Lorraine wanted to escape her hometown and saw the military as an option. Even though she was a member of the LGBQT+ community and knew Don't Ask Don't Tell was a regulation in place she determined she still wanted to serve. Don't ask, don't tell was repealed on September 20, 2011, less than a year after Lorraine joined the Navy. She said there were still lingering effects of discrimination for those in the LGBQT+ community and discussed those during this week's interview.
Women of the Military would like to thank Sabio Coding Bootcamp for sponsoring this week’s episode! Sabio Coding Bootcamp is a top-ranked coding Bootcamp that is 100% dedicated to helping smart and highly motivated individuals become exceptional software engineers. Visit their website www.Sabio.la to learn how you may be able to use your GI Bill benefits to train at Sabio. Your tuition and a monthly BAH stipend may be paid during your training period. They also are 100% committed to helping you find your first job in tech. Don’t forget to head over to www.Sabio.la to learn more today.
Check out the full show notes at https://www.airmantomom.com/2021/08/dont-ask-dont-tell/
Check out the full transcript here.
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Kevin Barba, Adriana Keefe, Lorraine Diaz
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Welcome to Episode 150 of the women of the military podcast. Before we begin, I wanted to say, Wow, I can't believe this is Episode 150. I don't know if I expected to keep going. I know I was worried in the beginning about having enough guests to continue the podcast, and to already be at 150 episodes and be able to share so many stories and have so many of you listening to the podcast each week. It really inspires me to keep going. And I just want to say thank you to all my guests. Thank you to all my listeners, and especially thank you to all my patreon members who support the podcast financially and help make it so I can continue to do this. My guest this week is Laureen Diaz. She is one of my patreon members, and I really appreciate her support financially through the podcast, it means a lot, and she talked about how she wanted to join the military to escape her hometown. When her dad told her, she could only join either the Navy or the Air Force. And when she learned about how the Navy had their own Air Force within the branch, she was curious of how she could be an aircraft maintainer within the Navy, even though she was a member of the LGBQT+ plus community and knew that don't ask don't tell was a regulation in place. She determined that she still wanted to serve. And it actually was in the first year she was on active duty that don't ask don't tell was repealed. But she talked about in the interview about how the ripple effects of that ruling or that change didn't always fix all the problems and the discrimination that people were feeling. And so we had a really interesting conversation about how Don't Ask, Don't Tell, affected the military while it was a lot and after it was gone. So let's get started with this week's interview. You're listening to season three of the women 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 of 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. podcast we'd like to thank Sabio coding boot camp for sponsoring this week's episode Sabio coding boot camp is a top ranked coding boot camp that is 100% dedicated to helping smart and highly motivated individuals become exceptional software engineers visit their website at www.sabio.la to learn how you may be able to use your GI Bill benefits to train at savea your tuition and monthly BAH stipend may be paid during your training period. They are also 100% committed and helping you find your first job in tech. So don't forget to head over to www.sabio.la to learn more. And now let's get started with this week's interview. Welcome to the show. Lorraine. I'm so excited to have you here. Let's get started with Why did you decide to join the Navy?
Very excited to be here. I'm a patron. So I'm like obsessed, Amanda does some really cool stuff for everybody. So if you haven't visited her Patreon page, you need to. And she didn't ask me to do that I did that on my own. We actually didn't even talk about it. But I decided to join the Navy because I did not have money for school. And I wanted to grow up and leave my parents house. That's kind of the short story a little bit longer stories. I'm Puerto Rican Cuban. And so the culture is very communal. You know, it's normal for people to stay in their parents homes for longer periods of time. For me, I kind of wanted to speed up the process of growing up and kind of formed my own life. And so that's kind of how I decided to do it.
How did you decide to pick Navy instead of one of the other branches?
So my dad's actually a Marine, or was a Marine, and he did not when I expressed interest in the military, he specifically said you won't be joining the army and you will not be joining the Marines. So you can choose between the Air Force the Navy, and when we talk more about it. He talked about airplanes, and he would give me like facts. He's like, Oh, well, actually, the Navy has more airplanes and they do boats. Like that doesn't make any sense to me. But as little facts like that came out. It kind of intrigued me more and to me, the Navy looked like a very interesting option because of the deployments, you'd be able to go and pull it up. courts in different places. So, one day you could be in France, which actually did happen another day, you could be in Dubai, which did happen.
