Air Force veteran Amanda Huffman shares her experience of serving in the military and the challenges she faced when her military service ended - My Military Career was my Identity - She talks about how her identity was tied to her military career and how she coped with losing it. She also discusses her new book, "A Girl's Guide to Military Service," and her podcast, "Women of the Military," which shares the stories of women past and present in the military. Amanda also talks about the importance of seeking help for mental health issues and offers advice to those transitioning out of the military, especially those with children.
In this episode, My Military Career was my Identity - Until it Ended, I am honored to host another guest willing to remove their armor to help other people. This episode's guest is Air Force Veteran Amanda Huffman and she shares how serving in the military became her career identity, the challenges she faced when her military service ended, and the choices she made that ultimately improved her transition journey.
Amanda is a military spouse and veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer including a deployment to Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career.
She has been recognized as HillVets100 (class 2019), Women Veteran Trailblazer (2021), and was a finalist for the Melissa A. Washington Small Business Award. She published her first book in 2019 titled, "Women of the Military," sharing the stories of 28 military women.
In 2019 she also launched her podcast titled Women of the Military. Women of the Military podcast shares the stories of women past and present and hopes to inspire the next generation of women to serve. Her new book, "A Girl's Guide to Military Service," was published in September 2022.
- Amanda Huffman's experience with transitioning out of the military and how it affected her identity
- Amanda's book, "A Girl's Guide to Military Service," and her podcast, "Women of the Military," which shares the stories of women past and present in the military
- The importance of seeking help for mental health issues, especially during the transition out of the military
- Advice for those transitioning out of the military, especially those with children, including being prepared for a journey, not a destination, and being ready to fail and pivot when necessary
Things to Think About
- Understand the challenges of transitioning out of the military and the effects it can have on one's identity
- Learn about Amanda Huffman's book, "A Girl's Guide to Military Service," and her podcast, "Women of the Military," which share the stories of women past and present in the military
- Recognize the importance of seeking help for mental health issues, especially during the transition out of the military
- Gain advice for those transitioning out of the military, especially those with children, including being prepared for a journey, not a destination, and being ready to fail and pivot when necessary
(00:21) Amanda Huffman's experience with transitioning out of the military and how it affected her identity
(03:28) Amanda's book, "A Girl's Guide to Military Service," and her podcast, "Women of the Military," which shares the stories of women past and present in the military
(12:27) The importance of seeking help for mental health issues, especially during the transition out of the military
(15:02) Advice for those transitioning out of the military, especially those with children, including being prepared for a journey, not a destination, and being ready to fail and pivot when necessary
Ladies and gentlemen, everybody, welcome back to Unarmored Talk Podcast. Again, two weeks have gone by that fast. I am still your host. Hopefully, I don't get fired by I don't know. But you guys, right? I do it because you guys support the podcast.
I'm your host, Mario P. Fields. And today's amazing guest is Amanda Huffman. But before I bring her in and on, if you're watching on video, she just waved audio. Click on the link and watch. Watch the video.
(00:51) - My Military Career was my Identity - Until it Ended
Awesome motivating wave. But before I bring on Amanda, thank you again to the listeners and viewers of Unarmored Talk podcast. Thank you to all the guests who had the courage to remove their armor to talk about a personal or professional challenge or life experience to help people develop an accurate way of thinking, truly appreciate everyone.
And for everyone that's watched a video or you continue to share the content from this podcast on video, you are making an impact to the two schools we've adopted through my nonprofit, Still Serving Incorporated in Pitt County, North Carolina.
You can go on my website at www.stillservinginc.com and learn more. All volunteer nonprofit. And we are about to eclipse over $10,000 of money, s and funding to those two schools in helping them gain more skills through programs that they do not have funding for, but we provide it for them.
So I'm done. I'm done with all the admin. I'm done with it. I'm done. So here we go. Amanda Huffman, ladies and gentlemen. She's a marine. You know, I had to mess with you, Amanda. I know. You know, I was messed with her before the show.
She's an Air Force veteran. She's an author, and she's also the host and producer of her own podcast, Women in the Military. If you guys haven't subscribed and followed her show or left a rating review, shame on you.
Amanda, welcome to the podcast. Thanks so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here. No, thank you. Thank you for being patient. I know you and I talked about six, seven months ago, and your podcast is doing amazing, and so is mine, but now we're able to do this.
Thank you. So please share a little bit about yourself with our listeners and viewers. Sure. Yeah. I'm Amanda Huffman. I'm an Air Force veteran. As Mario said, I served as a civil engineer in the Air Force, and I got to deploy with the army even though I served in the Air Force, and I went to Afghanistan.
And then when my first son was born, I got out of the military. My husband is still active duty. He's actually in the Space Force. And so we were both active duty, and it was like, I don't think we can both keep doing this.
And so I got out to be a stay at home mom, and then that led me to writing and podcasting and all the things that I'm doing today. Wow. And let's talk about your book. I mean, it's not easy to become an author.
