Jennifer decided to join the Navy when she was going to community college. It was something she considered in high school. When her dad told her she needed to take college seriously or get a job she decided to join the military. First, she went to the Marines but knew it wasn’t for her. She went to the Navy next and told them she was ready to join. She was ready to take any job and get into the military as quickly as possible.
She ended up serving in Engineering as a Fire Response. It was a job she knew about because her dad was a firefighter and she had grown up around it. She ended up learning even more and love it. Her first ship was a PRECON. This meant it was brand new. And her first job was loading all the new equipment onto the ship. Everything from beds, linens, silverware, ropes, and more. Anything that was not attached to the ship was brought to the ship in boxes and then unpacked and loaded onto the ship. Eventually, everything was loaded and it was time to set sail.
They went to Miami, Florida for the Superbowl for the official commissioning of the ship. It was fun to be there for the commissioning. The tradition and ceremony that surrounds the event were very exciting. Next, they went through the Panama canal and made their way to San Diego. The ship still needed to have its weapon systems added to the ship before it could set out on its first deployment. She helped prepare the ship for the first deployment and then found out she was pregnant and could not deploy.
Being a mom
She was given a duty off the ship while pregnant. At the time, women were not given opportunities to continue to progress in their careers. But she still wanted to serve and began to work with others to help change the way the command helped pregnant women. After two back-to-back pregnancies, she was able to go on her first deployment. She was divorced and her mom came to help raise her kids during that time.
At the end of the second deployment, she left the Navy after asking for leave to help her daughters deal with medical issues and it was rejected. She needed to be there for her family and did not feel she had the support of the Navy.
She left the military and was overwhelmed by all the challenges. It wasn’t what she expected and didn’t realize how many normal decisions the military had made and now she was required to do. It was through going back to school she connected with other women veterans through Foundation For Women Warriors. And then when she left the military she struggled once again to find community in the workforce but through Women veteran organizations she found community with others. She recently joined the Navy and is now serving as an Ensign in the Reserves.
Mentioned in this episode:
Girl’s Guide to Military Service Series