Women of the Military

The Fewer the Prouder Marine Women

Episode Summary

Janell was interested in serving in the military and she began her journey to the military through the Civil Air Patrol program. Once she began Civil Air Patrol, she knew she wanted to serve in the military and set her sights on attending a military academy. Initially, she wanted to attend the Air Force Academy, but as she began talking to her senator, she was encouraged to look at all the Academies. As she began looking into other options the Marine Corps grabbed her attention and after attending a summer program at both the AF Academy and the Naval Academy she knew where she wanted to go.

Episode Notes


Janell was interested in serving in the military and she began her journey to the military through the Civil Air Patrol program. Once she began Civil Air Patrol, she knew she wanted to serve in the military and set her sights on attending a military academy. Initially, she wanted to attend the Air Force Academy, but as she began talking to her senator, she was encouraged to look at all the Academies. As she began looking into other options the Marine Corps grabbed her attention and after attending a summer program at both the AF Academy and the Naval Academy she knew where she wanted to go. 

The Naval Academy is a risky way to become a Marine Officer because you don’t find out if you will go into the Marines or the Navy until later on in your military career. If she had wanted to be guaranteed the Marines, she could have done ROTC. But she wanted to attend the Academy and took the risk. 

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When she went on active duty she went to school at Quantico and during training injured her knee. This delayed her from graduating and it wasn’t until she was close to the 2-year mark that she completed school and was at her first assignment. Shortly after arriving at her base she was assigned to be part of new deployment that attached women to Marine Infantry units. She was part of the Cultural Support Team and mentioned that if you want to learn more about that experience you can read Ashley’s War.

We also talked about the challenges of being a married to a Marine. She met her husband a few months before deploying and they connected and stayed in contact through both her deployment and his that followed. It has been challenging to work to be stationed together and more challenges came when she gave birth to her son. She said she couldn’t have continued to serve without the help of both her mother in-law and mom. They came out and helped with her son while her husband was deployed and she was working extreme hours.

As her son gets older, she wants to spend more time with him. So, she decided to transition from active duty to the Reserves. At the time of the interview she was in the process of preparing for the transition and was excited about what the next phase of life will bring. 

She wanted to share the advice of grow where you are planted. And not in the way of shut up and do what you are told, but as she planned her career opportunities came to her she never expected and they changed the course of her life. She encourages people to be open to taking that next opportunity and to do their best in each life situation they are in. You never know who is watching and what opportunity will happen next. 

She has enjoyed her time in the military and encourages women to consider joining. If you want to learn more about the Marine Corps or have question to connect with Janell on LinkedIn and send her a message. You can also contact me if you need help connecting.

Connect with Jenell:



I also volunteer with Beyond the Uniform

Resources from Janell:


Mentioned in this episode:

Ashley’s War

Girls Guide to the Military

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Related Episodes:

Civil Air Patrol to Air Force Episode 31

Serving as an Officer in the Marine Corps – Episode 51

Finding Herself in the Marine Corps – Episode 12

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Episode Transcription

Amanda Huffman  00:00

Welcome to Episode 99 of the Woman of the Military Podcast. My guest today is Janell Hanf. She served on active duty in the Marine Corps as a logistics officer for 10 years of service and recently transitioned from active duty and is now currently in the Reserves. She graduated from the US Naval Academy and holds a Master's of system analysis degree from the Naval Postgraduate School. In this interview, we talk about her time in the Marine Corps some of the challenges she faced as being part of a cultural support team in Afghanistan, and also being a mom and married to a service member and the challenges that she faced and why she ultimately left active duty to serve in the Reserves. It's another great episode. But before we get started, I wanted to mention that next week is Veterans Day. It's also the 100th episode, Woman of the Military Podcast. I'm doing a special episode next week, so be sure to come back to listen to that. I'm also going to be doing a giveaway. So, make sure you're following me on social media at Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn so that you don't miss out on that giveaway. So more to come. But I'm just excited to say next week will be the 100th episode. And thank you so much for all the support along the way. And I'm so grateful for everyone who has listened and share the podcast and just make sure you're following me on social media at airman to mom, and you can find all the information next week during Veterans Day week. So now that we've got that out of the way, let's get started with this week's episode with Janell. You're listening to the Women of the Military Podcast where we share the stories of female servicemembers and how the military touch their lives. I'm Amanda Huffman. I'm an Air Force veteran author of Women of the Military and a collaborative author of Brave Women, Strong Faith. I am also a military spouse and Mom. I created Women of the Military Podcast as a place to share stories of military women 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 of the Military. Welcome to the show, Janell. I'm excited to have you here.


