Women of the Military

When Public Affairs Changed - Epiosde 67

Episode Summary

In this episode we covered: The changes the Navy went through when women were allowed on new ships throughout the fleet Switching from being a Surface Warfare Officer to a Public Affairs (PA) Officer How the internet and social media changed the PA career field Transitioning from Active Duty to Reserves Deploying as a Reservist and coming home

Episode Notes

This episode is sponsored by Insure the Heroes Inc.

Bio: Lesley was raised on a farm in Ohio, I grew up learning how to milk goats. She accepted a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship to Boston University as a method of escaping Ohio. After graduating with a degree in General Management she started her career driving warships for the Navy. After three years in the Navy's Surface Warfare community, she was selected as one of the Navy's 200 public affairs officers. She had opportunities to collaborate and lead major Navy outreach opportunities including New York City Fleet Week and ended her active career in the Navy standing up the Navy's social media program. She had a brief stint as a community manager for SocialMedia.org and then was blessed to be introduced to the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). It was her pleasure to serve as the association's Community Manager, Director of Member Engagement, Marketing Director and Executive Director. She is currently Director of Marketing at South Bay Hospital.

As part of her Navy Reserve obligations, she deployed to Afghanistan in 2018 for a nine-month mobilization in support of U.S. and NATO military operations. She struggled in her transition back following her reserve mobilization. She is currently an active reserve Navy Commander with 18.5 years in the Navy. In June she left her role with CXPA and she is now working with her husband to launch a gym and personal training business in their new home in Florida. On the home front, she spends time fundraising for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, participating as a leader in her church and is a wife and mother of four young children.

Connect with Lesley:




Related Episodes:

Episode 66: Sacrificing at War and Home

Episode 59: Transitioning from the National Guard Isn't the Same

Episode 44: Serving Others After Service

Thank you to my Patreon Sponsor Col Level and above

Kevin Barba

Episode Transcription

Amanda Huffman: Let's start with how did you find out about ROTC?

Lesley Lykins: So I was in high school and in a small town in Ohio, nowhere near a military installation and one of the previous graduates I bet or an alumni came up from Miami University in Ohio, the to our junior class in high school. And so she came in and she talked about her ROTC program and I remember going home and this was probably 1996 or so I went home and I told my dad Hey, this sounds like A really cool program. I did not want to go to the Ohio State University. I wanted to go to school out of state and my dad had actually served in the Navy for four years as a Surface Warfare Officer. So I knew a little bit about his Navy heritage, and I thought, hey, this, this is something kind of cool. So he really, really encouraged it. My mom was a little bit more hesitant, but all of this was pre 911. And they thought, Hey, this is a great opportunity for you to get your college tuition paid for.

Amanda Huffman: Yeah, it is a great way to go. And that's cool that you learned about it because she came back and talk to high school students. So I guess you answer what made what about ROTC made you want to join the Navy, but maybe you have more to it.

Lesley Lykins: So it was really funny. I remember saying to my dad, you know, he's the kind of guy who would have who woke us up every weekend saying revelry, revelry all hands out, which is very Navy thing to say. And he'd use any kind of Navy terminology. He remembers. From his time in the Navy, like D done for candy. And so it was something that he was very proud of. And I remember coming and talking to him as I was filling out the application and said, You know, I think this is a great program. I really like it. But I can't imagine myself ever going into war and carrying a gun. That's, that's not who I am. I couldn't I couldn't do that. And my dad said, Oh, Leslie, this is the Navy. You'll never carry a gun. You'll never see war, you know. And just a few years later, being a 911 happened. And it really shifted the entire service commitment for the people of my generation who are serving in the military.

Amanda Huffman: When did you commission? What year was it? 2000? 2001?

Lesley Lyknis: I actually commissioned right before 9/11. 

Amanda Huffman: Okay, so pretty much I mean, you were in right before, but pretty much from the beginning of your time in the military. It's we've been at war. So, what was it like to go from like training to join the Navy and doing ROTC and not knowing September 11th was coming to like being in and having that mission kind of take over?

Lesley Lykins: I don't think I knew as a brand-new Ensign; just what September 11th was going to mean to my military career. I think we were at that point; my friends and I had graduated with me and ROTC. A number of us were in Newport, Rhode Island, going through a Surface Warfare training. And we had graduated from Boston University. So, we had just all left Boston, which of course is, you know, location for nine on the plate. So, it was it was a moment where it was sort of surreal, sort of shocking, but I'm not sure I really understood, you know, what kind of an impact that was going to have for my military career at that point.

