What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

Before starting his job search, Robert People enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with his family.

I retired from the Army in 2018 after serving for 21 years. While I immensely enjoyed my career, people I met, relationships I developed, and lessons I learned, I was ready for the next chapter of my life.

The Army prepares soldiers for this next stage of their life through SFL-TAP (Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program). This is a program in which soldiers transitioning from the military to a civilian career receive assistance with resume writing, interview preparations, and schooling options, such as mechanics training or commercial driver’s license school (CDL), along with much more. I felt that I was set to be just fine and ready to work once I spent some time on vacation.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
Robert People retired from the US Army after 21 years of service.

I enjoyed the first few months after I retired. I was able to spend some time traveling all over the country and visiting my family. I kept in mind all the opportunities that I believed would be available for me as a veteran, along with having obtained my CDL prior to leaving the military.

Because I remembered what I heard from my recently-retired military friends and other retirees who found work shortly after their military careers ended, I thought finding a job would be relatively simple. However, my personal circumstances made that search a little more difficult. Along with this, there were a few other areas I was a little surprised by during my job search.

For those who are following this or a similar path, here are just a few tips I learned that may be helpful:

1. Have a backup plan

Despite all of what was available, flexibility was important. I learned that there were not too many trucking companies where I lived at the time that immediately offered the option of working and coming home every evening, which is something I thought was possible as I went through school. Due to that and other personal circumstances, truck driving was not an option for me at that time. You may have to be prepared to go a different route in a certain area than you initially expected.

2. The devil is in the details

Pay attention Asking specific questions is also necessary and will help in the long run. I was not fully aware that businesses required applications to be completed strictly online, as cover letters were either mandatory or extremely beneficial to be submitted with a resume, depending on the career. I do not blame SFL-TAP for this, because in hindsight I realized that I could have asked better questions or paid better attention to what I saw as “smaller” details back then.

3. Research locations

If you are moving from the area of your last duty station, it is important to learn what you will need for the area you are moving to, along with any changes that you may need to make. I moved from Killeen, Texas, with a population of about 140,000 to the Tampa Bay area in Florida, with a population of nearly 3 million. I thought this might be helpful due to the larger area and population. However, as I wanted to continue working with the military in some capacity, I did not consider that I was moving from a military community to an area where the nearest military base is about a 45-minute drive from where I live.

Shortly after getting settled in Florida, the COVID-19 pandemic happened. For most of 2020, this greatly reduced job opportunities as many businesses had to shut down temporarily and permanently. I looked for opportunities to work from home and saw limited success. I would estimate that I was able to land one interview for about every 25 jobs I applied for, until I was fortunately able to earn a temporary job — with the potential for full-time employment in the future — working for a not-for-profit company that supports the children of fallen special operations troops.

Military retirees often have not worked many jobs, if any at all, before enlisting, since initial enlistments frequently happen during the teenage years. I worked at one fast-food restaurant before joining the Army. Many of us learn this job search and interview process for the very first time in our late 30s to early 40s, or even later. Transitioning from the military to civilian life can be tough, especially when the unexpected happens. But persistence, flexibility and adapting to change can make that process a lot less stressful.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

Military Life

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

The family of a fallen soldier says his legacy will transcend his life.

Army Spc. John “Alex” Pelham was killed in Afghanistan in 2014. He was 22 years old. Despite the overwhelming grief and devastation that accompanied his loss, his family is committed to inspiring others through an ongoing initiative to live — and give — like John. 

His father, Wendall, had a conversation with his son two days before his death, sharing that after he hung up the phone, he knew he’d never see John again. 

“There are warriors that God put on the earth to take care of us,” he said. “At his funeral I said, ‘John would be bigger in death than he ever was in life,’ and he is … as we come up on seven years since his death, that statement was prophetic.”

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

Described as tall and strikingly handsome, John was a magnet to the people around him. That pull would only intensify after he died. 

“He was the epitome of the Green Beret moto ‘De oppresso liber,’ of freeing the oppressed. John did that all the way through school, taking care of the bullies,” Wendall said with a smile. 

John’s grandfather, a 30-year veteran of the Army, was his idol. Wendall said his son sought to emulate him. Though John was successfully playing college baseball after high school, he left it all behind for a deep conviction to serve. 

In July 2011, John enlisted as an intelligence analyst, leading him to become a coveted soldier with Special Forces. 

John was assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His skills as an analyst saved hundreds of lives, long after he was gone, his father said. After an ambush attack, he was killed alongside another soldier. On Feb. 12, 2014, at 4:34 p.m. in Oregon, Wendall’s wife called him at work to say two soldiers in dress blues were on their porch. He knew immediately John was gone.

But to his family, John’s still here. He’s in every facet of what they do and how they approach life. His legacy also lives on at Fort Bragg, with his name inscribed at multiple locations.

“I get to live a part of my son’s life through mine because of his example of what a true servant looks like,” Wendall said through tears. “My son, through his service, has taught me how to be beyonda great leader. My level of empathy and care and love for fellow man is 180 degrees different now.”

Live Like John Military Families Magazine
 
Pictured: The family of fallen soldier John.

After months of healing following John’s death, his family organized a racquetball tournament in his honor. The sport was one of John’s favorite pastimes and something that brought him joy. Wendall realized they needed somewhere to put the money raised, so they formed a nonprofit organization. The name? Live Like John. The mission is to support military charities, veterans, and other Gold Star families. 

This doesn’t mean follow John’s more than obvious path, which was headed toward completing the “Q” course and becoming a Green Beret. But rather efforts to service others, community, and humanity. 

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

“I learned a long time ago that to be a great leader — you have to be a servant,” Wendall said.

He encourages everyone to engage in a mission of service, but above all else, teach children to do the same. John is described as a loving man, son, brother, nephew, and friend. He was also an American soldier whose life was lived with such honor and dedication that it has had ripple effects far beyond his death.

The foundation has brought immense healing, but there are still hard days for the Pelham family: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Veterans Day, the holiday season and then, the day John died.

“Your body already knows. It’s already telling me, the day, it’s coming,” Wendall said. 

He adds that for those seeking to say “thank you for your service” to service members and veterans, it should be done with meaning. 

“Those words said repetitiously lose their luster after a while. You can sip a Starbucks on a cold winter day or get a suntan on a beach in Maui while traveling the world with no restriction, because you are a citizen of the United States of America,” he said. “What’s that worth? Do you understand what it is worth to the families who have given their loved ones’ lives for this freedom?” 

Live Like John Military Families Magazine

Fallen soldier highway sign

Spc. John Pelham will be among a group of service members honored this year through The Unquiet Professional’s 2021 Virtual Memorial Mile. Visit www.theunquietprofessional.org/tupmile for updates on how you can support efforts to honor the fallen. 

Military Life

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class

Over the years, the military has developed Transition Assistance Programs in order to help service members make the change from active duty to civilian life. Everyone goes through the program eventually, learning about benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, how to write a resume (and how to make it understandable to civilians), and even how to dress in something other than a uniform.


What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
It just looks out of place sometimes. (U.S. Army photo)

Yet, despite the best efforts of instructors and facilitators, there are some things the classes don’t cover — including simply how to actually get out. Here are a few lessons about the separation process.

5. Your DD-214 is worth getting right.

Everyone’s heard of the DD form 214. It represents the accomplishments of your time in the military. For the rest of your life, it’s how you’ll prove you’re a veteran. So, as excited as you might be for a new chapter in life, you’ll want to devote time and effort to getting it right.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
You might have heard of this document. It has lots of fans.(11Bravos.com)

You may not think the awards section, for example, matters much. However, listing the Afghanistan or Iraq Campaign Medals establish that you’re a combat veteran, which makes a difference for certain VA benefits and can get you hiring preference for certain federal jobs. The good news is, even if not all of your past units were meticulous in documenting awards, it’s easy to correct. Producing a citation is the easiest way to have an award added. In the case of unit or campaign awards, any official document that proves you were part of a given unit for a certain deployment can prove you’ve earned it.

If the first working copy of your DD-214 isn’t accurate, don’t delay in asking your separations/retirement clerk how to fix it.

4. Copy your medical records!

Another important document is your medical record, so be sure to get a copy early. These days, some medical facilities will provide a digital copy on CD. Before you visit your local VA, be sure to ask whether they’ll work with that format. Either way, you’ll want to go through every page (paper or electronic) yourself before you take it to anyone else. You should flag anything that isn’t a physical or otherwise normal visit.

Be sure the copy you’re given is complete. Many members have been in since before the military switched to electronic records; when you ask for a copy of your record, you’re supposed to get both what’s in the electronic record and scans from your paper record. Be meticulous; if things are missing, go back to the records office and ask. Like your 214, your medical record is worth spending the time necessary to get right.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
This is really important for a number of reasons.

Once you’ve reviewed your complete copy, contact a veteran’s service organization. They have experts in the VA claims process who will go through your record with you and guide you through the next steps. You don’t even need to be a member of the organization.

3. Learn about the SBP.

Most TAP classes include a discussion about financial planning, and your transition office may ask you to show a budget. However, there isn’t always a discussion of the Survivor’s Benefit Plan, or SBP. This is an insurance plan retirees can pay into that will provide a beneficiary (usually spouse) an annuity to make up for lost retirement income once the retiree dies. And, while we don’t give financial advice, it’s not necessarily right for everyone. It’s worth taking a look at your personal insurance and investment situation to decide if it’s something you want.

2. You get house-hunting and job-hunting perks.

If you’re retiring or being involuntarily separated under honorable conditions, you get permissive temporary duty (free time off) to find a home and a job. Just how much time you get (10, 20, or 30 days) depends on if you’re being involuntarily separated or retired and whether you’re in the continental U.S. or not. That’s in addition to your terminal leave.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
Getting a home is totally doable. There are hundreds of USAA commercials about this.

1. What is the Skillbridge Internship?

Not every TAP class mentions this program, so you may want to ask about it. This program allows service members to participate in civilian job training, including internships and apprenticeships, up to six months before separating. That means you can be learning your new job while still being paid by the military!

Military Life

20 important facts about military brats (backed up by research)

In the world of the United States military, April is the “Month of the Military Child.” It’s coming up sooner than you think. Military children (aka “Brats”) are a distinct sociological subculture and have been recognized as such for many decades. Children in military families obviously face a lot of challenges their civilian counterparts will never experience. This is not to say that one child is better than another, and while the challenges are important to realize, the resiliency of these children is just as important. Here are some facts and figures about modern military children and who they are likely to grow up to be.


 

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

 

1. The term “Military Brat” is not intended as derogatory and isn’t just a slang term – Military brat is widely used by researchers and sociologists and was adopted by the military brat community.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

2. Since 9/11, more than two million military children have had a parent deployed at least once.

3. Military families relocate 10 times more often than civilian families — on average, every 2 or 3 years.

4. When a parent is stationed without his family, the children of the military member experience the same emotions as children of divorced parents.

5. Children of active duty personnel often mirror the values, ideals, and attitudes of their parents more closely than children of civilians.

6. A high percentage of military children find difficulty connecting with people or places, but very often do form strong connections with bases and military culture.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

7. Military children have more emotional struggles when compared with national examples. These struggles increase when the military parent deploys. Military children can also experience higher levels of anxiety, depression and withdrawal.

8. Research has consistently shown military children to be more disciplined than civilian peers.

9. The perception that the country supports the wars their parents deploy to fight has a positive effect on the mental health of military children.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

10. Military children are usually under constant pressure to conform to what military culture expects; sometimes this is perceived as being more mature, even if its only their outward behavior.

11. Strict discipline can have the opposite effect: children in military families may behave well beyond what is normally acceptable. Some develop psychological problems due to the intense stress of always being on their best behavior.

12. The bonds connecting military communities are normally considered stronger than the differences of race. Military children grow up in a setting that actively condemns racist comments. The result is a culture of anti-racism.

13. In studies, eighty percent of military children claim that they can relate to anyone, regardless of differences such as race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

14. Because military brats are constantly making new friends to replace the ones that they have lost, they are often more outgoing and independent.

15. On the other hand, the experience of being a constant stranger can lead them to feel estranged everywhere, even if later in life they settle down in one place.

16. A typical military school can experience up to 50 percent turnover every year.

17. Grown military children are very monogamous. When they marry, it is generally for life; over two-thirds over age 40 are married to their first spouse.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
US Navy photo by Tucker M. Yates

18. Military children have lower delinquency rates, higher achievement scores, and higher median IQs than civilian children.

19. Military children are more likely to have a college degree and are more likely to have an advanced degree.

20 Over 80 percent of children raised in military families now speak at least one language other than English, and 14 percent speak three or more.

Articles

This is why ACUs have buttons on their pants and a zipper on the blouse

The U.S. military’s uniform history is one of tradition and tactical purpose. Many tiny details on our uniforms date back centuries. The different colors in the Army’s dress blues are a call back to the days when soldiers on horseback would take off their jacket to ride, causing their pants to wear out at a different pace. The stars on the patch of the U.S. flag are wore facing forward as if we’re carrying the flag into battle.


What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

Something that always stuck out was why the ACUs have the button and zipper locations opposite of civilian attire. All Army issued uniforms had buttons until the M1941 Field Jacket added a zipper with storm buttons on the front. Shortly after, many other parts of the uniform including pockets, trousers and even boots would start using zippers as a way to keep them fastened. The zippers, like many things in the military, were made by the lowest bidders until the introduction of the Army Combat Uniform or ACUs in ’04.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

The zipper on the ACU blouse is heavy duty and far more durable than zippers on a pair of blue jeans. The zipper is useful on the blouse for ease of access but it also has a tactical reason for its use. A zipper allows medical personnel to undo the top far easier than searching for a pair of scissors or undoing all of the buttons. The hook-and-loop fasteners (Velcro) is to help give it a smooth appearance.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
Even OCP still kept the buttons, but added the sh*tty velcro back to the cargo pocket (Photo via wikicommons)

Buttons on the trousers serve a completely different purpose. The buttons keep them sealed better than a zipper. Think of how many times you’ve seen people’s zipper down and you’ll get one of the reasons why they decided to avoid that. Buttons are also far easier to replace than an entire zipper and a lot quieter when you need to handle your business.

Dress uniforms take the traditional route to mirror a business suit. The Army Aircrew Combat Uniform is on it’s OFP.

Military Life

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad

Despite needing a ventilator to breathe, a feeding tube to eat, a tablet to type, and a power chair to get around, life is good. Seriously.

First, you must be wondering: What kind of glass-half-full, sappy, optimist comes up with a list like this? Maybe it’s a guy that got hit by a Domino’s delivery driver and now has more money he can count? Or maybe he was Tony Robbins’ number two, so he was well equipped to handle the tragic life of being completely paralyzed?

Well, I’m not the heir to the Domino’s empire nor did I work as a motivational speaker. I am, however, an optimist. And I’ll be damned if I let my situation beat me. 

I am completely paralyzed with the exception of a few stubborn facial muscles that refuse to quit. My condition did not happen overnight. It was an extremely gradual process that has been happening since the summer of 2010.

The culprit behind its methodical degeneration is a neurological disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. You might remember hearing about it during the Ice Bucket Challenge, a global phenomenon that gave the disease its 15 minutes of fame. Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that were raised in the summer of 2014 there is still no known cause or cure.

Fortunately for me, despite needing a ventilator to breathe, a feeding tube to eat, a tablet to type, and a power chair to get around, life is good. Seriously. I have a beautiful, kind, and smart wife. I’m also a father to the world’s next RBG, our three-year-old daughter Elliott Monroe. Perspective is everything, and I sure as hell won’t allow my situation to dictate my mood. So I wanted to write about some of the positive aspects of my life. Here goes.

  1. When it comes to skipping out of the chores around the house, it doesn’t get any easier than pulling the ALS card. I have not had to do the dishes once. Dirty diapers? No thanks! It turns out that you need fine motor skills to do both tasks.
  2. Need some help multitasking? I’m your man. Thanks to being completely paralyzed, I am able to write emails, while getting my fingernails clipped, and have lunch at the same time! Easy breezy baby, thanks to eye gaze technology, a caregiver, and a feeding tube.
  3. Is there anything worse than a gulp of fresh squeezed orange juice right after toothpaste? Or debating on having a cup of coffee after you just brushed your teeth? Not me, I don’t ever have to worry about such a conundrum. 
  4. I’m no Carrie Bradshaw, despite once finding a pair of Manolo Blahniks in the back of a cab in NYC. But my shoe game is strong. I do have a lot of custom-designed sneakers from Nike. The best part about having fresh kicks and being in a wheelchair is that my shoes are always on display. Not to mention that they never get dirty because they never touch the ground.
  5. Everyone poops. It’s not just a great book, it’s a fact of life. Now, I do require two different people to help me do my business, and I am quite regular. The two lucky individuals that get to join me have very defined duties. Pun intended. One person lifts me up in a bear hug motion while the second person pulls my pants down. But thanks to technology, that is really the only part of the experience that requires hands on help. I have a wonderful bidet that has more settings than a Sharper Image recliner. You haven’t lived until you felt the warmth of a heated toilet seat in the middle of winter.
  6. Lady Gaga is not the only one with a poker face. Thanks to ALS I can keep a straight face, no matter how high the stakes get. There is some minimal movement in my eyebrows and that is how I signal yes or no when I don’t have my tablet. This nuanced language is tough for people to fully understand. However, it gives me and my wife an incredibly intimate form of communication.
  7. I draw the line at smuggling narcotics across foreign borders, but other than that, if you got stuff to smuggle or “hold”?  I am your man. Nothing makes a security guard feel worse than having to pat down a completely paralyzed guy that talks with his eyes. I am also quite the Sherpa too. If we’re at the mall or Disney and I can hold bags. Throw them on the back and let’s roll.

This list was surprisingly easy to make. I am a truly positive person, but I am not an angel or some type of hippy-dippy sap that has his head in the clouds. I believe my life is hard but it is not any more difficult than yours. We all have battles and struggles. The choice to allow it to dictate your mood or how you see the world is exactly that, a choice. What do you choose?

Articles

Here’s what it takes to be on the Marine silent drill team

Discipline, self-control, and honor are just some of the defining characteristics of a U.S. Marine who serves as a member of the 24-man silent drill team. Also known as the “Marching Twenty-Four,” the drill team’s function is to demonstrate the outstanding professionalism of the Marine Corps.


In 1948, they first performed at the Sunset Parades at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. Their perfectly executed movements received such an amazing response from the crowd, the drill team was born.

Serving on the team requires extensive discipline, so finding new recruits is a challenge.

Related: 21 photos showing the awesomeness of the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
The Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon executes their refined movements with hand-polished, 10.5 pounds, M1 Garand rifles with fixed bayonets during the Sunset Parade at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Each fall, the drill team prospects are hand-selected from the School of Infantry located in Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Camp Pendleton, Calif. After a detailed interview process and rifle drill audition conducted by experienced personnel, those Marines who are selected are assigned a position and will serve a two-year ceremonial tour.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
These Marines spend hours practicing their drill to craft perfectly executed movements. (Source: US Military Videos and Photos/YouTube/Screenshot)

In addition to their ceremonial duties, the drill team members train alongside infantry Marines in the field to maintain their skills during the offseason.

When experienced team members request to move up in ranks and become rifle inspectors, they will go through a series of inspections graded by rifle inspectors who served in the previous season.

Also Read: 5 military training drills that’ll blow your mind

Although the team practices using verbal communication, not a single word will be spoken during their exceptional performance.

Articles

This Pearl Harbor survivor was buried in the ship he escaped from

In the early hours of Dec. 7th, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service, killing 2,403 service members and launching President Roosevelt’s decision to enter World War II.


Well into the attack, the USS Arizona took four devastating direct hits from 800kg bombs dropped from high altitude Japanese planes. One of the bombs ripped into the Arizona’s starboard deck and detonated. The explosion collapsed the ship’s forecastle decks, causing the conning tower to fall thirty feet into the hull.

Due to the events of that traumatic day, 1,177 Sailors and Marines lost their lives, but the numbers of those men buried at the historic site continue to increase.

Also read: 4 times the U.S. fought in World War II before Pearl Harbor

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
The USS Arizona memorial as it exists today in Hawaii. (Source: History)

Master Chief Raymond Haerry (ret), served as a Boatswain’s Mate on the Arizona as it was bombed by enemy forces in the pacific fleet, which threw him from the ship and caused him to land in the oil and fire covered water.

Haerry had to swim his way to Ford Island — then got right back into the fight by firing back at the enemy. He was just 19 years old.

75 years after the attack, Haerry returned; his ashes were laid to rest inside the sunken ship’s hull, rejoining approximately 900 of his brothers. More than 100 people gathered at the USS Arizona Memorial for the symbolic funeral in his honor — a ceremony only offered to those who survived the deadly attack.

The retired Master Chief became the 42nd survivor to be placed at the site out of the 335 men who survived.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRYTQdgJZvU
(Global News, YouTube)
Articles

This Army mother and son duo deployed together

One of the most challenging parts of deployment for many soldiers is being away from friends and family. Soldiers and family members alike often lean on others who share a similar experience during long periods apart.


But one family in the 1st Cavalry Division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team is sharing an experience here to make deployment just a little bit easier.

Army Capt. Andrea Wolfe and her son, Army Spc. Kameron Wideman, both assigned to Brigade Support Medical Company, 215th Brigade Support Battalion, deployed to Kuwait recently from Fort Hood, Texas, for nine months in support of U.S. Army Central.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
Army Capt. Andrea Wolfe, senior brigade physician assistant, and her son, Army Spc. Kameron Wideman, a behavioral health technician, both assigned to the Brigade Support Medical Company, 215th Brigade Support Battalion, are deployed for nine months to Camp Buehring, Kuwait. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Leah R. Kilpatrick)

Wolfe, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, began her Army career as an enlisted lab technician 24 years ago.

“I had two sisters who were in the Army,” she said. “I followed them in. In a family of nine, we couldn’t afford college, so I had to do something to be able to get some kind of college education, and that was the way.”

As far back as she can remember, she said, she wanted to be a nurse. “It’s just something I wanted to get into to help people,” she added.

Educational Opportunities

That aspiration propelled her through her career, taking advantage of educational opportunities in an effort to make her dream a reality. “I tried to get into the nursing program,” she said. “When I was a lab tech instructor in San Antonio, I put in my packet three times for the nursing program.”

After 17 years of enlisted service and multiple attempts, the frustrated sergeant first class decided to try something different.

Related: 10 brothers who received the Medal of Honor

“So I put in a packet to the [physician assistant] program, got picked up the first time, so I figured that was my calling, and I’ve been doing that since 2009,” she said.

Meanwhile, Wolfe was raising a family. Her son, Kameron Wideman, was born in 1996 at her first duty station in Fort Lewis, Washington. Brought up in a devoted military household, it was no surprise when he enlisted in the Army, Wolfe said.

“I was good in school, but I didn’t take it seriously enough, but the Army was always my fallback plan,” said Wideman, a behavioral health technician. “I initially wanted to join just so I could help people. That’s why I got into the medical field.”

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
Army medics unload a mock casualty from a UH-60 Black Hawk medevac helicopter during a training exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center. | U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod

What started out as just a potential option won his heart, Wideman said, and now he plans on taking classes and completing the prerequisites to submit a packet for the Army Medical Department Enlisted Commissioning Program, as his mother did.

Meanwhile, Wolfe and Wideman are tending to the physical and mental well-being of the soldiers deployed to Camp Buehring, Kuwait. Wolfe said that while her focus is on her job and taking care of the soldiers, the mom in her can’t help but feel some of the same concerns stateside parents feel about having a child deployed.

Important Mission

“As a mother, you still have that deep-down concern of ‘What if something happens to my baby? What am I going to do?'” she said. “But I can’t let him see that, because I need him to focus on his job and what I need him to do, and that’s to provide mental health, which is something that is very much needed in this day and age.”

Wideman said he enjoys having his mother right down the road. “I’m blessed,” he said. “I’m blessed to have her with me.”

Although Wideman has served only two years in the Army, he is no stranger to the deployment experience from a family member’s perspective. His mother, father, and stepfather all serve on active duty.

Also read: Watch Jimmy Fallon and The Rock beautifully reunite a military family

“All three of my parents have deployed at some point,” he said. “It was tough as a little kid saying goodbye to your parents. When you’re little, you tend to have a big imagination. You’re thinking, ‘Oh no! I’m probably never going to see my parents again,’ because you’re little, and you’re in your own head about it.”

But the experience of being the kid who was left behind didn’t prepare him to actually be deployed himself, he said.

“I still didn’t really know what deployment was,” he said. “It was like this random place that my parents were going to for like a year and then coming back. I didn’t really know how to picture where they were.”

Thankfully, he said, he had a source close to home to answer his questions.

“I had the normal questions like, ‘How are we going to be living?” and me being a millennial, ‘Is there going to be Internet?’ and things like that,” he said.

Wolfe and her husband, Army 1st Sgt. Andrew Wolfe, a company first sergeant at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Texas, help mentor Wideman through his Army career with advice and guidance.

Drive, Motivation, Discipline

Echoes of the same drive, motivation, dedication and discipline that exemplify Wolfe’s career path are evident in Wideman’s.

“We cross paths every now and then,” she said. “I don’t see him all the time. I let Kameron be Kameron. We are passionate about the military. This is our Army. My husband is a first sergeant, and I used to be an E-7 before I switched over, so that leadership is instilled in both of us, and that comes out in the way we raise our kids — the leadership, the discipline, the morale, the ethics, everything. This is the way you’re supposed to live.”

Wolfe said she often finds herself giving the same advice to her soldiers that she gives to her son.

“Get all you can out of the military, because it’s going to get all it can out of you, and that was my insight coming up,” Wolfe said.

“I don’t know how many colleges I went to, because I needed classes. I went to school all the time, and I was just taking advantage of the opportunities that were out there. That’s what I tell all my soldiers coming up in the military. You have to take advantage of it. No one’s going to give it to you. You have to go and get it.”

Military Life

6 interesting facts about American Indians in the US military

America’s first warriors are also the first to defend America. As a people, American Indians are disproportionately dedicated to the defense of the United States; yet, as it has been pointed out many times, they don’t always get a fair shake.

Related video:

 

But they deserve our respect. Our warrior culture starts with their warrior culture. No other group in America gave so many of their own as selflessly.

1. American Indians enlist in wildly disproportionate numbers.

During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Natives were 1.7 percent of the U.S. military, more than twice their population proportion of the entire United States, which is .8 percent.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

During WWII, the War Department estimated that if every racial segment of the American population enlisted like Native Americans did, they wouldn’t have needed a draft.

2. They served in greater numbers than any other group since the founding of America.

Per capita, more American Indians serve than any other ethnic group. This includes during World War I, when they weren’t even citizens of the United States.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

Depending on which state they were in, some tribal members weren’t able to vote until 1957.

3. American Indians claim 27 Medal of Honor recipients.

Recipients include legendary Marine Corps fighter ace and original Flying Tigers pilot “Pappy” Boyington.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

The first American Indian Medal of Honor was awarded to Co-Rux-Te-Chod-Ish, a Pawnee scout accidentally killed by his own unit. They then spelled his name wrong on his award citation.

4. One of the Iwo Jima flag raisers was an American Indian.

He was one of the six men photographed by Joe Rosenthal on Iwo Jima. Many know this story from Clint Eastwood’s film “Flags of Our Fathers.” Johnny Cash sang a song about him.

5. Unlike other Vietnam vets, American Indians were welcomed back as heroes.

Call it a true “warrior culture.” Despite the ongoing anti-war protests, whenever American Indians in the U.S. military returned home from Vietnam they were welcomed as warriors.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

Some Vietnam vets were spit on and called “baby killers,” even if they were drafted. While 90 percent of American Indians who fought in Vietnam were volunteers, their people still welcomed them back.

6. The first American Indian female to die in combat was killed in Iraq.

Lori Piestewa of Arizona was from the Hopi tribe. She was killed by Iraqi forces during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. She died in the ambush in which Jessica Lynch’s unit was captured.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

She was wounded in the head near Nasiriyah and died from her wounds due to poor electricity in Iraqi civilian hospitals. Arizona’s Squaw Peak was renamed Piestewa Peak in her honor.

MIGHTY TRENDING

David Goldfein is the leader the military needs right now

Another Memorial Day has come and gone and, along with it, comes another report from the family of a service member who was killed in action about encountering a man in civilian clothes at Arlington National Cemetery. Calling himself Dave, the man talked to a Gold Star spouse for a bit, then moved on.

The wife of the fallen service member had no idea she was talking to Gen. David Goldfein, the 21st Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

She only found out because her friend noticed the coin that “Dave” left on the headstone of her husband — the coin of his office. She posted the story on social media some time later, which was confirmed by the popular Air Force Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

That’s the kind of person General Goldfein is. This isn’t an isolated incident. On Memorial Day 2017, an airman at Arlington spotted a man in his dress blues walking among the graves at Section 60 — the resting place for those who fell in Iraq or Afghanistan — putting his hand on each for a moment of reflection.


When he reached a sobbing widow, he embraced her and talked to her for a while. It was General Goldfein. The post also appeared on Air Force amn/nco/snco.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
I guess he tried to go more incognito in 2018 by wearing civvies, but was still recognized.
(Facebook photo by Cody Stollings)

Cody Stollings, the airman who recognized Gen. Goldfein, introduced himself and talked to the general for a bit. It turns out General Goldfein keeps the names of every airman who is killed under his command in a book. Each year, he visits them at Arlington to pay his respects.

For many Americans, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Niger, and Somalia have become a fact of life. When news about OIF, OEF, OAE, or OIR hits, no one really listens anymore. The acronyms change, but everything else stays the same. This is the cost of endless war. Andrew Bacevich, a historian and retired colonel whose son died in Iraq, said it best,

“A collective indifference to war has become an emblem of contemporary America.”

Bacevich has also noted that those who aren’t serving in the U.S. military are encouraged to support the troops, but no one ever “stipulates how this civic function is to be performed.”

Those in charge of prosecuting the wars, however, should find it relatively easy to support the troops — by reaching their objective and bringing those troops home. But the Chiefs of Staff don’t hold that kind of command authority. They’re in an advisory position for the National Security Council.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
In case we forgot who is on that council.

In a time where the War in Afghanistan seems like it will never end and new hot spots seem to pop up all the time, it’s good to know the Air Force has someone at the top who’s seen and fought in war and knows that the people who die fighting them are more than numbers on a PowerPoint slide.

It’s nice to know that someone at the top really gives a shit.

Military Life

5 of the rarest unofficial US Navy ‘certificates’

The Navy has plenty of interesting and unique milestones for its sailors to strive for. Though they never appear on official paperwork and not all of them have ceremonies, they’re a fun bragging-rights challenge that sailors can use to flex on the uninitiated (aka ‘pollywogs’).


By accomplishing one of several feats, sailors are inducted into an unofficial ‘order’ and, with that order, typically comes eligibility for a specific tattoo. While not every order is represented by a tattoo, sailors with these markings are either full of sh*t or are undeniably badass.

Check out these 5 unofficial Navy ‘certificates’ for the seasoned sailor.

5. Shellback variations

The shellback is simple enough: a sailor on official duty “crosses the line” of the equator. A golden shellback is more impressive; it means they’ve crossed at or near the International Date Line. Even rarer, crossing at the Prime Meridian grants you access into the Order of the Emerald Shellback.

There is also the ebony shellback for crossing the Equator at Lake Victoria (which is almost entirely in Ugandan waters) and a top-secret shellback for submariners who cross the equator at a “classified” degree of longitude.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
So, if you see a Shellback tattoo, they’re either a Navy vet or they just really like turtles. (Image via Imgur)

4. Order of the Sparrow

To be initiated into this order, one must sail the seven seas. While the ancients had a different idea and classification of the term, “seven seas,” it is used in context of sailing the seven largest bodies of water. They are the four oceans (Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, and Indian), the Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Checking a few off a sailor’s list isn’t hard — stay in long enough and you’ll get them. The challenge is getting on a voyage that goes through the last one you need.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
Not to be confused with a swallow tattoo for every 5k nautical miles… or the Disney Pirate. (Image from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean)

3. Order of Magellan

This order goes out to every sailor that completes what Ferdinand Magellan couldn’t well, alive anyways, circumnavigating the world.

The Navy doesn’t really care or recognize fun ceremonies like these. They typically have a mission to set out, so we go from point A to point B efficiently. There is some leeway for morale purposes, which is why most ship Captains don’t mind taking some time out to go through the “Golden X.” Circumnavigating the world, on the other hand, requires a specific mission to do so.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

2. Order of the Square Rigger

Square Riggers just need to serve on a ship with square rigs.

Sounds simple enough — until you realize there’s only two left in the entire Armed Forces. One in the Navy, USS Constitution, and one in the Coast Guard, USCGC Eagle. Serving on either of those ships requires you to be the best of the best at looking pretty for tourists.

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army
Still the only active ship that sank another enemy ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas Rooney)

1. Double Centurions

While the Century Club exists for pilots who’ve made their 100th carrier landing or flown through hurricane winds over 100 mph, you’ll need to double it to get into the Double Centurions.

It’ll take a long time to reach that number and hurricane hunters usually aren’t willing to fly in CAT 5 winds that could shred their aircraft in seconds.

Usually…

(YouTube | News7)

Articles

11 images of what it’s like seeing your DI for the first time after boot camp

From the moment a recruit arrives at basic training they’re called some pretty inventive names — and the abuse won’t stop for at least 12-weeks.


They can be the strongest or fastest in their platoon, but their drill instructors will still find a reason to yell at them to try to break them down — it’s just the way it goes.

The DI’s evil personality will usually drive recruits to resentment.

Since the military is smaller than most people think, it’s possible to run into your former drill instructor months or even years after you graduated boot camp.

Related: 17 images that show why going to the armory sucks

Check out what many young troops go through when they see their DI for the first time outside of boot camp.

1. When you’re now an E-3, and you think you’re the sh*t walking into the PX on a Saturday afternoon.

Somebody point me to the X-box games — or else. (Image via Giphy)

2. That look you give when you spot your former DI checking out DVDs with these little kids who appear to be mini versions of them.

WTF! They don’t live at boot camp? (Image via Giphy)

3. When they look over in your direction and you pretend you didn’t see them.

You can’t see me. (Image via Giphy)

4. After a few moments of hiding, you decide to casually walk over in their direction — hoping they spot you.

You just ease your way over. (Image via Giphy)

5. Once you get close enough, you pretend you’re doing something important or in deep thought to get them to notice you.

Yup, you look real freakin’ important now. (Image via Giphy)

6. You then attempt to make eye contact with them.

I command you to look at me. (Image via Giphy)

7. Your former DI starts to take notice of your subtle eye contact.

Who the f*ck is this person looking at? (Image via Giphy)

8. They finally semi-recognized you, but you act surprised like you didn’t recognize their face the moment you saw them checking out those adorable family fun genre DVDs.

Sergeant? Wow, I barely recognized you since I’m so mature these days. (Image via Giphy)

9. You start up a meaningless conversation with them. You show off how well you’re doing with your new unit.

What a show-off. (Image via Giphy)

10. But they congratulate you and even shake your hand before walking away. You’re more confused now than ever.

What just happened here? (Image via Giphy)

Also Read: 14 images that humorously recall your first firefight

11. Then you realize, this whole time you thought they were an a**hole, but they weren’t.

Unreal. (Image via Giphy)

Did you ever see your instructor outside of boot camp? Tell us your story in the comments below.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information