Janell Hanf  02:24

Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.


Amanda Huffman  02:26

So let's start with why did you decide to join the military?


Janell Hanf  02:30

I decided to join the military. First, my interest was piqued on 9/11. I was in middle school at the time and talking about timing, the night of 9/11 we had a travel club meeting at my school for a DC/New York trip that was scheduled a few months later. And we're all sitting there going well, I don't you know, some of the landscape has changed. Are we still going to take this trip. So you know, a few months later, we went to Washington DC and New York, we got to go to ground zero, visit the memorials in DC that just inspired me to serve my country. So that was my interest in the military. And then why the Marine Corps really had to do with a few teachers that I had between middle school and high school. And once I recognized wait, what do all these people have in common, and I admire them so much. They were all former Marines. And so that really inspired me to join the Marine Corps out of the other branches once I was interested.


Amanda Huffman  03:29

That's really cool. I was inspired by September 11th, as well. And it happened my senior year of high school, a little older than you but not that much. But you went to the Naval Academy. So when you when that happened, you were in middle school, did you start looking into like going to the Academy at that point? or How did you find out about that?


Janell Hanf  03:52

So I actually initially started looking at the Air Force, because one of my teachers was a pilot in Vietnam. And I was like, man, he has cool stories, maybe I'm interested in this flying thing. So I was researching the Air Force Academy, I joined a local cadet program, which is nationwide, maybe some other of your guests have participated. But Civil Air Patrol, which is the Air Force auxilary. And so that gave me a chance to get introduced to wearing a uniform learning about leadership and aerospace education. And then you know how to shine shoes, how to salute and doing that as a high school student, you know, once a week giving me an introduction to like, well, if I really don't like this, then I can find out when it's only this much of my life, but I loved it. And I continued that through all four years of high school, there was actually the congressman's office that recommended I look at all of the service academies. And it wasn't until my junior year of high school that I really decided on the Naval Academy. So I still went to summer seminar at Air Force and the Naval Academy and they were pretty much neck and neck until that point and Then after my junior year of high school was like, No, I'm committed to the Naval Academy. I'm committed to the Marine Corps. And the rest is history.


Amanda Huffman  05:07

Yeah, that's kind of interesting. And I felt the same way about ROTC. I was like, I can try this out, but I don't have to, like join the military all the way. And then I did it. And I was like, oh, I love this. How do i do more? So yeah, exactly. Yeah. So what was it like to attend the Naval Academy? And you knew at the beginning that you wanted to do the Marines, so was that any was there any differences between like attending the Naval Academy as planning to be a marine or joining the Navy. 


Janell Hanf  05:35

So it's actually pretty interesting, because the experience is the same, you don't find out for sure, until your final year. So I went through three years at the Naval Academy, where you're, you're taking all the same seamanship and navigation classes, naval history, the experience is the same, there's just a, you're kind of told, hey, if you want to be a Marine, you need to show this interest, and seek out mentors across the staff. Some of they have senior enlisted Marines that are integrated in the company staffs. And then marine officers that are instructors. And so you're kind of encouraged to seek out their mentorship and learn about the Marine Corps and then put it at the top of your preferences, because you rank all your preferences between, you know, submarines, aviation Surface Warfare, Marine Corps, and then you just kind of have to wait and see. So there was always a chance that I wasn't going to get it. And I had to be okay with potentially serving, you know, five years in the Navy, instead of the Marine Corps, the way that I could have guaranteed the Marine Corps would have been to do ROTC. But that was one of those leaps, like, I trust that this is going to work out. And I want to go to the Naval Academy, and I want to be a Marine. And we'll just, you know, take the leap and see if it lines up.