Amanda Huffman: Yeah, I don't think anyone really knew how September 11th would affect the world today and that we would still be at war in 2020. That's really crazy. You started out in what was it Surface Warfare, and then you switched over to PA. Did you volunteer to do that? Or were you voluntold?


Lesley Lykins: So it was really fascinating. In 2001, it was very early in the Navy's integration of women onto the smaller combatant ships. And so I had done my Midshipman tours over the summer where you go out and you spend a month with the with the Navy with active duty Navy. And I knew from that experience, that there were ships that I wanted to be on and ships that I didn't want to be on, based on whether or not they'd integrated women. And so it was also very early in websites. And so I remember my friend, my best friend and I in college, we were googling all of these, or maybe we weren't even googling because Google was really that. We were looking at every website for every ship that was on the list that we could potentially be assigned to and you have this opportunity to select the ship. They'll call every senior in ROTC, they'll go down the list based on your qualifications, your rank, and they'll call you And ask you what ship you'd like to select. And so I knew I wanted to go to San Diego and I was googling all of these ships trying to figure out if they had women that were integrated or not. And so my friend went and she picked she selected right before me. And so I remember I think there was one person and between the two of us and during that 32nd pause, I asked her if she cared if I came to the same ship with her, she was grateful. So I selected the same ship, and we drove across country after our commissioning, and we went to report aboard our ship, and it was a Friday, late Friday afternoon in San Diego. 

Most of most of the people had already gone home for the day. And in the Navy, when you report to your first your first command, you wear your summer white uniform, so the quintessential white uniform that the Navy is recognized for and so we get our uniform on and we drive down to the pier, and she had a cousin who had reported aboard her first ship the year before and so she showed us where the ship was and we walked up the brow and you have to you know, salute that And then you go board and you request spear you say a permission to come aboard. So as I come aboard the ship, and she's right behind me, there's this crusty old sailor who's the officer of the watch. And he's standing there on the quarter deck reading this romance novel, and I will never forget this. And, and I look at him and I salute. Then I say, you know, I'm Ensign Smith, and this is incident such as such, and we're here to report a board and the guy does not even look up from his book. And he just says, we don't have girls here. You have the wrong ship. And I said, Oh, you do now you have women coming aboard. Now. At that point, he just drops his book and he looks up at us. And he was so flustered, he calls the command duty officer who comes out comes out of the boardroom, and he brings us into the boardroom, and he goes to pull up a chair for my friend and then he realizes what he's doing. He pushes the chair back. So it was a very awkward refortified experience, but she and I were the first women to report aboard that ship and then it would be another six months before we had another female officer come aboard. 

That was very unique. But I jumped in right away and volunteered for Public Affairs responsibilities. There were over 200 letters to the ship from various Americans that had never been responded to. And so that summer before I left for training, I spent the whole summer responding to letters, some of them had cash, because people wanted to purchase the ball caps, I'd send them the ball cap, they've been waiting for the last two years. So I started right away, you know, public affairs as a collateral duty. And eventually that Commanding Officer recognized that it was something that I really had a passion for, and that I was good at. And I was better at public affairs when I was at you know, Surface Warfare Officer and so he really encouraged me to put in my package to transfer to that community.


Amanda Huffman: So you were the first two women aboard your ship and like there were no enlisted women? I mean, he said no women are on the ship. So that must have been crazy. How many people were on the ship total approximately?

Lesley Lykins: Yep, it was about 315. And that ship because of the type of ship it was, and it was being decommissioned very soon afterwards, they weren't going to remodel it for female enlisted or things. So, we just had a small group of female officers that ended up on board. 

Amanda Huffman: Wow, that's crazy. And I think people don't realize like how much has changed in the military overall in such a short period of time because like women being in combat and being an infantry and like the Navy's integration, all this stuff kind of happened around the same time. So that's, that's a crazy story. I think a year ago, I walked aboard another destroyer out of North oak and the top triad captain, the executive officer, and then those are listed on hardware, all women. What an incredible career I've had p that type of a cultural and integration change. And it's just staggering. Yeah, that's really cool. So, you switched over to PA because you kind of fell into it and then your boss encouraged you to make the switch. And I thought it was interesting in your bio, how you talked about how you started doing like social media and all that stuff was kind of like brand new because the internet was brand new. So, what was that like?

