Welcome to episode one of Women of the Military Podcast. In today’s episode, your host Amanda Huffman will share the why behind the podcast, where the idea came from and why I picked military women as the focus point. It is always important to know the why behind the story. So, I’m starting off the podcast with how the podcast came to be and why I am passionate about sharing the stories of women who have served and those who continue to serve in the military.
Amanda served in the military for six years as an Air Force Civil Engineer. Her first assignment was to Holloman AFB in Alamogordo, NM. There she was assigned to the 49th Civil Engineer Squadron. She worked in both the Environmental Flight and the Engineering Flight. In 2010, she deployed to Afghanistan as part of a Provincial Reconstruction Team. She ended her career at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio working at Air Force Material Command doing Energy Management.
In this interview, we talk about Cynthia’s journey to military life. She joined the military through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program. A program she joined just to learn a little more about the military. One of the biggest struggles she had during ROTC was meeting height and weight standards and physical fitness. Listen to how she worked hard to overcome her struggles to become an officer in the Air Force.
Tiye Young is a Charlotte native currently serving in the North Carolina National Guard after serving on active duty in the Army for over six years. She is also a cancer survivor and is about to celebrate her one-year anniversary of being cancer free. At such a young age she has already accomplished so much, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have big plans for the future. Don’t miss the incredible story of Tiye Young!
Here Janet shares her story of being a female Vietnam veteran: My name is Janet Appling and I retired from the Army as a Captain. I decided to join the military services after I had graduated from Northern Illinois University. I had been teaching 6th grade for a year before joining. This was in 1966 during the Vietnam War. When I first decided, I think it was more for the adventure that patriotism, but that soon changed.
While attending the Naval Academy, Mandy was told that she didn’t deserve her spot at the Academy. She was also told that she was an example of why women shouldn’t serve in the military. As an Ensign, she became a mom and faced complications due to being both single mom and serving in the military. Despite facing these challenges in her early career, she was able to serve in the military on active duty for 10 years and 10 years in the reserves where she was able to retire as a Lt Commander.
This episode talked specifically about the way that viewing the world after a deployment can be dark and black and white. We dived deep into the loss of purpose and the struggle to find meaning after spending time overseas. This episode talked about so many things I experienced, but hadn’t been able to put into words. I am so thankful for Ashley’s willingness to share her story. I hope this episode can help those struggling with coming home. And hopefully help military spouses and significant others understand some of what happens inside the head of a service member upon coming home.
This episode focuses on the experience of being an Air Force Developmental Engineer. Erin served in the US Air Force on Active Duty from December 2006 through July 2012 as an Acquisitions and Engineering Officer. She earned her commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Program at Embry Riddle. Listen to her experience of why she joined the Air Force, military life and why she left the military behind to be a stay at home mom and military spouse.
Shakeia Kegler joined the Navy in 2011 and her first assignment took her overseas to Japan. No sooner had she arrived in Japan than she found out she would be heading out on the USS George Washington for a six-month deployment where she would quickly find her sea legs. Her experience changed her into the person she is today and she felt lucky to see so many different places in the world as she deployed out of Japan on a 6 month on 6 month off rotation.
Dina enlisted into the Air Force in 2005. She was in a hurry to join the military and told her recruiter she would take any job, just make it happen. She found herself in the Communication Squadron doing work she didn’t enjoy. After three years she cross-trained to be a Bioenvironmental Engineer (B). She stayed in the job until one day someone from the PA unit found out she was majoring in photography. They quickly convinced her to make another career switch and she became a photojournalist for the Air Force. She also met her husband while serving in the military. She left military service when they transferred to Hawaii and she was unable to find a job at the Air National Guard in Hawaii.
Annette is a military spouse, mother to two teenagers (one is in college) and veteran who served in the Army for over seventeen years as a Chemical officer including a deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. She retired and decided to trade in her boots for converse sneakers to be able to make up for lost time with her now teenagers. Since her retirement, she has PCSed from Fort Polk, LA to Fairfax, VA to support her husband’s military career. Her blog A Wild Ride Called Life incorporates stories from her post-military life in whichshe shares how she lives life with being a mom suffering from PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Along with writing her blogs she also writes for other social media sources and has a podcast.
On the advice of a friend who had joined the Marines a few years before Suzie started looking into the military. He urged her to join the Air Force, but she was strong-willed and independent. She walked straight past the Air Force recruiter’s office and joined the Marines. Susie joined the Marine Corps in August 1999. She served four years on active duty in the Corps. Her military occupation was water purification. Nowadays she is a mother of four teenagers, a yoga instructor and runs her blog, Susan Leda – Dishes are not for the faint of heart.
To be 20 years old and deploy to Iraq is kind of crazy to think about. But that is exactly what Christina Youngblood did. She deployed to Kuwait and was in and out of Iraq supporting the finance unit she was attached to as a Paralegal. When she joined the Army National Guard deploying didn’t seem like something she would encounter right away, but life with the military is anything but what is expected.
When you join the Air Force you can wait until your job of choice to open up, or you can join as quickly as possible with whatever job is available or without a job assigned. This is why Kris joined the Air Force so quickly. She was afraid of chickening out. So even with a high ASVAB score she ended up working in Security Forces. When given the opportunity to cross train she learned if she wanted to be part of the medical career field she should have started there. So she cross-trained to become a paralegal.
Katrina attended the Naval Academy from 2005 to 2009. In 2009, she initially commissioned into the Navy as a midshipman but cross-commissioned to the Air Force when she graduated. She served five years on active duty and is currently serving in the Reserves with almost 10 years of military service. She is a developmental engineer and has worked on projects ranging from F-16 engines, a deployment to Afghanistan, instructing at the Air Force Academy and working on developing technology related to satellites.
When you join the United States military, you don’t just sign up for duty; you also commit your loved ones to lives of service all their own. No one knows this better than Elaine Brye, an “Army brat” turned military wife and the mother of four officers—one each in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. For more than a decade she’s endured countless teary goodbyes, empty chairs at Thanksgiving dinners, and sleepless hours waiting for phone calls in the night. She’s navigated the complicated tangle of emotions—pride, worry, fear, hope, and deep, enduring love—that are part and parcel of life as a military mother.
Kattarina joined Army in 2009 she served for 5 and a half years on active duty, before transferring to the Army Reserves. She was in the Reserves for just under 2.5 years, making her total service 7 years and 11 months. She was a Judge Advocate (JAG) officer while in the military and for the moment she is a stay at home mom, studying for a human resources certification and pondering whether to use her GI Bill to do something completely different.
Hearing the story of Ginny, a female Coast Guard veteran and Military Sexual Trauma Survivor was eye-opening. Not only did I learn about the mission of the Coast Guard and the work they are doing to protect the United States. I also heard the details of what it is like to face a sexual assault and the aftermath that follows with unsupportive leadership.
My guest this week is not a female veteran but is the author of Beyond the Point that is a novel focusing on 3 female cadets and their journey through West Point and beyond. I had the opportunity to read her novel. I wanted to share it with all of you and talk to Claire about her military background and how this story came to be.
Cherron has been a military spouse for 18 years and she is an Air Force veteran. She served in the Air Force for 3.5 years. she was an Information Manager. It was a split role of admin work and IT work. It allowed her to work with a variety of people from crew chiefs to supply personnel. She is still involved with the military as a Key Spouse for her husband’s squadron. She is also active in a few of the other groups on base. Currently, she writes a blog to help military spouses understand and cope with military life called The Veteran Spouse.