Amanda Huffman  06:53

I mean, it didn't work out. So it all worked out. And then so let's talk a little bit about what was your first assignment and what was the job that you were doing?


Janell Hanf  07:05

So I finished logistics officers course. And I was assigned to be a platoon commander. And about a month into my unit time there, a Tasker came down for a deployment. And it was interesting because it was I was I had been in turnover for platoon command. And after the six months of marine officers course that everyone goes through in Quantico. That's like platoon command is the thing that you got to do right, right away. And at first, it was like, wait, I'm not gonna do this anymore. But the opportunity that came up was one of a kind, once in a lifetime. And I was under tasks at my unit. So they were able to say, yeah, we can afford to lose her to go to Haiti for a year. So I got to join a cultural support team, and do a workup and deployment to go to Afghanistan for that. So it wasn't directly in my logistics MLS. But it was a really awesome experience. And something that I didn't even know about until pretty much my captain sat me down and said, Hey, we're sending you on this. I was like, okay.


Amanda Huffman  08:12

So you were a brand new Second Lieutenant, when you went on that, that's crazy. That's crazy. So did that change how you like viewed the military like deploying so fast after going on active duty? Or I mean, that's why you joined the military to deploy in a way, especially with September 11. But did it kind of like just change? Like what you expected about war? Was it like, what you expected? Or what was that experience like?


Janell Hanf  08:39

Well, let me talk a little bit about the gap. Because between the Naval Academy and when I got tasked for that deployment was almost a two year period. So after the Naval Academy, they send all the Marines to Quantico for six months of the basic school is what it's called TBS, and I actually had an extended stay there because I blew out my knee, like two months into training. And so I was stuck in Quantico for an extra seven or eight months, and I had to get knee surgery and go through all that. So by the time I finally got to the fleet, I was very much ready to do something different because I felt like I was behind a lot of my friends had continued on in training and had already, you know, gotten deployed by the time my name finally got called. But to go back to your question, I think it was it was what I signed up for. And I remember getting a phone call from my adjutant like, two weeks before the Tasker came down. That was like, Hey, is there any reason you can't deploy? And like no, I'm, you know, I was single, I didn't have any kids or pets or dependents. So I was ready. And it was pretty much the perfect timing in my career. It was one of those doors that open that I just didn't see coming. And I'm really glad that it worked out.


Amanda Huffman  09:53

Yeah. So let's talk about what were you doing on a cultural support team in Afghanistan? Like what was your and what were you guys doing?


Janell Hanf  10:01

So I think I can cover this a little bit. And if people want to dig more into it, there's a really good book out there called Ashley's war by Gail Lamon, I would miss pronounce her other name, so I won't try. And basically, it was the structure was to attach a small group of female service members and an interpreter to teams operating in remote villages across Afghanistan and working with them to like, the mission that we had was village stability operations, which was engaging with the local populace, humanitarian assistance, medical support, and then just integrating with the team and working with them. So you know, standing watch, doing continuing training, like sustainment training while we were deployed. And then, since I was a logistician, I tried to work with the cook to understand his process for requesting chow and then we were resupplied by airdrops. So I would track what was coming in, and, like, do some research to figure out what we could ask for in our airdrops. And you know, once I realized you could pretty much like request the world, we started requesting like fun stuff, in addition to the things that we needed. And like, one of the things I'm really excited to share was like, we got ice cream and airdrops occasionally finally, once we learned we could ask for it. So you know, it was everything from reading with the local children and teaching them how to do like basic trauma, triage to, you know, peaking and, and getting ice cream.


Amanda Huffman  11:43

Yeah, that's great. So I'll put a link in the show notes to Ashley's War, cuz I have heard of that book. But I haven't read it yet. So I'm gonna move it to the top of my list of books that I need to read, because I deployed on a Provincial Reconstruction Team, which is not the same, but has a lot of similarities. And so I'd be interested to hear her experience and what that experience was like. And this was in 2012. That's right?


