Dr. Ann James joined the Air Force after leaving high school and needed a way to pay for college. She was able to use the benefits to go to school and went from Airman to Doctor.
She first went to North Dakota and next was transferred to Italy. She got married had her daughter and was divorced while in Italy. As a single mom, she knew that her daughter was depending on her and so she planned to stay in until retirement. At two her daughter was diagnosed with delayed development. This force Ann to make sure they were financially stable and make the right choices to take care of her.
She worked on her degree online and took classes at the education center. At 12 years of service, she had the opportunity to complete ROTC and become an officer. She used her GI Bill to get her masters while attending ROTC and then went back into the Air Force as a Lt.
She struggled with being a Lt since she had previously been an E-6. As an enlisted person, you are more in the weeds than officers and it often felt easier to fix whatever problem she had instead of delegating it. But she learned this important trait throughout her career.
She loved being able to help mold and shape the next generation of officers. But having not deployed her whole career she was tasked with a 365-day deployment to Iraq. She worried about how her daughter would be with the change, but luckily her mother was able to come and live with her daughter. This allowed her daughter to not have to change her routine and that gave her the peace of mind she needed.
She was ready for the next phase and because she had prepared financially, she was able to take a year off, and then she was able to go to school using her GI Bill to get her doctorate. Today she helps military women gain control over and conquer the battle over their finances.
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Being a Single Mom in the Army – Episode 35
Challenges faced by a Single Mom – Episode 46
A Muslim American in the Army – Episode 98
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Welcome to Episode 126 of the Women ont The Military podcast. This week my guest is Dr. Anne James. She joined the Air Force after leaving high school and needed a way to pay for college. Her older brother was in the Air Force, so she decided to follow in his footsteps. She first went to North Dakota and next was transferred to Italy. She got married and had her daughter and was divorced while in Italy. As a single mom, she knew that her daughter was depending on her so she planned to stay in the military until retirement or to her daughter was diagnosed as a delayed development. And this forced and to make sure they were financially stable and make the right choices to take care of her. I really enjoyed hearing her story of serving in the military and the challenges she faced as a mom with a daughter who had special needs and how she was able to continue to get her degree and become a doctor. And I also want to mention that she recently started her own podcast, which I'll link to in the show notes, and it is called battle buddies of color. So now that we got that out of the way, let's get started. You're listening to season three of the Women of the Military Podcast. Here you will find the real stories of female servicemembers. I'm Amanda Huffman, I am an Air Force veteran, military spouse and mom. I created women in the military podcast in 2019. As a place to share the stories of female service members past and present, with the goal of finding the heart of the story, while uncovering the triumphs and challenges women face while serving in the military. If you want to be encouraged by the stories of military women and be inspired to change the world, keep tuned for this latest episode of women on the military. It's another another woman run podcast this week, I am highlighting the truths we had with a net Winton burger. And then I met a long time ago, and I'm not even sure how we got connected. But she was one of the first people on my podcast, she was in Episode 11. And Funny enough, I was on her podcast and I was also Episode 11. So it's kind of funny that that happened because I totally wasn't planned. But on an EDS podcast, the truce we had, she talks about the raw moments of military life or life in general, I think it's really cool that she talks not only to military members, but also civilians. And recently she had the opportunity to interview Rachel Hollis, which is pretty cool. And I'm just so proud of her for being able to highlight the stories and the truth of what happens behind the scenes. And that is so brave and sharing her story. And it allows people to open up and share their story. And I'm just so thankful for the work that she's doing and all the accomplishments that she's had. So if you want to hear a podcast and hear about the truth behind what people are really are saying go check out her podcast. And with that, let's get started with this week's episode featuring Dr. Anne James, welcome to the show. And I'm so excited to have you here.
Dr. Anne James03:16
Thank you, Amanda. I appreciate I'm so excited to be here. I've been waiting.
It's been a while.
Dr. Anne James03:22
It has been a while.
So let's start with why did you decide to join the military?
Dr. Anne James03:28
Yeah, wow. The reason why I decided to join the military, Amanda is that, you know, I'm the youngest. I'm a single mother and I wanted money for college and to travel. So my oldest brother, he was an Air Force. So one summer I went to visit him at his base. I think he was stationed in Arkansas. So I went to visit one summer and I liked what I saw. And that's where it took off from there. So really, the fall in the footsteps of my big brother. And also like I said, to just get money for school and also to travel.
