Nicole Smith is a born and raised California girl currently transplanted on the Coast of Virginia. She is a proud wife, mom, foodie, and ocean lover! Nicole is also a Military Veteran turned Life Coach and Mental Wellness Advocate. She recently retired as a Senior Chief Petty Officer after 20 years of honorable service in the United States Coast Guard. While serving for our country, she silently fought a battle to remain in control of the anxiety and depression that overcame her. Nicole’s anxiety attack changed everything.
Finally hitting rock bottom was the breakthrough where her own transformation journey began. It was her blessing in disguise and led her to discover her true self-worth and how to heal her life. Her path to healing transformed her so deeply that she decided to retire from her successful military career. Connecting to a new purpose, she created Navigate Your Freedom and is now serving the military community in a new way by helping women who are burnt out from the military lifestyle to become just as committed to themselves as they are their country.
Joining the Coast Guard
Although she had a military background with the Army, the military never appealed to her. Then, her boyfriend decided to join the Coast Guard and she did, too. They ended up breaking up with the challenges of a long-distance relationship, but she discovered a career in the Coast Guard that led her to serve over twenty years. There were days between when she signed up to join and left to go to boot camp. She was planning to do Health Services, but there was a two-year wait for tech school. Instead, she decided to be a watchstander who stood by and was the first voice ships heard when they were in distress.
A Military Love Story
She met her husband when they were out at sea. And because they were both part of the same unit, their relationship was deemed inappropriate. She was the senior enlisted member and she took the brunt of the blame. Luckily, the Captain of the ship said that once they got back into port one of them would be moved to a new unit, but needed to stay away from each other for the rest of their time out at sea. That’s what happened and eventually, they got married and are still married today.
Next, we dove into her mental health journey. She said life kept piling up and she tried her best to keep it all together. And when she ended up going on a girls’ weekend trip she ended up having a panic attack. She ended up in the hospital. The doctor told her she had been diagnosed with a severe anxiety attack. He also said what she really suffered from was a broken heart. That moment, when the doctor looked past her wall and saw into who she was, was groundbreaking. She knew she needed help and started to change the trajectory of her life.
A New Chapter – Navigate Your Freedom
Today she is the founder and owner of Navigate Your Freedom and she also works as the Educational Services Facilitator at the Fleet and Family Support Program.
A Piece of Advice
Her advice for women joining the military is to get the tough assignments out of the way early. Get out on a ship, take that deployment opportunity. It will help you in your future.
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