Janell Hanf  12:10

I left in September 2012. And got back in April 2013.


Amanda Huffman  12:15

Yeah. And so that was before women were technically allowed in combat.


Janell Hanf  12:20

We were attached to not assigned to and that word was very important.


Amanda Huffman  12:26

Yeah, that's the same thing. I was attached to an infantry unit and not assigned to an imagery in it. And they, yeah, that word attached and assign big difference, even though you're doing the same thing. Doing the same mission, but you're in the same places doing the same type of stuff. So that's really crazy. It's interesting, because I had kind of a horrible experience with my prt. Like, I overall, I'm glad I went, and I learned a lot from it. But I had a bad commander, and there was a lot of like drama. So it's interesting to hear that you like had a good experience. So what about the experience? Like what memories Do you have from it that make it so that when you look back, you think it was a good experience, and you're glad that you had the opportunity to go on it.


Janell Hanf  13:09

There were definitely times that were not good. And I was very ready to come home at the end of it, for sure. I think part of what made it good. And I got to see two different teams and two different dynamics. And when we showed up the team that was there had just suffered a really horrible event on the VSP green on blue, basically, that had killed a few of the guys on the team. And so they were like reeling from that. And a couple months later, when the new team showed up, just like fresh enthusiasm, and really ready to ready to rock and roll. And then they had one of their team members killed in a vehicle accident, just randomly, and really unfortunate. And just seeing like the leadership of people across the team, you know, I think that's what stands out to me the most is that it didn't matter what rank you were, it didn't matter what your MLS was, when you only had so many people in this remote place in the middle of nowhere. Everyone had to look out for Hey, how can I help out the people around me? What skills do I have that I can contribute? Or I have free time today? What's the effort going on? Like, oh, hey, they're building something over here. I don't know how to build stuff. But like I can just show up and be willing to help and like, help things go faster, or just like the ingenuity when you can't just go to like a bigger PX or something at some of the other bases, the ingenuity to like solve problems with whatever you have, and whatever you have on hand at the time. That was cool to see. And then when when I talk about the leadership like when the team chief plans sustainment training for like two to three days a week and is like, Hey, we're gonna keep training out here in this deployed environment, you know, and you're you're already talking about people that are at the top of their game, you know, they've they've gone through a tremendous workup to get to the point where they're deployed and you still have somebody saying, No, we have time, we're gonna build it in and we're gonna make everyone better. And hey, CST, you're invited to Hey, Army, you know, watch standards you guys are invited to. And you know, that camaraderie that comes from learning together and making sure that everyone is more capable and not just like a bystander.


Amanda Huffman  15:32

Yeah, that sounds like such an interesting experience. And where were you guys located? Exactly. Because we we went to Bagram to get a lot of our supplies. So we did like convoy runs. So we were like, in the middle of nowhere, but also like just down the street from a Target, essentially, you know.


Janell Hanf  15:47

We were located in Helmand. So the closest district center that was to our south was singing, and then we were in a village, a little village north of that.


Amanda Huffman  15:58

yeah, it's interesting, like, how different being in different locations, how it affects, like, how you get food, and how like, how safe and how dangerous and what the type of people are. So that all that stuff. So let's talk about coming home from your deployment. What was the transition like, and where did you stay where you were at? Or did you PCs to the next assignment,


Janell Hanf  16:18

so when I came back from deployment, it was kind of it was a rough transition, I would say, because my TAD was over, and I wasn't assigned to that unit. So I got cut back to my parent command, which was a logistics unit. And we were only like the second or third group of marine women that had gone through this CST program. And so I got back to my unit. And nobody knew [what I had gone through], I couldn't translate what I had just gone through. And I hadn't really built any MOS, like logistics credibility, other than you know, the limited I did with airdrops, so I had to adjust professionally. And then also, personally, that adjustment was smoothed out, because I was able to take some leave, like a significant chunk of leave after my deployment. And I think that was really important, because I was able to detox from that like high stress, you know, high stress environment of deployment, not knowing if something bad's gonna happen, you know, any given time and I would, I took a road trip across the country and loaded up my car and did like couch surfing and camping and drove from North Carolina to California and back, and just that wide open spaces, and being in a safe place where I knew I could trust my environment, again, I think was huge to just adjusting back to like, I'm a woman in America. I'm not a woman in Afghanistan, I'm not confined to this small compound anymore. Like, like, welcome home. This is the best country in the world.


