine Corps wants to send us to Japan I would make it work. But when they mess with my planning time is when I start to come unraveled.

Jeremy was supposed to start recruiting and we were planning on moving in December. We’ve known about this since around April. So when I graduated in May I didn’t look for permanent jobs here, I just looked for temp work. I stumbled upon an amazing job in my field that I love, and they knew up front that I was a temp hire.

Then the government shut down happened, and it looked like Jeremy would not be going to school anymore since the people in change of booking up the class got furloughed and didn’t notify people about who got a seat in the class and who didn’t (Jeremy, it turns out, did not). So I told my boss that I was likely going to stay. She was so excited, as was I, and she stopped interviewing people and told her supervisors that I was staying.

Jeremy still had to show up for class anyway, some silly thing about having orders but not having a seat in the class, and last week it started to look he was going to get a spot in the class because so many people were getting dropped for not qualifying (too many kids, too many tattoos, out of shape, etc.).  I felt guilty holding that information from my boss because I didn’t want to screw her over and not give her enough time to hire my replacement, so I told her it was looking like I was leaving again. I asked her to give me two weeks, and if he was still in school then she should go ahead and start the process of hiring someone else.

THEN Jeremy hurt his leg really bad on Thursday during the PFT, and he was told he was dropped. I excitedly told my boss that I was for sure staying and she was again super excited.

Fast forward to last night, and apparently the orders for Jeremy to get dropped made it up the ranks and the final guy decided that he wasn’t hurt enough. Apparently being on crutches and popping Vicodin isn’t hurt enough and he still has to go to class next week and more doctors appointments to figure out exactly what is wrong with his leg and if it’s a long-term injury.

I’ve decided not to tell my boss this last part, to keep mum until next Friday. If Jeremy is still in school then, I will tell her to replace me.

Everyone I’ve talked to has told me that I just shouldn’t have said anything after I told my boss that I would be staying (the first time). But I want to be honest. I feel like they deserve to know what is going on. I would feel guilty if I didn’t tell them.

At this point, my boss probably thinks the military is crazy. She will never hire another military spouse after all of my drama. I’m happy she is sticking with me and not just giving up after so much back and forth, after all the uncertainty.

There is that word again. Uncertainty. 

I hate it!

It messed with my personal life, and now it’s messing with my career.

I see now why so many spouses are stay at home wives/moms; trying to work a career around the military is so frustrating.

I was ready to move, I was going to make it work. I have applied to get my intern number in CA and WI so that I can collect hours towards my license in both states (that took a lot of prep work). I found an awesome temp job where I could get some good experience and not screw them over by lying about how long I could work for.

I did everything right, but the military bulldozes over all of it.

Sometimes I just need to vent it out. Feel free to join me.

What has the military screwed up for you? Did you buy a house and then orders got changed and you had to move? Buy a plane ticket for homecoming and then have it be pushed back and not be able to get your money back?

Blogging Anniversary!

WordPress just kindly notified me that today is my 1 year blogging anniversary!

I started this blog as Jeremy’s second deployment was coming to an end. 75% done, to be exact.

Since then, he has come home and we have been lucky enough to keep him home.

I’ve been thinking more about deployments and the military over the last week. Since Jeremy’s last reenlistment I got comfortable with the idea of him being career military. I came to terms with the knowledge of more deployments. I accepted the inevitability of more moves, of having to transfer my career around the country and not being able to settle down and build our dream house.

But lately, with Jeremy’s recruiting orders seeming unlikely as a result of the shut-down, he could be out of the Marine Corps in as little as 2 years if he doesn’t reenlist again. November 2015 to be exact.

There was a point in Jeremy’s life that he wanted to make the military career. But as we look forward into our future, as we think about having children and the kind of life we want to provide to our children, he seems to have changed his mind about staying in the military.

Plenty of military families have children in the military and raise them successfully. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that; but that is not the life that Jeremy wants for his future children.

The idea of not being there for every birthday, for every “1st”, for every soccer game and for every bedtime story, is very upsetting for him. He wants to be there for everything, and to make that a reality he would need to be out of the Corps.

So perhaps as my blog reaches its 3 year anniversary I will be posting about preparing to EAS. I will be sharing our preparations and excitement of moving cross country and settling down in WI. I will be posting about being a spouse of a veteran, a man who proudly served 9 years in the Marine Corps. I will be sharing tips about how to use the GI Bill and taking advantage of the VA loan.

I suppose we will have to wait and see where we take our life!

DSC00715-1Jeremy’s reenlistment – November 2011