Lesley Lykins: Yeah, so I was a public affairs officer. There were two of us station in New York City. And so I was up there around 2005, I guess until 2008. And I was about to leave active duty. Actually, I'd already put in my package to resign from active duty. I had a brand-new baby; I was ready to get out a civilian. And we had this conference for all Navy public affairs officers and I had been telling our team it at the Pentagon at the chief of information offices, we call it chin and the public affairs community. I've been suggesting that they invite this particular speaker from New York who was talking about the impact of social media, and at the last minute, they had a drop in the conference and they needed another keynote speaker and so they asked for my guy and I sent him down there and I came to the conference. It was a couple weeks before I was supposed to start my terminal leave, and I still didn't have anything lined up in the civilian world, and my husband needed a back surgery it was, it was pretty crazy. So I get down there, and this speaker just blew the socks off of everyone in the room. 

And the Admiral at the time came up and said, “Hey, Leslie, we need we need you do help us stand up social media for the Navy, would you consider coming to the Pentagon and doing this particular job?” And I was like, you know I already put my letter of resignation. And he said, “Not a problem. Let's pull that.” 

My husband and I agreed, let's do it, let's say and so I took that tour at the Pentagon. This was around the 2008 timeframe to help stand up social media. And it was, again a two-person team. And we really started building and Facebook and Twitter and it took some really innovative and creative thinking because it wasn't the type of content that the Navy was used to producing. 

But we were able to demonstrate the kind of the numbers and the metrics around how to impactful, this communication effort was and it was the earthquake in Haiti that really actually launched it. So that's when we got the approval from the CNO. To move forward with everything that we had put together and had been briefing, what happened is the earthquake in Haiti happened and the Navy was responding to that. We had a watch officer who we set up a Twitter feed of all of the organizations that were responding to Haiti. And so our watch officer was on watch and the Captain said, “Okay, so when this the first wave of people being brought aboard the hospital ship, and one of the operations people set out tomorrow, or tomorrow,” and our my friend, who was the public affairs watch officer said, Oh, no, they're taking them on right now.” And the watch officer kind of looked from the Captain, he's like, “Who are you? And how do Know this?” She was like, “Well, the ship just tweeted it out.” 

And at that point, everyone realized social media is moving very quickly, and we need to pay attention to it. And we need to have a voice in that space. And so it really did help launch that in that we had this awesome opportunity to build content around that space.

Amanda Huffman: That's really cool. That's so interesting to be there in the beginning stages. And just to see like how much it's changed from 2008 today, which is not very much time just over 10 years. So that's crazy. You just have such a cool career. That's so exciting,

Lesley Lykins: It has been an awesome career. I've seen a lot of firsts and had a lot of great opportunities, like I was bringing in some impact and value.

Amanda Huffman: So after that tour, you switched from active duty to reserves?

Lesley Lykins: I did so I was pregnant with my third child at a time that I was up for a new set of orders. And I would likely end up on an aircraft carrier for a public affairs tour with the Carrier Strike Group. And I thought at the time there is no way that my husband and I are going to make it with three little babies and he's just not the stay at home dad type he has to work and they're just not going to work for our family. 

So at that point, I left active duty and interestingly when I left active duty it was 2011. And they were offering free six months of trial care if you affiliated with the Reserves, and there's no obligation and I'm pregnant. So, I thought, hey, this will work out really well. I'll take that six months of childcare, leave the Reserves and a year and it'll cover me until I get on my civilian employer’s health care. 

That decision ended up saving our family, because six months later, when I gave birth to our third child, he ended up having a genetic disease called cystic fibrosis. And because we had that TRICARE insurance, we were able to provide him with this amazing medical coverage that otherwise we would have been in serious financial trouble and I not affiliated with the Reserves.

So, at that point, it was almost like okay, I'm in this for the career because I don't want to lose medical insurance for our child and I started balancing a reserve service with the rest of my life. And I was really surprised I think about how flexible that was. It was much more flexible than I thought it would be. And I head up sort of getting discounted the reserve is I don't want to be one of those people with one foot in and one foot out, I either want to be fully committed or not. And I was surprised when I was actually in the reserve, how that felt different from the Reserve side. I mean, you're still giving of yourself, but you're also bringing a lot to the table from your civilian perspective as well. So, I've been really pleasantly surprised with how that's impacted my life as well and how I've been able to serve in that capacity.

