Tiffany almost joined the Marine Corps as a member of the military band but would have to wait six months to go on active duty and she didn't want to wait. She wanted to go on active duty now. She ended up becoming a Religious Affairs Specialist and spent most of her time in that career field. Facing a MST became the biggest challenge she faced in the military and was only able to find healing through counseling. But the Army betrayed her trust and unfortunately, her story highlights the problems within the military in regards to Military Sexual Trauma (MST).
Tiffany served in the Army for 24 years, the first nine years she served on active duty and then transferred to the Reserves. She was mobilized three times in the Reserves. She served as Active Guard Reserves for 2 years as a recruiter. And then for the last six years, she was an Advanced Individual Training Instructor for Reserve and National Guard soldiers re-classifying from their previous Military Operational Speciality Code to become a Religious Affairs Specialist.
She decided to switch from active duty to Reserves at the nine-year point because she wasn't ready to commit to serving the next eleven years in the military to get to retirement. She had always wanted to be a medic so she went off to training. Unfortunately, she didn't graduate from the training and went back to being a Religious Affairs Specialist. But transitioning to the Reserves was not as easy as she expected. On the one hand, it kept her connected to the military, but the culture was so different than active duty.
One of the things she talked about was relying on the people she worked for. She thought it was important to empower those under her by using their recommendations. As the leader, she knew the ultimate responsibility would lie on her so she used the team to help make choices. But making the final choice on how to proceed forward. She said it helped inspire those around her to commit to the mission because they had their voices heard.
She ended up serving twenty-four years instead of twenty. Because she absolutely loved her last assignment as an AIT instructor. She loved getting a chance to pour into the next generation of military members who were about to embark on their careers.
She faced a military sexual trauma event by a friend that she trusted. And dealing with the incident was hard but the mental strain after the event was even more challenging. And even though things did not end up the way she had hoped. She found healing through the serenity prayer
"To accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference."
She shifted her focus away from the trial and the results to healing mentally. Unfortunately, the military's system for handling MST cases is flawed and you can learn more about the process and what is being advocated for in Episode 47 of the Spouse Angle Podcast. She went through a cognitive therapy counseling session and it forced her to talk about and deal with the pain so that she could move forward no matter what the outcome of the trial was.
After being found guilty for two of the three counts the information was sent forward to big Army for a final decision but was kicked back. When it was kicked back a retrial took place without Tiffany's knowledge and he was allowed to stay in the Army.
Mettle of Honor Podcast
Episode 47 of the Spouse Angle Podcast
Flawed But Still Worthy - Episode 116
Being in the Reserves Might not be what you expect - Episode 102
Being in the Military Band - Episode 114
Check out the full transcript here.
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Welcome to Episode 122 of the woman on the military podcast this week my guest is Tiffany Martschink. She served in the Army for 24 years first on active duty for nine years and then the rest is in the reserves. She worked as a chaplain assistant, a recruiter and an AI t instructor for reserve and National Guard soldiers request pain from their previous military operations specialty to become religious affairs specialists. Tiffany also recently started her own podcast Medal of Honor where she interviews veterans about their experience in the military. So I'm really glad that we were able to have this conversation today and talk about her experience in the Army. So let's get started. You're listening to season three of the woman on 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. I'm excited to have you here.
Tiffany Martschink 01:33
I am glad to be here.
So let's dive in with why did you decide to join the military?
Tiffany Martschink 01:38
But you know, if you told me in high school that I was going to join the military, I probably would have laughed in your face and give you a couple of choice words. But I basically in my first semester of college did not know what I wanted to do or be for the rest of my life and passed every day, each branch's recruiting station. So I thought I would go in, try it out and see see what the military was all about. And let it be my venue of figuring out what I wanted to do when I grew up. I still hadn't figured that out. And it took more than four years because I was in for 24. But I initially was going to join the Marine Corps band. I did an audition, pass the audition, but then I was going to have to wait six months to leave. So I said forget it. I'm going to go try the Army told them the same thing. And they told me the same thing because the same guy that would come down and record or do the band auditions did it for all branches. So I just in the Army's office, I just said forget it. What else can I do and joined?