Amanda Huffman  17:54

Yeah, it's true. It is like a big adjustment. And especially like coming home when I tried to get like help like counseling, the lady was just like, well, you just went on a deployment. And I was like, no, like, I don't think you understand, like, what I did, because she was like, you'll be fine. And like, that really stopped me from like getting help and getting healing. And I think there's a lot of roadblocks that women face because people were like, well, you're a woman and you can't be in combat. So like, what's your deal, like, just adjust back to life. And so that's cool that you were like, able to go on that trip and kind of adjust back. And it does take time. And I think people everyone adjusts back in their own way. So it's really hard to be like, here's what you need to do. And I think that's part of like the problem. The military is all about, like, do this, this and this and like there's no set way to help people adjust back. So after your leave, and you're traveling across the country and back what what happened after that?


Janell Hanf  18:53

So then I was assigned to a pretty much the type of billet that I would have been filling from the beginning, which was a staff logistics billet at a combat logistics regiment. So I was, since the battalion that I was originally assigned to was now getting deployed to Afghanistan, and I wasn't gonna, you know, basically a month later go back out the door, I got sent to a different unit. And so I was in charge of basically the the garrison logistics of the unit, which included everything from you know, managing the armory, food service, support facilities, that kind of stuff, and then also the embark and transportation of just kind of daily daily movements going on around the base. And then when we had detachments coming in and off of Navy ships out of Norfolk or other places, then, you know, certain times groups of my Marines, or Marines that I was responsible for, would be tasked to go support those beach operations groups or port operations groups. And so I would, you know, be sitting in the meetings to help make sure that we had the people identified to support those evolutions. And just kind of the the jack of all trades is kind of what logisticians are in the Marine Corps.


Amanda Huffman  20:10

So I know that you met your husband at some point, right? I did. Is there anything between the time you're talking about right now and then when you guys met that you want to talk about it from your military experience? Or do you want to jump forward to that?


Janell Hanf  20:25

Sure, I could talk about it, we actually met like three months before I deployed to Afghanistan. So it's funny because I think I sort of was like, hey, I'm leaving in three months, what the heck, like, I got nothing to lose all take a chance on this person. That's interesting to me. And I don't think I expected it to necessarily go anywhere, because I was still, you know, a good chunk of that time of when we met too. When I deployed, I was gone. And he was gone, because he was an infantry officer. So I was in California for three weeks from training. I went to sere school during that time, and he had his own field exercises. But we bonded because we were both from California stuck being stationed in North Carolina. And both of us didn't go anywhere for the Fourth of July. So we kind of crashed each other's friends Hangouts, Fourth of July weekend, and I had never met someone you know, and this isn't like a knock on the Naval Academy, but I'll just explain it a little bit. So at the Naval Academy, you're not allowed to wear civilian attire, civilian clothes for the first two years that you're there. And they chop your hair when you show up. So you kind of go through this like identity crisis of like, I look terrible, and I'm wearing these ridiculous clothes. And I can't look like a girl. And so your classmates even though you spent four years with them, they kind of build this thing where like, you're a girl, but you're like one of us. And when I met my husband, like, he didn't treat me any different, whether I was in uniform, or whether we were hanging out at the beach. Like he treated me with respect and just interest whether I had my hair up in a bun in camies, or we were just like shooting the breeze on the patio. And that really stood out to me. And I'd never met anyone that was so easy to talk to. And, and now we're, you know, at the time of this recording, we're five days away from celebrating our six wedding anniversary. He's deployed right now, but he'll be home by the time this airs. I hope so. But, you know, shout out I love you.


Amanda Huffman  22:35

Yeah, I think the way you described it, where he like, saw you as like, a woman when you were in uniform, and when you were out of uniform is like an interesting way. Because sometimes, yeah, you get treated like just one of the guys. And it's kind of an interesting experience, and especially like you going to the Naval Academy, and like getting your hair chopped off and being in uniform all the time. Because uniforms. They don't they just kind of look like a tip. Yeah. It's not something you want to wear every day. I mean, when we were in Afghanistan, we got to wear jeans on the Fourth of July and some other holiday. And it was like the best feeling ever. It was like my uniform. So I can't even imagine like two years. That's crazy. So yeah, and


Janell Hanf  23:19

it was crazy, too, because we had overlapping deployments. So I deployed in September 2012. And then I got home in April, but he had deployed a couple months before that. So we went a whole year without seeing each other in person. And so it was like somewhere early, after I deployed that we were kind of like, okay, let's see if we can make this work. And we stayed in touch and to the extent that we could, you know, exchange emails and care packages, and I think being able to do that, for both of our deployments strengthened our relationship and was kind of like, you know, this is the way your grandparents coded in a way. They worked for us.


Amanda Huffman  23:58

Yeah. Someone was like, how did you stay connected to your husband when you're deployed for so long? It's like, I don't know. We just did it.


Janell Hanf  24:05

You write letters. And you


Amanda Huffman  24:07

I send emails you talk if you can. Yeah, it's just the way that it is. So yeah, and now you guys have been married? What by the time this airs, it'll have been six years. And and what is it been like to be dual military? And he's deploys pretty regularly or is it? I mean, you guys to put them in, and he's deployed now. But has he deployed in between that time and what it's been like to get stationed together and just be dual military?


Janell Hanf  24:35

It dual military is hard. And I think it's as hard as everyone says it is. So this is his third deployment. And my son is five and it's already you know, the second deployment that my son's been through. So the other deployment that my husband had was when my son was a month old. And you know, I I like to say, hey, the only way I got through that door deployment was family support. And so for my friends and peers that chose to leave active duty once they had a kid like I get it because I would have had to get out if it weren't for the support that I had from my mom and my mother in law, because basically, when I had my son, I got told by my CEO, hey, when you come back from maternity leave, you're gonna be dual hatted as my, you know, service company commander, and my regimental S4. And he's like, I'm gonna give you a good staff, so you'll be able to manage it, but you know, just be ready. And I was like, Oh, my God. So I mean, that was the turning point in my career. And but I wouldn't have been able to do that as a brand new mom without, like, my mom and my mother in law that were literally on like two week rotations flying out from California to North Carolina, because all I did was like, wake up, take the kid, you know, go to work, come back, cleanse bottles and nursing stuff, and then do it all over again. And I was just a zombie. So like, they cooked for me, they helped with the house. And I think some people hire that help. I'm lucky that I didn't have to pay for it. I had family that was willing to do it. Yeah, that's kind of a long answer to your question. And then since then being stationed together, it's it's really come with just being proactive. When we know that orders are coming up, we try to look at Okay, well how do we shape this so that we can both be at the same location and so it worked out for two major moves. So from North Carolina to Twentynine Palms, we were able to move together and both be in good billets in in Twentynine Palms. And that was a non deploying, you know, three and a half years that we had there. And then we were able to coordinate the timing to go from Twentynine Palms to Camp Pendleton, which is where we're at now, and you're able to move together. But when he's doing workups, and deployments, like, he's still gone more than half the time. So it's also like me being proactive with my command and being like, okay, here's what I need to be successful at work. And then we're closer to family now. So a lot more relatives, we can like, call up this, you know, hey, I have to go TAD for three days, I need some help.


