“Who Moved My Couch?”: Minimizing Your Spouse’s Post-Deployment Stress

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man in military uniform lying on couch looking pensive

By Danielle Jackola

Separation can be challenging for everyone, but service members and their families can respectively face unique situations that no one anticipates.

While the service member needs to focus on being mission-ready, their spouse juggles the myriad responsibilities of managing the home front, often including a job, parenting and taking care of the house. Both roles are essential, and it’s crucial to understand some of the challenges each person experiences in order to make the homecoming transition smooth.

As a military spouse who has a passion for serving other spouses and our military community, I have always been intrigued by which situations foster supportive communication and which ones seem to prompt reoccurring issues. A common problem that initially surprised me but, upon further reflection, makes sense is the conflict that can arise when a spouse redecorates during deployment. Who knew that some decorative pillows could be a source of contention?

Through many heart-to-heart talks with service members, I’ve learned that the stress of deployment is eased by the comfort of thinking about the people they love and their memories of home. They crave a domestic haven that looks the way they left it, where they walk in after a long day, sink into their couch and relax with a sense of comfort and security. They want to be surrounded by things that are familiar.

As a spouse, I also understand the need to stay busy and to find joy outside the reality of handling all of the responsibilities at home. The days of deployment seem to drag on endlessly, and time seems to move at a snail’s pace. Most of us have also experienced the certainty that the car will inevitably break down, the water heater will break then flood the garage and one of the kids will end up in urgent care, at least once during deployment. The natural desire to find distraction from the chaos via changing your home décor is understandable, for sure! However, what feels like a fun, needed upgrade to your home can actually cause your spouse distress, whether realized or unconsciously.

Perhaps the best compromise — a skill military families have mastered — is preserving the sacred space of home while making plans together for incorporating fresh and fun updates that you both enjoy. I encourage you to fill the deployment with activities that both make you happy and foster a sense of belonging and community, like volunteering with other spouses or trading playdates. Save the home revamp and HGTV binge watching, though, for post-deployment when you can update your home in a way that is reflective of you both, and you can enjoy the process as a team.

Rear Admiral John ‘Mac’ McLaughlin & the Magic of USS Midway

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Rear Admiral ‘Mac’ McLaughlin standing at podium with US flag in background

By Annie Nelson

San Diego is one of the hot spots for tourism and for our nation’s west coast Navy. People flock to San Diego for many reasons, the weather, the beauty, the Pacific Ocean, the sightseeing, sports and conventions. Whatever the reason, the city’s number one tourist attraction is the majestic USS Midway aircraft carrier. Commissioned in 1945, eight days after the surrender of Japan during WWII, and decommissioned in April 1992, the Midway Magic now has her permanent home in the San Diego Bay and still serves the country as a history museum.

While visiting the museum you get a sense of rich history, respect and love of country of all those who work on her who beam with pride. At the helm of this beauty is retired Rear Admiral John “Mac” McLauglin. After an amazing career in the Navy, Mac has served aboard the Midway for 18 years, guiding her safe passage as a tourist destination. Often, you will see Mac on the decks of the ship, his infectious smile, warm personality and twinkle in his eyes; you know he loves his job, the ship and all those who work aboard her. A true leader and the driving force behind the growth of the Midway and her outreach.

I have had the honor and pleasure of knowing Mac and wanted to share just a bit about his story as a veteran who truly continues to serve. We talked about his journey to get to the Midway and what makes her so special.

Navy Born

Raised in a military family, his father was a sailor in the Navy and at a very early age Mac too wanted to join the Navy. He ended up going to the U.S. Naval Academy and was commissioned an ensign in June 1972. He is not one to boast, so, as he says, “The rest is history.” I pushed a bit —,] asking him what the highlights of his career were. “A few highlights in my Naval career were getting my wings, flying helicopters, getting to command a squadron and a Naval Station, being selected for Flag rank, all the while staying married to the same girl the entire time!” A true accomplishment. His personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service, Navy Commendation and Navy Achievement Medals. His final role of active duty was Commander of the Naval Reserve Forces Command. Mac retired from the Navy in August 2003 and was hired as the Chief Operating Officer of the USS Midway that December.

Midway Magic

The ship has become the most visited historic ship in the world. They have over 1 million guests annually, while also hosting 250 special events and 400 military ceremonies.