The Navy has their own Air Force that, like within the Navy that has a bunch. I didn't know that they had more planes than they had ships. That's crazy.
Yeah, it's insane. It's cool. Every time I talk about it to get like bitters. I think about the flight deck, which wasn't fun at the time. But that kinda, when you think about it always brings up a lot of good memories. Oh, for me, personally.
Yeah. And you picked a career field in aviation, right?
Yeah. So in high school, I was in a magnet program for electrical engineering. And I was just burned out. I was like, I don't want to look at zeros and ones. I don't want to look at how to wire stuff. I don't care. I just want to get away from that. And I knew I was really bad with my hands. My dad has always been super talented that way. And I just didn't get that. So I had to, I had to work really hard for it. And I've always wanted to be a lot like my dad. So it was like, Okay, well, you know, my dad tells me you guys have airplanes like you have airplane mechanic jobs, because they didn't have tanks. When I asked him about tanks first. They were like, that doesn't. That doesn't make any sense. And then I was like, well, you guys have bought airplanes, III have boats. So that doesn't make any sense either. So then I asked about, you know, aviation maintenance and aircraft maintenance shops. And they're like, no, are you sure? Like, yeah, they were trying to push me to like an engineering type. Engineering electrician, which is kind of very similar to what I was doing that I was trying to get away from.
Did you do really well on the ASVAB? So they were interested in that aspect? Is that why they're pushing you that way?
probably I got a 92. So I was like, I got an A minus, that's not that good. They're like, no, it's really good. minuses, okay. And I was not like full disclosure, I was not a good student. I did not do my homework. Like, if you taught me how to do it, I learned I wasn't stupid, but I just was very lazy. Thinking about practice, I got a 72. And they went crazy. It was like, dude, that's a C, that's not very, almost a D. No, it's fine. And then I took the real test, and I got higher, which is not normal. But maybe the test was moved out.
So you wanted to do aircraft maintenance, but they were trying to push you back into like the actual electrical engineering where you were like, No, I'm done with that. And so you stuck with aircraft maintenance? And that's what you did? Yes. And then you went to boot camp. Did you go after high school? Like, were you looking into it while you were going to school?
Yeah. So I signed officially after I graduated in May 2010. That was a while ago. And and then 10 months later, I was, you know, winter at the Great Lakes. So it was cold, very cold. And it sucks when you're from Florida. And then you go to a really cold place where people are screaming in your face and rushing you to get ready and then go out of the gold. I need to get over it worked out.
I've been really cold in the winter. It's kind of crazy. That's where the training is. I mean, I knew that but no one has talked about it going in the winter. They always talked about how hot it was.
My dad got excited cases like Oh, they had a boot camp in Orlando, you should see if they still have it. And they'd close that down during the Clinton era. So that wasn't even like remotely an option.
Interesting. So did you have any challenges while going to boot camp or tech school,
mostly physical, mostly physical weights always kind of been a problem, but still is now as an adult, but less so cuz I can still do my job. But it was like shin splints were from wearing boots and partially collapsed arches, because I wasn't used to doing that marching. And I don't know, I'm not the only one. But those are just some of the things that I didn't anticipate having to deal with that I ended up with, later on down the road. And then just drinking a lot of information from a firehose, that was for somebody that's not a super great student, I had to become a super great student if I didn't want to lose my tech school or be kicked out or lose my rate or whatever. So I had to buckle down, which was it? It was just a mind shift and a system creation that had to take place, which did.
Yeah, so you feel like you knew that if you didn't pass your tech school that you would fail, and you'd have to do a different job. So you were like, well, I'm gonna learn to be a good student.
It kind of the realization that if I failed, that I lose what I wanted to do wasn't an option for me. So I just studied extra I kind of started doing note cards and things that I really didn't do in high school because that wasn't important to me at the time, then. I didn't really have anything tangible at stake because I at this point, I had structure and I had a plan.
That makes a lot of sense. And I think in high school, I think a lot of people get discouraged because it feels like really meaningless and pointless and then when you have thing that you're aiming towards and a focus, it makes it easier to focus and buckle down.
Yeah, like I would definitely say A lot of kids these days are smarter than they kind of give off because they get distracted. And I generally like to call it like, the fear of options, like you're just overwhelmed with all the options and all the choices that you have, you don't know which one's the right one, because we're taught in a very binary way, you know, this is good, or this is bad. But really, you can have two good choices and neither the wrong choice. They're just two choices. And you just have to figure out what is more important to you and what you may like better.
And even think you mentioned how, in the beginning, when you are going to school, you got kind of burnt out from like all the engineering stuff you're doing. And I think sometimes we put so much pressure on our kids to do all this stuff. And so maybe I should just let them be children and like they have the whole rest of their lives to work and figure it out. Yeah,
I mean, I definitely agree. I know, I wanted to take a break after school. And that was kind of part of what fed into me wanting to leave this. When I spoke to my mom about it initially, she's like, you're not going to take a break. That's not going to happen. You won't go back to school, if you take a year off. I was like, well, it's not like I'm gonna sit around the house and do nothing. I'll work and she was not a big fan of that. So I was like, I'll just remove myself from this equation. Hello, Navy, very stubborn. Sometimes that can be hard headed, but it worked out really well.
So you went to boot camp, and then you got through tech school. And then where did you go for your first assignment,
I went to, technically that was in between tech school. So I stopped at a kind of like a TTY for a Training Squadron while I was waiting for school. So that's kind of it was like a, hey, we can't let you sit around and do nothing for free. So you're going to report to the squadron and work for them and do whatever they tell you to do. So I got to work on baby Hornets and epic teens and or f8, teen supers and some other stuff. It was a Training Squadron in Virginia Beach, Virginia called bK 106. After that, I went to my Squadron at the boat Bay to 13 world famous black lions. So that was fun. I was there for about four years.
Did you go on any deployment?
Yeah, I went on to deployment. So it was cool because we had just we the Navy had just gotten their first like Nimitz class ship, or their new Nimitz class ship. And it was the CVN 77, the george HW Bush. And so we went on a maiden cruise. And what a maiden Cruise is, is basically a show of power, like, Oh, look at our big shiny toy, you don't mess with us. And we're gonna peruse to all these cool ports and show everybody our new toy and not to mess with us. And then Middle East started acting up again. Nope. So they're like, nevermind, it's combat cruise. So it was like, we're gonna go to spirit and we're gonna go do all these cool things. And they're like, no. And then I got there, right as it had changed over. So I think they were like six, I want to say six months in, and I got there. And it was like, Hey, we got another four months, and we got this new trainee. And then my second two. So that was my first tour was actually in 2011.
You arrived at the base? And they were like, Oh, your ships out at sea. So we're gonna go send you to basically Yeah. That's so crazy.
Six months ago as a civilian, like eating chips on the couch. And then and then I was on a brand new aircraft carrier launching airplanes, because things are heating up in the Middle East. It was it was like a pretty wild con. It's something you read out of a book almost. And it's like, wow, this is real life.
I met someone I interviewed someone way back, like my first 10 interviews, and she arrived in Japan and they were like your ships leaving tomorrow. And she was like, What? And then she was on a ship and was like, she just went to boot camp, went to tech school, and then went to Japan and like, was there for maybe 24 hours. And then she was on a ship out to sea and she's like, watch this happen.
That's great. I love that. Yeah, I met some people at the Training Squadron I had been to for a little bit. They're like, Oh, let us know when you get back. And then you know, I packed all my pack my C bag because that's what they call it went on deployment. And I was supposed to go to my shop husbands to go to my rated work center. And instead I got moved to the line shack, which is kinda like what the crew cheapest, but without any of the glory. And we had to wear brown shirts, so they call us turd shirts. So I became a third shirt for my first deployment. It was a learning experience.
Yeah, it sounds like Yeah. Did you have any like funny stories or experiences like that just seems so crazy that you were like six months ago, I wasn't in the Navy. And now I'm on a ship.
Now my ship hauling chains pulling, you know, 75 pounds of chains on my back because that's how Equal Opportunity works, which is fine. I do combine. It was just interesting to me, like, zooming out of my body. But I probably say a lot of the interesting core stories came from the daily interactions with different departments on the ship and the flight department that we had to work with our officers to serve as a man Just generally working with guys and gals from like all over the country just like shoved in a room together, and now we have to understand each other. So it's like, I've never even heard of chewing tobacco and I walk in and there's three guys sitting there with a bat dip in their mouth spitting in a cup, like, Oh, they got to go up to the flight deck, one bottle falls over. And they're like, you got to clean that because you're the new one. Doesn't smell good.
