From Army enlistment to the White House

Melody went from living in Panama City wishing she could go to college to serving an Army enlistment that continued past her first enlistment and eventually working at the White House Transportation Agency. Melody served in the Army for twenty-four years. She experienced the world through her many different travels both through the military and living overseas. She also has both her college and master’s degrees. Today she owns XcelMil Consulting and Coaching where she takes the leadership lessons she learned in the military to help others in their career.

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From Army enlistment to the White House

Melody decided to join the Army because college was outside the reach of her family financially. She also wanted to travel. Because she completed Air Force JrROTC in high school she enlisted as an E-3 and had additional responsibilities in Basic Training. It was a challenging experience in a new environment since she grew up in Florida and her training was in upstate New York. But she made it through and then went on to complete Advanced Technical School in San Antonio. Her first assignment was at Fort Meade.

She deployed during Desert Storm. She discussed how the military trained her to meet the mission but struggled coming home dealing with the emotions and trauma she saw. We also discussed the importance of reaching out for help through programs like Cohen Veterans Network or the Suicide Hotline. So many veterans are struggling with unresolved trauma and reaching out for help can be life-changing. She almost decided to leave the military and not have another Army enlistment but her uncle convinced her to stay in. Saying what in Florida is better than where you are now.

Living overseas

She served in Korea, Germany, and Brussels and had the opportunity to see the world. Especially, when she was in Europe and could take a short flight or train ride to see different parts of the country. She was married in Brussels and her family came out to Brussels for her wedding. She said it was such an interesting experience.

While in Germany she was selected to work at the US Army Garrison Brussels to support the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). She also worked for the White House under both President Bush and Obama at the White House Transportation Office. It was an experience she never expected and was honored to work in the position. She learned so much and connected with so many people.

Leaving the military

As she came closer to the 26-year mark she and her husband decided to retire. But they did it strategically. He left first in 2012. Then in 2013, she decided to leave the military after 24 years of military service. Because they created a five-year plan for their post-military life they had a roadmap to follow and began preparing for what was next. And have been able to thrive in their post-military careers. She recommends women considering military service trust their gut. If they think they will look back with regret, then maybe that will help you decide if the military is right for you.

Connect with Melody:

Mentioned in this episode:

Suicide prevention hotline

Suicide Prevention Month

Cohen Veterans Network

Related episodes:

The Challenge of a Dual Military Career – Episode 37

Learn more about post-military job recruiting – Episode 27

Finding Mental Health Services for Veterans – Episode 137

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How did Melody go from army enlistment to working in the White House? Check out her story this week on the Women of the Military podcast.

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