Amanda Huffman  27:16

Yeah, I think you like hit like, the high points of like being proactive to get stationed together because you can't just be like, Oh, the Air Force or the Marine Corps, they'll put us together, it's all there's a lot of work that has to be done by the members to get stationed together. And then getting help, because it's so true that you have to have help, and you can either pay for it or you can have family, but it's really challenging. And especially when you add like deployments and TD wise and all that stuff, and yeah, that's I got out when my son was born, because I didn't want to deploy when he was six months old, was like a driving factor. But then also my husband was in and it was really challenging for us to move together. And I was like, I'm gonna be sacrificing and sacrificing. And then at some point, they're gonna be like, you're gonna go here, you're gonna go there. And I was like, I don't, I don't want to do all this sacrifice to end up to like, at the 15 year mark, and then have to not live in the same state so that we can both make it to retirement. And so that was why I was like, Well, I'm, I'm just gonna leave now because it makes more sense. And so...


Janell Hanf  28:21

well, and I think that, like, everyone has a different situation. And, and even within the same branch of service, different specialties are different jobs are different types of units might be completely different in terms of like family support. And I think, you know, if, if one of the members is an infantry person, that is an extra, like, level of difficulty, and I think, you know, for, if I had gone aviation, I think that would have been a lot harder to because, like, if you get pregnant, as an aviator, like, you have to take a longer break from your career where, you know, as a ground logistics officer, I could still go to professional military education, I could still go to the office and do my job. Like, while I was sort of, like easing into that mom role to and still do things that were career enhancing. So I think, you know, that's just another piece like, everyone's situation is different. And I don't judge anyone who who's had to make that decision because, you know, like, you have to do what's best for you and your marriage and your family and your career.


Amanda Huffman  29:28

That's true. I agree. I mean, everyone has their own life and their own life situation. And my one friend when her husband got out because he was going to be sent to Korea. I was like, all these people are like telling me how we're being selfish and I was like, you need to do what's right for you and your family. Who cares about what these people are saying? Because a they're not in your situation and be like, it doesn't matter what they would do, do what you should do, and she's like, I've just had so much backlash from like the Military Committee. I think it's really easy to like point fingers and judge and be like, you could do this. And you could do that. But you don't know the life situation. And it doesn't matter if you could do it. It's their life, not yours. So so you have decided that you're going to switch from active duty to reserves? And is that because of like the challenges of military life? Or what was the driving factor that made you want to switch from active duty to reserves?


Janell Hanf  30:26

Well, yes, I have decided that, you know, the 10 year ish mark is where I'm choosing to close the chapter on active duty. And originally, I was not looking at the Reserves. But the more research I did, the more I was, like, you know what, I really do love the Marine Corps, I just need it in a smaller box in my life. And I think, you know, being an active duty military officer is kind of like an all encompassing identity and time commitment. And I really wanted the military to be one thing that I do, but not the only thing that I do. And so I'm really excited to start a civilian career and then be able to continue my military career just with, you know, a smaller time commitment. And it really, it really did have to do with more geo stability for our family, and hopefully finding a job that lets me work remotely part of the time, because, like, it's 2020. And now everyone realizes it because of COVID, like how much work we can do when we're remote. But, you know, generally military work is not something that you can do remotely. And so there's that, yes. And also, you know, it was a big, this might sound silly, but like it was a big change for me going from, you know, preschool mom to school aged. And I didn't expect, like, even kindergarten, you know, like, there's still homework that I gotta do, I gotta pack in the lunch, I got to do more. And looking ahead to the future, you know, that's only going to increase over the next 10 years, the amount of school age activities and things like I don't want my kid to just go from like, daycare, to school to daycare home, and I never see him awake. So part of it too, was, you know, I don't want to outsource this parental involvement with my son's education and childhood, I want to be there for that. And I think the Reserves will give me that capacity in my day, more consistently than active duty.


Amanda Huffman  32:27

Yeah, that makes sense. And that I met a mom who has like big kids now. And she was like, as they get older, the problems get bigger. And it's actually harder, like, it's easier in some ways. Because, you know, like, they kind of are their own person. And like, you don't have to change their diapers and that sort of thing. But it's harder, and like the problems as they get older are bigger problems. And like, you have to like use your thinking calf to help them solve the problems and like, how involved are you? And she was like, and she stopped working when they started going to school. And I was like, isn't that backwards? But she said, like, kind of the same thing. Like it got more complicated. And there's more stuff going on. And so yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So is there anything from your military experience that we didn't touch that you wanted to cover?