So you decided to join the Air Force like your older brother.
Dr. Anne James04:04
Yes, exactly. And almost forgot to write my stepfather. He was army. Right. So I knew that I wasn't gonna do army because I saw how he got up early in the morning and did PT and they spent weeks out in the woods. So I didn't want no part of that. So and I know I look better in blue. So that's why I ended up joining the Air Force.
So you were a military brat for part of your lifetime
Dr. Anne James04:29
Yeah, I was.
So you were like nope, no army.
Dr. Anne James04:35
No, no army I didn't want to do PT you know that was my mind at the time. You know, cuz I was when I went in Amanda I was 18. So you know, straight out of high school. The only job I had before that is working at McDonald's. So you know, I really didn't know any better but I knew what I didn't want and how that Air Force was the way to go for me. No bad no shade to nobody else.
So did you decide when you were still a senior in high school that you wanted to enlist into the air force?
Dr. Anne James05:04
No, you know what actually it was after, you know, when I was in school, I really, I knew I wanted to go to college. But I like I said at the time, my mom was single. So I was like, I don't want to put that burden on her, you know, I'm saying, so I really kind of didn't give it any thought until after I graduated. So once I graduate is like, okay, now what, you know, that type of stuff. And it was that summer, like I said, is when I visited my brother, and the decision was made after the fact.
And so how long was it between when you went to the recruiter, and then you headed off to boot camp?
Dr. Anne James05:36
Whoo. If I recall correctly, I want to say one to the recruiter, maybe in August or September, so I had to be in the fall. And then March is when I left California at the time and got on a bus and headed to the maps and stuff like that.
So what was your job when you were in the Air Force?
Dr. Anne James05:57
what my first job Amanda was I went in as a personnel technician or what some people refer as human resources. My went in enlisted, he was straight off the bat, I did personnel and that's, you know, helping people with their records, stuff like that computer systems. I did a lot of computer stuff on the personnel side of the house, but it was on personnel.
And you said that you started as enlisted and I know, there's more to the story. You use tuition assistance to get your degree or how did you get your degree and then make the switch to being an officer?
Dr. Anne James06:29
Yeah, great point. I did while I was enlisted. I was very fortunate. You know, my first duty station was South Dakota. So I wanted the heck out of there going from California to South Dakota. I was like, oh, heck no. So then I volunteered to go worldwide. And I ended up in Italy. So you know, I had some great supervisors that allowed me too, you know, to actually take courses during my lunch hour at the Education Center, you know, back in the day, you know, we actually had ad centers where we can actually go and take courses, and then at the time as well, online was just starting to, you know, come fashionable. So I went online while using tuition assistance, because I ended up being a single parent. When I was at Italy, I got married, had a baby eventually ended up getting divorced, I was a single parent. So the online route really worked for me. But yes, I use my tuition assistance to get my bachelor's. But at the time, they came out with this special program where if you had your bachelor's already, it was via ROTC Reserve Officer Training Corps. So what I ended up doing was I got out for a year, and actually worked on my master's, I was able to get my master's, and then I came back in as an officer. So I took advantage of that, you know, special thing with ROTC because it was looking for more officers at the time. And I was actually fortunate enough to be able to, you know, financially separate for a year, you know, who does that and then come back here, right? So that's how I ended up making the switch or crossing over to the dark side, as some people like to say, and becoming a finance officer.
Yeah, and let's go back a little bit and talk about being a single mom, and the challenges that you had, I mean, I'm sure it was challenging, being married and having a kid and then getting divorced. Like, that sounds like a lot of story. So can you talk about in your how old were you like 21?
