Theresa wanted to get away from her hometown and when her parents would not support her in attending Howard University in Virginia she decided to join the Marine Corps. She began her career in the Marines and the day before she turned twenty she was married and she began planning for her future by saving for if she needed to get out of the military. This interview covered the topic of miscarriage in the military. Theresa had two miscarriages and talked about the pain she felt and how she took the emotions she struggled with and put them on a shelf after her two weeks off of work to recover. And that saving plan she started when she got married paid off as life unfolded.
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Welcome to Episode 153 of the women of the military podcast this week my guest is Teresa Alexis. She is known as the military bride strategist and is the number one military marriage, family and relationship coach. She is an educator and entrepreneur, author and speaker whose mission is to educate military marriages and families in strengthening their dynamic and facility mental paradigm shift. She is also a Marine Corps veteran who is married to a Marine Corps veteran and his interview we touch on something we haven't talked about on the podcast miscarriage, Theresa experienced two miscarriages before having a successful pregnancy with her third child. We talked about how hard it was to go back to work after having a miscarriage and having very limited time off to recover mentally, emotionally and physical from the miscarriage. October is infant loss Awareness Month and I know it's September but October will be here before you know it. If you have experienced infant loss and are looking for resources. There are a number of resources that I put in the show notes to help you with different events happening this year in October. This is a really important topic and I'm really glad that we got to cover it. 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 Korean 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. Women of the military podcast we'd like to thank saburo 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you may be able to use your GI Bill benefits to train at Sabio your tuition and monthly bH 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. Theresa, I'm so excited to have you here.
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
So let's start with why did you decide to join the military?
Wow. Okay, so just growing up, I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, it wasn't the best of situations. So I was like, in the back of my mind thinking, I gotta get out of here. I have to lay down the hammer, get out of here. But I have to get out here. So I plan to, you know, several colleges. And I accept that there was one in DC that I really wanted to go to I really wanted to go to Howard. And my family wanted me to be close. And I'm like, No, I have to get out of here. And it just so happened that there was a marine recruiter walking in the hallways one day, and he had on dress blues. And I was like, what kind of uniform is that? Because I was an army general to see. So I knew what their uniforms looked like, had never really looked into any other branch that I was going to go to the army. I knew I was gonna go somewhere to get out of Birmingham, Alabama. But that uniform took me by surprise. And I was like, tell me more. I was like, it's the uniform for me. And so he began to talk to me talk to me about all the things going on with the Marine Corps and not what they could give me. But what I could give it which I shouldn't ran. But you know, I was listening. And I was intrigued really. And so I ended up taking the ASVAB I ended up signing my contract. And basically one of the main reasons I joined was to get away from where I grew up, because I was like, I've always wanted to live somewhere else. And that's why I applied to colleges that were out of state. I'd never applied to one in state and my family didn't quite like that. But I knew I wanted something more and something better for myself and the military happened to be a pathway to get me there.
So when you say your family didn't want you to go out of state, were they not supportive so you didn't have any financial options to go out of state or where you live in In financial resources, even if you had tried to go to NC State College, so I was very smart.
So I had scholarships. And I could have went to Howard University, which is where I wanted to go and may eventually still go there for school, but the only thing I needed was transportation to get there. And they're like, we're not paying for that. So to answer your question, yes. And then they were like, Oh, you can just go down the street. And it's like, I'm not trying to go to their school. I didn't even apply over there. I'm trying to figure out why I think I want to be here. And so for me, it was like, okay, you not gonna help me get to where I can use my scholarship, or where I can you know, better myself, I'm gonna find a way to get up out of here. And it happened to be in the military. And I was 18. So I didn't need anybody to sign for me by the time I went into the debt program and all that, but uh, there were many tears from my family, because they just thought I was just going to say my name and go straight to war night. They didn't know the whole process or anything like that. Because I know for my dad, he was thinking about, oh, my goodness, the dress, which ages I think pass and some recent years where women would be drafted.
That's in the legislation right now. So in the NDAA, so it might or might not pass,
But he was like, Oh, my God, the draft. And I'm it's like, they still draft him in? I think they were just really afraid to let me go, which growing up, we weren't that close. So I don't know. But you know, I think in the back of their mind, it was just like, Oh, I can't have you know, my kids that, you know, I don't want my kid going to war kind of thing. So
And what year was it when you enlisted?
So it's 2006. Right after I graduated high school.
So yeah. So I mean, it makes sense that they were concerned, especially if they didn't know anything about the military, and they only thought was on the news,
Right? Because six years before is when the towers came down. or 5 years, whatever. But I think they were totally freaked out. And they're like, oh, my goodness, she could be anywhere, and anything could happen. But I could also be anywhere and anything could happen be in a civilian, because those people on the plane, they weren't all military. for them. It was just a lot of fear. They didn't really know how to support and I think it was a matter of they wanted me to do what basically they wanted me to do. They had maybe these dreams for me. And I'm pretty sure I didn't do any of them. But I still turned out great. And I'm doing something else and with my life. So I don't know, the ethnic, they should be grateful and happy. Yeah.
So you decided to listen to the Marine Corps, because your dream of going to Howard University wasn't going to be fulfilled. And you said that the Marine Corps recruiter talked about what you could give the Marine Corps What did he say that you could give the Marine Corps that kind of made you still interested instead of going back to the army where you knew more about that?
So the way he shaped this thing is, you know, sometimes we were like, what can I get out of this, we're always thinking about us and what we can get out of something. And it can, it can come off a little selfish, but he's talked to me about what I can give it things I can implement things I could change. And I was just like, Wow, that sounds great. Now, I didn't do any of it. For real. But well, I feel like I didn't do any of it. I know I was a part of the whole process of the hair changes for the Marine Corps. So I am proud of that. But I wasn't the lead on that. I just helped a friend who was the lead on that. So I'm very proud and very thankful of that. But that was literally right before I was getting out which I tried to look back and see if I did anything. And then there was that and I did do a lot of things that I was able to fulfill a lot of goals of living overseas, you know, and doing martial arts, which I probably wanted to do martial arts, just being a college student probably would not have even been interested. You know, I did CrossFit, I did a lot of stuff. So I had a lot of opportunities. Obviously, I made rank. So I wasn't like the same rank throughout the entire, almost eight years I was in so and I was able to have several different jobs, some of the jobs I didn't want, because you noticed the needs in the military. I feel like I was able to give a lot back because he did talk to me about how I can help other troops, which I had no idea and that's kind of why I'm doing the job that I'm doing now is because it's it's like the Mission Continues now. So he was able to help me take my self centeredness out of it and say, This is how you can help troops. This is how you can help the institution as a whole.
So you really like the idea of being able to help other people and that's what drew you to the military. And that's true to what you're doing today. So let's dive in and talk a little bit about your time in the military. And we'll start with basic training because that seems like a good place to start. Your face tells me Maybe,
Oh, goodness. Okay. So first of all, I was in receiving for two weeks, meaning I wasn't picked up by a platoon yet. So there's a lot that my recruiter didn't tell me. It's kind of like, he just threw me out there. And it was like swim. And I'm over here like, this would have been so much easier. Had he just told me, this is how you respond, this is what you do. And so like, the lady would tell me to pick up something and I would do it, but I wouldn't say anything. And everybody else seemed to know what I didn't notice, like, you're supposed to say, Yes, ma'am. And I'm like, Oh, I didn't know that. And you know, don't let them hear you say act because oh, my goodness, they will lose their mind. So we're receiving wasn't that bad. Then we, we were to meet our drill instructors, and it was four of them. And I feel like they were all the kill has. Everybody was like, Who was your kill head? And I was like, I have no idea because they all killed us, basically. So I don't think I had just one. I think I had three. And then there was the singer. But you know, the yelling didn't really bother me. Because I mean, my parents were yeller. So it's like, I grew up with this, I'm gonna be fine. It was the constant calling me to the quarterdeck. Because I had two last names, both my mom and my dad's last name. And so I was like, Oh, my God, every time someone up there, they're like, Oh, you want to have two last names? Let's put you on this quarter that too. And I'm like, and because I'm like, first, so I'm Alexander Jones is like, they just come out. And it's like, Don't make eye contact. It don't even matter. There's like, Alexander, John's get up here. And I'm like, hey, why me? You know, I'll be lying. If I said it was fun. I mean, there was some fun times with the other recruits when we had our downtime after we earned it. But other than that, nothing about that was fun for, you know, it was a learning experience. It definitely taught me selflessness, and discipline. And it taught me a whole lot of other things that I'm not saying I would have learned in college, but I definitely want to learn after 13 weeks in college. So it was definitely an experience like that. It's just real profound, just the amount of things you learn in such a small time period, and you retain it, and then you have to go out here and use it basically. And for a lot of people, it was a culture shock. But for me, I was like, in the back of my mind, I'm not going home, I'm not getting dropped. I'm gonna be in this platoon the entire time. I don't care if I have to kill myself, you know, we say that but basically, that means deny this body and push through, I'm gonna make it through and I'm graduating with this Platoon, I'm not falling out. And they broke my heart when a lot of people did. Cuz, you know, you build that cohesion in that Platoon, and even in boot camp, and then you like, they get dropped. And it's like, oh, my goodness. So for me, it was like always, in the back of my mind, I'm not failing, this not gonna go back home. And it's not that I cared what anybody think I didn't even think about that part. It's just like, for me, I have to do this, to make sure I get through this China. But boot camp wasn't basically that transition from civilian, to for real, marine. And a lot of people don't make that transition in boot camp, and they struggle the entire time of service. But for me, I was like a sponge. So I was like, I need to learn this, so that I can go and implement it and be the best marine at whatever rank I get.
Do you think that because you had that mindset of like, I'm not gonna go home, like, I can't quit, I can't be recycled. So you were like, I'm gonna absorb as much as I can. And I'm gonna take it all in. And instead of if you were like, well, I'm just gonna try and get through this, then maybe it wouldn't have been the same way.