Amanda Huffman: Yeah. You were able to find a balance between working your full time job and doing the reserves and they were flexible so that you can make it all work.


Lesley Lykins: Yeah, it's not easy, but it's doable.

Amanda Huffman: I don't think anything that a military has to do is easy. Even if it looks easy. If you're actually in those in the person's shoes. You're like, Oh, this is not as easy as I thought.

Lesley Lykins: So true.

Amanda Huffman: And then you said in the bio that in 2018, you deployed for nine months to Afghanistan. Yeah. Something expected or did it kind of like come out of nowhere?

Lesley Lykins: So, the Navy has been sending quite a few Public Affairs Officers and Intel Officers to Afghanistan for the last 18 years. They've really played a large role in that. And it's become primarily reserve Navy officers who are are filling those mobilizations. And so I realized a couple of years ago that I would that my number would get called. 

My husband and I have four children. So a lot of my time has been spent in pregnancy or post pregnancy periods where you're not deployable. The Navy gives you a year after pregnancy, where you're not deployable. So it was my turn. 

We’d gone through I think every reserve, Public Affairs Officer of the rank of three and above had mobilized except for maybe two or three of us, so I knew my time was coming. And we talked about it. My husband and I talked about it and felt like we had a support system around us in Ohio that would enable him to care for our four kids while I was gone and we recognize that the military TRICARE insurance coverage was really critical for our family. So we made the decision that I would do this deployment in 2018. And my choices were Djibouti for 12 months or Afghanistan for nine to 10 months. 

And I chose the shorter tour where in Afghanistan where you as primarily in Kabul at the headquarters, I traveled a little bit to Bagram and to Kandahar, mostly at headquarters, and what were you guys doing? So we were responsible for all of the public affairs, communications, media escorting for that both the NATO mission, the Resolute Support Mission, as well as the US forces Afghanistan missions. My job specifically went back again to social media and content, and I was responsible for the content creation that we were producing internally. So all of our internal stories that we would put on the website, all of the content, videos, posts, etc, that would go on social media,

Amanda Huffman: And I talked someone on a different interview and she talked about how many rocket attacks they got. Were you guys rocking it a lot and a lot of danger even though you were on the safety of the base. Well, you might have gone off base, but

Lesley Lykins: I felt relatively safe while I was there. We had a few we had a few RPG attacks, but nothing that really hit us significantly. the riskiest periods were of course when you went off the base, and I only did that I think twice in my entire time there. We've gotten to a point where we are very protective of American service members that are in Afghanistan, and they do not want to see unnecessary death there. So you're very limited and how much you can travel off of those bases. My travel consisted of walking, walking to the Ministry of Defense headquarters, doing some training for their public affairs team for the Afghan Public Affairs team and then traveling and quite a bit by helicopter a lot. There's a lot of helicopter flights now. So, there was a lot of that I didn't, but I didn't feel extremely unsafe. But there's always the risk. Right?


Amanda Huffman: I think that's always been the way it was. Because when I was there, there were people who were on ball Graham and wanted to go off and they weren't allowed to because it wasn't part of their mission. And we flew by helicopter a few times, and but my mission was to be off day. So, I wasn't so lucky. But that makes a lot of sense. 

And, and I really want to talk about you coming home, because you mentioned in the bio, how difficult it was. And if there was something like specific that happened overseas, or if it was just the whole deployment, and then just transitioning home. Can you talk about what sort of struggles you had and what you went through?

Lesley Lykins: Yeah, absolutely.

I was completely caught off guard with this deployment. I had previously deployed three times before this with the Navy on ship deployments. So usually the Navy deploys for a six-month period, you're underway, you're on a ship, you get a couple of awesome port visits on your way to and from the Middle East. But it’s great, and then you come home from those deployments. And your homecoming is like Christmas. It's this huge celebration. Everybody's there, you get to go see movies again, in the theater, you get to go to restaurants, you have your family. So I was excited, you know about coming home. And I didn't feel like I had a lot of trauma during my deployment. So I felt very fortunate. And I was just excited to get back to my life back in America. But I didn't realize the difference between a Reserve deployment and an active duty deployment. 

My previous three deployments had all been on active duty. And they were before I had children. I had not had children on those before those deployments. One of them happened about three months after my husband and I were married, but we didn't have kids. So we had been separated for a deployment during our marriage before so I came home and I think what caught me off guard is on the reserve side, you set up this whole life for yourself. 