Dr. Anne James08:25
Are you gonna put me on blast asked me my age. Yeah, no, you was right on you hit it right on the head. When I got married. I was 20. I had my daughter when I was just had turned 22. And we divorced shortly after that, you know, overseas first time away from home, young, stupid love, you know, military life, you know, that type of stuff. So I ended up like I said, unexpectedly, becoming a single mother. That was definitely challenging because as you know, the military, they expect you to be somewhere they don't want to hear you, you know, campout and daycare, or you hit record at four o'clock in the morning. They don't want to hear that. So you know, I had to make adjustments for that. But where things really changed for me, Amanda is about when my daughter was about four or five years old. No, actually, it was before that. Maybe when she was about two, I realized that she wasn't speaking, you know, like the regular, you know, normal kids her age. So I ended up taking her to the doctor. And that's when I find out what they do. She was developmentally delayed, or what they call autism now, so you talk about a completely totally set challenges dealing with a child with special needs really turned things around for me and helped me to realize that, you know, it was no longer about me, you know, being out of control and that type of stuff. I had to get my life in order so that my past financial mistakes or my past mistakes in general didn't affect my daughter's life because I didn't know what her future hell right. You know, I was just like, what is this developmentally delayed? What does that mean? You know, Was she ever taught? Was she ever you know, get married? Was she you know, is this those type things ran through my head? So yeah, it was very challenging to say the least once I got that, you know, diagnosis about my daughter.
Yeah. And what I've noticed from like single parents is like, you don't really have a choice, especially like, it's not that you don't have a choice, you don't really have time to think about like, is the military the right path for me? Or should I become a civilian? Like, because everything falls on you? And you're just trying to like, get through each day, there's no like, take a break and think and so you're just like plowing forward, because I was talking to Theresa, one of my guest, and she was a single parent, I was talking to her and she's like, I never even thought about getting out of the military, because I had like, No time to think about if there was another option.
Dr. Anne James10:46
Oh, my goodness, you bring up a good point, Amanda, in that before all of this, you know, when I got went into the military, it wasn't my intention to do my four years, get my GI Bill and go, that was my intention. But life happened. And once Yeah, once I got that diagnosis about my daughter, even though I wanted to get out, I was too afraid. You know, I couldn't afford it. You know, I was thinking, Okay, medical, I didn't want to lose my benefits, you know, for my daughter, you know, and that type of stuff. So yeah, it's just kind of like, I sucked it up. And I was like, Okay, well, I'm gonna stay here. You know, like, the decision was made, there was no more Oh, should I or that type of stuff. It was like the decision was made, despite my fears, despite what I wanted to do. Yeah, I had to do what was in the best interest of my daughter. So you're exactly right.
Yeah. It changed everything about your path forward.
Dr. Anne James11:36
So you were able to get out and do your masters. And that was with ROTC. So were you on like scholarship with the ROTC program? Or how did that all work?
Dr. Anne James11:49
Yeah, no, you know, once again, I was prior enlisted, so I didn't get the scholarship things. But thankfully, I had, you know, my my back in the day, I had the Montgomery GI bill right, that came before the post 911. So I had my Mongomery GI Bill. And also, you know, because of the work that I had did up to that point, making sure I was financially secure. Because once I find out about my daughter, it changed everything for me, especially in regards to my finances right, I made sure I had the focus and regained control on my finances. So that's where I really went down that path to learn everything I could about personal finances but because I had my financial house in order it allowed me to take advantage of these opportunities that I may not have done otherwise, like I said, who would have left the military for a year you losing your paycheck, you know, that type of stuff, where I wasn't worried about it, because I didn't have any, you know, other type debt, you know, I had savings I had, you know, I was prepared. So that's how I was able to do that for a year.
Well, that's awesome that you were able to do that and that you got everything squared away to make that happen. So that when that opportunity came, you could take advantage of it. So what was it like to make the shift from being enlisted to being an officer I like I called it going to the dark side.