Yeah, I think it would have been a little bit harder for me had I not decided like, this is what I'm going to do. You know, and there was some difficult parts in there because I had never shot anything before I had never swam, really at all. I mean, I went to the YMCA, but I did not get swimming lessons. Like my parents didn't do that stuff. So me learning was at boot camp, me learning to swim was at boot camp, me learning how to shoot was a boot camp. So I was like, oh, my goodness, like when it came to the water, I thought I was gonna be fine, because they don't tell you to the end that you're gonna have to jump off this high diving board. I'm like, what I'm gonna have to do what I'm sorry, that is really high and I cannot swim. So I was there several days early to learn. And so I do like that opportunity. Because even my drill instructors were like, you're not failing. We don't need you fail, you know, and not just me, but they're like, We're not trying to have people fail. We need to make good Marines and we need to make sure you're ready because when you get out there to the fleet is gonna be a whole nother story. There's boot camp culture is just boot camp, you don't have that when you pass all your schooling and go to the fleet. So it's not gonna be like that. They're gonna be expecting you to know everything we've taught you up until this point when you get out there, although you don't because I mean, you kind of just pretend in before then and then it's the real deal and you're like, Oh my goodness. This is for real, you know when you get to the fleet, but I think my mindset played a huge part in me pushing through.
Yeah. And I think it got brought up a good point of the drill sergeants, they don't want you to fail, they want you to succeed, but they're not gonna make it easy on you. It's not like, we want everyone to pass. And we're just gonna make it easy. They make it hard, because they have a job to do. And it's not that they don't like you. It's they're doing their job. And they actually do care about you a lot. And they want you to succeed. Right at remember, like, after the first week, we were allowed to top their senior and so I
went up to the hat. And I said, I think this gel instructor is taken on me because she would always be in my face. And I'm like, I'm having to stand there and have bearing in that, say, do anything. And I have to pay attention. Because if I let my mind go somewhere else, she gonna be talking to me, and I'm not gonna be asked them and I'm gonna get hammered on a quarterback. So I was just like, I think she's picking on me. And I don't know if I can do this. You know, that was the first time and my so called adult life because I was 18 that I felt out in that way. So your was like, I think you can do this. I think you got this. She's like, matousek I know you get this. And so what I didn't know, but later found out after I was in the fleet, because my pastor was a drill instructor. And he told me this. soon as that drill instructor went in there and talk to the senior, she told her everything I said, and she told her to kill me, you know, and they don't say, like, really like, you know, murder me. And so I just want to clarify that for people who are listening who aren't military, she basically told her to break me down. So I can be built back up the right way. And I didn't know she did that. And I was like, how she found out where she lives man at the door. And so I was I was in the fleet by this time. And like the first church I went to the pastor happened to be a marine. And he was talking about boot camp. And he was talking about his time as a drill instructor, same scenario, but it was gas. He said this guy, tell him that because he was the the senior at this time, tell him that he can do this. And he was ready to to check this is basically and he tells his drill instructor, make sure you kill him at make sure you break him down. And I was like, that's what he was like. Yeah, I was like, I'm back to find my senior drill instructor and tell her about herself. You know, I knew she was she was stationed where I was stationed. So I was like, This is messed up. Here. I am thinking I could trust you when it's really a lie. I cannot you stab me in the back. And I was like, I never felt so betrayed. And she didn't do it as a malicious thing. She did it to help me obviously. Any words, I remember that like it was yesterday. And I will always remember that as something like, oh, my goodness, one. Be careful what you tell them these drill instructors out here and boot camp and then to Okay, it was something that benefited me in the long run.
Yeah, it was really hard, but it benefited you. Right? Well, you finish basic. And then do you go to your first assignment? Or do you go to what we'll call tech school? Or how does that all work?
So is boot camp MCT and then MLS school? What's MCT? So MCT is marine combat training. And then it's Infantry School. So people who infantry, they just go from boot camp to Infantry School, because I mean, what else you gonna do? You don't need other stuff there for us who are not infantry. We do infantry type school, so we can be real Marines. And then we go to our MLS school. So we do it in that order. So from boot camp, we go to MCT. And I can't remember how many weeks it is, it felt like forever, cuz I'm like, I just left boot camp, and I'm having to do the same stuff. Again.
Is it just as intense with like, the drill instructors, or is it a little bit more like that?