So you're supposed to join in the military band in the Marine Corps. But you had to wait six months and you are ready to join now. So you were like I'm ready. Give me a job
Tiffany Martschink 02:47
I was like I am ready to peace out of here because everybody in the in that city and like region knew who I was because I had family in politics. And I was just so ready to get out of town and be Tiffany Martschink, not somebody's daughter. So I was just ready to get out of dodge and figure stuff. So the Army it was.
So did you go active duty when you enlisted?
Tiffany Martschink 03:12
Yes. My first nine years was active duty. And it was a little bit daunting hiting that 10 year mark. And I didn't I wasn't ready to make full time one another decade of a commitment to the military. And that kind of that was intimidating for me. So I just I got off active duty and went straight into the reserves and finished up my 24 years in the reserves. But during that time, I had three or four different mobilizations that gave put me on active duty status. So of my 24 years, I have a tote, I have Oh goodness, like 15 or 16 of which are active duty time.
Oh, wow. So you were activated a lot, even though you were in the reserves?
Tiffany Martschink 03:57
So let's go back a little bit and talk about your time that you were on active duty. What was boot camp like? And yeah, let's just start with that. What was boot camp like?
Tiffany Martschink 04:08
Well, my recruiter told me, he didn't lie to me. My recruiter said to me, all you have to do is just do what you're told, don't volunteer for anything, and you will be good to go. And that's all I did. And my parents said, I don't think you can do that. Because you're gonna want to argue with them. You're gonna want to disagree with them and try to persuade them to do things your way. But, you know, I took that as a challenge accepted, watch, I can do it. And so basic training was eight weeks of learning how to do things I didn't know how to do like shoot a weapon and learning how to do things somebody else's way, no matter what my opinion was, and no matter how stupid I thought it was, so it was definitely a good learning experience. It definitely got me into some good physical shape, which I was not really In and then headed off to my job training.
And what Job did you end up doing? Since you didn't end up joining via the band? What job did you end up with?
Tiffany Martschink 05:09
Well, thanks for rubbing that in. No kidding.
I just did a podcast interview. I don't know how many weeks before, it'll be when like, it actually goes live. And she went into the band. And so it's interesting to hear, like, you went through the process and you got selected. And then you were like, No, I'm not gonna do that
Tiffany Martschink 05:27
Now I kind of kicked myself in the butt and said, and say to myself, what is six months in the grand scheme of things, it's really just six months, but I was 19, I was ready to just go and be me whatever that looked like. So I pushed it because band is one of those. And I imagine it's the same for each of the branches, choirs. And being a vocalist that you already have to have a level of proficiency in a particular job prior to joining the military. Whereas all the other jobs in the military, they teach you how to do what it is that you've signed up to do. So I initially wanted to do something in the medical field. And they told me I was color blind. I'm like, that's a bunch of bold, I'm not colorblind, and didn't matter what I said, they were not going to give me any job that required you to not be colorblind. So I said, Okay, I want to be a military police. And they said, Oh, okay, great. Yeah, you can do that. They put me and they said, Yeah, you're too short. Good, because I'm only five feet tall. So I'm like, dude, really? Come on. Now. I didn't know anything about waivers at the time. And I could have gotten a waiver. But I finally said to the recruiter, okay, fine. You tell me what I can do. And he said it was your choice. I'm like, Yeah, but I need you to give me something to pick from. Because everything I'm picking so far is a no go. And so he said, Oh, what about a chaplain assistant? I said, Dude, I'm trying to get away from church, I want to work in a church come on. He said, Oh, no, it's