I asked Mac what led him to the Midway after he retired from the Navy. “When I retired from the Navy, I got a call from a Midway Board member asking me if I’d be interested in interviewing for the Midway CEO job. I interviewed and began work in December 2003, and the ship arrived in SD [San Diego] the next month.” As our conversation continued, I wondered if there were any similarities in both careers. According to Mac both careers involve the management of people and projects. The clothes you wear are different, but the leadership challenges of both careers are very similar.

I have been aboard the Midway many times for events, ceremonies and meetings. I find part of the charm of the Midway experience is due to the crew who share the rich history of the ship, her stories and magic with the guests. They share stories about each of the aircrafts on board, her battles, her milestones and so much more. I asked Mac about his staff because they all are very special. “The volunteers are the key to the great success Midway has enjoyed since we opened. San Diego has a rich demographic of retired veterans and many have volunteered to work on Midway since they retired. We like to call the Midway the best adult day care center in San Diego, and the enthusiasm and professionalism of our volunteer corps is the secret sauce of Midway Magic.”

He continued “The Midway is a LIVING tribute to the service of all veterans and we try to honor their service when they come aboard. We hope that the ship will remain a popular tourism venue long into the future so that everyone that comes aboard can understand the importance of service and sacrifice of many great Americans to ensure our freedoms are preserved for future generations.”

Looking Forward

Speaking of the future, they do have big plans, “We are planning on building the largest veterans park on the West Coast of America. The park will surround the Midway and cover approximately 10 acres right here on the San Diego Bay. Our education programs continue to expand nationally, and our events’ after-hours business has become and will continue to grow its international audience.”

The legacy of Rear Admiral Mac Laughlin goes far beyond his Naval career; it is continuing to grow through his service as president and CEO of the USS Midway Museum and also in his son who is active duty in the U.S. Navy. A true, rich military family who exemplifies the dedication, sacrifice and love to these United States of America. While not everyone in our nation is friendly to our veteran community, you would never know that on the Midway. Patriotism is alive and strong aboard the ship, and it truly starts with its leader! If you have not given yourself the gift of a day on the Midway and you find yourself in San Diego, it is a must! You can learn more information about the ship and tours offered at midway.org.

Miles Teller: The Mile-High Act

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Actor Miles Teller arrives at the LA Special Screening of Amazon's

By Brady Rhoades

Miles Teller did a deep dive into war and its consequences in the 2017 movie, Thank You for Your Service. However, his most recent project: facing the challenges of Tom Cruise’s bootcamp, including grueling physical workouts, flying in F-18 Super Hornets and withstanding G-force? A different animal.

Teller, 35, plays Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw in Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel to the 1986 blockbuster Top Gun. Top Gun: Maverick centers on Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell with 30-plus years of service. Maverick is put in charge of training a group of Top Gun graduates for a specialized mission under the orders of his fellow naval aviator, friend and former rival, Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer), who is the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Rooster, the son of Maverick’s late best friend “Goose,” is one of the trainees.

The film stars Cruise, Teller, Jon Hamm and Jennifer Connelly, among others. “Good morning, aviators,” Teller tweeted on March 29, along with the film’s trailer.

Cruise might be 36 years older than when he jetted across big screens in the original Top Gun, but he’s as driven as ever, according to Teller and other costars.

Teller told reporters he was transformed into a “mini-Tom.” “You’re not just going into the gym and lifting some weights,” Teller told reporters. “We did flight training for three months before we started filming… We got put through the wringer.”

Teller is uniquely driven in his own way, due in part to the near miracle that he’s alive.

In 2007, the then-20-year-old was in a car crash — as a passenger — that hurtled him through a window and onto a road. The experience has not stopped the star from pursuing his passions with V-8 force. In that way, he’s not unlike his film father Goose, who in the original film responded to Maverick’s “I feel the need” with the now iconic phrase, “The need for speed!”

NASM Supports Military Families with Career Opportunities

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Young military couple kissing each other, homecoming

By Chris Billingsley

NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), a global leader in fitness education and certifications, supports military families – not only on days like the annual – Military Spouse Appreciation Day – but every day by providing 30% off all courses for military members and their families, as well as a free course on mental toughness.

Since 2017, NASM has been recognized as a Military Friendly School, and its Certified Personal Training (CPT) program is also eligible for military funding reimbursement.

Not only do NASM courses offer invaluable health knowledge, for military members and their spouses, NASM also offers flexible career opportunities perfect for a military family’s lifestyle, which can often include multiple moves and makes working in a traditional environment difficult.

Working as a NASM certified personal trainer, wellness coach, or nutrition coach offers the freedom to work wherever and whenever works best for your family, while offering the purpose and satisfaction that comes from helping others achieve their goals.