That's funny that Now you mentioned that I hadn't really like I think I had heard of chewing tobacco. But I don't really like realize what it was. And then when I was deployed, they like all had the bottle. And I was like, Oh, that's so weird. And like, yeah, I never knew anything about it. Before I joined the military.
It's like, wait, everyone's drinking cokes out of a bottle. That's weird. Like, that's not good. Oh,
you don't want to drink?
No, no, it's like, you know what it is? As soon as you find out, they're like, Oh, you want to dip? And then after you have to clean it up one time, like a full bottle of it. It was pretty gross.
Gross. Oh, that's funny. So yes, I do want to add another deployment, how long have you been home before you left again,
usually, when you're in a squadron like that, it's you kind of there's the down the downtime is right after the deployment, fixing all the airplanes, making sure people have time with their family, fixing the equipment, and basically getting ready for the night next deployment cycle. So you might have like, maybe six months, if it stays on that two year track, and then you guys start going on detachments and, and doing all that getting ready for the next one, getting the new pilots trained, getting the new folks trained. My second deployment was different because at that point, I've been in the Navy for like, three years, three years. So by the time when I went through a full workup cycle, or our second tour on that boat, the second deployment for that ship and for me, and it was unique, because I had the experience of going on a boat and not having any time in the Navy to growing up kind of in a squadron having rank, moving up to e4, and going on deployment and being able to fix aircraft and troubleshoot and change engines and change, AP use and work on fuel cells and do all kinds of really neat type of work. And then being able to basically be not necessarily Junior in the sense that I'm brand new, still Junior, but have experienced where when I'm on the flight deck, and I make a call they listen. They're not unless it's a really complex problem. At that point, I've been trained well enough to make a call and it be followed for the troubleshooting process, rather than having to call somebody that had 10 or 15 years in, you know, every once in a while, depending on the mission, they might call somebody for a second opinion, kind of like when you go to the doctor and you're like, Hey, is this cancer really that bad? I like it, they would come back and my petty officers would come back and basically make the same call. And it's like, you should have listened to me. It's almost like I know what I'm talking about. So that was really cool. It was really cool to see a full combat deployment cycle happen and be a part of the growth process to up into that point. So and then I left right after our deployment after we got back to my next duty station, which was that was the now I don't think the word is technically decommissioned. They kind of just turned it off. They didn't disband it forever. VFA 101 Grim Reaper, so they were I know they originally started as a Vf 101. But they were basically re stood up in Fort Walton Beach, Florida out of Eglin Air Force Base. And they were the testing and integration Squadron for the Navy for the F 35. Charlie. So we worked with contractors like Lockheed Martin, they were our reps on there. They were our civilian counterparts that would basically assist us in maintenance and troubleshooting and that sort of thing. And when I showed up, it was not quite as brand new, it was still new, and Lockheed still had control of most of actually all the aircraft when I showed up. And then I think slowly, they would just release aircraft as we proved our competency.
And that was at Aegon this man. So interesting that you would be at Air Force Base while serving in the Navy.
So I guess they had a lot of joint Joint Force type stuff going on there like a lot a lot, especially for EOD EOD guys because it was like our Squadron then right next to us was the our Air Force equivalent with their alphas in there. Those airplanes have the tiniest little landing gear because they don't have to lay on a boat. They don't have to be chunky and it just looks like they missed leg day for all of their entire lives. So those aircraft just look weird to make ain't got no legs and then the schoolhouse was there and then right next there it was like EOD always doing their bomb stuff.
And I think there's a special ops communities there too. There's a lot of stuff going on in England.
Yeah, it's hot spot for sure. They even have that really neat temperature control hanger which actually had an explosion when I was working on the flightline. Right before I transferred out.
So did you ever deploy out of there or because it was kind of a different mission? You guys were like, taking over and learning? f 35. See? Is that what you said?
Yes, ma'am. So basically, how the Navy works, they changed it right after I transferred, but it's a four on deployment, and then three shore duty for your CDD. So you get rest, if there are surgeries that need to happen, like you have to do back surgeries or knee surgeries to fix you up to make you go in the next appointment cycle. That's kind of what that's for. It changes depending on your job. Some jobs, they require you to be at sea for six years, and you get, you know, two years downtime, it just changes. Think recently, when I left, it was a five, three rotation they had upped it because they had just lost a aircraft carrier in the rotation. So they had to kind of elongate everyone's time a little bit more to fill in the gap. You can't really build a ship overnight, and then have it deploy, you know, with a crew that isn't trained on it. But yes, the mission was different. We were shore duty at that time, I had come from a CDD Squadron.