You get very committed to your community. You get committed to your career and your job. You know, you really Set down roots, whereas on active duty, you know, at any minute you're going to be deployed. So you don't do that as much the military really is your life. And I think that makes it hard sometimes when people transition out is because you haven't set roots anywhere else prior to that, but as a reservist that it's, it's 100 times different to you, you have set roots, and you had this this whole other life. And so when you deploy, you deploy, you mobilize by yourself, you're not mobilized with a unit that you've trained up for and have spent the last however many months alongside you, you do the whole thing by yourself, you do meet friends along the way that you train with, you know, right before you go over to wherever it is that you're deploying to, but it's not a group of people that you've known now for a while. 

When you come home, you come home as an individual as well. So you leave your mobilization and you come back to civilian life without any of the people that you've just spent the previous nine months serving alongside and, and I felt like when I got back, it was sort of like all of my family and friends and my civilian coworkers, you know, if they were all watching a really great movie, we were all watching a really great movie, we sat down, we've watched it, but I got called out of the room at the most action packed critical part of the plot. And so, I was called out of the room, but they all kept watching the movie. And then towards the very end, I came back into the room and I'm trying to catch up frantically with what's going on. And they're all laughing and I have no idea what's going on. It felt very, it felt very much like that, where you're just shifting back and forth very suddenly. 

So when I came back, it felt like there was this big gap, and I didn't know how to adjust to the gap. So it wasn't a celebratory homecoming, like I'd experienced in the past. It was very awkward, awkward from every perspective of my previous life. 

My husband and I really struggled when I came back to the point where I thought we would end up separating a month after I returned, we managed to get through that but it's taken quite a bit from us and so you know, struggling with understanding that you may lose your marriage a month after you return home is heartbreaking and extremely traumatic. But then on top of that, you know, my four children had a very hard time while I was gone. And so a lot of time was spent trying to rebuild and repair that relationship with them. It felt like they had no little holes in them where I should have been for the last nine months and I hadn't been there and so they were very each of them each of four was very frantic to fill that hole with me when I got home and I wasn't healthy enough to even take care of myself at that point, let alone Let alone bore into all of them. 

So as I'm dealing with all of that my community and my small town in Ohio is not a military community and so I came home and I had those looks like the she had PTSD. Did she see anyone die like they just they don't have any idea how to relate to me and so a lot of times when I would see friends for the first time there was there was this book that they had that they gave me that was almost like you know if somebody in your family died or you just don't know What to say to that person and, and it was kind of an awkward relationship with my friends when I returned. 

And then to make matters even worse, my first day back on my job, the board of directors that I had reported to had changed over the leadership had changed over. And they had made a decision to eliminate my role while I was one. And so my first day back, they were informing me that my role had been eliminated. But I had the option to take a lower grade role that so downgrade my position, and I just, you know, all of that stuff together really just gave me this traumatic experience that I wasn't prepared for. 

I just didn't realize how hard that was going to be. And I didn't have any of those friends that I had come very close to and Afghanistan to go back and say, Hey, do you remember when this happened, so you just sort of put that whole mobilization in a bubble in your head and you set it in the back of your head and you try to process everything that's going on around you, on the Homefront. And so for about six months, I really had to just keep reminding myself that Be patient. Don't make any rash decisions. Just take each day as and now almost a year later, you're so much better and we're in such a different place. But it was challenging.

Amanda Huffman: I relate a lot to what you went through even though I was on active duty because I deployed by myself and met up with people kind of like you did. And so then when I got home, I don't think I had the extreme because I got home and I was in a military community but I still didn't have the people to talk to and I think that's really important for like reservists and National Guard people who don't deploy I guess reservists mobilize more one to one at a time. Then National Guard you usually go with your unit but when you come home it's just so hard and I really liked when you said it was like you're watching a movie and then you left because I I really related to that part because I felt like I deployed right after I turned 25 and I came home like a week before I turned 26 and I feel like I have this year of my life where I was just like in this like Time Warp theme and like when I was 25 I Was it like this weird thing happened to me, and then I came back and everything, and it was just hard transition. So I'm glad that you're doing better now, and it is it's really hard. And it's important to talk about how hard it is to make that switch.