It's a little more laid back because you're Marines. Now. I mean, you're not recruits. You're not being made to be a marine. So you know, once you get that eta and graduate boot camp, you're moraine. So you go to MCT. And then, you know, you get treated like Marines. You get treated like boots, but you get treated like Marines. It's not so crazy, you know, and you can say the ranks now. You don't have to be like, sir, ma'am. And it's hard, obviously. And you know, you still say Yes, sir. Yes, ma'am. To the people and they're like, I do work. Don't say Ma'am, or something, man. It's like, Yeah, no, we just got out of boot camp yesterday, right. But yeah, we did have a break because I graduated, like three days before Christmas. I graduated boot camp. So we got a break and went home. Then we all went to MCT. And then a lot of us from boot camp, were in the same platoon again. And then we went to our separate MLS schools and because we had different jobs, we didn't see each other anymore. I was open contract, which worst mistake of my life, and nobody told See, I told you, nobody told me everybody else seemed to know that but I was like, Well, I didn't have like family members like that who went to the military. So I mean, Who was I don't ask. And I didn't know the aspects. You know, there's that. But I ended up being motor T, the worst, in my opinion, one of the worst jobs you could ever pick as a female, because I don't want to drive. And I certainly don't want to drive Humvees seven times or anything else.
Let's talk about open contract because I think it's a really good point. And a lot of my listeners are women who are looking to join the military. So you join the Marine Corps, and you said at the end of boot camp, I'll do whatever you guys want me to do, essentially, right? Yes, but I didn't want to say that, right? Because you didn't know like, wouldn't say that. That's just what by not signing anything. That's what the Marine Corps heard you say, but you didn't know that you had the opera. That's so crazy, you didn't know that, that your recruiter didn't set you up for success.
He didn't really set me up for failure, either. He did help me because I was like, I gotta get out of here. So he gave me exactly exactly what I wanted. But you know, it's just like, Okay, I'm learning, even in my young age at 18, to be very specific about what I want, okay, I want to get out of here. And then I want a job doing X, Y, and Z didn't know what I wanted a job, man, because I'm pretty sure had I got the job and something close to what I'm doing. Now I would have to be an officer. And I would probably not be a marine. Because Marines don't have like counselors as an MLS. I mean, if he would have told me I could have did legal admin, like, okay, and go to school, you know, and either legal or whatever, apparently, who even which is really what legal clerks are. And I did do that for a little while. So I was motor T, but I ended up in the admin shop, which I don't, I don't even know how I ended up there. I guess they just needed somebody in the cell. My name is like, up, let's pick her. So I was in there. I did. I was a mailroom clerk, I was an admin clerk. I was a legal clerk. And I was like this, this is too much. It's a lot. And as a legal clerk, you definitely see some crazy stuff that you would see in the legal field. And I was like, you know, I don't want to do that. What I want to be a lawyer. Absolutely. But some of those cases, some of those things, it's just like, I don't know how Yeah, I'll make it without going to therapy. I have no idea. So but I did a whole bunch of jobs. I was a mams clerk, which is people who are ordering the parks for like supply and motor T, you know, and different, different other MLS is and then I was supply admin for a while, which is the admin part of supply. So there's warehouse where you're doing inventory, second sales, and all that then is the administrative people. And I did that. So my actual job was motor T, and my first four years, but I later lat move. So after I was in motor T, and I was like, so I'm either gonna get out, or I'm gonna stay and I thought I was gonna get out. But my career planner definitely convinced me to stay in. And I was like, okay, so I lat moved. And I ended up being dispersing, which is finance a finance technician in the Marine Corps. And because there's two sides to that one's a comptroller, where they deal with stuff for the Marine Corps, and then us people who deal with pay for troops. And it wasn't always Marines. So if there was Air Force, Army, anybody attached us we dealt with their paycheck and dual military couples, like, okay, you know, it definitely taught me a lot because me and my husband were dual, dual military. So but once I realized I was going to be having babies and I was going to be staying in I was like, yeah, can't be motor T. I'm not bad to be on convoys at like seven at night. And lo and behold, I thought I got a different better job. And it is a better job. But same powers as motor T. I'm like, why we can't do anything at night? Because the people up here are not even there. Oh, no, it was better.
So you said you're already doing military when you cross trained over to your new job. So when did you meet your husband?
So after I graduated from boot camp, NCT and MLS school, by this time, it was 2007 because 2006 graduated high school did all that stuff. So April 2007, is when I hit the fleet officially, soon as I hit the fleet. I made him and honestly, when I met him, I wasn't like, oh, man, he's so fine. You know, I just I was doing something else. So I didn't even really notice him fully. He just said the craziest remark to me, he was just like, do you want to cuddle? And I was like, Wait, what? You know, he asked me and other Marina was weird. It was a dude, he was just being funny, but I didn't find it funny. So I was just like, are you like a crazy person? Like, are you crazy? Like you don't even know me? He knew the guy but I'm like, weird. Okay, so I just kept, you know, I ignored them and it just kept off. And so I was like, That's strange. And then probably some days later, I took him a truck that he had to take a test in a certain time. And he nearly killed me because he backed up until the look of me and I'm sitting under that they ain't shaking. And I'm like, okay, I didn't expect this to be happening. But I also didn't expect to dive as soon as long life to live. You know, after that, man, I was so mad. And he was still trying to talk to me. I'm like, You almost killed me. Like, what? So we ended up becoming friends. And I thought, honestly, that he was interested in someone else. I thought he was interested in my roommate. So I was like, oh, that would be so cute, baby. Baby cute together, you know, is what I'm saying in my mind, and they are saying that me and him would be cute together. And I'm over here like, Oh, I didn't even look at him that way. Like I wasn't. I mean, I joined the military because I had goals. And that was my drive. So nowhere in there, did I ever plan to be married when I got married, or to have kids? I didn't plan for it. I didn't even think about it. I was just thinking about Okay, get away from Birmingham, Alabama. What can I do in this military to make sure that I get to where I need to be? Literally that was it I didn't think about a husband didn't even think about a boyfriend took me by surprise. When I found out he was interested. I was like, Wait, you're interested in me? Like not that I'm not pretty or anything like that. It's just like, I so thought he was interested in my roommate. And here I am thinking, yeah, just hanging out. But really, you're devising a plan for me you to hang out, I was so lost. You know, it was a whole thing. So that's how we met and we were probably dating for about three or four months, then we got engaged. And it was probably almost a year before we get married. Because in April, I met him soon as I hit this, he was the one of the first people I met, I wasn't ready for that. And that go on. Because I was just like, go, you know, in my mind, and then, you know, we got married in March of the next year. So right. Wow. Because I mean, I want to plan it that way. Because I thought so right now, I'm 33 I thought I was gonna be married at 30. I thought I was gonna maybe adopt children, you know, but I'm this age, you know, maybe that one or two kids. And I also thought I would still be in the military, but towards retirement. So clearly, that did not happen at all. And I have not adopted any children. I had got married at 19 turn 20. The next day, I have three children were at birth five children, I have three living children. So needless to say, my life went very different than I planned. But it really has been great. Wow,
that's such a crazy story that you went from meeting him hating him, and marrying him all within a span of a year,
I would have never saw that comment. If somebody would have told me that I would have been doing my best to make sure I died. That plan. Probably why God didn't tell me because he knew I was gonna be like, over here trying to do something else trying to make it not work out. Shit. And yeah, it's been an adventure. But overall, it's been great.
That's great to hear. So when you're at your four year point, and you decided to switch career fields, and you were debating between getting out, were you already a mom at that
point. So yes, so I had already been pregnant before. And I had already birth children, but they just happened to not be on this side of the earth. I was a mom, but like, my children weren't with me. But when I went to re enlist, I was pregnant with my son who's now 11. Oh, yes. And I know that's hard for people. But I totally went through pregnancy and had to push them out. So I considered myself a mom. People just didn't know I was a mom because they couldn't see children. But when asked I would always say yes,
I think that's really important to talk about because I think even if you miss harridge, before delivery, that you're a mom, because you still have that that baby that you think about and so yeah, I think I think that's a perfect way to describe it. But people don't quite understand.
Yeah, or you know, people will think it's weird. It's like, that's a whole human. And for me, I had two babies in there. So the whole two humans, they just happen to go to heaven before I did. So, you know, I was pregnant with them. Like I felt every bit of their existence. Just because they're not here doesn't mean I don't count them. And I know it's a struggle for moms because it's like, and I know we're not here to talk about this but I felt led to kind of elaborate a little bit. I just felt like Well, I was cheating on those kids. Because, you know, it would be weird for people and man, like you're a mom. Okay, where are your kids? And I would say they're in heaven. And so and they will be like, freaked out. I don't know why you would be freaked out about that. Because the unfortunate truth is kids that it would just be, like, weird, awkward conversation for people. And it's like, we don't have to dwell on that. I'm a mother. I have two kids in heaven. I'm now pregnant. With my technically third chat.
Yeah, no, I think it's important to talk about and a couple of weeks ago, on the podcast, I did an interview with someone who had postpartum depression. And I think that like talking about these things, especially for women, is important to talk about miscarriage talk about postpartum depression, and like how all these things affect you when you're in the military. So so I'm glad that you brought it up.
Yeah, right. And during that time, I experienced postpartum depression, I didn't know that it was still called that because, you know, my kids weren't here. But obviously, when I went to the doctors, they helped me explore all of this stuff. And we talked about and I was like, Yeah, I mean, you were pregnant, you had a baby, you are postpartum. You know, even though your babies are here, like, you push them out. And I was, I was not early in my pregnancy. So I was half, I was at the halfway point. So for me, it was considered a delivery. So that was traumatic. And then being active duty was definitely hard, because it's like, they are mission driven, that I was wrong with you. You weren't together, you still dwelling on this. Those were things people were saying to me? And it's like, yes, yes, I'm still dwelling on this one. Because a whole two babies have that in me, like inside of me, and I still have to go into labor. So like, that's not something that I can just kind of go back to after two weeks, because that's all the time I got off. But that that was the whole thing. And so I make it my business to make sure when I encounter someone who's still active duty and or who's a veteran who's transition, who's had that type of traumatic event happen, make sure allow them the space to talk about it. And if they want to cry, they can cry. You know, because things like that, you really don't get enough time in the military to grieve, you really don't get enough time to process because you you have to go back to work, you have to put on the strong face to make sure that the troops are taken care of. It's just life. I mean, doesn't make it right. Don't mean is great, but it's just what we have to do.