That makes sense. I mean, I interview enough Navy people, I should know all this, but I always forget. It's a lot. It's a lot to remember. I actually interview I feel like more Coast Guard people which there's less of them. But for some reason I interview more Coast Guard people than Navy people. So then I get even more confused because they're different than the Navy. And so yeah, we know what it is right? Why I interview more women or why it's different. Know what why you interview more Coast Guard people know why
they have to, you know, put themselves out there and be remembered as a branch of service that is rather than the redheaded stepchild. Somebody from the Coast Guard is going to watch us and be like, screw you. Let him come for me.
I just learned so much about the military. They're doing all these stories and and then I realized I still have a lot more to learn. So was that your last assignment? Or did you transfer again?
No, no, after that I was done. I did six and a half years, and I had decided that it wouldn't make sense to restart later rather than sooner. So I made the decision to get out.
So you you're you just done with the military and ready to move on with the rest of your life. Kind of it was a
sucky choice to make, because I kind of realized that, instead of being taken care of by our superiors, we were just kind of like, toss this side. And if we made it, we made it to you know, retirement, if we didn't, it didn't really matter. I can't say that's necessarily the case. I've had some really fantastic mentors, like phenomenal like one of my old chiefs, Michael Thurber. He's actually an FAA Inspector, and he's doing great to do to Rockstar nicest guy you'll ever meet, he'll give you crap all day. But he phenomenal, phenomenal guy, Michelle, co Rab, she changed her name after her divorce. Awesome, Chief, awesome, awesome, Chief chief people, like just tons, I could literally go all day and tell you about all the amazing people that have mentored me along the way, whether they be higher ranking, or my peers, or sometimes even people that are lower ranking that have a lot more life experience. But what really did it for me to was the year that we 2016, my mom was starting to get kind of funky. And closer to Thanksgiving time. She just was like always in bed, always very sick. And I remember when I came for Thanksgiving, she was like pale white, like, paler than I am right now. And I was like, Yeah, I can't go on another deployment. Because at that point, my rotation for sure DT will be over. And I would have to go before deployed Squadron. And I was just like, Ah, this is enough for me to say I don't want to miss time that I won't get back. You know, it's different when you're gone for years and years at a time as opposed to Oh, I haven't seen my mom in two weeks, you know, but I can drive over to her house which I can do now because she lives in Maitland developed in Orlando. And after that I came back from from Thanksgiving leave and I was like, Hey, listen, I'm gonna get out. I'm done. So shortly after that, that was the end of 2016 2017. In August, that was my transfer out of the military become a civilian become a people again and put on my you know, people cloak. Yeah,
that makes a lot of sense. I think there's a lot of challenges with serving in the military and the sacrifice and especially when your family isn't doing well and you can see it, it makes a you know, on the horizon, what was coming because you knew you were going to go back to a sea duty and you weren't going to be you wouldn't have the stability that you had had. Well, a lot. Definitely. And one thing I'll To talk about that we kind of skipped over was that don't ask don't tell was repealed while you're in. I mean, I think it had an impact on everyone. But I really would love to hear about your experience and what it meant to you and what it means to you today.
So, I mean, I, I guess I can say fortunate and not even guest I can't say Fortunately, I wasn't super, super long in the military. When it had been repealed, I want to say it was like six months, I was in basically, as I was heading out to sere as soon as I got to see, it was like, bam, don't ask don't tell was repealed. up into that point. There have been talks about it. But you'd hear some people say, Well, you better not to me specifically. But you still better be careful, because if somebody also doesn't like you, they can still transfer you out. Because that's still the role, which is absolutely insane to know that somebody can use the law against you to ruin your entire career and change your paperwork getting out because it wouldn't be an honorable discharge. If you were lucky, you'll be an other than honorable Well, not lucky, if you were lucky, you'd be like a general or an admin. It would it wouldn't say honorable, there's a potential lose benefits, depending on how that paperwork is coded, and how much of spiteful that that other person wanted to be in, in your discharge process, saying, well, so and so did this. And you know, they're gay, so we got to get rid of them. But I was fortunate enough that that changed very quickly. But I remember feeling like, I remember having a conversation with my mom, where she said, You better be careful, that's a rule, you can not just use to lose your job, but lose your potential for future employment. If somebody decides they want to use that against you. So keep your mouth shut. You know, she's not trying to be hateful. But she was trying to warn me and say, you know, we love you no matter what, but they don't. They don't care that you're my kid. And I think you're the best I can tell my other four sisters that I am the best. But no, it was, it was very isolating. Because you you can't let too many people close. And most people really didn't care. Most the people that worked in close proximity to you that you did trust, do your daily job would be like, I don't care if you come to work every day. I don't have a problem with it. But I wasn't outspoken about it. And I don't know for sure if that's affected how I operate today, because I'm not super loud about it. But I also don't hide it. But yeah, it was looking back, just like somebody thought that that was an okay thing. They're like, well, we can't necessarily ban people from the military that are part of the LGBTQ+ community. But we'll just make this rule so they can serve, but be quiet about it.
And you mentioned something that Featherstone she was on the podcast last month. And she said the same thing that it was like it was dependent on like who your boss was, and if they got mad at you, and it wasn't like everybody was treated equally. So it was like there was this rule, but it wasn't put into effect the same way. And it was based on like, if people liked you, or if they didn't you and it didn't really have anything to do with your sexual orientation and had to do with like, if they liked you as a person or as because someone with the same sexual orientation. They liked them. And they wouldn't say anything. But then if they didn't like you, then they'd be like, you have to get out. I think that is the part that I don't think enough people realize or understand. Don't Ask, Don't Tell it sounds good. In theory, not actually that it sounds good. But you know, like, if you're not part of that community, and you're just like, oh, that's fine, they could serve and then but if you like hear the stories, and then you hear about like how it was used as a discrimination tactic, and not in the LGBQT+ community, but in the like, I don't like you. So I'm gonna make it so that you have to get out and like, that's just wrong.
Oh, yeah. 100% to like, if you look at a lot of employment stuff, I don't know how how much other people who could get a different type of discharge, had to go back and change the discharge paperwork, or even if they had the energy to, or the means to, but if you say that you served in the military, because you can't really lie about that. When you get to say you were in jail, you're homeless, you know what I mean? And you have a different type of discharge based on that rule at the time, you have to put what your discharge was, because they're going to ask you, was it an honorable discharge? There's no other options. If you say, no, they're going to ask you to explain and some, some employers won't care and some might, you know, it's things are certainly better than they were probably 20 years ago, but the fights not over. And there's just people that don't understand, like the impact of laws like that and Bice like that.
Yeah, that's a really good point. And I think the long term impact, like it's not just affecting their ability to serve in the military, but now they have a discharge and it's less than honorable and so and you can't lie That because it's on an application. And then if they find ask why like that you're giving away personal information that you technically don't have to, but you can't be just like, well, it doesn't matter why not honorable because then they're gonna be okay. Yeah. So yeah, there's so many like, I think that's why it's so important to talk about these stories because the I guess the media the way that they like tell the story they tell either like a news level but not like a story level and they don't get into the intimate details on like, how it affects someone's life, besides like the personal aspect of like you having to know that you had to keep that hidden Luckily, for not very long.
Yeah, yeah, I was lucky. And it didn't really change. That's the other thing too, is just because the role change. And generally speaking, there was a lot of people that really didn't care, at least in my personal experience, I can't speak for everybody else. But they're still people were bothered them. So they would find other things to pick on you about, or other things to get you in trouble for. They couldn't technically get you on this thing, but they can get you on this other thing.
The discrimination continued. But in another way, I'm learning a lot about the 13th 14th and 15th amendment, and I just read uncomfortable conversations with a black man, which is a great book. And all of this is like tying into like all the things that they did in the south after the Civil War, and how they were like, Oh, this is a law, but we're gonna add this rule and this rule so that you can't vote and like, it's really fascinating. The dynamics and how, how much, you can't just change a lot. The surface level, there's so much more that has to be done. You can't just be like, Oh, we made a lot. Everything's great. Now, it's like, no, there's still a lot more work to do.
Yeah, people were trained to think and act a certain way. And that's something that you actively have to catch which I bought that book, by the way, it's my next read. So
it's so good. I got it on Audible. And I, I listened to the whole thing over the weekend. Awesome. And if you're listening, he has a YouTube series, also called uncomfortable conversations with a black man and is excellent. So good.
I might have another Patreon account that I follow.