(03:28) - My Military Career was my Identity - Until it Ended
I'm going on that journey as we speak. So talk to us about your book real quick. Yeah. So I wrote A Girl's Guide to Military Service, which is a book for high school girls who are considering military service because I felt there was a need for girls who are considering the military to have a book that's written specifically for them.
And I started with a free guide, and. I was like, how am I going to find these girls? But then I started downloading it and gave me confidence that I should write a book about everything that I wish I had known when I was joining the military.
So we cover not just joining, figuring out if the military is right for you, but what branch and career field. And then we talk about being a mom or setting up your finances or mental health and all the things that I think you should know to have a strong foundation for military service.
Wow. Girls guide to military service. I might have to bring that into the two schools. It's my high schools. I think that's a good resource for young ladies to have if they're considering joining. So truly appreciate that.
Well, let's jump right into the topic here. You are an active duty spouse, both you and your husband by definition. But we're going to talk about you today. You're an active duty spouse. You're transitioning out of the military, from my understanding.
There's a family. You guys decided to have children. You have all of this going on as you're getting out. How was that journey? It was not smooth sailing, that's for sure. It was really challenging. I didn't know what to expect.
I was like, oh, I'm going to get out of the military. It's so hard to be in the military, and I'm going to be a stay at home mom, and that's going to be easy, right? And then I was like, this is not easy.
This is really hard and really challenging. And I was also dealing with losing my identity, which I didn't realize how important being an officer in the military, being a civil engineer, just being in the air force meant to me.
And then it was gone. And I was like, wait, what? Just happened overnight, too, huh? Yeah. It's interesting you brought up how even you believe being a stay at home mom, taking care of the house is easier than serving on active duty.
But you quickly realize, my belief is that, man, it's harder to run a house. What's your thoughts on that? Yeah, there are aspects of military life that are really hard, but I think as a military spouse, I didn't give up a lot of those.
We still move. I still have to deal with my husband's unpredictable schedule and figure out everything that's going on. And so I thought me not being in would make it easier. And in some ways it made it easier because there was stability.
But that meant that a lot of the instability fell on me to vantage, and I wasn't prepared for that. He left two months after my son was born for eight weeks, and I was home alone with the new baby and trying to figure it out, and I was like, wait, what's going on?
This is not easy. When he would go TDY before and be like, oh, it's a vacation. I'll go hang out with my girlfriends. And then he left, and I was a mom, and I was like, this is not a vacation. This is overtime.
Where's the timesheet do we get time and a half for this? There should be a spot on the resume where we could put that in as a soft skill that's in high demand. And then you mentioned identity from numerous conversations around the world.
I've heard a lot of service members talk about they felt like they lost their identity. What do you mean by that? Yeah, I guess I had an ego. I guess I still do, but I had this little spiel. I feel embarrassed talking about it, but.
I had this little spiel where it's unarmed. So I would tell someone, they'd be like, what do you do? And I'd be like, oh, I'm in the military. And they'd be like, oh, that's cool. And I'd be like, It gets better.
I'm also an engineer. I'm an officer. I deployed to Afghanistan. And they would get really excited and interested in what I was doing. And then I left, and people would be like, what do you do? I'm a stay at home mom, okay?
Nobody cared. And even when I would try and talk about my service, people would just be like they wouldn't care and they wouldn't ask questions or they wouldn't really understand. They would just be like, what do you mean?
You're a veteran? You're a spouse? And I was like, no, I'm a veteran, and I know what veteran means. I know what spouse means. And so it was really hard in that aspect of not being recognized the same way that I was before.
Wow, I never looked at it like that. Here. You are an officer? United States Air Force. Civil engineer. And now you got to convince people you served. Yeah, you walking around with your DD 214. Here you go, line number three.
Here it is. How did you get through that? At what point did you find that space where you were at peace and there's clarity and you're like, this is what I'm doing. So I think what I first did was like, well, that's not comfortable.
So I'm just going to not talk about being a veteran. I'm going to close that part off of me. Which is funny because now all I do is talk about being a veteran. But I just kind of pulled back. I focused on being a mom.
I focused on I tried to be a travel blogger. I tried to talk about natural birth. I tried to talk about all these things that weren't military, but they also didn't really resonate with me as a person.
And then someone. Told me, I think your story is really interesting, and I want to hear more. And that was like, oh, so that part of my story still is important, and it still is interesting. It's just that some people don't get the same reaction, but that doesn't mean it's not important.
And so that kind of led me to start telling more of my story, and then I started collecting other stories, and it just kind of snowballed into that. And and I love how you didn't give up, right? And I love how you did some self reflection.
You were aware of your emotions, but you didn't give up. You didn't stop. Like you said, it's interesting how something you is trying to kind of run away from. Now look at your podcast. Your last guest, you're like, I'm sorry, I know you're not a veteran, but she had an amazing you guys had amazing episode for Women's History Month.
Oh, yeah. That's pretty cool. I want to say your son, right when you got out. Yeah. So now, as you guys are kind of growing together, what were some of the effects that you think or how do you think you developed and changed because you had your son during that transition time?
I think that it led me now I'm really going to take off the armor. It led me to go and get help for some of the mental health stuff that I was keeping under wraps. Like, everything was fine, but then with my husband being gone, my son being born, losing my identity, all those things coming to head, I realized there was something going on inside of me.
So I actually spent a lot of time through a program called Celebrate Recovery, which is kind of like a mixture of AA and Alanon, but it's all together and more faith based, with God being. You know, instead of higher power.
And so I went through the twelve steps through that, and through that journey I learned a lot about some of the resentment and hurt that happened on my deployment that I was still holding on to and just things from my childhood that were affecting me in ways.
And so it led me to be at a breaking point where I was like, I need to get help. And so that's been life changing. And really I've gone to therapy along with doing the twelve steps, and it's just been life changing to go through that experience.
What? Thank you for sharing on this podcast. I would have never thought that the birth of a child and transitioning out could actually been a blessing for a wonderful professional like yourself. And it was a choice.
You and I both know that some of the hardest things for military folks is to go, I need some help. We are great at helping everyone in the world, but boy, when it comes to us going anyone got any questions?
I need some help. Yeah. The first time I tried to go to the Celebrate Recovery meeting, I went in the car and I was like, I'm good, it's fine. And then I had such a bad week. The next week I was like, I'm going to that meeting.
I don't care what happens. I am not even allowing myself to think. So I started driving and I was like, you're not allowed to think about this. You are only allowed to drive. And that's how I got it was so hard to go to the first meeting, but then at the first meeting, I started crying.
So it was a lot easier to go back because it was like I knew I was in the right place. I knew I was finally on a journey to get help and stopping from just trying to do it by myself, but it was really hard to go.
Yeah. Would you say? It was probably one of the toughest things you had to do as a professional, as an adult. Yeah, I literally had to get in the car and not think, because the first time I think it's a good story now that I should have went the first week, but it's kind of like a good story of showing how hard it was.
I was like, I got in the car. I was in the car ready to go. My husband had the kids. Everything was fine. And I was like and I walked back in. He's like, I thought you were going to a meeting. I was like, I think I'm good.
And he's like, okay. And then the next week, I forced myself to go because I was like, you can't keep going through this. You need to get help. But it was a process. Amanda went up to the plate. She's the first one on the plate to swing, ladies and gentlemen.
And then she went back to the dugout. Good. I walked up to the plate. So we're good. Put a score on the scoreboard. It doesn't work that way. You have to do the work. You have to do the work. Yeah. And it's definitely a choice.
And I am thankful just from knowing you since last year, I'm thankful you made that choice. So now, kind of self reflecting, right? Looking back on how you went through some of your physical or mental challenges, you're thriving, right?
You're thriving. If you had to give any advice to anyone, including women who are serving throughout the world, to better prepare themselves mentally or physically for a transition, especially if children are involved, what would you tell them?
I would tell them that they my. My seven year old just walked in. Sorry. No, I would tell them that your seven year old was like this, I got this, mom. I would tell them that it's a journey, it's not a destination.
You have to fail at things. You have to take new turns. You have to pivot when something's not working. And I feel like in the military, you have this handbook. Step one is this, step two, but then you also have your COAS.
And I think sometimes in the military we forget that, yeah, we have a structured outline, but we also have COAS if things go wrong and mission, things go wrong all the time. So we have all the tools, but sometimes we forget because we get into this structured path and then we think, oh, if I start a business, it's going to be structured and everything's going to work.
Just like when I had my son. Well, he's going to do this and this, this, and it's like, no, he's a person, he's not a robot. So he's not going to do A, B, and C. He's going to do whatever letter he pulls out of the alphabet.
And so it took a lot of realizing I have to use the tools the military gave me and not the structure. Because so many people talk about you have structure and you have all this, but how to improvise and how to keep moving forward and how to pivot.
I think the military really teaches us that, but sometimes we don't realize how good we are at doing that because we think about the structure and the rigidity and we actually have all the other characteristics as well.
I love it. Ladies and gentlemen, everyone, you guys heard from Amanda Huffman. Hey, don't be rigid. Have a scalable plan. And it's a journey. I like that. It's a journey, it's not a destination. And be ready to fail because it's okay to.
To fail. Amanda, how can people find you? So the best place is to go to my blog, which is www.airmentomom.com. But I also am on LinkedIn. It's my favorite social media platform. So if you're on LinkedIn, definitely connect with me there.
Yes. And I'll make sure those are in the show notes, in the audio and video we'll get. Amanda, thank you so much. Thank you for your service. And tell your husband I said thank you for continuing to serve, and I appreciate what you're doing out there in the content creator digital space world and helping people with your amazing podcast.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, till next time. Couple of weeks. See you guys later. You guys know how. Sign off. Be safe. God bless you. Take care. Bye bye. Amanda.