In fact, for those that want to coach virtually, now is the best time to get started. NASM is seeing a 23% uptick in graduates who are offering virtual services since 2017, with the online fitness industry projected to grow from $16.15 billion this year to $79.87 billion in 2026.

Military spouses looking for career opportunities can also apply MyCAA scholarship funding to specific programs, including a Group Fitness Instructor certification through AFAA (Athletics and Fitness Association of America).

Learners have many options for their course of study – whether they’re interested in offering clients nutritional support, fitness knowledge, or comprehensive wellness coaching. NASM even offers bundles of courses as well as specializations, such as virtual coaching, to help students create the best program for their career goals.

For more information on how NASM supports military members and their families, visit www.nasm.org/certified-personal-trainer/military-support.

Fort Leavenworth Military spouse continues education at 49

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Kate Hanlen posing outdoors in flowery dress smiling

Great Bend Tribune

When Kate Hanlen went on a mission trip to Honduras at the age of 19, she didn’t know she would discover her career calling that would be 30 years in the making.

“We were there to help build buildings and paint mostly,” she said. “One day there was this six-year-old girl that was on the other side of a fence, and she spoke Spanish and I did not, but she showed me her leg and it had a big wound on it. I ran and grabbed a medical kit we had, and I didn’t know very much but I helped her as much as I could and I thought ‘Lord, if this is what you’re calling me to, I embrace it.’ Since that day, I’ve always prayed that my hands will be used to help as many people as possible.”

That pivotal moment caused Hanlen to enroll in nursing school, but after two years she wasn’t sure exactly in what specific arena she wanted continue helping people so, she enlisted in the Army reserves and served as a combat medic for eight years. During that time, she met her husband who was active duty and they married in 1995. Over the next 26 years, they had six children and traveled the world as a military family with her often handling all the parental duties when her husband was on deployments.

“We’ve traveled all over the world,” she said. “However, the needs of our family were always my treasure. I wanted to be with my kids, make our house a home since we did move so much.”

With her husband retired and four of her kids out of the house and the youngest two not far behind, Hanlen realized her amazing journey as a mother was going to transition into a stage that would allow her time to focus on herself.

Her son had utilized Barton’s LSEC courses in high school at Fort Leavenworth so he could graduate college more quickly. These classes are offered on scholarship to soldiers and their families that are stationed at Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley.

“My son and I came down to the Army Education Center and we couldn’t believe we were able to take these classes at no charge, she said. “I kept asking them ‘Are you sure a bill for thousands of dollars isn’t going to show up in a few months?’”

Of course, no bill ever showed up, and now Hanlen is utilizing Barton’s LSEC classes at Fort Leavenworth to fill in some gaps on her transcript that she needs to finish her pre-requisites before transferring to St. Mary’s University to finish her nursing school. At that time, she hopes to find a job in hospice care.

Read the complete article here.

How to THRIVE (Not Just Survive) When Your Active-Duty Spouse Retires

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By Rebecca Hyleman

From the moment you stepped into your role as a military spouse you may have also started dreaming of your life beyond the confinements of this role, living life on YOUR terms. It may feel much longer, but those years will actually show up as fast as your spouse’s PT alarm. Whether you like it or not, it will soon be time to get up and get going on a whole new life.

Understand that this transition is going to take a toll on you and your family, but it’s important to make sure your own self-care and personal preparation is a priority, not an option. Start the process a minimum of 18-24 months before the anticipated-out date, meaning 6 months to a year BEFORE your spouse drops that paperwork to retire. A great place to start is by contacting VetsWhatsNext (vetswhatsnext.org), a nonprofit agency that assists veterans and their families by walking them through their transition before, during and after they officially leave the military.

If you are reading this looking for help and your spouse has already retired, as my spouse says, “If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute.” Start now.

Focus on Mental Health

Military spouses are often left out of the conversation about military mental health matters. Utilize Military One Source, Tricare or the Life Givers Network to find a counselor. Maybe you don’t feel like you need one, and that’s ok, look for one anyway. Search Psychology Today and find someone who looks like they will meet your needs, set up a quick five-minute introduction call or virtual meeting to see if that person could be a good fit for you.

If you are not in crisis, use the time to build rapport and create a safe space for yourself. A good therapist will help you fill your tool box with things you will need to be emotionally and mentally successful in the future. Think of this like you would a tune up. You could push your car’s mileage to wait for an oil change, but the problem is that you run the risk of major damage to your vehicle, which takes more time and parts to repair. That can be costly.