Yeah, I don't know if he has Patreon. But you bought the book. I mean, that's one of the ways you can support authors is by their book. So thank you so much for being open and sharing about that. I just get so fascinated. And it's just interesting, the timing, because we're watching Lincoln at home and learning about like what it took to get the 13th amendment pass. And then I'm doing all this research, and then I read that book. And so and I didn't realize the parallels until we were talking about it and all the ripple effects of life. And like, why we're still dealing with racism in so many different ways, because of like, you can't just pass along the like, okay, everything's good. Yeah, it's,
it's 100%. Like, the same thing? Well, I can't say 100%, the same thing. But there's a lot of parallels between that and racism and colorism and you can't just, if some generations are hurt, they're gonna pass that on to their kids and to their grandkids. And it may not be to the same extent, but it's still there. And it still causes damage to the people that those kids now interact with. So that's the hard part, to get people to understand. And to actually say, I hear you.
Yeah, I'm so glad that we had that conversation, because I think it will give people a lot of insight and clarity. So let's talk a little bit more about your transition. And what that was like, did you you felt I feel like you it was really fast, because you kind of were like trying to decide and then you went home and Thanksgiving, and we're like, oh, my mom's really sick. I'm gonna get out of the Navy. And then you said like, six months later, you are out? Yeah. So where are you ready to get out like, as in like, ready to get a career.
It was like, if you can imagine, like the means with the dumpster buyer, and they just put the year on it. Like That was my transition. And it wasn't until almost three years after I had transitioned out. And it was a civilian that I felt as if I was where I was supposed to be professionally. Because I did not plan I did not have time to plan. And I did to myself, like I didn't think forward enough, and it was all very reactive. And if I had spent more time being proactive, then I would have been in a better position. If something had occurred. And in this case it did which I realized I never specified what my mom had. So backtrack, I came home and decided that I was going to get out. My mom looked very sick and was sick, and her pancreas failing because she actually was diabetic and she was not getting insulin. So once I gave her insulin, she was totally fine. It was probably about December. December, January, when we hit figured out officially what was going on. So, but yes, it was very fast the transition, and I was not prepared. I did not have an idea of what I wanted to do. I had no mentors, I did not have time to do any internships. I didn't have any education, really, I had done some college debt point. But I was just kind of like, Well, you know, I'm I will try to see if I can take this aviation thing outside of the military, even though I'm so tired of, and I did set myself up, aviation was going to be my backup career. And I had finally gotten a job two weeks, the last two weeks of my terminal leave, working in a warehouse for $12 an hour and no benefits. That's what happens when you don't plan.
Yeah, I think you have to start planning for your transition out of the military, when you like, join the military. And like you said, you didn't know when you're gonna get out. And then all of a sudden, I was like, Oh, I'm getting out because my family needs me. And if you're like, always thinking about what you're going to do, then you can like, get your school done, or take whatever training or just be ready, but I think it's really hard because military trained you to like, this is the mission, this is your focus, and you're like, Okay, I don't matter, but actually you do matter. Because eventually, no matter if it's six years or 25 years, you're gonna get out of the military, and then you're gonna have to transition. So many people, it's so hard to make that switch. I just wrote a blog post about how, when I got out of the military, I had a really hard time knowing what I wanted, I still have a really hard time knowing what I want, because I'm so used to the military being like you're so you're doing and I'm like, okay, Sarah, my business coach said, she gave me four questions. And the first one is, do I want to do this, and I'm like, I get to decide if I want to do. And I think it really goes back to the military because you don't get to decide what you want to do. And like, the longer you're in, the more you just suppress what you want. And you just accept, I'm moving to Florida, okay. That's why we're moving and you don't really think about like, Oh, well, I really want it doesn't matter. You're going where they tell you and you're doing what they tell you.
You're at extension of what the government wants to do. Basically, love Sarah. Hey, Sarah. She, she's great. But yeah, there's no. It's hard to plan and think of yourself when everything is good around being in a team or being in a community of what the community needs, not what you need or what you want, because it doesn't matter. What matters is this other thing that everyone's they're giving you the tools, they're giving you the education, they're giving you the teammates, and they're saying go do this and you're like, Okay, as a team, and you're right. It doesn't matter if you don't want to move to Florida.