Yeah, and the military is like mission focus. So like once you get your two weeks, and then it's like, all right back to business. And you're like, I'm not done processing this. I mean, I'm the follow as of we're recording this, the fall of Afghanistan happened on Sunday, and I'm struggling with it. And that's not even like anything compared to a miscarriage. But if I was still active duty, I would have to be dealing with that with so many people are along with focusing on the mission and the military doesn't really give me time to process. So maybe that's why I'm in therapy right now for my deployment, because instead of processing it, I just put it in a box and didn't deal with it and, and kept moving forward. And now I'm trying to work through it.
Right. And one thing that you said is you kind of put it in a box, and it's like, I'll come back to it later. So what I know about military people haven't been one myself is we do that with a lot of things. We have this shelf that we built in our mind in our heart, and we have these boxes that we tuck things away in, and we put it on the shelf, and we're like, okay, I'll revisit that later. And eventually, we don't deal with it. And what happens is it it becomes like a jack in the box. And it pops up these different things pop up everywhere in our relationships, in our careers in just life. And we like what in the world is going on. And it's because we have basically put what really is a ticking time bomb in these boxes. And we haven't dealt with it. And we've put a lot of boxes up there. And the shelf is over overfilled. And so things keep popping up and we like how and but it's because we didn't deal with it. Like I am a huge advocate for therapy. Like I'm a coach, but I also have a coach and I also have therapists so and it's for that reason because the loss of my children and that that was one of the things that was real traumatic for me was one of the things that would pop up here and there. You know my feelings and until I got off of active duty actually went to therapy. It was intense. I couldn't properly grieve them. It took me probably like six months of intense therapy. To be able to actually grieve. Now, I don't think the loss of anybody is something you get over. I think that's the wrong terminology to use. I think it's something you kind of process through, you know, and accept. But I don't think it's something you get over because to get over something, that means you don't think about it, that means you have buried it. And I don't think things that happen to you like that are something that you can get over, if I'm making any sense.
Yeah. And it makes sense that it was intense therapy, my therapist yesterday said, it's kind of like the Christmas lights that get all tangled together. And then you're like, well, I'm just gonna leave them in the box and put it in the garage and not worry about it. And now you have to untangle it, I feel like somehow walked in the box, it gets even more tangled up. So there's even more work to do. And I think that's so important. Mental health is so important, and something that I am a huge advocate for. And so I agree therapists and coaches and I have a business coach and a therapist. And both of those things are so important. And it's interesting how much my business coach and my therapists connect together, and the different things that they find that they're like pain points in my life, and where I get stuck.
So and I just want to clarify. So for me, I do have a business coach, but I also have a marriage and relationship coach, because I'm one, so I can't tell people to invest in their marriage in this way, if I'm not willing to do that myself. And while there's a lot of things, and you have to choose what was best for you. And because we mentioned therapy and mental health and all that there are different levels to intervention, everybody not ready for the therapist level, most people run from that because they're not ready, they need a peer group or mentor first, and then they probably need a coach, then they probably will be ready to go over to the side of counselor therapist, you know, although prior to all of that, that's basically what they're getting just in a different. It's just called a different work. Really, I feel like for me, I've gone to therapy, I've always felt like I was ready for that. Because I'm like, I need to deal with the things here from my childhood. So I can progress in the military, then it's like, oh, the military really crazy, is like I need somebody to walk me through this military life. So I would say I've been in some form of intervention, whether it was coaching a peer group, mentorship, therapy, since I was 18. And even up to my age now 33. So I have been progressing and learning that entire time. And I feel like yes, we need business coaches, because they do such amazing work to help us get out of our head and get get the work that you know, but we also need that personal coach, whether it be a life coach, or like a relationship coach, like myself, to help them in the personal aspect. So I just wanted to make sure I made that clear to
Yeah, that's really good advice. And I actually started my mental health journey in a peer group. And it makes a lot of sense, because the I was trying to figure out like, where I needed to go. And I was getting a lot of push, like you need to go to therapy, but I wasn't ready for it. And the peer group really was where I had a lot of healing and a lot of change. And I was ready for therapy after going through that. But I don't think I was ready for the therapy when I started through the peer group. So that are that's really good advice.
Thank you. Yeah, I just want people to know that there, there's always going to be something that's going to help you. If you're not ready for therapy, like I'm not ready for this, I don't want to do it, then don't do therapy, if you're not ready for it, go to a peer group, go to a small group, start there, start in your circle, if the peer group is too much pressure, also, you know, you may have a friend or a fellow military person who can help you Yvette, you know, start there.
So we've had a really good and important discussion. But we took up a lot of our time. So I want to talk a little bit about your transition out of the military and what you're doing today. So you decided to cross train and you said you do a few different jobs. What led you to decide that it was time to get out of the military?