Janell Hanf  33:12

One of the themes of my career that I guess I'll I'll just throw out here, the Marine Corps advice that they like to give everyone is bloom, where you're planted. And I kind of like and hate that advice at the same time. Because there's a sense of like, shut up and be content where you're at. But I think what I've seen throughout my career is that like, okay, I can bloom where I'm planted, but I'm also always going to be looking to improve myself so that I'm ready for whatever comes next. And the reality to that, like, usually the door that opens is the one that I didn't see coming that I didn't even know existed. So like I'm running in this direction, and then like this knock on the door comes like, Hey, you want to go here? And like Wait, what? Okay, sure, I guess we'll figure that out. And then, you know, I like I mapped it out one time, and it was like, every single thing that I've done in my career has been a result of something that I didn't plan and didn't see coming in, you know, it's just, you know, don't try to over plan your career because you can't, like you just can't there, you just have to be ready for whatever is gonna get thrown at you. And, you know, if, if, what if what's getting thrown at you doesn't work anymore, then, you know, move on. And if it works, then like, keep going for it.


Amanda Huffman  34:28

I like that perspective of bloom where you you're planted because I yeah, that's like such a military term. At least I think it is. But it's like you could look at it as like, shut up and do whatever you're told. But I like the do your best and then like wait for doors to open and be ready to walk through them or redirect. That's a really, I like that. That's good building on advice, what advice would you give to young women who are looking to join the military right now?


Janell Hanf  34:57

I would say go for it. I have a little story. I want to share here, because one of the things that I got to do last year was run the Camp Pendleton Mud Run. And it was the first time that I'd run that 10k course since I was in high school. So I had this really cool bookend experience of, wow, the last time I was on these trails, everything about the Marine Corps was still a hope it was still a future. And then last year, I got to run it with a team of my Marines who were wearing, you know, boots, and Utes, so our camouflage trousers, our boots, running through the course, as a team, and just reflecting on that, at the end of the day, it was like, you know, the Marine Corps was what I wanted it to be for me, I got to do the things that I really wanted to do, I got to deploy, I got to go to Afghanistan, I got to learn and grow and meet amazing people up and down the chain of command. And I really became the woman that I wanted to be by joining the military. And it wasn't an easy journey by any means, like I was I was counseled in my entry level training, for lack of confidence, you know, the me that I am at the 10 year mark is not the same me that joined, you know, in when I started out at the Naval Academy, and it will and not even the same me when I was, you know, before I first got injured at at the basic school. So, you know, there will be challenges, and there will be failures. And there will be those times where you're just like, How the heck did I get here? What am I doing, but you just have to keep pushing, and just take another step and reach out for help when you need it. And you'll grow. And you'll look back and be grateful for the experience. So I think if any girls or young women have an interest in the military, they should not just like squash that curiosity. It's like chase it and see where it leads. Because the adventure that you might have, you know, you just you don't want to, you don't want to like close the door on that, because you might have an incredible opportunity.


Amanda Huffman  37:03

Yeah, that's great advice. And I have a free guide on my website for women who are considering joining the military. So if you are considering joining the military, and you're listening, because I know you guys listen, then you should go over to my website and check it out so that you can get more questions answered. And I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your experience. I love getting to talk to women Marines. They're like they have such cool stories. Like everybody has a cool story, but I am like, I just they're harder to find women Marines are pretty, they're pretty rare. And so I'm so excited that we got connected. And I got to share part of your story on the podcast.


Janell Hanf  37:42

Well, thank you for having me. And you're right. We're only about 8% women in the Marine Corps. So you know, there's the the few, the proud, and then the fewer the prouder. But we're we're still here and the I would echo that the women that I've met in the Marine Corps are some of the most smartest, amazing women out there. It's pretty awesome. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. Have a great day.


Amanda Huffman  38:12

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