So you said it took about three years to get where you want it to be. Was there anything that was like specific that made it so that you turned into the place that you want it to be or was it just took you that much time to get where you want it to be
kind of both so part of it is as an aircraft maintenance professional, in order to work on airplanes and be have more flexibility and choice. You want to have your airframe and powerplant license. And that basically is the Federal Aviation Administration who is under the Department of Transportation. They grant you the powers legally to complete maintenance on aircraft and deem it airworthy. And if I had known about that ahead of time, I could have by my three year mark, doing that job roughly about three years. If you do both of those pieces concurrently, the differences airframe is literally anything that's not the engine. So if you have an a license, you can sign off anything on the airframe. So that's electrical, that's hydraulics that's doing sheetmetal work, if it's a powerplant engine only. So if I have to take a component off the engine, that engine specific and sign it off under my license, I can do that because I have both the airframe and powerplant license. And if I would have done that, I would have qualified for my inspection, inspection ticket, which you have to have three years using your your a&p in order to qualify. So then you qualify, study, take your test and pass. It's a written and oral on a practical and I would have been in a much better position to translate into civil aviation rather than come out and be like, Oh, I have to get this license. And you know, if I had figured out I wanted to do that, as soon as I got out, then that would have been a different story. It was a backup plan and I had set myself up really well to kind of move into that. But if I would have had it done beforehand, it would have Been a much better option? You know, I wouldn't had, I would have been a more attractive candidate to companies. But you don't know what you don't know.
Yeah, that's really important to think about when I was in, I got my civil engineering professional engineering license, which I didn't need in the military. But I did need if I was going to leave the military. And even though I didn't use it, I'm really glad that I got it because it gave me the flexibility when I got out if I had wanted to do engineering, because I already had my professional engineering. So that's like, Great advice for someone who's in the military or joining the military figure out if there's like a civilian equivalent that you need to get and then figure out, can I do it while I'm in the military and get that certification. And the funny story is, in college, I knew I needed to take the training, but I was like, whatever joining the Air Force doesn't matter. And so I didn't, and then when I was in, they were like, everyone was like, you should get that training, because you don't know what the future is gonna hold. And so I went back, and like, it would have been better to take the initial test while I was in college, when everybody else was like all the other seniors. And instead, I was like, I joined the military, I don't need that. And when in reality, you should get your civilian equivalent, just because you never know what's gonna happen. And then and then you're set up. I'm not a professional engineer anymore. But you could be Yeah, just fail the backfill. In Ohio, right? Yeah. But it's good to have that certification and that training. And if something happens to my husband, I have that to fall back on because I have that degree and that training that I can use, if I ever need to go back into engineering. That's great advice. So speaking of advice, what advice would you give to young women who are considering joining the military?
Oh, man, I would definitely. So the military is cool. Because you can pick a job, depending on how you score on your ads tab, this magical test that deems how much aptitude you have in one area over another, we'll say it that way. Because some people say I got a 34 some dumb doesn't mean you're dumb, you just have an aptitude in a specific area, maybe you don't have as many options. But training can rectify that. So don't ever let that hold you back that that can always be retaken and redone later. And every branch of service has that option. Don't Don't ever let somebody tell you that you can't. Because they're lying. They're trying to sell you something else. That certainly I would say, spend time trying to figure out what you really like. But definitely take the time to set yourself up to do the civilian equivalent if there is one, if there's not one, you need to spend the time to figure out basically what I want to do, what is the qualifications and the education for somebody that has that type of position? And how do I get there and make a plan because you're more likely to follow through with it if you write it down and create a process and a system, rather than just waking up every day and being like I'm here today, and this is what I'm going to do because I feel like it you know, there's a lot of days, I don't feel like doing a lot of things. Unless you're very special type of person. Most of us can't just do that.
That's really good advice. And I like that you built on the like if there isn't a civilian equivalent, what are you going to do when you leave the military? Does that mean that you should start working on your degree so that you can go to college and finish your degree with your GI Bill when you leave the military? Or is there like the tech school or training programs, there's so much available with the internet, it was a lot harder before the internet existed and you couldn't do all these things online and you had to actually be in person. So thank you so much for being on the podcast and for supporting me on Patreon and reminding me to tell people that they can go to patreon.com slash women of the military to support me. I really appreciate it and thank you so much. Thanks for having me. It's been a pleasure. 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 of military women by joining me on firstname.lastname@example.org slash women of the military or you can order my book women of 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 of the military podcast team to learn more. All the links on how you can support women military podcasts are located in the show notes. Thanks again for listening and for your support.