Actually, it was my daughter, I'm gonna say always in the back of my mind, I knew that I would get out. So I had always been planning Okay, this is what I'm gonna do my career progress, and I go the officer route. But if they don't work out, I had been saving money to start my own business. So I had my my daughter and while it was the perfect pregnancy and everything went well when she was born, she was just as perfect and but when we took her home, it was like a downward spiral. She got a fever which I wasn't used to with children who are nursing Then we took it to the emergency room and SAT. Now when you go to the emergency room with kids, I promise those doctors act like you're the worst parent on the earth. I mean, they're doing their job because I haven't been a legal clerk. I know, people be doing some crazy stuff to their children. So they're doing their job, but I'm like, I don't know what's happening. I nursed this baby all the time. Like, why does she have a fever, this is weird. And so found out a whole lot of stuff about her. And when I say he was a downward spiral, it was like, down, you know, and so he had a fever, couldn't gain weight, and she was the smallest of the three children. And I'm terrified, I'm like, oh, my goodness, she had to eventually go on an energy feeding too. And I had to stop nursing her. And so obviously, I'm having all these emotions, because she's in, she's a newborn. So she wasn't even this happened. Prior to me going back to work, because back then we only got six weeks off, they doing amazing things nowadays, but um, you know, so everything was happening to her, me and my husband still do still do military. And so I'm going to work at this time, I'm still pumping, even though she's on this too. And I'm going in there. And you know, you got a good pump and only take you about 30 minutes, I was in there for an hour. So 30 minutes, client, 30 minutes pumping. And whichever way that kind of went at the time, now I was like, I cannot do this for the rest of my life, like I cannot stay. For the rest of this contract, I had two years left, I would have been there for 10 years, I was like, I cannot do this. I was like I am losing my mind. And you know, it's a different type of postpartum depression, that you fall into one or a different category, I should say, when you are having a kid that looked like they fighting for their life, and you literally can't do nothing. But watch and pray. And so, for me, I was like, I can't do this, I gotta get out. You know, my command was very involved. I told my major, I told my master guns, hey, my daughter has this condition. My, there's no daycare, literally, that can take her with that condition, because they don't know what to do. There's no, like daytime nurse in place where she can be, there's nothing. And if there is something it's like, hour, two hours from where I work, because it's an hour from where I stay. So a Virginia again, that's where we ended up being at that time. That's why that was my last duty station. Because of that, and I was like, there got to be a way for me to get out. The only thing I know about what's the early release program, basically, to go to school. And I was like, hey, trying to do that, because I'm really not gonna be as good. I'm gonna be over here trying to figure out what's going on with my daughter. And so my major found out that I could get out on a hardship. You know, still honorable, still, all those things. That's great, because I mean, I never got in trouble had a very great career. But he found that out. I was like, bit, let's do this. I was like, I'm out. And then, you know, during that process, it was a lot of hiccups. So I was supposed to get out in 10 days, then it ended up being like a whole 45 days because they mess some stuff up. And I knew because I was finance, you know, so that's a plus. And it's like, all of this is wrong. Yeah. And pay me for my leave all that kind of stuff. So had to fix that. Then the process of getting out, I found out I was pregnant with my other kid. And my major was like, Okay, well, are you sure you want to do this? You sure you want to get out? I was like, Look, I've been saving. Since you know, basically, I got married and started having kids because I knew eventually this day will come I didn't know it will be today. But I knew this day would come eventually. So I've been planning and I was like, never been more sure. Just because I'm praying. They don't mean I want to still stay here with the same issues that's going on with this door. So I was like, it's it's tough for me to go. And I wasn't prepared for the tears, not my tears, but the tears of the troops. And the higher ups. They were really sad. Some of them, some of them probably didn't care. But, you know, they were really legit. Sad, I guess I didn't realize the impact my service had on others. Because I was just like, in that moment thinking about myself thinking about my daughter, then about my family as a whole, and then take into account everybody else. And I was like, well, as long as I'm here. I'll be on your family care plan because I know how hard that is. I know and you can't put other active duty people on there because they may be deploying with you. So I was like, Yeah, I can always call me. You know, if you have questions if you just need to vent. I'm always here. You know, and people still call me Today, which I've been out for eight years. And so people still call me today. So that's the beauty of it. But I really got out because of my family, I wanted to be there. For my kids, I really wanted to be there to care for them, and not have to stress out at work, because I don't know, what's gonna happen with them, or what, or who's gonna take care of them. Because, like I said, me and my husband were active duty. So neither one of us, neither one of us could really pick up the slack for each other in that way.
Yeah. And you mentioned something that I think was crucial for you being able to get out is that you started preparing by saving when you got married, and knew in the back of your mind, like you wanted to stay in, but you knew you kind of like knew something like this was about eventually going to happen, and that it would be time for you to pick your family over your career, but because you had saved, you had confidence in being able to do that. And so I think that's a really big takeaway is that you got to start preparing for your transition. Like, right, when you join the military, start putting away your paycheck and saving, and getting certification or whatever it is, so that when life happens, and maybe something comes up that you need to get out faster than you expected, you can be ready.