Finding a therapist before you need one sets you up for success and will help you stay in check. If something does happen, you’ll know exactly where to go (and will already be established).

Prioritize Physical Health

You may have missed appointments over the years or possibly asked a doctor to take a referral out of the system if you didn’t want to be placed into the EFMP system, unsure as to whether EFMP would risk your spouse’s career. You will, of course, be focused on your spouse, ensuring they have documented all of their medical records and are working to get their VA rating.

But what about your health? You might not be working towards a VA rating, but it doesn’t mean your health has not taken a toll over the years. Commit to finding a sitter, taking time off work and doing whatever needs to be done to prioritize getting your personal medical records in order.

Talk to your PCM (Primary Care Manger) about your needs, set up a physical and any other annual exams that may be coming up, create a plan to have refills of medications you may need, reach out to your military instillation, or other medical offices and gather your medical and vaccine records to create a file you can carry with you. If you have children, do the same for them.

Grow Through Personal Development

Consider hiring a Life Coach. Look for one who specializes in helping people with transitions. If you are not ready to jump into one-on-one coaching, start with a short workshop. Heyday Coaching’s Navigating Transitions 3-Part Workshop encouraged me to put down all of those things we carry as a military spouse, to take off the caregiver-helper hat and spend time reflecting and focusing on myself.

Dedicating specific time, with a Life Coach as my guide, I was finally able to start to answer the overwhelming questions that people were throwing my direction: “What do you want to do? Where do you want to live? Are you going to finally go back to work? What comes next for you?”

One would think that I had twenty-two years to answer these questions, but I found I was staying in the role of seeking what was best for everyone in the family, and I was putting myself last on the to-do list. A Life Coach can help you hear those needs you’ve been silencing — and no longer remember. Once you rediscover your needs, share them with your spouse.

Cultivate Professional Growth

Take advantage of free programs, like the “Arm-Me-Up Careers Campaign,” through Military Spouse Jobs, a non-profit with a mission for helping military spouse’s gain employment through no-cost job placement assistance and career progression services.

Also, create a LinkedIn account to start making professional connections.

Give Space and Time to Grieve

Grief is not an exclusive feeling to the death or loss of a loved one. The five stages of grief absolutely do occur when transitioning from active-duty military to civilian life. It will come in waves, and you might not be prepared for the things that will trigger the emotions. Give yourself grace as you ride the waves of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Just when you feel you are in a sea of calm, something will happen such as, seeing friends share their next PCS assignment while you are treading water with no land in sight. The way your body will respond to simple emotional triggers may come as a surprise, but take the time to move through the feelings so that you don’t stay stuck or have them show up in a bigger way later. While you may be gaining a whole new life in retirement, you are still losing a way of life with your spouse that you’ve probably been in for at least two decades, and it’s important to give time and space to experience your emotions.

Reach Out and Make Connections

You have been a part of a uniquely connected military community, and it has helped shape you into the person you are today. Don’t think you have to walk completely away the day your spouse receives retirement orders, but do recognize you are going to be straddling the fence with one foot in the military world and one foot in the civilian one. It may take time to figure out how to balance being in both places. Find new ways to connect with people outside of your military community. If you are not working in a civilian community, volunteer with a non-military nonprofit, joining a gym or fitness group, meet up with locals who share a similar hobby or volunteer to be an assistant coach for a local recreational league. If you plan to move to a new location, or go back to your hometown, take time to reach out to contacts in the area and set up coffee dates ahead of time.

Create a Quiet Space

Find a place in your house that can be all yours. Think about emptying out just enough of your closet to make room for a yoga mat and some blank wall space. Some people like to start their day with prayer and meditation, but others struggle making their minds turn off for peaceful sleep. Instead of scrolling your phone, head into your quiet space just before bed. If you use your phone as an alarm, be sure to set the alarm before you go into your space to stave off the temptation to scroll.

Keep a stack of note cards, a nice notebook, some tape and your favorite pens in your space. Use the time before bed to write down whatever comes to mind. It could be a favorite quote, something about your family, things you want in your retirement home, any worries, job ideas or any positive praises from your day, then tape them to the wall. Some days you may just have one thing to put on a notecard, and that’s fine. Other days you may write a novel in your notebook.

Close your eyes and spend time sitting and breathing in the good things while exhaling the hard parts.

Set Boundaries

Repeat after me: YOU are not responsible for fulfilling the expectations of others. This is your life, and only you get to decide what happens next. I’m talking about your friends and family here, not your spouse. Please, include your spouse. You are going to have people in your life who have created their own scenarios for what they believe is best after your spouse retires. It’s heartwarming to know that people love you and want to plan your life for you, but it’s not their life, and YOU are not responsible for their feelings. The cool thing about being an adult leaving the military life is that you no longer have someone making decisions for you. For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, you don’t just have the illusion of choice, you actually have a say in the next steps of your life. When people around you want to insert their ideas, and their feelings, it’s ok to listen, but hold onto your paper and pen. This next story is finally yours to write.

Source: VetsWhatsNext

Resources for Military Spouses in the Job Search

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young military spouse sitting behind desk with laptop and flag in background

Just as military veterans have sacrificed so much in service to our country, so too have their spouses. The Navy and Marine Corps recognize the invaluable contribution of military spouses and welcome their talents and strengths in our civilian workforce.

In the Department of the Navy — and throughout the Federal Government — military spouses have greater opportunities than ever before to be hired as members of the civilian workforce.

In 2009, the President signed an Executive Order that provides a non-competitive appointment authority for hiring certain qualified military spouses, spouses of disabled veterans and un-remarried widows/widowers of veterans.

Spouses of Active-Duty Military When Accompanying on a Change of Duty Status

Spouses accompanying their military sponsor on a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move who meet all the following conditions:

  • The sponsor must be serving on active duty for more than 180 consecutive days, must have been issued an order for a PCS and must be authorized for dependent travel as part of the PCS orders.
  • The spouse must have been married to the sponsor on or prior to the date of the service member’s orders authorizing the PCS.
  • The spouse does not have to relocate to the new duty station in order to apply for non-competitive appointments.
  • Spouses who wish to exercise military spouse preference must relocate with the service member.
  • The position must be in the local commuting area of the sponsor’s new duty station.

Military spouses are eligible for Navy and Marine Corps civilian employment opportunities in two ways:

Non-competitive Appointments (E.O. 13473)

To apply for jobs, search for job opportunities in the Department of the Navy at don.usajobs.gov and apply directly to any position for which you meet all the qualification requirements. When applying, select Military Spouse under Executive Order 13473 on the eligibility questionnaire. See also “How to Apply” Tab at the top of the page for Applicant Toolkit information and resources.

Military Spouse Preference (MSP)

To exercise your military spouse preference, search for job opportunities in the Department of the Navy at don.usajobs.gov and apply directly to any position for which you meet all the qualification requirements. When applying, select Military Spouse Preference on the eligibility questionnaire. You will be asked to provide documentation that supports your status as military spouse preference eligible.

Spouses of Retired, Released or Discharged Veterans

There are two eligibility categories of spouses covered:

  1. Spouses of retired active-duty military with a service-connected disability of 100 percent, as documented by a branch of the armed services.
  2. Spouses of active-duty members released or discharged from active duty in the armed forces and have a disability rating of 100 percent, as documented by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Spouses who meet either category above can apply to any position for which they meet all the qualification requirements.

Unmarried Widows/Widowers

This eligibility category is for unmarried widows/widowers whose spouses died while serving on active duty in the armed forces. It is not necessary that the active-duty member was killed in combat. The death may have been the result of enemy attack, accident, disease or natural causes.

Unmarried widows/widowers can apply to any position “Open to U.S. Citizen” for which they meet all the qualification requirements.

Mothers of Disabled or Deceased Veterans

This eligibility is for mothers who meet one of the below categories:

  1. Mothers of disabled veterans are eligible if your son or daughter was separated with an honorable or general discharge from active duty, including training service in the Reserves or National Guard AND is permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected injury or illness.
  2. Mothers of deceased veterans are eligible when your son or daughter died under honorable conditions while on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized.

Mothers can apply to any “Open to U.S. Citizen” position for which they meet all the qualification requirements.

Documentation Requirements

Documentation might include:

  • Proof of marriage to the service member;
  • A copy of PCS orders authorizing the spouse to accompany the service member to a new duty location;
  • Proof the service member was released or discharged due to a 100 percent disability;
  • Proof of the service member’s death while on active duty.

Source: Department of the Navy Civilian Human Resources (secnav.navy.mil)

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. Multiple Hire GI Hiring Events During June-December!
    June 21, 2022 - December 8, 2022
  4. Commercial UAV Expo Americas
    September 6, 2022 - September 8, 2022
  5. Department of the Navy Gold Coast Small Business Procurement Event
    September 6, 2022 - September 8, 2022