Lesley Lykins: Yeah, I think you know, the Reserves are so valuable to our military too. And I underestimated that when I was on active duty. And it's something I regret from my active duty service, the skill set and the experience and the knowledge that people who are serving in the reserves can bring. It's just so outside of the typical military box. And you could see that even in in Afghanistan, as I'm serving alongside both reserve and active duty service service members, just how they can bring a completely different mind frame to a problem that maybe the active duty service members have sort of become received tunnel vision around it. So it really it is a critical community, but it's just important to remember what they're balancing.

Amanda Huffman: Yeah, that's so true. That's so true. Is there anything from your military history That we didn't cover or that you wanted to talk about.

Lesley Lykins: Something that's interesting, that I that I will continue to talk about as a Public Affairs officer is an understanding by the American public of our military service and the people who are serving today I sat through a really fascinating brief maybe three or four years ago at this point where research company had interviewed Americans to find out a little bit more about what their belief was of the military and serving in the military in particular to help with recruiting. 

And I remember how shocking it was to me how both parents and teenagers is there considering their child's future, or the teenagers are considering their future. Understand that there is a career trajectory that if they graduate from high school, go to a good college, they can get a good job, they can work hard, and they can continue an upwards progression in their career.

But when you throw the military into that there's this black hole or this gap, so they didn't they knew that they could leave high school. Maybe go to college, enter the military. And then it's they don't know it's an unknown, there's not in their mind. They didn't they didn't see themselves as the military giving them an enhanced upward projection. for them. It's, it's a risk, I could either go down from there, or maybe I could go and continue following on and on upwards progression that the military was this big, unknown piece. 

And, you know, with with only 1% of Americans serving in the military and a number of people who choose to go into the military now come from a military family and have had some type of military family experience. It's more and more critical than ever that we share with our fellow Americans. What serving in the military is really like I think there's there's been a lot of focus over the last 10 years on PTSD. And you know, that does not lead people to think that the military is a healthy environment, if all we talk about is PTSD. 

So I think that it's really critical to continue to talk about the incredible experience that it is to serve your country. And just the really rewarding opportunities that you have to build leadership at a young age to have this this responsibility where you feel like you are not just that you feel like it, but you know that you're bringing value to something, and you can see it every day. And I think on top of that, there's just this, this amazing family nature and this diversity that you can't find anywhere else. 

And I've done it now, you know, I've worked on the civilian side, I've worked in the military side, and you do not be the same dedication and perseverance and resilience and work ethic that you see amongst your military peers, and it's exciting and it's thrilling. And while there's definitely struggles and challenges, you know, it is so worth it. It's so worth it to do that for your country and for yourself and for your family. 

And I just I will continue to tell that to anybody that I've talked to I you know, every year on Veterans Day, I go and speak to fifth grade. Now because so grateful for that girl, the midshipmen from Miami University who came and spoke at my high school and so I, I liked you and I enjoyed going and talking to students about what it's like to be in the military. I want them to hear firsthand from somebody who's had the experience, because I think that everyone should at least have an informed, educated understanding before they make the decision whether or not to discount service.

Amanda Huffman: That's really good advice. My last question is close to what you just answered. But what would you tell young women who are considering joining the military?

Lesley Lykins: Absolutely 100% Do it, do it! We need you we need your brain we need your way of thinking we need your service. There's just so much opportunity. And it was interesting, you know, I never in my career and I had opportunities to serve in no and not very integrated locations like my first ship. 

I had these opportunities where it could have very easily felt like a horrible experience or I could have felt bias or Something like that. And I didn't, I didn't feel that at all in the military. It wasn't until my civilian career when I started to feel, you know, that bias or that my opportunities weren't the same because of my gender and the military, it always felt a very equal platform and a very great opportunity to continue to, you know, serve alongside my peers, no matter who they were, where they were from.

So I think it's a great opportunity for women. I would say, if you do not want to have educational debt, this is your opportunity to take advantage of, of all of the various tuition assistance that the military offers the ROTC programs, the academies, just tuition assistance. In general, when you're in this is your opportunity to set yourself up for success and to have a career trajectory that actually goes higher than your peers who are not serving in the military. 

I would say 100% consider it.

Amanda Huffman: Thank you for your time. I really enjoyed hearing your story. I feel like it's a unique story and has so much cool things that you've got to do and be on the front and leading edge too. So thank you so much.

Lesley Lykins: Thanks, Amanda for having me.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai