This week my guest is Cassandra. She served in the Air Force for three years and then used the Palace Chase Program to go from active duty to reserves. We talked about her time in the military and then her transition to the Reserves and then out of the Reserves as a civilian and military spouse.
Cassandra served in the US Air Force 3 years Active Duty followed by 5 years Reserves. She transitioned out of active duty through the Palace Chase program to the Reserves. She then transitioned from the Reserves to a civilian working full time with the Reserve unit as an Air Reserve Technician. She worked in Health Services Management while in the Air Force.
She transitioning from Active Duty to Reserve (Palace Chase program) then ultimately Reserve to the civilian sector. The Palace Chase program allows you to leave active duty and double your active duty service commitment and complete it through the Reserves. She and her boyfriend were separated and she didn’t like where she was living so she was able to use Palace Chase to move to Arizona. First, Davis-Mothan and then Luke AFB. One of the programs she used when she was in was being an Air Reserves Technician (ART), which allowed her to work full time in the Reserves unit as a civilian and also drill.
She eventually married her boyfriend and became a military spouse, Reserves service member and worked full time. A few years later when it was time to move to the next base she decided to step away from being in the Reserves. She was pregnant with her second child and decided that starting over at a new assignment would be easier without the responsibility of being in the Reserves.
She talked about how serving in the Reserves was a good transition out of the military for her. It wasn’t as dramatic as leaving straight from active duty. She was ready to leave when it was time to move. She also talked about how she was able to find a remote job and move it with her at her next assignment and how much easier it was to be a military spouse with that flexibility.
Connect with Cassie:
Amanda Huffman: Let’s start with why did you decide to join the military?
Cassandra Martin: I actually never like planned on joining the military. I am a military brat. But it was never something that we discussed as a family or even really through around with myself or my sister, like, which I guess is odd. You know, being a military brat, but I always thought I’d go into the legal field. After high school, I started a paralegal program, but I didn’t complete it. I just wasn’t focused at the time. And so that kind of just is what I found myself with my stepmom in the recruiters office.
Amanda Huffman: And with your family being military. Were they Air Force?
Cassandra Martin: Air Force. Yes.
Amanda Huffman: Okay. So Is that why you picked Air Force?
Cassandra Martin: Yes, yes, absolutely. My dad and stepmom were in the Air Force. I grew up primarily with my mom, but if it was going to be any service that was definitely gonna be the Air Force.
Amanda Huffman: So you spent most of the time with your mom. She is not military, correct?
Cassandra Martin: Right.
Amanda Huffman: And then when you spend time with your dad and stepmom, it was military life. So how much time did you get to spend with like your dad? And how much did the military affect you?
Cassandra Martin: I was born in Texas at Lackland Air Force Base. And from there we went overseas. My parents divorced when we were overseas. So when arose, I think maybe kindergarten, maybe it’s a very young so I kind of got a to experience both civilian and military life, you know, childhood, I guess you could say, we didn’t get to see my dad too often, maybe once or twice a year, you know, while he was overseas. Then he was stationed in Ohio and we lived in Pennsylvania, but I did have the opportunity. Whenever I was in high school to go to high school overseas. It was on Broadway and my dad was they were stationed at Ramstein at the time. So I did get to go and experience high school as a military brat, which was, you know, great opportunity, just being able to get back overseas and experience it. Whenever I can remember, you know, and just see the culture and
Amanda Huffman: Yeah, that’s kind of cool. So you guys have had both civilian and military, you had the military influence, like your whole life because your dad was in the military, but then you kind of stepped away when your mom and dad got divorced, right? Yeah. So being a military brat, did you feel like you were ready to join the Air Force like you knew what was coming?
Joining the Air Force
Cassandra Martin: I don’t think you could ever know, everything that you’re about to walk into. But having my being a military brat, that definitely put me at a disadvantage. Then my dad and stepmom were able to prepare me You know, they talked to me about you know, even from whenever I was enlisting, just looking at jobs looking at the tech school, the length of tech school, I had chosen a to go into the Healthcare Management field. It was a six week tech school program. So kind of was guided there to you know, not to just to, you know, something I was interested in, but also something that wasn’t going I was gonna be able to get into the operational Air Force soon quit. versus being a student, you know, for all of the longer tech schools, you know, career fields, let’s definitely help drive my career field, which I’m very thankful for. And, you know, just preparing for basic training. I never was really athletic, but my dad and I started running and training, if you will, for basic training, which, I mean, I remember crying on those runs, you know, not thinking I could ever, you know, make the PT test the mile and a half run instead of some push ups. So that was, you know, definitely a struggle starting off, but they definitely helped prepare me groom me for the military, which, you know, I definitely was an advantage.
Amanda Huffman: Yeah, I think having that resource is something that sometimes people don’t realize how valuable it is because I think when I was looking at enlisting, I, I don’t remember what I picked, it was like avionics or something. But the tech school is like six months or something like that. It was really long and at the time, I didn’t think about like how long it was. Or I didn’t know, like, I kind of thought all tech schools were six months. So I didn’t really, I was just like, Oh, this is how you do it. And then I ended up doing ROTC, but I was like, that was like a huge and I was gonna do National Guard. So I was gonna come back and like be National Guard, but I was gonna be in that active duty phase for a long time. And I even know there was different options.
Cassandra Martin: Right, right.
Amanda Huffman: So can we talk about you were on active duty for three years, what was your experience like?
First Assignment Overseas
Cassandra Martin: So my first duty station brought me back overseas to Germany. So I felt like that even just being independent, being a military brat prepared me for that. My first duty station since I had already experienced overseas. Of course, it’s definitely different going over as an adult, you know, responsible herself navigating the airports and you know, just a different country by yourself, but I definitely was more prepared for that. And I did two years over overseas and then I PCSed to F-E Warren, Wyoming, but overseas, I met my husband. So I mean, that was a blessing. My parents also, you know, warned me about, you know, the stigma of you know, don’t marry anybody at your first of course, tech school or your first duty station. So you know, that was interesting, you know that I’m now married to the person that I met at my first duty station, but 12 years later, and then Effie Warren, Wyoming. That’s where I decided to palace chase from I was there about a year in the palace chase program. I still had a year left of my four-year enlistment. But with the palace chase program, I was able to just basically double that time left of my enlistment in the Reserve Program, and it kind of just allowed me to have a little bit more flexibility with my than a military career.
Amanda Huffman: And you mentioned your husband and so you guys met in Germany, and then did you guys get married right away? Or did you take your parents’ advice and wait?
Cassandra Martin: Yes, we definitely waited for About four or five years until we got married. But that was also like a challenge in itself just being you know, we were stationed overseas together then we both got orders stateside. So you know, how is this going to work? We both were stationed at different duty bases. He was stationed in Arizona and I went to Wyoming and Wyoming was just, I mean, that alone was just a kind of a culture shock for me because I was city girl and I’m out in the tumbleweeds and, you know, just nothing around. So I think, you know, just that duty assignment, you know, also contributed to, you know, the palace chase from there and of course, you know, if it’s something that we’re going to work through and stay together being dual military does make it difficult.
Amanda Huffman: Yeah, it does. And when were you in? When was when did you meet your husband? Like what time frame like was it just thinking of like technology and how hard it was to stay connected?
Cassandra Martin: Oh, yes. It’s was 2006
Amanda Huffman: Okay, so yeah, 2006 there’s like the first iPhone came out shortly after that. Yeah. So yeah, it’s technology, I think sometimes we think about like long-distance relationships now and like it’s only been 12 years but like it’s a big difference and my husband went active duty a year before me and so we like talked for a year before we like got to be stationed together and right. And that was the way we communicate it was just phone calls.
Cassandra Martin: Which I mean, I think that also just being that military brat and growing up you know, with my not my parents on the same household that I mean, I guess prepared me also for that military life. Because you are you do experience to be wise being times being a part TD wise deployments. So I feel like that all definitely help make that easier.
Palace Chase to Reserves
Amanda Huffman: Yeah, that makes sense. And then so you did the Palace Chase program at the three-year mark. So that would have made your commitment to be two years in the reserves. Did you stay in Wyoming or did you move somewhere else?
Cassandra Martin: I moved to Arizona. So I got a, I got a reserved position at Davis Monthan AFB in Arizona. So then I was also closer to my boyfriend at the time and my now husband. And so we were now in the same state. And then I was able to also use my GI Bill to go back to school. So back to school full time, and it was really the Palace Chase program really opened up a lot of doors and opportunities for me because I was able to, I started off at Davis Monthan with a Reserve position there. And then I transferred up to Luke Air Force Base whenever a position opened up there. And also an Air Reserve position, an Air Reserve Technician position, which is an ART. So if you have a reserve commitment, you can work full time as a GS employee with that reserve unit. So then I was able to walk into that opportunity. So that was full time. But again, I had flexibility being a reservist
Amanda Huffman: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And so You said like you guys data four or five years. So when you got to Luke AFB, is that approximately how many years into? Were you married then? Are you about to get married?
Cassandra Martin: No, we were just still dating. We got married in 2012.
Amanda Huffman: Okay, so, so it kind of later on, right?
Cassandra Martin: Not the typical, you know, shotgun wedding or, you know, that you hear a lot about in the military.
Amanda Huffman: Yeah, a lot of people they meet and then they get married, but you guys did the long-distance thing.
Cassandra Martin: Yeah. And I, I mean, my husband really, he’s, he, you know, wanted to. He was the one that I mean, I feel like I probably would have, it would have been a lot sooner. But, you know, he wanted to make sure that it was, it was right. So yeah,
Amanda Huffman: Well, it sounds like it worked out. And so is he still in the Air Force.
Cassandra Martin: He is. We’re in Mountain Home, Idaho. We were from Arizona. We went to Texas and whenever he had a Whenever he got orders for a special duty assignment in Texas, that’s whenever I decided to, you know that I would no longer drill as a reservist anymore. We already had one child and another one on the way and just looking for a civilian job full time for me. How, you know, it’s just a lot of change for us at that time. So that’s whenever I stepped away from the military and he’s still in and has five years left.
Amanda Huffman: That’s exciting. So when you transition now you went so you went from active duty and then you did reserves and then you transition out all the way do you feel like that was like stepping away slowly? Or was it still like you lost something when you left.
Leaving the Air Force
Cassandra Martin: I really think that that transition for me really helped it to be smooth. It was really gradual, going from full-time active duty to reserve and then also just being able to work full time with the reserve unit as a GS employee, though, and that I just really think that that helped one you know, gradually set up walking away from the military and also building my resume. throughout that time as well, you know, getting college completed. It just really helped help set me up for that completely stepping into civilian sector.
Amanda Huffman: And do you still work right now you work full time, right?
Cassandra Martin: I do. But not with a military.
Amanda Huffman: Right? And so what is that like being a military spouse and every time you move, you have to like, start over.
Cassandra Martin: So yes, that’s definitely a challenge. And I was in Texas, our last position or last assignment. I was blessed with a remote telecommute work from home job. So I definitely which whenever we PCSed from Texas to Idaho, it was very smooth transition for me. I didn’t have to find another job here, which where we’re at here is a very, very small town. So I would either have to be driving into Boise an hour. So it’s definitely a blessing being able to work from home, you know, telecommuting, and I think that that really just made the transition so much easier for us and our family.
Amanda Huffman: Yeah. Remote Jobs that can move with you.
Cassandra Martin: Yeah, Yes, it did. I thought that that extra, you know, it’s just one more thing to worry about or, you know, have to factor in. So,
Amanda Huffman: Yeah, When I was when we were both active duty it was like when we move we both had our career and so it was just like you just picked up and then when you’re a military spouse, you have to, like, figure everything out. And if you don’t have like a career, that’s right, you have to find that job too. And it’s really a challenge.
Cassandra Martin: It is. And plus, just knowing also, you know, you know, on your resume where it says the different locations, you know, sometimes employers know, if they do know that you’re military-affiliated, just knowing that you’ll only be with them for a period of time, you know, until you have orders to move somewhere else, just having to kind of combat that as well. So just having that remote position where you can, you know, take it and go wherever really has been a blessing.
Being a Veteran and Military Spouse
Amanda Huffman: Yeah. What is it like to be both a military spouse and a veteran? Do you feel like people recognize you as a veteran or as a military spouse only?
Cassandra Martin: I definitely think military spouse. But, you know, I’m a proud military spouse and very proud of my husband. And I think, you know, just being a veteran has helped me be able to understand and better support him in the world that he’s in, which I think, you know, is a challenge sometimes in marriages, military marriages, so I definitely think that we, you know, have that advantage that I, you know, I’ve been there I’ve, I know so many changes, but I at least have that foundation that understanding.
Amanda Huffman: Yeah, I agree with that because my husband and I can talk about like, the like promotion stuff and the award stuff and like, why, why you have to do that. Whatever you have to do, and like, it’s a common understanding, because like, we were both in and so I understand that sometimes we don’t like it, right? Yes. But yeah, it doesn’t change the fact that you don’t like it. Because sometimes like, you know, you’re on active duty and you have to, like, go to an exercise or do whatever. And you’re like, I don’t like this.
Cassandra Martin: Yes. Just, I mean, just having that level of understanding, knowing, you know, so, yeah, that’s really been helpful for us.
Amanda Huffman: So did I miss anything from your time in the military that you wanted to talk about?
Palace Chase Program is a great opportunity
Cassandra Martin: Let’s see. The Palace Chase program. I mean, I think that that’s just huge. Just knowing that that’s an option out there. It’s not something I feel like it’s not something that’s talked about or exposed as much and just like the benefits of it, you know, having that flexibility and control, if you will, over your career, I just think that that was such a great opportunity and you know, being able to experience different, you know, you’re kind of, I mean, you really have to advocate in search and seek out, you know, different opportunities, different openings, at different units, but there’s definitely flexibility to, you know, transfer around and just build your resume with different jobs and experiences. So I really think that that was a great opportunity. And, you know, I’ve always I’ve sometimes struggled with, you know, going back in, but I really feel like, you know, I had a great experience. You know, at the end of the day, I have had a great experience, and we’re just in a different place with our family now and with young children. So,
Amanda Huffman: Yeah. And so if someone was listening and they’re on active duty, and they were thinking about doing Palace Chase or they wanted to learn more, what would be your advice and like their first time step to make that process start?
Cassandra Martin: Finding like a fellow reservists to talk to talking with the recruiters, they can set you up with a unit or point of contact at a unit at your base even and go introduce yourself and you know, have those conversations and ask questions, you know, find out, do some research and just, you know, like, you have to expose yourself, you have to involve yourself and ask the questions. Right, make those connections and, you know,
Amanda Huffman: Yeah, you have to like put yourself out there. And especially like you wanted to move to Arizona, so you had to get connected with people in Arizona so that you…
Cassandra Martin: Right and their recruiters can help facilitate that look for openings and is also such a small it’s such a small military, also, you know, you always run into somebody that you’ve known from a previous base there. So it kind of, you know, just using that also.
Amanda Huffman: Yeah, so if someone is on active duty and they’re struggling to find Someone who is Reserves and they need to just send an email to me or send me a message on LinkedIn. And I can help connect you so that you can get that process started. Because I’ve heard Palace Chase a lot. And I knew that was a program, but I really didn’t understand what it was. And I loved how you explained it so easily. Why didn’t anyone explain it to me like that?
Cassandra Martin: It’s really a great program. It really is.
Amanda Huffman: Yeah, and it sounds like if you’re like, in, you never know what happens like you go active duty, and like you met someone and it made more sense to be in Arizona, but you never know, like what’s gonna happen so like to have that flexibility where you can change your frame and where you extend it and you get to reserves and move where you want to be.
Cassandra Martin: Right? Absolutely. I think that’s also just going reserves are not necessarily even the Palace Chase program. But if, if you’re, you know, a lot of people after their four years talk about getting out and instead of fully getting out, you know, just taking that having more of a transition, you know, with doing reserve that having a reserve commitment, then, you know, you can still start your civilian career, your civilian life, whether it’s school or career, you can still pursue that. But you still have that the military comfort, if you will, kind of guiding you and transitioning you into that civilian sector fully. I think, you know, it’s, it’s a bigger transition than I think we all expect.
Amanda Huffman: Yeah, I totally agree. It’s like you rip the band aid off, and instead, you can just do it. Yeah, thank you for bringing that up. Again, I think it was important that we talked about it. And I think that it’s something that people if they’re looking for something or if they feel stuck, because I feel like sometimes the military can make you feel stuck
Cassandra Martin: And even do a different career field, which then again, helps build your resume, you know, for that civilian sector, you know, so it could be a different career field even and, you know, again, it’s, it’s the one week in a month, two weeks a year or there’s different opportunities. Like how I pursued the art program, the Air Reserve Technician at my, with my reserve unit, you know, working full time with them, which was an amazing opportunity.
Amanda Huffman: Yeah, so there’s lots of opportunities out there. So if you’re, if you feel like you don’t know what to do, and you need some help, you can still reach out to me or just learn more about the reserves. Every base, I think has a reserves recruiter that you can talk to, so you should be able to find them. And my last question is going to be what would you tell girls who are considering joining the military?
Cassandra Martin: I would say go for it. You know, it really gave me that sense of independence, pride and purpose. You know, I’m thankful, so thankful for the foundation that it set for me. So I would definitely encourage anyone to give it four years.
Amanda Huffman: Yeah, I think that’s great. Give them four years. See what, see what comes from it and then see where it takes you.
Cassandra Martin: Right? Right. You never know.
Amanda Huffman: Thank you so much for being a guest on the podcast. I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to share your story. And give us some valuable information that we might not have thought about.
Cassandra Martin: Yeah, thank you for having me. And thank you for what you’re doing for this community.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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