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February 23, 2011

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger ..."

... At least that is the motto I use when making coffee!

So I've been on the job hunt for almost 5 months now, and it is B-R-U-T-A-L out there! Not to say that they interviews have been vicious, in fact most have been infomative, but the uncertainty and confusion that I see in the face of potiental employers when they look at the work that I have done for the military as a civilain can shake the strongest self-confidence!

You know as military spouses we say:
I wear no uniform, no blues, no greens. But I am in the military, in the ranks rarely seen. I have no rank upon my shoulders. Salutes I do not give, I'm not the one who fires the weapon, who puts my life on the line. My husband makes the sacrifice, but so do I. I stand among the silent ranks, known as the Military Wife and I LOVE my life.

Its a reminder that we may not wear the uniform or face combat, but we live the same life, make the same sacrifices, face the same challenges. As an officer's wife I have spent years telling spouses to be strong, that today's challenge may be tomorrow's reward. We chose this life. Whether we married a Soldier or made the decision once married to take this path, we made the choice ... and now, we pay the price. We say goodbye to our loved ones, we wait anxiously by the phone, we tuck our little ones into bed and tell them that Daddy/Mommy is one day closer to coming home ... but now I realize we face another battle ... because of the choice we made, our personal lives are turned upside down at the "needs of the Army/Navy/Marines/Air Force" and more so are our professional lives.

After a while you get the hang of personal part of it ...packing, unpacking, decorating, rearranging, the puzzle of fitting all that furniture into a house that you swear is less than half the size of the last one. It a challenge you tackle head on, one that becomes a victory as you slowly juggle the pieces of your home finding a way to make another house and home ... albiet temporary. But the professional life, that one is hard.

I guess I hadn't realized it until now because I'd always be fortunate enough to find a Department of Defense position in jouralism or public relations, but now that I am outside in the private sector looking, I am stating to see the difficulties expressed by other military spouses.

Its daunting to go into interviews and have to explain the various short-term jobs that fill your resume to potiental employers. They want to know why you didn't stay, and more so, if hired, how soon will they need to find your replacement.

Many see your work history as an old ragged blanket, not worth much, whereas you see it as a uniquely pieced quilt, each woven thread offers an opportunity that makes you a better person, a hard worker, a more dedicated employee. It gives you insight that others may not have ... if nothing else you treasure it more because you know that one day, whether in the near or distant future, you will be pulled away to face the uncertainty of another city, another group of potiental employers.

I had a recent interviewer tell me that they were "disregarding the work I had done as a Dept. of Defense employee, because their company didn't do military stuff."

Um, I'm sorry, but how is journalism experience related to the military not the same as news in the private sector? I still have to go out and interview people, I still have to follow the same Associate Press writing guidelines, I still have to meet deadlines ... I just happen to do it in airplane hangars, in make-shift tents, or sitting alongside a Soldier massaging the overworked body of his military working dog. How is my experience as a media liaison not the same because I escorted people around a military base not a million-dollar office building. I've interviewed generals and admirals, talked one-on-one with celebrities and welcomed traveling dignitaries.

Servicemembers leaving the military have a variety od resources at their disposal for finding a job when they get out, there are a list of companies that are "veteran-friendly" but there are few who offer the same courtesies to military spouses. At times it can make you feel like your role was insignificant to the outside world. But just like you learned as a young spouse new to this life, you wake up, pull on your boots (or high heels) and face the day determined to make your place in thsi world ... even if its only for a short time.

Until our next cup of tea,

2 Tea Party Guest:

Vee said...

You raised some issues here that I had never thought of before. And you were fair enough to point out both sides of said issues. What about freelance work? Then it wouldn't matter where you were or how long you remain in one place. Just a thought. All the best!

solitarywindchime said...

I hear you! I get so frustrated with the military's "help" with spouses' job hunting. It's either get a more "military friendly" career like home daycare or work woefully under paid and under challenged at on post jobs. I was determined to have my own fulfilling career alongside my soldier hubs, but it is very difficult. Payback will come at retirement when he can start following me and my job around for a change!