Dr. Anne James13:09
Ah, man, you know, the main reason Amanda that I made that shift is because I was like, Okay, if I'm gonna be in and I'm gonna make the most of it, right so of course initially My mind was looking at the money I'm like, I'm gonna make this money, you know, that type of stuff. But the other thing that was important to me as to when the reason why I wanted to make the shift I felt at the time that the common officer I could have a greater impact on those that were you know, that follow behind me and that type stuff so it was true up to a sense but in the beginning it was challenging for me because I was not your average lieutenant. So I was like, I'm gonna age myself already to at the time I was second lieutenant had been in 12 years when I made that switch. So here I was starting over and you know, going through what officer training like basic training again with these little career crews telling me what to do and saying Oh, and their air force you know, my What are you typing you don't even you haven't even been in you know, type style so it was very challenging for me to make that switch because you know, and an officer role you're more about believing right the delegating and stuff like that and my list the road I'm the one I did the work you know, I'm down in the trenches so it was hard for me to kind of separate myself and not be in the details to be right there beside my truth like no let me do it because once I switched over I was finance but I was previously personnel. So I knew we work hand in hand so something was wrong with my pay or whatever. I'm like, No, let me go into the system. I know what to do it or I'm gonna go talk to such as they go my way you sit down somewhere, play style. So that was the most challenging part for me is making that switch because they listed forces much tighter. A knit family oriented versus the officer side plus, most officers are married with family here I am once again single. So I kind of didn't, you know, I hit them all so to speak as your normal officer, but like I said, I wasn't a very average lieutenant. So I had to let my my actions speak louder than my words. So they would look beyond my rank and might see that butter bar sort of speed. So yeah.
Yeah, that makes sense. And like the senior NCOs help the lieutenants and now you kind of you were almost senior NCO. And then you started all over again. So you had like the knowledge that no Lieutenant like me had feel like I need you. I know this works within you also. Yeah. Now I'm making an interesting dynamic for 12 years. So what rank were you when you made the switch? E- what?
Dr. Anne James15:47
I was at E6? That's how I got tech sergeant. And then, like you said, went to a second lieutenant. And it's so funny. Yeah, I remember bumping heads with one of my chiefs at nine, right? So if she didn't know that, I had to tell her, I'm like, look, okay, I'm not your avergae lieutenant said it, you're not gonna call me and you're off, you come to my office type stuff. So it's those type of dynamics. They was like, they learned quickly that air was prior enlisted.
Yeah, and I think also being a little bit older than like, Second Lieutenant or like, usually right out of college and, or if we're either single with no kids, or we're married and just newly married, and it's a different, it's like a party life.
Dr. Anne James16:31
Yes. Yes, it was. Very true.
So when did September 11 happened before after you went to active duty?
Dr. Anne James16:41
It happened before it was so fun. 2001 Yeah, I was still out. But I remember, of course, where I was because I was doing the training for ROTC and stuff. I was at Keesler at the time. And while I was out, I was doing like the VA work study program. And I worked in the NPF. The military personnel flight do or like was like the survivor benefit office. So I was on my way actually, to work when that happened.
So you're out. But you had that past experience. And so you know, you kind of like, have a different experience, because you served before September 11. You were out during September 11. And then you went back to the Air Force? Was it a different type of Air Force than you had been in before
Dr. Anne James17:25
You know, I would say, you know, besides the, you know, wartime environment, or the mindset that we were in after the fact was the main, you know, the main difference besides once again, being on the officer side that that was the main difference, but pretty much, you know, things were pretty much it was the same except for you know, the deployments and the ops tempo was very fast, you know, that type of stuff. So, definitely.
Yeah, that makes sense. A lot of people talk about how the ops tempo kind of went on full blast and hasn't really slowed down since. What was your so what base Did you go to when you were a Second Lieutenant?
Dr. Anne James18:04
Oh, what was my first base? You? That's a good clarifying. I remember, Maxwell, actually, it wasn't was called gunner, but it's attached to Maxwell. So it was Maxwell or Garner Air Station was my first duty station in Alabama, which I was happy because I'm originally from Georgia. So I was an hour and a half away from family in Columbus. So I loved it.
That's great. And then where did you go after that?
Dr. Anne James18:31
Where did I go at the Maxwell girl? I'll try to take Maxwell then I went to South Carolina. Yes. Black Carolina Shaw Air Force Base.
And what was your experience? Like there? Was your career pretty much the same? Or did you have like a deployment or any super hard aspects of your career?
Dr. Anne James18:55
Yeah, you know, a great point. Yeah. When I went to Shaw, once again, I Maxwell, I was finance like the budget side. And then when I went to Shaw, I was once again the budget side because when you use on my finance, you have like meal pay side of the house, like stuff like that. And you have the budget where we pay the bills, like we'd like to say but so one of the things that I did when I was in South Carolina was I applied to become a special duty assignment and become an ROTC instructor. So I was happy about that. And I got chosen to go teach at the University of South Carolina that 775 go gang cards. That's where I want to get things turned around for me because a lot of times, a lot of people say your career in if you go to ROTC or you take a special duty assignment, you know, to be completely honest with you, I hadn't deployed up to that point, right. And that was like 17 or 18 years in so I went to ROTC to avoid getting deployed because once again, I'm still a single parent. You know, I didn't want to get deployed. I didn't want to leave my daughter and stuff like that. So that's the main reason why I went to her TC. Well, when you know, I get hit with a deployment while I'm at Roxy. So my one first and only deployment was a year long deployment to Iraq.
They found you.
Dr. Anne James20:11
They found me girl.
Yeah, I think we should talk about ROTC. And then we'll talk about your deployment because I don't I don't feel like I've talked to anyone about ROTC from the CADRE side of it. That's leadership. So what was it like to be molding young college students into officers?
Dr. Anne James20:32
I mean, I loved it. I mean, it's so funny, I kind of missed it when I was talking about my enlisted side. But when I was enlisted, I was an instructor as well on at the tech training school at keesler for personnel. So when I so that's really where I found my love for teaching is when I was enlisted teaching. So when I got selected for our ROTC instructor, I mean, I just, I just loved him, like he said, just molding your future leaders. As you mentioned, young college kids, they're partying and doing all these things, but they're testing out to see if the Air Force is an option for them, you know, and just being able to share my real life experiences with them. Right? Yeah, we taught history and that type style, but nothing takes the place of, hey, here's what I did. And here's what you need to do as a second lieutenant, remain humble. Don't go in there wearing your rank, and I kept it real with them. And that's what I think that they loved about it. Because they knew, you know, because I was enlisted before. So now they see me and it was like, wow, you know, that's my style. So I absolutely love molding those young minds. And I still keep in contact with plenty of them today. Yeah, almost 19 years later, so it's awesome.
Yeah, the CADRE that we had, I I'm not I am connected on Facebook with a few of them. And I remember they're like, when you go on active duty, you better be humble. You're just a second lieutenant. No, no, no, not as funny. I'm starting to help mentor young women who are joining the military all like enlisted officer, just any branch just trying to give them advice. And it's been so rewarding. So I can't I bet ROTC is just like so much fun.
Dr. Anne James22:24
It is it is you know, like a you know a little bit about the CADRE while so I served as the recruiting officer, you know, so getting people to join ROTC, and also the ops or their, you know, the, you know, the person in charge of everything. So I wore both hats. So I just, I loved it, man. I really did. I really, I really did. Yeah,
I have such good memories from ROTC. It was so much fun. So they found you and you got tasked with the 365 to Iraq. And you already mentioned you're a single mom. So what did you do with your daughter?
Dr. Anne James23:03
Yeah, that's a great point. Yeah, they found me and not you know, they made up for lost ties, right, not a six month deployment. They tagged me with a year long department, I was stressed out. But you know, once I changed my perspective of animals, like I'm gonna make the most of this outside. Once again, I was very fortunate. I was in South Carolina at the time, my mother lived in California. By that time, my daughter was 1617 years old, you know, still, you know, autistic type stuff. So my mother, I didn't want to change my daughter's environment, I could have sent her to her father, because we have great co parenting relationship. He lived out of state, but I didn't want to change our routine so drastically. So I was fortunate enough that my mother, she moved from California to South Carolina and stayed in my apartment and help you know, I took care my daughter, and while I was gone for that year, so that really put me at ease, you know, to be able to go over and do that deployment. Once I knew that I knew my daughter was taken care of at once I knew my daughter was straight, nothing else really didn't matter. You know, I'm saying yeah, I want to of course, I wanted to come back safely. But, you know, I knew I had to do what I had to do. I couldn't get out of it. So yeah, once my daughter was situated, I was good. So my mother helped me out for that year.
And when you were in Iraq, were you still doing like the budget side of things?