cool. Think about it. You'll be a secretary for a chaplain, you'll answer the phones, you'll lock the building, unlock the chapel. And that's all you got to do. And you'll get paid is the same, the same thing that every other job gets paid, but they're gonna have to work their butts off. You don't. So I I drink the Kool Aid. I picked chaplain assistant and realize that there was a whole lot like what he told me was true. But there was a whole lot more to the job than just locking a door and answering a phone and saying, "Please hold and get the chaplain." So that's what I ended up doing. I did that for the entire nine years of being on active duty. And I was when I when I transitioned from active duty to the reserves, I was looking at changing my job to the medical field, because I did find out lawyers, I'm not colorblind, after all. So I picked the job that I picked to do in the reserves was combat medic, and with an additional identifier as an LPN nurse. So I went to the school at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. And it's a 16 week school, first eight weeks is just your basic medical stuff and certifications and national registry. And then the second eight weeks is how to apply that medical stuff in a combat setting. And I made it all the way up to the National Registry portion, and the National Registry exam, kicked my butt. And there was not money for me to, you know, do a second attempt. So I went right back to being a chaplain assistant. And that's what I continued doing in the reserves. And then I, towards the end of my career I did, I was a recruiter for two years. And I promise I didn't lie to anybody as a recruiter. I just didn't tell them everything necessarily. And after I was a recruiter, my last six years in, I was an instructor at his advanced individual training right after basic, and I taught, I was an instructor for a Japanese system. And that's how I kind of finished up.
Are there any challenges that you faced while you were in the army either on active duty or when you switched into reserves or when you got reactivated? There's a lot of questions in there.
Tiffany Martschink 09:17
Oh, man, like three questions for the price of one. Yeah, there's definitely there's definitely challenges, especially as I alluded to earlier, being the hard headed individual that I can be many times that does not really mesh well or gel well in a military environment when you're not the one in charge. So I had to bite my tongue a lot of times and sometimes I just couldn't help myself and was then put in my place because I was being a bit too vocal. So that was just that, but that was a personal challenge. And I think after spending so much time in the military, it did. It did teach me to step back and listen More so that I could take somebody else's perspective into consideration. Even when I was a leader, even as a leader, it enabled me to when I had to make decisions about things, I chose to tap into the people who are under me and say, Hey, what do you guys think? How do you think we should go about this? Because that way, you know, for the other person who is junior to me who may be more vocal like I can be they might they I'm giving them an opportunity to express what they think will work and how it will work, even though ultimately, my name was on the line for the responsibility of getting it done. And I was willing to take that chance, because I don't know at all, I can't do it all. And it's definitely okay to tap into the knowledge and experience of other people, even those who were junior to you. So that was a learning experience of listening and tapping into other people's knowledge and experience.
Yeah, I think that's really important that we talk that you talk to the people above you and below you, and you listen, and you're the ultimately the one who has to make the decision. But it's important that you get input from those different people, because, like you said, You don't know it all. And then you can learn from the people below you. And I think it really helps the people below you when they have a chance to speak up. And that is not just like you have to do what I say is like, well, I listened to what you said, and then I had to make my decision because ultimately, my name is on the line. So yeah, that makes sense.
Tiffany Martschink 11:29
It ended up being even to take that a little bit further. I remember at a particular duty station, you know, being the second senior chaplain assistant, there. And I it was one of the times that I was activated, and I was activated stateside. And the person above me was what a lot of times people call a toxic leader in that it's having that attitude of it's my way or the highway, and I found myself in a position of being a buffer between him and the junior chap on assistance. So with many of those times where I would make a decision, and the decision I would make would be my using one of the junior soldiers method of accomplishing it, if it went wrong, I made sure I took responsibility for it being wrong. If it was successful, I gave credit to the people below me, because they're the one that did the job. And that is many times opposite of what a lot of leaders do. If it goes well. They soak up the the compliments and the accolades. But if it goes wrong, they like to shift the responsibility to somebody else. I did the opposite of that. And it ended up paying off even sometimes when I would get chewed out by that senior chaplain assistant, he would say, here's your counseling statement for whatever that issue was that went wrong. He said now, and he prints out eight more of them that has the same counseling information on there, except for the individuals name, he said, You will go and counsel because he realized what I did that I wish that I was in the habit of taking responsibility for the bad stuff. He said, so you will take these counseling statements, and you will go and counsel your eight soldiers, and I will have this on my desk signed by each of them by the end of the day. So obviously, I can't disobey a direct order. And I also don't want to change my method of doing things. So I called one of those chaplain assistants and said, meet me in 30 minutes at this location, and let the other guys know, too. We all met at that location. And I sat down with them. And I said, Okay, what was the tasks that we were supposed to accomplish? Did we accomplish it? What did we do good? And what do we need to work on in the future so that it doesn't fail like it did this time? And after we had that discussion, I said, Great, consider yourselves counseled, please sign this counseling statement and get it back to me because I need the turn them in today. And that way, it was accomplished, what doing things the way I would do and making it a discussion instead of chewing you out. Because I was challenging them to think and think so when you become a leader know that you're going to be addressed, confined with these type things. And it just challenged him to think like a leader. And I also did what I was told and counseled the soldiers.
Yeah, you took something that could have been really negative, and made it a growing and learning experience for people under you, which I think it's one of the benefits of being a woman is that women are kind of more geared that way. I think we're more humble, I guess I should say and willing to give credit where it's due. Just something that I've noticed is a continual theme from listening to all the different women that I've gotten a chance to talk to.
Tiffany Martschink 14:50
Yeah, it is important to be able to look at look at the bigger picture and not just through a small single lens or scope of things. But to look at the big picture, and the lasting impacts of what I say, and how I say it to you is going to leave an impression on you. So I need to make sure that when I deliver a message to you, no matter how positive and happy or negative and down it can be to make it still an ultimately a learning experience and positive learning experience at that.
Yeah. And I really curious to hear more about when you went into the reserves, because you had done nine years, almost 10 years active duty, and then you said to do the reserves, because you you wanted a little bit of a break, but then you got activated all the time. So what timeframe was it when you made that switch? I know it was, like 10 years into your career. But what year was it?
Tiffany Martschink 15:43
So I was on active duty from February of 95, to April of 2004. So it was in 2004 that I had transitioned to the reserves. And even that within itself, while even though I was still in the Army, that was a transitioning experience that I did not expect to be as starkly different as it was, I was wearing the exact same uniform that I wore on active duty. But it was a culture shock, in a sense, because while I was doing the Army and doing military stuff, 24/7, in the reserves, you're doing it 16 hours a month. And so the way the individuals within the reserves approach things are starkly different, because they have their own full time careers that they are doing outside of the uniform. So when I would hear people address each other by first name, it blew my mind. I thought no, your uniform does not say hey, Tom, it says, Smith. So why are you calling this guy Tom when he when he is specialist or Sergeant Smith? Oh, it's just how we do it here. And that's one of those excuses or responses that I just I cannot stand up. It's just the way we've always done it. No, be a Changemaker. But you know, I'm glad I went into the reserves, instead of just completely disconnecting from the military because it kept my foot in the door. And that was kind of my intent that I was not ready to make a career out of the military. But joining the reserves enabled me to, you know, keep that option open. And after I had mobilized and been activated a couple times, I then realized, okay, I'm in it for the long haul. And I remember always saying 20 years in like two months, because Uncle Sam some way or another would find a way to take those two months from me and say, Oh, you don't legitimately have that 20 year mark to be able to retire.
But you ended up saying in 24, right?
Tiffany Martschink 17:47
Yeah, cause I lost count or something. Well, you know, so with that, my last six years in, I was an instructor. And I absolutely loved what I was doing. I love taking my 18 years or however many years it was at that point and using it to pour in my experience to pour into other people who want to do the job that I had done for 18 years. So I loved it. And it was it was great. And there's something it was it was hard work being an instructor. It was long hours long days, but it was well worth it. When you can stand up in front of a class and you're teaching something and you see these light bulbs pop on, because the person gets it. They didn't understand it. But after you conveyed the information to them, however, it was done. They now get it and they get it because you are able to explain it the right way to them and you met them on their level. And when I say meet them on their level, I don't mean that they were at a level less than me. But they get to meet each person to meet each student where they are so that they can understand and get it was absolutely amazing.
Yeah, it sounds like you found the job. That was the perfect fit for you. So it makes sense that you stayed in because you were like, but I really love what I'm doing. Yeah, absolutely. And so when you're an instructor, you were still in the reserves. But were you active reserves or how did that all work?
Tiffany Martschink 19:20
Yeah. So what do you do the reserves you do one weekend, a month and two weeks in the out of the year. So the the people who were the soldiers who were students were either reserve or National Guard soldiers. So that's what we did during the two weeks out of the year. Their two weeks of military duty was being a student in this course, and mine was instructing that particular course. Now granted, we know we were so short on instructors that I would end up doing, you know, maybe 29 to 32 days a year, not conceptually. But doing them to teach more than one class a year. And that so that that's how that worked. They prior to showing up to this course, they had an online course they had to complete as a prerequisite. So that way they're learning you because there's there's materials that have to be learned in order to be awarded the MLS. But it's a lot of information to pack in the two weeks. So they learn a good chunk of it by way of an online course. And then once they get there to the residential part of the course, it's still a lot that we're having to pack into in those 14 days, but not as much as it would be had we had to do the rest of it too.
Yeah, that's kind of cool that they can use an online system to teach, I guess, the basics and the general overview. And then you guys do like the deep dive for two weeks, using the information that they had learned on the online course and enhancing it as a whole. Yeah. Do you want to talk about anything else? From your time on active duty or in the reserves?
Tiffany Martschink 21:04
Yeah, maybe I can jump back to another question that you had already asked about any obstacles or struggles that I was confronted with a more serious issue that I had to be confined within me just learning how to listen more and talk less. And that was a an MST in a military sexual trauma, I was in the reserves at the time, and somebody that I was previously stationed with on active duty, who I had a previous relationship with, ended up being the perpetrator. And, you know, it's, it was one of those things where I had let my guard down, because it was somebody that I trusted, and I had no reason to believe that anything was going to happen would turn into something negative. But it did. And that process of having to deal with that was very difficult, because what was most difficult about the situation is not what happened on that particular date. While it was difficult and rough, but the process having to deal with it personally. And mental health wise, I had never felt so alone, embarrassed, angry, shamed just a plethora of words that should not be experienced at the same time yet was and is because it was such an issue, for me, at the time, an embarrassing issue that needed to be addressed, I didn't know how to go about addressing that issue. So I ended up talking to somebody that I knew that I had a level of trust with already. And then everything fell into place as far as getting it addressed. Not just for me personally, and mental health wise, but addressing the issue of the perpetrator, who, you know, who knows, I could have been the first and only person that it happened to or it could have happened to other people. So, you know, getting that address and having to then go testify and then potentially have to testify again, was difficult. I will say it's now three years later. And while I while I while the results did not come across as the way I thought they should have and we're leaning towards being the results. I had to I had to the the thing that kind of helped me deal with that, personally was the Serenity Prayer. And and not so much the whole Serenity Prayer. But like that first paragraph of just being you know, being aware that there are things that I can change, there's things that I can't change. And I have to know the difference between that you know, what can I change and what can I not change, and I couldn't change the the results of this person separation board, the only part that I could play in that was testifying, I did that, and the powers that be made the decision that they did, and I couldn't do anything to change it. So I had to make sure I shifted my focus on making sure that this guy was found guilty and he suffered the consequences for it. I had to shift my my focus from that to Tiffany, you need to heal and you need to move forward in life. So I did go through some cognitive behavioral therapy, which, which is talk therapy and didn't do me any good. But I ended up being paired with the right psychologist and did cognitive processing therapy. And then when I first sat down with her, she said to me now look, you need to understand that. While this is an effective means most people do not complete this. Most people do not finish this counseling because it forces you to do the opposite of what you're is second nature to do, and that is to talk about it and address it. I'm like heck yeah, I don't want to talk about it. I want to bury it and let it disappear. And she said, Well, you can't do that here. So haven't going through that counseling. It forced me to see See things and address things in a way and look at things from a different. It enabled me to see where my hang ups were, as far as my thought process is concerned, and to address that, and then move forward and say, Okay, this really isn't my fault, because I took the blame of what happened is being my fault. And that is because of me that it happened. And so once I was able to recognize that I did not cause this to happen, that I could then start to have the shame and anger towards myself start to fall off.
Yeah, I think it's really good that you talked about all those things. Because unfortunately, I've heard a lot of MST stories, either through the doing this podcast or just being involved in the woman veteran arena. And that shame of like, it was my fault, I should have done something different. And that's a common theme that women talk about, and like, how hard it is to rewire your brain process and to forgive yourself, even though like it's not your fault, but your it's just, I think it's so important that you talk about that shame, and that guilt and all the emotions, I liked how you said, like, all these emotions, I felt all these emotions at the same time. And you shouldn't feel all these emotions at the same time. And you also said the event was traumatic, obviously. But it was like the after effect that like, What's the hardest part to deal with, because the event caused all the emotions after and if you don't have a path forward on how to deal with the emotions, you can just get stuck. And like you said, bury it.
Tiffany Martschink 26:42
Yeah, and I think in the military, that's a big thing of moving when you move forward and stuff. And when you accomplish things, especially, you know, I know, especially in the army and the Marine Corps, I'm not sure about the Navy and the Air Force, as far as the mindset with this. But when you become a sergeant, when you become an NCO, you are expected to make things happen, you're the one that makes it happen, and you sharing and showing emotions is not part of the task. And that's the way things are looked at is accomplishing tasks. And when things happen, or when things go south, as far as accomplishing a task, it's up to you to overcome that obstacle. So having that mindset kind of ingrained in you of I'm an NCO and nothing will shake me. And if something happens, and it comes my way, it's my job to, you know, to make it not happen. So when you have an MST happen, it's hard to not have that thought process of I'm an NCO and I must have done something wrong to allow this to happen to me or to cause this to happen to me. So that's that was that was my biggest hang up when I went through counseling it. Yeah. And I remember joking around with the psychologist after the fact. But I said, Man, you had to spend more time convincing me that it was not my fault, because I could not shake that I could not shake the fact that I had not, did not play a part in it, or at least for causing it to happen, then. And with that, too. It took three years to get a final decision on the result of that. And that was difficult for me because there was black and white written evidence of communication between myself and the perpetrator of me, recounting to him what happened? And him saying, Yes, I was wrong for that. So for me with having that written in black and white, I just could not fathom why it took three years for a decision to be made on that. And actually the first the first time when I actually testified, it was a year and a half later, and I thought that was too long. And when but when at the end of the day when that when that was over, they found him guilty of two of the three charges. So I thought great, I'm now done with it, only to find out at the beginning of this year in 2020. They somehow or another decided to retry him without my being there. And they just use my testimony from that first hearing. And he is now continuing to serve in the army as a senior leader. As if nothing happened.
Yeah, so I heard I listened to the spouse angle and I'll link to it in the show notes. It was a really powerful episode where she talked to a colonel lawyer, retired colonel from the Air Force who was judge and he now works to help get the law change and he's a big part of the I am Vanessa gun movement. And your story explained like why the military can do what they do because The way the laws are written and why the laws need to be changed. And if you are listening, and you're like, how did that happen? You really need to go listen to that episode, I'll link to it in the show notes, because that was the most powerful explanation. And it was really powerful listening to Air Force judge who got out of the Air Force because of something that really negatively happened to sexual assault. I think it was a rape case where the person was tried, convicted, and then the general overturned the verdict at the last minute and how there's so many problems. And there's a reason that the laws need to be changed and why there needs to be more lobbying on Capitol Hill to pressure Congress because the system is broken. And your story is an exact story of the system is broken. You even got conviction, and then they were like, oh, let's retry it. And yeah, that makes me mad.
Tiffany Martschink 30:54
And with that with with mine. Oh, and just to just as a point of clarification, mine, they did not court martial him. So he did not have to appear before a judge. And that wasn't my decision. Yeah, Jack did I did sit down with Jack several times. And they said, Hey, we can pursue a court martial or an administrative separation board, what do you want to see happen? I'm like, really, because my mind was just so jumbled with emotions and thoughts and just trying to figure out on my own, I'm like, dude, I just came here. You're the legal folks. I told you my sight of it, you, you figure out what to do next. I'm not in a in a place mentally to be able to make a good sound judgment. And they said, Okay, well, then why are you talking with us today? I said, because, one because you asked me to. And to the reason why I said yes, is because somebody did something to me. It was not wanted, it was not solicited, it was not welcomed, yet it happened. So it's not okay. You know, it's not okay for somebody to do something to you, that has such a negative impact on you. I'm having to spend my time trying to heal and recover while he's doing what serving his doing his job. And so he explained to me later on that there's, it's it's ultimately up to he was stationed, he's an Army soldier who was stationed at an Air Force base and had a one star commander. And so it was really up to that one star as to what method they would or what venue, they were going to go down. And so they went down, and you'll love this part two, not really, that you the one star that was his commander, had said, you know, where if you do a court martial one, it can never be tried, again, because a court martial is a legal hearing. It's a legal process, whereas an administrative separation board says is the army saying we don't want you in our ranks because of this event that happened, but there's no legal ramifications. So that administrative separation board is where they found him guilty of two of the three charges. And my opinion is that because he knew he was guilty of it, he had already started a med board process for PTSD. Because I guess he was trying to say, if I'm going to get kicked out, let me try to get take advantage of this the best way possible. So what ended up happening after that separation board convened is that the results of the Medical Board and the results of the separation board were put together in a packet packet and sent up to big army, and then they had to them process and process it and make a determination as to what his separation was going to look like. Because obviously, it's not an honorable or positive discharge, because he did something negative. But yet he had 26 years of active duty time. So it was a matter of what are we going to allow him to be able to take advantage of is he going to be able to get medical benefits at the VA educational benefits. And as they were making that decision, there was a piece of administrative information that was missing, and it was relevant to how much money he would be making if he was just forced to retire right then and there. So they kicked it back to his unit. Now that right there kind of blows my mind because you have paperwork on an individual, your big army, you have his social security number, which give and his name and his rank. lets you see that information up there at big army. So you kick it back for the sum his one star to make that determination of what his retirement will look like. Well, lo and behold, he had a new one star commander because they had done a change of command. That's when they did decided to do the separation board again. And they didn't tell me about it. And I had just sent an email to JAG saying, Hey, I'm just trying to follow up to see what the results of that separation board was. And they said, Oh, he's still serving, or they said the flag was lifted. And like, wait, what do you mean the flag was lifted, because when you say the flag is lifted, a flag is put in place because of unfavorable actions. So when the flag is lifted, that means that unfavorable action time period is now gone. So if he was kicked out, you don't say his flag was lifted. He's been you'd say he's been discharged. And so they said, Yeah, he's still suffering. That wrecked me, I had a friend that I was able to who had experienced an MST as well, I was able to give them a call and say, Hey, this is the news that I just got. And because this individual this Navy veteran had gotten had been through a similar situation, she was able to be be there and support me like, no one else could who had not been down that path before.
Yeah, yeah. And, yeah, that's horrible.
Tiffany Martschink 36:08
Fun times, not really.
But you had to go through that. And I'm thankful that you shared your story, because it's really highlights the problems that are wrong, especially after listening to that episode on this fast angle. I know, I keep mentioning it, but it was like so eye opening because I fortunately, have never dealt with an MST. So I don't know, the legal process. And I didn't know how broken the system was until after I heard that interview. And your story is in line with everything that he said. So I'm sorry, that happened to you. And I'm glad that you were able to get help and find healing past that after I feel like the Army betrayed you. Because they did.
Tiffany Martschink 36:50
Yeah. And and that's, that's one of the things too, that I think was a big part of what rocked my world is that we are taught in the Army, Army values. And with each of those values, not one of them alludes to alludes to an MST being an okay part of the military culture, they all speak contrary to that. So you want me to have an exercise these army values, except when something happens to me, then it's okay. is basically the message that I got. And the other message that I got was, as it related to their final decision was, it's okay, because he's more of a valuable asset to the Army, because he's been in for X number of years obtain this rank, and retirement will look like this for him. So he has more value to us than you do. It is more important that we keep him than it is to say that he's guilty of doing something wrong. And that was really a big slap in the face to me. So yeah, I mean, it is what it is, there's only you know, again, it goes back to there's only so much that I can control and and influence. And now it's just a matter of me, influencing other people who may have experienced a similar thing.
I want to talk a little bit about what you're doing today, because you've transitioned out of the military, you're moving forward. So let's talk about what you're doing today. And where you're at right now,
Tiffany Martschink 38:23
I am currently using my post 911 GI bill to go to college and finish up a degree. I'm getting a degree in human services with an emphasis on human services management, because I want to work in a field that supports veterans and helps veterans, whether they've experienced an MST like I have, or something else. I've also just recently started doing a podcast because I want every I believe that every person in the military has a story, whether they were, you know, whether it was an MST or you know, and even if they weren't some like Special Forces, SEAL Team Ranger, some high profile, highly respected job. I want the people who did not fill those roles to be able to share their story because they all have a story. And I just want to create a platform for people to be able to share those stories. And some of the stories that I've come across up to this point, are not even stories that I would have thought of. I mean, it's stuff that you where you could really say I can't make that stuff up because they're real stories. And some of them are heart wrenching. Because things just happened similar to like an MST just happening things just happened to people. But yet they they're still here to talk about it. So I want to have that platform for them to talk about it.
Yeah. And we'll link to the podcast in the show notes. And the last question that I have is what advice would you give to young women who are considering military service?
Tiffany Martschink 39:58
I would tell them to do it. You never know until you try it. And I would tell all young women who are looking at joining the military, I would not try to persuade you to do a certain job or join a certain branch. Because at the end of the day, it's all the US military. So I would challenge I would challenge them to do their research to find the branch and the job that fits what their desires and goals are. Because their needs can be met in all of the branches. And it's again, it's all the US military. So I would tell them to you do the research and then pursue it. And once they get in, I would just challenge them to to go full force and make the best of themselves that they can while they're serving and take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way.
That's great advice. Thank you for being so open and for sharing your your MST story and your healing story and all the aftermath. I just really appreciate you sharing about your time and the military and just what you experienced and good luck on your podcast. I can't wait to share it when this episode comes out. Thank you for listening to this week's episode of women of the military podcast. Do you love all things women in the military podcast become a subscriber so you never miss an episode and consider leaving a review it really helps people find the podcast and helps the podcast to grow. Are you still listening? You can be a part of the mission of telling the stories and military women by joining me on firstname.lastname@example.org slash women of the military or you can order my book women in the military on Amazon every dollar helps to continue the work I am doing. Are you a business owner? Do you want to get your product or service in front of the women of the military podcast audience get in touch with the woman or the military podcast team to learn more. All the links on how you can support women in the military podcasts are located in the show notes. Thanks again for listening and for your support.