Women of the Military

An Unexpected End to a Navy Career

Episode Summary

Sometimes moments in our lives change our trajectory. If Robyn hadn’t met a recruiter in high school, she might not have joined the Navy. If she had signed her enlistment papers before leaving for training, she would have likely served twenty years. Life would have been different. Hear Robyn’s story this week on the Women of the Military Podcast!

Episode Notes

This episode was made possible by my Patreon supporters! Sign up in the month of July and August to get a free copy of Brave Women Strong Faith!

Robyn Grable is the chief executive officer of Veterans ASCEND, which she founded in 2018 to bring veterans and employers together, improving corporate bottom lines as well as the lives of America’s service heroes and their families. 

Her unwavering commitment to veteran employment is well-served by her corporate and military experience, including more than 30 years of private sector human resources after nine years of service in the U.S. Navy. Her ongoing study of America’s veteran workforce have made her a leading voice on the barriers and keys to success for their employment. She is a seasoned speaker and media resource, earning respect and praise from her peers.

A native of Richmond, Indiana, Robyn holds a master’s in psychology focused on Leadership Coaching. Her capstone project during her graduate studies emphasized coaching military veterans during their transition back to the civilian workforce. Committed to giving back, Robyn has volunteered for American Red Cross, The MS Society, United Way, March of Dimes, Upstate Warrior Solution, IVMF Mentor Program, and Veterans Treatment Court. She is a member of SHRM and serves on the Workforce Readiness Council of the Greenville SHRM chapter.

Today she is focused entirely on ensuring veterans are recognized for their skills, valued for their talent and that America’s employers realize the full value and skills of America’s heroes, poised in the civilian workforce to truly ascend.

A recruiter came to Robyn’s high school and she saw the Navy as her ticket out of her small town and decided to join the military. It was 1979 and during the Cold War. People didn’t understand or want women in the military and she found that to be a challenge. When it came time to pick her career field nine out of the ten jobs she wanted were not available to her because her gender. She ended up picking Data Processing and it was a good career field for her while she was in Iceland. In Iceland she met her future husband and had to move to Florida for a year before being stationed with her husband in Maine. 

Shortly after getting stationed together her daughter was born. Her husband had just come home from deployment, they were finally living together and she was adjusting to being a mom. And it was difficult, but they were able to make it work and she was able to segment her life in the military and her job as a mom. When they got orders to Pearl Harbor she asked to be assigned to a ship. At the time, women could not be on a ship with dependents. She would have had to give up legal custody of her daughter to do this. And this wasn’t something she was willing to do. Nor was it a requirement for her male counterparts. She decided to become an officer so she could change the military. She got her package together and in the end her package wasn’t even opened by the board. This crushed her. At the same time, she hadn’t signed her reenlistment paperwork before she left for training and decided after that event, she was ready to leave the Navy behind. 

Because of that error she didn’t have a plan to leave the military. She didn’t get any help with her transition and she made her way to Florida to start her new life. She walked away from the military and her veteran community. It was 22 years later that she got connected with the military veteran community.  

Connect with Robyn:

https://www.veterans.veteransascend.com
www.facebook.com/veteransascend
www.linkedin.com/company/veteransascend
www.instagram.com/veteransascend

Mentioned in this Episode:

A Girls Guide to the Military

Related Episodes:

From Navy to Entrepreneurship – Episode 27

From the Navy to the Air Force – Episode 15

Giving Back After Service to Find Healing – Episode 56

Do you want to hear more stories of military women? Check out my book Women of the Military! I share 28 stories of military women from women joining the military, currently serving and those who have left the military behind.

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Episode Transcription

Amanda Huffman  00:00

Welcome to Episode 83 of the Women of the Military Podcast. This week my guest is Robyn Grable. She served in the Navy for nine years and today she is the chief executive officer of Veterans ASCEND, which she founded in 2018 to bring veterans and employers together, improving corporate bottom lines as well as the lives of American service heroes and their families. In this episode, we talked about her nine years in the Navy and what it was like to serve and then what she did after she left and what led her to start veteran's ascent. So let's get started. You're listening to the Women of the Military podcast where we share the stories of female servicemembers and how the military touch their lives. I'm your host, military veteran, military spouse, and mom, Amanda Huffman. My goal is to find the heart of the story and uncover issues women face while serving in the military. If you want to be encouraged by this stories of military women and be inspired to change the world. Keep tuned for this latest episode of Women of the Military. Robyn is the chief executive officer of Veterans ASCEND, which she founded in 2018 to bring veterans and employers together, improving corporate bottom lines as well as the lives of America service heroes and their families. Her unwavering commitment to the veteran employment is well served by her corporate and military experience, including more than 30 years of private sector human resources. After nine years of service in the US Navy. Her ongoing study of America's veteran workforce have made her a leading voice on the barriers and keys to success for their employment. She is a seasoned speaker and a media resource, earning respect and praise from her peers. Welcome to the show, Robyb. I'm excited to hear part of your story.

Robyn Grable  01:57

Thank you, Amanda. Thanks for having me.

Amanda Huffman  01:58

My first question Why did you decide to join the military? 

Robyn Grable  02:03

So I'm one of those classic stories that the recruiter comes to your high school and says, join the Navy and see the world. And so I did. I didn't have money for college. So it was my ticket out of the small town in Indiana that I grew up in. And the Navy just happened to be the one that came to the high school that day. And I joined.

Amanda Huffman  02:22

Did you have any idea that you wanted to join the military at all before you met with a recruiter?

Robyn Grable  02:27

No, I really don't recall having any sense that I wanted to join the military. I knew I wanted to belong to something I did very well in school. And that's kind of where I had my confidence. And so I knew I wanted to belong to something. And it just, you know, was just the right moment at the right time when the recruiter came and talked to our high school class about joining the military. And it obviously sounded exciting as they put it in those days, you know, but my father did serve in the Air Force and my stepfather served In the Navy, so I had a little bit of military, but I was very little when they served. So was it kind of prominent in our family?

Amanda Huffman  03:09

And you enlisted in 1979? Is that correct? 

Robyn Grable  03:14

I did. 

Amanda Huffman  03:15

So what was the atmosphere like towards the military? Were they kind of like unknown and people didn't really know what they were doing or what what do you think?

Robyn Grable  03:23

So it was during the Cold War. So there wasn't a lot of kind of, you know, obviously no combat activity going on. A lot of things still going on with Russia at the time. But I think what the biggest conflict for me was being a female in the military in 1979. It was still a time when people didn't really want females in the military. People didn't understand why females went in the military. And for me, I was kind of sandwiched between two groups of men, the one the older men who thought you know, they wanted to take you under their wing and protect you because you were their daughters, their granddaughters, you know, and they needed to protect you. So they wouldn't let you do anything that, you know, was strenuous or mind, you know, numbing. And then the younger men that were in the military thought that, you know, at the time, females only went in the military for one reason, and that was basically to be promiscuous or find a husband, which neither one of those scenarios that I want anything to do with so it became an opportunity for me to really advocate for females in the military and fight for recognition of how you know, if I can do the same job, I can pass the same test then I should be allowed to do anything the men do,

Amanda Huffman  04:40

And what was your job when you were in the Navy?

04:42

So I actually went in on undesignated, meaning I didn't have an occupation. That's how eager I was to join. And so when I first went to a boot camp, I served as a an assistant company commander because they didn't have enough female company commanders to teach the new recruits So they picked some brand new recruits to fill that role. And then after that I got orders to Iceland and was stationed there. And it was there that I had to pick my designation. I picked out data processing ultimately, one because I kept being told you can't do on something on an airplane, you can't do something on a sub, that just nine out of the 10 things that I wanted to do. I was told I couldn't because I was a female, not because I wasn't smart enough, not because I wasn't strong enough, not because I wasn't mentally tough enough, but simply because I was a female. So I ultimately chose data processing which served me well. Back then it was a combination of it and HR. So that put me on a good path. So I have no regrets.

Amanda Huffman  05:44

And when you were talking about after you like graduated, they needed females to fill in for the recruits.

05:52

Yes. So I'll never forget the day that I went in for the interview. So they didn't have enough drill instructors. Basically that's not what the Navy calls them but everybody recognizes that so they didn't have enough female drill instructors. And so they decided to pick five brand new recruits that had just, we're just coming out of boot camp to then turn around and be assistant company commanders or assistant drill instructors, because they always needed two, to do the training. And so several of us I think there were about 40 of us went in for the interview. And I'll never forget I went in and of course, my dungarees that I had on that day for some reason the hem came on done, and I was so nervous about it kept playing with it, but I made it through so I was only one of five that were picked to then turn around right after boot camp, we had a couple of weeks of training. And then we went right into being a drill instructor basically for the Navy. So it was an experience and again another opportunity for me to really see how I could help females in the military. I remember very vividly one day, one of the females was struggling with, you know, folding her clothes properly to put them in the locker and make her bed right? And all those things that, you know, they just teach you just so that you learn how to take orders. And I remember saying to her, just do what they tell you to do. Don't think about it. Don't ask questions. Don't even you know, think that it's the silliest thing in the world. Just do what they're telling you to do when they tell you to do it, and you'll be fine. And you know, it was weird going from being the one being trained. And then all of a sudden, you know, a couple weeks later, I'm the one actually doing the training, but it was a great experience.

Amanda Huffman  07:38

Yeah, that sounds like a really cool experience. And I just feel like you were just enough ahead of them to like still remember what it was like that you could like, tell her like, just do what you need to do. And like it had happened so recently that you had gone through boot camp that you knew like exactly how she felt.

Robyn Grable  07:55

Exactly, I mean that exactly how it was because you're still fresh in Your mind that but you know, when you're going through it, you know, in boot camp you're going through and being told, all right, you have to fold your clothes. So they're exactly this way. It didn't make sense. It's like, well, who cares how my clothes are folded, right? But then when you get to the other side, and you see it's really about training your mind to just take your orders and do what you need to do. Because when you get out into the field that could be life and death situations. And if you don't just do, you could be in trouble. 

Amanda Huffman  08:31

That's kind of interesting, because I think when you go through basic and you get yelled at or you're told to do stuff you don't really think about, like, why they're doing it, but you knew and you had gone through that's just really interesting. And so how long were you in that job?

Robyn Grable  08:48

I only served for one recruit period. So it was about 12 weeks I did that then by then they finally recruited enough females to have to, you know true drill instructors. So I only did it for one company, about 12 weeks.

Amanda Huffman  09:03

And when you went through boot camp were you totally segregated from the females?

Robyn Grable  09:09

So we certainly had a separate barracks. But we had a brother company. So a company that was all male recruits that did training with us that did, you know, exercise with us and things like that had meals with us. But from as far as a lot of our training, it was very segregated. So our barracks was completely separated. And I remember being told a lot, because we got to know our brother company, and you interact with them, and a lot of people got in trouble talking on the street. So if you were walking from one building to another, and you made any kind of, you know, you talked or anything like that people were getting in trouble a lot. But yeah, we were pretty much segregated. 

Amanda Huffman  09:53

And so after those 12 weeks, you went to Iceland, and then you picked your job. Was there any training that you had to come back to the states for after you picked your job? 

Robyn Grable  10:04

Not at that time. No, I actually just jumped into the data processing field and did very well actually because I got promoted up through the ranks very quickly. But no, no training. I just I did a lot of online, not online, we didn't have online back then did a lot of book training and taking classes in Iceland. So I was stationed there for two years. I actually only left there one time to come back to the States. I've been there for about a year and I finally got to come home for 30 days and then go back so I only left the island when I was in Iceland actually wants to come home and then wants to go visit Germany. Wow. Yeah. And thinking about it being like the early 80s. And not having the internet. Were you communicating with your family like through written letters back and forth written letters was pretty much the only way we were allowed to call home about once a month. Once every Other months on the land lines that, you know, we're in on the base, but it was very tough to, you know, here, it was not a good connection. And it would always get cut off. So that's actually where I remember learning that the last thing I always want to say before I hang up is I love you. Because there were so many times when, you know, it had been months before I got to talk to my family. And I wouldn't get to say that, you know, I love you The last thing that they hear from me, and then I wouldn't get to talk to him again for you know, months again. So yeah, that was tough. But at a time, you know, I'm 18 years old, 19 years old, you know, I never been on an airplane until I went to boot camp. And you know, so I was having fun and doing all this stuff. But, you know, looking back now it's like, wow, when I think about my family and what they were going through, not being able to talk to me and not hearing from me as a mom. Now. I think about I couldn't do that. So, you know, God bless the families of our service members.

Amanda Huffman  12:03

Yeah. It's crazy how much the technology has changed in like such a short period of time. And just to think about how hard it was to communicate before the internet and cell phones and all right, other technology and it's just crazy.

Robyn Grable  12:22

It is. It is crazy. It is crazy. And we obviously we had computers back then. I worked on big Honeywell systems, but we didn't have, you know, the internet. We didn't have email. We didn't have cell phones and all the technology that we have today so

Amanda Huffman  12:38

so you were in Iceland for about two years and then where did you go after that?

Robyn Grable  12:43

So after Iceland, I was in Jacksonville, Florida for a year and then I got orders to Brunswick, Maine. I actually my husband, I met him in Iceland, and then we got married and he was stationed in Brunswick, Maine. I had orders to Jacksonville, so I took a self move had to spend a year in Jacksonville before I could go to Maine. So then I spent 18 months in Brunswick, Maine, where my daughter was born. And then we got orders to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. So then I moved from Brunswick, Maine to Pearl Harbor for three years. And then after that, I had orders to Monterey, California. But I had to go to Quantico first for training. And then I actually ended up getting out while I was in training Quantico.

Amanda Huffman  13:25

So let's back up a little bit to you met your husband, and then you guys were separated for a year or was it longer than a year?

Robyn Grable  13:34

It was about a year. I got down to Jacksonville in April. And then I moved to Maine. Next was a little over a year. I moved to Maine in June the following year, so it was about 14 months. But he was deployed about six to eight months of that time we would have been a part anyway. He was he was on p3 Orion's okay. He was antisocial. Marine warfare tracking submarine. 

Amanda Huffman  14:03

So you would have been separated anyway. 

Robyn Grable  14:05

So we would have most of that time. Yeah.

Amanda Huffman  14:08

So what was it like the communication when he was deployed? Were you still able to talk to him? Or was that like,

Robyn Grable  14:15

Every once in a while, but it was mostly letters, you know, mostly snail mail, because they would send planes back and forth. He actually was deployed back to Iceland during that time. And so he would send stuff back as they sent planes back to the States. And yeah, it was mostly letters he would call when he could similar to me calling back to my family. So yeah, and I was actually pregnant through most of that, because I got pregnant in January of that year. And our daughter was born in October of that year, so we didn't spend a whole lot of time together before our daughter was born. 

Amanda Huffman  14:53

Oh, wow. 

Robyn Grable  14:54

Yeah. 

Amanda Huffman  14:55

So did you start living together or were you guys stationed together in June and then Your daughter was born in October?

Robyn Grable  15:01

Yeah. So when I moved up to Brunswick in June, he was deployed. Okay. He got deployed in May. And then he was supposed to come back the middle of October, the end of October, actually. And we were due October 14. So he was pretty much gone. We didn't see each other for pretty much my whole pregnancy. He wasn't there for any of that. In fact, I had a lieutenant commander that lived next door, he went to my Lamaze classes with me. So that's how long ago it was. I don't even if they do Lamaze anymore

Amanda Huffman  15:32

I think they do. 

Robyn Grable  15:33

They've just changed the name. Yeah. So yeah, I had a lieutenant commander go to my Lamaze classes with me. So I got up there in June and he got back he actually got special permission to come home. October 1 instead of the end of October, just in case you know, I went early, so

Amanda Huffman  15:50

Wow, that's crazy.

Robyn Grable  15:52

It is when you think when you look back on it, you know, it is really crazy, but the one through it at the time. You know, it just seemed like That's just what we did. Right? It's just you just do and, yeah.

Amanda Huffman  16:06

So what was the transition? Like for him coming home having a newborn and figuring out your new like, normal life?

Robyn Grable  16:14

Yeah, it was an adjustment. It really was because I'd been independent. I'm an independent person to begin with. And I've gone through my entire pregnancy pretty much by myself. And, you know, I was able to get sleep when I wanted to, of course, after the baby's born, you don't sleep at all, but, you know, just it's so we had to get into that routine of Alright, who's going to do this? Who's gonna do that and really get an understanding of just the two of us spending time together, you know, let alone having a newborn. But yeah, we had fun. We did trips. You know, we made the most of the time we had and the budget that we had, of course, but it was an adjustment. It really was. So what was it like to be my mom and be in the Navy. It was tough in some regards. I remember, I mean, I only spent 30 days after I had her and I went back to work after that, a couple of reasons for that, but I love being in the Navy, I loved wearing the uniform. So I was very happy there again, going back to belonging to something that, you know, was bigger than me. So it I loved being in the Navy. And but I love being a mom, too. She was my entire world and still is to this day, she is my world. But I remember being able to take, you know, be good at my job and while I was there and then go home and be good at being a mom, so I didn't have to stress about, you know, I'm tired or I've been with her all day. You know, what do I do with her in the evening, I just I was able to segment it and be the best of both. But I will say that when we got orders to Hawaii, I did actually volunteer to go on a ship I wanted to serve on the ship. I wanted that experience. I really plan to make the Navy a career. And I was told well females can can't serve on ships with dependentd. So you would have to give up custody of your daughter in order to serve on a ship. Well, that was never going to happen. 

Amanda Huffman  18:12

But that wasn't a requirement for males, that was just something women would put and like you were married. So your husband, it was like the same thing. But then they had an extra requirement. 

Robyn Grable  18:22

Correct!

Amanda Huffman  18:23

Wow

Robyn Grable  18:23

It was just the whole mom thing. They wouldn't want moms with dependents. I don't know if they thought, you know, if I've given up custody ever, somehow, in my mind, I have less responsibility. You know, I think that's what they were thinking. But yeah, that was it was not a requirement for males. So yeah, so I didn't get to serve on a ship. But I did serve in Hawaii for three years, which was pretty, you know, putting in service into perspective when you're there someplace that historic. 

Amanda Huffman  18:54

And then you said that you were gonna go to Monterey, but then you got out when you're at Quantico, what happened there?

19:02

I did. So while I was stationed in Hawaii, I decided that I was going to become an officer. Because being an officer, I could change the Navy. I got tired of hearing. That's the way we've always done it. That's the way we'll always do it. I thought, well, I'll become an officer, I can change the Navy. So I spent two years putting together a limited duty officer package and working on I went to school, I did volunteer work community work, I had really a stellar package to become an officer commendations from Admirals and Rear Admirals, and all this stuff aced my interview. And when I left Hawaii to go to programming school in Quantico, the Yeoman or the HR person didn't have me sign my reenlistment papers. So I went to Quantico was supposed to sign my reenlistment papers before I left Hawaii. Got to Quantico found out that well one I found out I made a E-7 which was awesome. However, I also found out that when they did the LDO packages that year, they didn't rate any data processing officers. So they didn't even open the package that I had submitted. It just crushed me. I was devastated because I had worked so hard and I knew that I was going to become an officer. And I really wanted that. And for them to not even open the package and read it and consider me and give me any feedback. It just, it devastated me. And then one day, shortly after that, the instructor came to me and said, we have a problem. You either need to sign your reenlistment papers or you need to leave. I was like, wow, there's a sign. And so he said I I can stall them because I was top of my class. And I'd already finished one of the programming schools and I was into the second one I was top of the class and he said I can stall them for a little bit. get finished so that you can get through this certification and then, you know, make your decision. And I just I honestly I was at the nine year mark four more years would have put me at 13. I knew I would have stayed in for 20, at least beyond that. And I was just so crushed about, you know, the LDO program, and I saw it as a sign that God wanted me to get out. So I did, and I was discharged on April 1, that year and everybody said, What are you doing? You don't have a job, you know, it's April Fool's Day. Are you sure? You know, what are you doing? And I was like, I just I have to do this. I didn't have family support in California. And my then husband and I were getting a divorce. So I was going to California with a, you know, a four year old all by myself. The prospect of that was very, you know, disheartening. So I ended up making the very difficult decision to get out. It was painful because I loved being in the Navy

Amanda Huffman  21:58

Had you had the choice when you were left Pearl Harbor? Would you have signed without a doubt like worrying about it? Because that would have?

Robyn Grable  22:09

Yeah, I you know, I knew I was hopeful I was gonna make E7 which was incredible for having been in only nine years. Right and, and not coming in designated. So I spent a good year of that nine. So really think about him at seven in eight years, and which is incredible and very blessed to do that. So I was, yeah, I had no doubt I was going to stay in it was going to make it a career. So I said it was a sign that that happened.

Amanda Huffman  22:37

Yeah. And like that kind of shows how powerful of an impact something that the military can do that they probably are like, well, we just didn't need people in that career field but they lost you not only as becoming an officer because they didn't open your package, but then you ended up leaving the military. And like you said, You're top of your class. You made E7 and under 10 years, like eight years, it's just how big of an impact the fact that they didn't open your package had on you?

Robyn Grable  23:08

Yeah, absolutely. It's definitely a retention study.

Amanda Huffman  23:13

It is. You spent so much time like putting all that effort into creating the package, and then they like, didn't even have time to open it. 

Robyn Grable  23:23

Right. 

Amanda Huffman  23:24

It's heartbreaking. And so that brings us to you leaving the military. And let's talk about your transition because all the advice I've been given about transitioning is like plan plan plan before and you didn't really have that option because of the circumstances. So what was your transition out of the military like 

Robyn Grable  23:45

It was one day you're in uniform the next day you're not and here's your final paycheck. And literally, I was told pack up your stuff, get off base and you know, go on your way. No transition class, no instructions. Nobody even said sat down. I mean, they went through all my medical stuff. So they did check me out medically and make sure that you know, I was okay and all that. But nobody sat down with me and said, Okay, do you know where you're going? Do you know what are you doing? And I didn't even know that at the time. I could have filed for unemployment after that either. So I mean, nobody nothing. And of course, I was fearless. I you know, I was still 27 years old. So, you know, nothing could hurt me. And I just knew that am I've got to leave now. And I'm gonna make my way to Florida where my mom and my sister were. And that was it. So yeah, no transition at all. I was so disheartened, though, with the Navy in the military that I didn't even want to go into the reserves to be able to save that nine years that I had put in, but yeah, so yep, no transition. For me. It's just one day you're in uniform next day, you're not and you're on your way.

Amanda Huffman  24:55

And so you made it back to Florida. And then what it do?

25:00

so I had to get a job, obviously. And I never had a resume. So I went to a resume writer, somebody had recommended and you know, at $250, which back then in 1988 was a lot of money when you have no job and you're a single mom and all this stuff. So I remember the guy telling me, well, you're a female, you can get a job as an administrative assistant, because, well, really, nobody's going to understand what you did in the military, or why you were in the military. And I was like, it made no sense to me. You know, because I was so proud of that. But I didn't know any different. I had never had a resume, but I had to get a job. Everybody kept saying you need a resume, you need a resume, go get a resume written. So and he actually, now I think about a laugh, but he put my resume on pink paper. And I was like, okay, that you know, but I didn't know any different, you know, and so I basically started over and I got a job as an administrative assistant through a temp agency, and started my way back up the line. So fortunately, it was for At&T trans tech at the time, which was the beginnings of their AT&T universal card. So it was a credit company and a call center company. So it was somewhat related to data processing and T and HR, but it was at a very lower level, I took about a $10,000 pay cut annually. And when you think about the military doesn't pay all that well. Right, you know, to come down even less from that was a huge sacrifice, a huge issue for us, but and yeah, I just started over. So I got a job and I'm actually in the 18 months post service. I had changed jobs three times, because I just I would get bored. I wasn't being my skills weren't being utilized. I wasn't being challenged. I didn't feel like I belonged to something big. I remember one day asking a bunch of co workers. So are we all gonna, you know, kind of get together this weekend, do a barbecue do something because that's what we did in the military. We were always, you know, with, you know your shipmates and stuff. And they're like, No, I've got this, I've got that we don't, you know, get together after work. Like, that's really weird. You know? So it was an adjustment, it really was.

Amanda Huffman  27:21

So with your negative impact of leaving the military, did you struggle to like identify as a veteran or did you get involved in the veteran community? or How did you make your way back to the veteran community? If you did go away? 

Robyn Grable  27:36

I did not get involved at all. Like I said, I was so disheartened with everything that happened. I didn't want really anything to do with the military, which was weird or not weird, but it was kind of a little bit of a struggle because I was in Jacksonville, Florida, so huge military town, and hard to get away from the actual military there. But yeah, so fast forward 22 years and I was working for a major corporation doing the same job I was doing when I was in the Navy. Last all that time, but so I was being basically an account executive for computer systems. That's what I did as I got out of the Navy. And so I was finishing my masters and I, an Army veterans wife commented on one of our chat rooms that her husband had been out of the army for about six months. And he couldn't find a job. He was depressed, he was feeling worthless, and she did not know how to help him and she was struggling. And something in me just said that she's not right. There's just something's wrong with that. And that was the catalyst to bring me back into the military fold. So that one conversation led me to change my major for my master's program, to leadership coaching and development specifically for military. I did my capstone on the difference between a very Veterans transitioning out with a coach or some assistance, and then somebody who didn't like myself, and the difference that it would make in their trajectory. And so when I finished my master's, I got involved with a local organization here in Greenville, South Carolina, and started volunteering with them. They were a veteran organization that started volunteering for them started being their employment person, because I have years of HR and recruiting, started working on that. And then I just came up with, you know, basically the path that I'm on now is that there had to be a better way to connect veterans and employers so that veterans could use their skills and take their skills into a new industry, new job, new career, and make it easier for both the employers and the veterans because there's so many barriers but that's how I got back into the fold that one small conversation with that Army veterans wife after 22 years of being away from the military.

Amanda Huffman  30:03

Yeah, I think your story is kind of like mine. I didn't have a negative experience when I left the military, but I kind of was like, I don't want to do reserves, I don't want to be involved. I just want to be done. I don't want to be part of this. And I left the military and I didn't really want to be involved in the veteran community. And then one conversation and everything changed. And now look, I'm doing a podcast, 

Robyn Grable  30:26

Right? 

Amanda Huffman  30:28

veterans, and it's just kind of funny, because I was like, and it's funny because thinking about it, I had no real reason to be resentful. Well, I worked through those issues. Actually, I know why I was resentful, but it was just like, I left it. I was like, well, that's over. I don't have to worry about that again. And I'm a woman so I don't really need to get involved in the veteran space. And then it changed and it's been really powerful.

Robyn Grable  30:53

It has I mean, I look back I always say I love who I am today. I love my life, and if you go back and change even one second of your past, it could put you on a totally different, you know, trajectory. And I would not want to change who I am today. And what I'm doing today and the family that I have. It's just, yeah. So I look back, and I'm thankful for everything I went through even the struggles and the conflicts and all those things, but it's made me who I am today, and I'm very happy and proud of that.

Amanda Huffman  31:28

Yeah. So what advice would you give someone who is leaving the military if they're listening right now?

Robyn Grable  31:35

So you mentioned that there's so much more technology today. There's so many more resources today. And that's really true and people are told plan, plan plan. I do think that that's great advice. I think there's so many ways to get connected. So if you're thinking about getting out, figure out where you're going one of our veterans ascend podcast recently, one of the interviewees said that he said my piece of advice would be Pick where you're going to live first, because then you need to figure out everything else after that. And that made such good sense to me. Because if you don't figure out where you're going to go, where you're going to live, when you get out of the military, you can't make all the other decisions around a job, you know, housing, you know, all that stuff. So you really need to figure out where you want to live first, and then utilize every resource. Don't do anything alone, because there's so much out there. It can be overwhelming the amount of resources and the people that you can connect with. But, you know, go on LinkedIn, make sure you have a LinkedIn profile, utilize connections out there. And what we tell veterans that we work with at veterans ascend is connect with people on LinkedIn, but don't do it from the perspective of Hey, can you get me a job? Do it from the perspective of building relationships, having them help you mentor you, guide you in your decisions, because ultimately, when you're busy building those relationships, that's going to turn into connections for that job for a job. People that know if you want to work for a certain company, you're going to find people that work at that company veterans that work at that company, and connect with them. Have a brief chat with them. What's it like working at that company? Do your research, do your homework, because you know, when you're interviewing a company, you need to know that they're right for you as much as they want to know you're right for them. And don't be afraid to say this company's just even though they're offering you maybe this great salary, great package, whatever it is, if the culture of that company is not right, don't take it. If there's any red flags, walk away, because you'll be miserable coming out of the military and serving was such a purpose. And then coming into the civilian community and trying to find that purpose, again can be a struggle. So you definitely want to pick a company to work for, that shares your values. Use shares, your beliefs, the things that you want to do. They're community minded, that kind of thing. So that'd be my best advice is really to be connected. Don't go it alone.

Amanda Huffman  34:10

I think that's great advice. And I think LinkedIn is a great place for networking and meeting people. And I know that I see a lot on LinkedIn is like, if you pitch me, right, when we connect, I'm gonna disconnect from you. And I think you're so right, that you have to, like, connect with people, and meet them and grow those networking relationships and not just have it be like, what can you do for me, but to like, learn from them. And I really think that it's important that you find a good company that is the right fit for you and just as much as you're interviewing them, they're interviewing you, you should be researching and in a sense, interviewing them and seeing if it's the right place for you because you don't want to take just any job. Absolutely. And you want to find the right fit for you. So that's really good advice. If you're not done giving advice, I have one more question. What would you tell girls who are considering joining the military?

Robyn Grable  35:09

You know, that's a great question. And I think about my daughter did not go down that path. And now I have three granddaughters, and I think about what would I tell them if they came to me and, and wanted to join the military. And it's a different perspective, being the mom and the grandma of, you know, daughter's going in the military. You know, the military was a great experience for me. But I would tell people, again, do your research, because understand why you want to join the military. What would it mean to you to serve in the military? And if you can't really find that answer, I would recommend not doing it. The military is not for everybody. And you know, some people can struggle very much being in that environment. But I was so proud of wearing that uniform, and I I would be very proud of my granddaughters if they were to go down that path. But for any females looking to join the military, I would say, just really understand why you want to join, what you want to get out of it, and what your purpose is. And then pick the branch wisely. Pick the branch that matches those goals and those outcomes that you're looking for. I wouldn't tell anybody not to unless they truly can't figure out why they want to join. If they just think hey, it's I want to serve and it's going to be fun, do some more research, you know, because it is serving your country. Absolutely. And that is a blessing. But it is not easy. It is not easy. And it's still unfortunately not easy. Being a female in the military, even 30/40 years later from when I was in, it is still not easy. So very much do your research. And once you make that decision, be proud.

Amanda Huffman  36:57

Yeah, I'm working on a book A Girls guide to the military. And the first chapter is all about knowing your why, and finding your why and how important that why is to keeping you to get through those hard times. Because if you have that solid foundation, then you can remember. And so I completely agree and it isn't easy for guys or girls, but it's also there's extra challenges for women who are serving in the military. So absolutely. Great advice.

Robyn Grable  37:28

So that was the last question I had. Is there anything that I missed that you wanted to talk about before I let you go, just to kind of tell you about veterans ascend and what we're doing today, we built a skills translation engine. So I took all the barriers that I've recognized over the years of research and understanding the problems and we started from scratch and built a skills translation engine that uses unique data sets. We actually built the data tables that translate the military occupation in into a skills profile. And then we use algorithms to match veterans with employers who create job profiles, pick the skills they're looking for. And then our algorithm matches the two. So it's completely different. It's reversing the hiring process. We don't use a resume, we don't have veterans apply for jobs. Instead, we're truly connecting directly connecting the employers with a veteran based on the skills that that employer needs and is looking for. So we're very happy. We've been live now for almost a year, a year in January. And we've got some great employers that are utilizing the program. We've got thousands of veterans in the program, and we're just creating opportunities every day, which we're pretty proud of. So

Amanda Huffman  38:43

yeah, that sounds like a great resource for anyone transitioning and if you want to learn more about veterans ascend, I have links to their social media and their website in the show notes so you can definitely find them there. But do you want to say the website here so that people don't have to look up The shownotes

Robyn Grable  39:01

sure it's just www dot veterans ascend.com

Amanda Huffman  39:05

thank you so much for being a guest on the show. I really appreciated hearing your experience in the Navy and while you're doing today to help veterans.

Robyn Grable  39:13

Thank you so much, Amanda, I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you for what you're doing. Thank you.

Amanda Huffman  39:20

Thank you for listening to this episode of women of the military. Make sure to subscribe so you don't miss any of the amazing stories I have with women who have served in our military. Did you love the show? Don't forget to leave a review. Finally, if you are a woman who has served or is currently serving in the military, please email me at airman to mom@gmail.com so I can set you up to be on a future episode of women of the military.