Dr. Anne James24:26
Yeah, actually, I was still budget, you know, and, you know, that was my first and only deployment and once again, I can't complain about that either. You know, it was a joint employment. So it was the first time that I was working with Army Navy Marines, you know, yeah, it was just awesome and that you know, just seeing how other things work but yeah, I was going budget and our call us I was I just love it right? Because everybody thinks if you're an Air Force, you're gonna fly planes or you know, this type of stuff. And then when I say finance, we will say you make the kill. We pay the bill. All right. Yeah. So I, I actually, like I said, I can't complain because we weren't, you know, Air Force wants to do and we weren't living in tents. We had our little mobile units that we were living in and the bathroom was inside. So I didn't have to walk down and go to the bathroom. But it was at a time when I rack was dying down, and Afghanistan was picking up. So that was in 2009. So you know, once again, that kind of put me at ease, you know, as well, but it was still some challenging times, but for the most part, I can't complain.
Yeah, I think it's interesting that it depends on when, when and where you went, what like the activity, it was like, because I went to Afghanistan in 2010, but it was more Northern part. And so it was a lot safer then like down south near Kandahar. And then my friend went three years later to Afghanistan. And they got like rocketed all the time at Bagram. And I was like, we never got rocketed. And it's the same place but different time. It just all depends on where you are. And I mean, it's still dangerous, and they're still new never know what's going to happen. But there's a level of like security when you're not getting rocketed very often.
Dr. Anne James26:17
Yeah, I was right. Not right in Baghdad, but it was like maybe 30 minutes south of Baghdad called Bob Phoenix, or union three, the name changed so many times. But like you said, it wasn't an everyday occurrence. But it still happened, you know, that the bombing, and at one point we had to, we live outside of the gates where we had to take a bus every morning to work. So that was, you know, nerve racking. I remember like one time, income and income, we had to get off the bus and get into these cement blocks, you know, that type of stuff. So, yeah, some things you never forget.
For sure. It's a life changing experience no matter what.
Dr. Anne James26:56
Absolutely. It definitely is.
Yeah. So when you came home from your deployment, did you feel like it was a smooth transition back to normal life? Like, did your daughter adjust well to being home, just because she was able to keep her routine and not have to move?
Dr. Anne James27:12
Yeah, yeah, you know, and that was the, you know, the good thing, it was a good adjustment, it took a little bit for me and my mother, you know, to pay because she's used to being back in control of things. And here, I come back home and have my little input. So pretty much it was a smooth adjustment. You know, once again, my sleep pattern has never been the same workwise it was pretty cool. But it was shortly thereafter that you know, I decided I was once again afforded the opportunity, something came up where I could retire early to put my papers in. And that's exactly what I did. So I ended up retiring a year, maybe a year after getting back.
And you serve 21 years, right?
Dr. Anne James27:53
Yeah, 21 years total.
But when you make the switch from officer to enlisted, most often do you have to serve 10 years to get the retirement is that?
Dr. Anne James28:02
Yes. Yeah, exactly. That's normally what it is. But like I said that during that time, you know, it was a drawdown time or whatever. And they came out with this program. I remember it vividly because up before that point, my commander at ROTC, he knew that you I was waiting for something, you know, I was like, man, if I get the opportunity I'm out of here. You know, I wasn't one of those ones that was afraid to get out or retire, I was ready to retire. So sure enough, they came out with this special program that was going to Rif reduction in force where they said, if you had eight years in, right, then as an officer versus those 10, then you can retire. I was on leave that day, I had took a day off or whatever have you, my boss, call me on the phone. And he knows not to call me when I'm on leave. But and he called me he was like, and he said, I know not to call you his head. But look at this email that I sent you. I said, Okay, so he has sent me an email about the program with the eight years retirement, I went in that same day off the Li and put in my paperwork. Okay. He was like, No, you couldn't wait. I said no, because it was like, you know, first come first serve, you know, you just don't know how many people they were going to allow through, you know, that type style. So I went in that exact same day and put my paperwork in to apply for that program and retire early. And so that's why I was able to retire without the 10 years of service and only the eight for being an officer. Yeah, you were ready, girl. Y'all ready? Stay ready.
So, you know, we're ready for the transition out of the military. But you had been in the military since you graduated high school, essentially. I mean, it was a few months after, but what was the transition like from being in the military to not being in the military and not going back? Because you did the college thing that one time?
