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The Challenges Of Transitioning From Soldier To Full-Time Mom
I left my job in 2011 to care full time for my 3-year-old daughter and 10-month-old son. My days are now filled with crafts at the kitchen table, soggy diapers, Disney movies and playdates. I am so incredibly lucky to be able to spend this time with my kids everyday, but have discovered an unexpected challenge that I am still coming to terms with: connecting with other parents.
We recently went to the public library to participate in storytime. My daughter was excited to let loose and do the Hokey Pokey and I looked forward to meeting other parents. Yet conversations tend to go like this:
Mom: Oh, I see you have an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran license plate. Did your husband serve?
Me: Yes he did! Thank you. We are so proud of him.
But the license plate is mine because I served too. I don’t share this with this other mom because it’s far simpler for her to think of me as a nice blonde lady with the two kids and a hero for a husband.
However, I am a former Army captain. I was a field artillery officer who deployed for 18 months in support of combat operations in Iraq. When I do tell other moms this, I often get response like, “Oh yeah, my grandpa was in the Army. Or maybe the Air Force?”
So I have learned to quiet that part of me. I have learned to talk only of the children. What sign language words my son is using. What activity I have registered my daughter up for. Potty-training woes. Sleep-deprivation woes. Organic fruits and veggies. Vaccinations. I am now comfortable hiding my past, and even if it is brought up, not talking about it too much.
I think many veterans share this experience, finding it hard to connect with our civilian counterparts either at work or when interacting with other parents.
It’s not that I am unfamiliar with being an outcast. Any woman in the military will tell you at one point in time or maybe her entire career, she felt like an outsider. It’s part of the job; one extra mountain to climb.
I expected to face it as a military officer; my male counterparts doubting me until I was able to prove myself. My soldiers waiting for me to fail. I overcame those stigmas; clenched my jaw, took one step after another with my 30-pound ruck, boots cutting my feet open.
But, I never expected similar obstacles at a gathering of like-minded women; women who have put aside their careers and other personal goals to do the noblest job of all: raise the next generation. Just like me.
The difference is that in my military experience, those stigmas were easily washed away the minute I showed my doubters and naysayers that I was strong, driven, and competent. I found a way to be accepted and it was through hard work, determination, and demonstrating how as a woman, I was able to improve mission effectiveness. Once in Iraq, my escort team and I met with local farmers to discuss plans to rehabilitate livestock. Being the only woman in the group, I was allowed to meet one farmer’s three wives. They were literally padlocked in a room with a little television. I was scared and never felt so tall, or white, or blonde in my entire life. I wasn’t afraid of dying; it was something else: fear of the unknown. Realizing how I must looked with all my battle rattle, I pulled off my kevlar and laid my M16 by the door. I was making a gesture of peace and trust.
They wanted to take pictures with me. They were 20-year-old women, like me. We connected.
So sometimes when civilian mothers want to talk about pureeing vegetables and sneaking it into recipes in a desperate attempt to get their child to consume something healthy, I laugh at how simple my world is now. I think about how far I’ve come to end up here, in this stale-smelling library casually chatting. Maybe they sense me drifting mentally.
But even if I can’t connect with these trophy wives, I can clench my jaw, I can go to the next park playdate, I can carry a 30-pound diaper bag, front carrier cutting into my shoulders. And someday I will explain to my daughter, that she can be an Army Ranger and a mom. They’re really very similar fields.
Constant deployments broke the Air Force's B-1 fleet. Now the service is facing a major bomber shortfall
On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.
In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.
A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.
The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.
Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Verizon committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace. Verizon is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn More.
Verizon values leadership, motivation, self-discipline, and hard work — all characteristics that veterans bring to the table. Sometimes, however, veterans struggle with the transition back into the civilian workplace. They may need guidance on interview skills and resume writing, for example.
By participating in the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program and developing internal programs to help veterans find their place, Verizon continues its support of the military community and produces exceptional leaders.
CAIRO (Reuters) - Islamic State's media network on Monday issued an audio message purporting to come from its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi saying operations were taking place daily and urging freedom for women jailed in Iraq and Syria over their alleged links to the group.
"Daily operations are underway on different fronts," he said in the 30-minute tape published by the Al Furqan network, in what would be his first message since April. He cited several regions such as Mali and the Levant but gave no dates.
'An insane game changer' — Soldiers are about to receive the Army's most advanced night vision goggles yet
Soldiers with the 1st Infantry Division are just days away from becoming the first to get their hands on the most advanced night vision goggles the Army has fielded yet.