Right? And too, you just don't know how it's going to present itself or how or when it's gonna pop up. So you want to make sure you're ready. One of the things me and my husband did is we said, okay, we're always gonna live off of one of our one of our paychecks, and then save the other. So it was his, because it's like Wenatchee. So it was him. And then, um, for my paycheck, we would always save and invest it. Because we wanted to make sure that we could survive, you know, and even when we went from one to three kids was like, we still got to make sure that we can live off one paycheck. And in case something happens, because I'm very good. Wood, handling many roles. I won't say he's not great, but it's not as flawless for him, for me is just like second nature. Because I mean, I've been doing it since I was a kid. You know, I had to take care of my younger siblings, because they were so much younger than me. And my older sister had to take care of the house because my parents both work, you know. And so it was something I always did. So and even though I'm working from home now, it's a lot more flexible than if I was kind of out there in the marketplace. Really. So. Yeah.
So let's talk a little bit about you've mentioned that your marital coach, right. Right. Yeah. So let's talk about your business. And then we'll wrap up the interview with one last question.
Okay, so I basically started my business. So I started my entrepreneurial journey, the same year, I got out of the military, which was 2014. And I started, I just continued as a wedding planner, and photographer, it was my side hustle. When I was on active duty. sad note, or disclaimer, I think everybody in the military, if you can, should have some form of side hustle, because the military is great now, but you want to have extra money where you can do fun things with or that you can invest. So that is that that little TED Talk ahead. But you know, added that. And so what made me be a marriage coach now is because I will do these workshops to have people come back, you know, where are you now kind of thing. And a lot of couples would not be married still. And I'm like, What? What happened? Yeah, we're only married for like six months, a year, two years, even what happened in here, you know, and it was because they didn't really know each other, or didn't really have any ongoing training after they got married. So for me, I was like, Okay, I need to create something right here, like a, like, a course or workshop or something. So people know how to transition because it's also a transition from being single being in having this wedding and then actually being married. So I started that and then it will be more of that would be requested. And so I was like, Well, I'm doing more over here coaching people than I am doing weddings now. And so I ended up being at first I did the military bride planner, and I was like, that sounds okay, but then I changed it. And you know, I was like so what do I actually do I actually be strategy with these couple selves like okay, I'm a strategist, so I changed it to the military brand strategist. And the reason for that title is because I want the women, because that's what I primarily do with husbands of time eventually. But I deal with the women mostly is I want them to remember that they are the bread, meaning of a good day to grow, made husband and all that. But it's a mindset thing, women because our brains operate different. So you're his forever bride. So that's basically what we're doing. So we're going to start there, and we're going to work our way to life. And that is the process I take them to. And I always try to help them envision what that looks like for them. So I'm the military brass strategist. Because of that, and I'm branded, because I'm branded in the way I am, because I back it up with my expertise with my research and with my experience. And so I'm the number one military marriage family and relationship coach because I do the marriage stuff. But I also teach you things you can do within your family dynamic, because it does translate to all of these things. And every now and then we talk about other relationships in there. And every now and then I get people who are single, who either desire to be married or desire to be in a relationship, a serious relationship of some kind, so I'm able to help them as well. So basically, all that to say, I train and equip these military, couples, families and singles, and how to be mission ready and mission capable, capable, by creating resilience. And I teach them how to thrive at home and internet in their career without sacrificing either or, like, you can have this phenomenal career. But you can also have this phenomenal marriage and have household dynamic. So that is what it is.
I love that it's so awesome. And, um, I put all your links in the show notes, so people can find you if they want to learn more information. And your website's there. And so I'm really, I'm really glad that we got to have this conversation. I think it's been, it's been different than what I expected. But really, especially with Emory, and I didn't know we'd be talking about mental health. So this is awesome. But I always like to end the interview with what advice would you give to young women who are considering military service.
So my advice would be, don't go up and kind of track for one, I made that mistake you haven't learned from me say don't do that. Go in knowing exactly what you want. And don't be afraid to ask for it. I will say this, no one is gonna give you anything, you're gonna have to take it, you're gonna have to earn it. So go into this knowing exactly what you want. And exactly where you want to be, like, have a plan, like a one year. And this is basically one year after you hit the fleet. This is where I want to be. This is where I want to be in three years. This is where I want to be in five years. Because if you don't, they don't tell you where you're gonna be in one year, three years and five years. And you know, and if you go open contract like I did, they don't tell you what kind of jobs you're going to have. Now. It worked out for me because Marty I did hate it. But I was able to recover and say, Okay, let me get a different job, maybe do something else. But mainly a lot of people get out because they hate their jobs. So don't be open contrary, if you have to take the ASVAB again, do so it's okay. So just have a plan and know what you want.
That's great advice. Thank you so much for sharing your story and coming on the podcast today. Thank you. Thank you for having me. Thank you for listening to this week's episode of women of the military podcast. Do you love all things women on 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 could be a part of the mission of telling the stories of military women by joining me on email@example.com 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 a 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.