Dr. Anne James29:54
I was ready, right? So I think like I told you, when everything changed for me My daughter, y. So it was at that moment that I started preparing for my transition, I knew that the military wasn't, I wasn't gonna stay in it forever. I knew I was gonna do my 20 years and that type of stuff, but I just started preparing them, whether it's my finances, whether it was my education, right, I made sure I had all my degrees. I knew that, you know, the career fields that I worked in was transferable as personnel. I was fine. As you know, that's I think, so I just prepared all the way for what I wanted my retirement to look my transition to look like I knew that I didn't want to have to work. I only wanted to work because I wanted to, and not because I had to. So I just prepared all the way up to that point. So when it was time for me to transition, I was ready. I didn't have any of the challenges that you know, you may hear about on the news, you know, as far as employment and stuff like that, because one granted, yes, I had to retirement that I can you know, that I knew I had that guaranteed income, but because of the fact that all my other finances was in order, I didn't have any debt, I have a car payment. I knew I didn't have to work only because I wanted to. So I took a year off. I did absolutely nothing. I did what I wanted to do, I traveled I slept in girl, I just did whatever I wanted to do and didn't care about it. I was just ready. You know, I was just I had prepared for it. So it wasn't my transition, what I consider a successful transition for me. And I know that's not the case for everyone. But I didn't experience a lot of challenges that, you know, you hear about what the unemployment or the you know, the, the identity piece of, you know, a little bit but my identity was never so wrapped up in the military, right? Like some people can't see their lives outside of the military. I was like, I can't take the uniform off tomorrow and be good, you know, type stuff. So I was just ready, man. But it all started, like I said years ago when I was what, maybe four years in when I started planning for my transition for my eventual retire.
See, I think that's really good advice. Because I think that everyone should be planning for their transition from the day you join, like you said, because a you don't know if it'll happen unexpectedly, if you get hurt, or there's a riff and like, then you're prepared for whatever comes. And then if you do make it to the 20 years, and you can get the retirement, you're extra ready. Yeah. Two years out, but two years out isn't enough time to get especially if you haven't been like taking care of your finances. And then if there's courses you need to take, like you already were mentally prepared, and a lot of people are trying to deal with finding a job getting their finances and the emotional aspect and you were already ready for it all.
Dr. Anne James32:45
I was already ready for it all you know because like you said the transition is inevitable it's gonna happen right? So like you said, whether it's planned or it can be on plan but it's not happening you can't stay in the military forever. So you know, you have to set yourself up for life outside of the military, whatever that is for you everybody's life you know, it's gonna look different but I knew how I wanted my life to look you know, my daughter's life took Yeah, planning early preparation early was key for me are key to a successful transition in my opinion and based off of my research.
So, you had your gap year with this whole call it your gap year that you got to do whatever you want travel, take breaks, do all that stuff. What did you do after that? And what and what are you doing the same thing now?
Dr. Anne James33:30
Yeah, once I, I guess kind of got bored, so to speak. With my year, I still had money on my GI Bill. So I decided to go back to go back to school because that was one of my goals. When I was in I was like, okay, in retirement, I want to be able to teach online, I wanted to work from home, I knew that whatever it was, it wasn't going to be on somebody else's dime, you know, going into clocking in, I just knew that that wasn't going to work for me because I did it for 21 years, I didn't want no one else telling me what to do. So I knew that whatever I chose to do has to be on my schedule, flexibility, that type of stuff. So I decided to go back for my doctorate at the time, because I already have my own masters. So yeah, I just that was my full time job for three and a half years is working on my doctorate degree using my GI bill that I work. Nope. I have my retirement check. I was able to live once again because I have my finances in order based off of my retirement check. And no, I wasn't a colonel when I retired. So for people thinking, Oh, you retired as a colonel, you can do that. No, I retired as a captain and all three. Yeah, that's that's what I lived off of. And in addition to my VA disability, I'll add that in as well. So but because once again, I had my finances in order financial wasn't an issue for me, you know, and that's I always wanted that to be the case. So I went back and got my Doctorate of education and logic, organizational leadership
and Then after that, what are you doing now?
Dr. Anne James35:02
What I am doing that is so funny, like I went to school to become a teacher and I did that. But you know, also always wanted to have my own business, right? So it takes somebody else speaking into your life to kind of give you a kick in the butt. So I was having a conversation with a friend of mine one time, and she knew I had given her a book about finances, she was like, what about this finance thing that you always going to talk about? What are you gonna do with it? And I was like, huh? And now am I gonna do with it. So you know, after that conversation, that's when I decided to actually step out and start doing financial coaching, financial consulting, opening up my own business, financial freedom battle buddies. And that's why I helped my fellow similar to you, Amanda is my fellow military servants, women are those that have transitioned, help them to regain control over their finances, so they can conquer the battle and live life freely. So that's what I've been doing. And I love it. That's that next chapter.
That's awesome. And we'll put links in the show notes so that people can connect with you on LinkedIn and get to your website so they can learn more, because finances is a really important topic. And a lot of people don't know, I think you just don't know what you don't know about finances. And then once you learn it, it's it's easier to manage.
Dr. Anne James36:20
Yes, exactly. You don't know what you don't know, because a lot of times is not taught at school anymore. And if you're like me, it wasn't spoken about in my household. Why. So a lot of my education came from, you know, self educating myself webinars and reading books and learn by doing my own personal experiences with debt, paying off debt and stuff like that. So it was based off personal experiences. And also now the, you know, the education because I am an accredited financial counselor, as well. So you hit it on the head, you don't know what you don't know. But once you know, hopefully, you'll start to do better, right. So that's what I help hope to help my clients do. You know, it doesn't matter where you're at, or where you came from. they too can live life financially free.
Yeah, I think it's a lot more of like how you spend your money, and not how much money you make, like you said, you retired as a captain, not I know, sex, and you can make your money go a lot farther when you know where it's going.
Dr. Anne James37:16
Exactly, that's girl. That's I will say that all the time, too. I'm like, it's not about the money that you make, how much is how much you keep, and what you do with it. So the last places that you have to have it going out there floating around paying other people, and you can pay yourself, be your own bank, so to speak. And I'm not just talking about pay yourself. First, I'm about keeping all of your money so that you can do whatever you want with it, you know, and that's my definition of financial freedom doing what I want when I want without ever worrying about money. So that's what I hope to help individuals do as well.
If you're looking for help, make sure you go check out the show notes. And then my last question is, what advice would you give to young women who are considering joining the military?
Dr. Anne James38:01
What advice would I give to young women that's considering joining the military? The same advice that I gave as a recruiter when I work as ROTC is no, the good and the bad? Do your research before you make a decision? Don't just look at Oh, it's a steady paycheck and I get the travel and the benefits? Yes, that's all part of it. But are you okay with going to war? Are you okay with being separated from your family? Are you okay? You know, being getting called at four o'clock in the morning and you have to be where they say you're going to be you don't have an input on it. So know the good and the bad before you make a decision. Do your research, talk to people that have been where you are, don't just listen to a recruiter and call it a day. Right? So talk to other individuals that have been where you want to be but make an informed decision and just know you can do anything for four years. All right. You don't have to think, Oh, I got to go in and stay 20 years. No, you can do two year whatever the enlistments are now you can do four years, and you're that much ahead of that person that does don't have military experience, you know, as well, but I would say do your research before you make that decision, because it's life changing. It's a life changing decision. So that's what I would say.
That's great advice. And if you're looking for more information about joining the military, I have a girls guide to the military. And when this goes live, I'll have a girls guide to the military YouTube channel so you can get all your questions answered. And if you have another question that I haven't covered, just email me and I'll make a great video. So thank you so much for being on the podcast. I really enjoy getting a chance to talk to you and hear about your experience in the military.
Dr. Anne James39:52
Thank you man that I don't know if you remember this but when we met at MC man and I found out what we were doing, I was like What's your podcast? I was like, I want to do that too. I mean, you like inspired me to cuz I've never met someone that you know was doing a podcast specifically focused on focusing on women veterans. And I was like, Oh my God, that's exactly what I want to do. So my podcast is in the work and will be released, if not by the end of the year by the beginning of the year. But it all started with when I met met you at Mac is common girl, but it started with you. So thank you for it, it came full circle. That's the amount to be on your show. And then from when I first met you, and that's where it first started. For me. The idea of a podcast is by meeting him so thank you.
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