When I married my sailor almost five years ago, I didn’t want to be defined by his job. It took me a long time to come around to the term “navy wife.” I wanted to be defined by my own accomplishments. However, it’s really hard not to be defined by a force that quite literally affects every area of your life. The military affects one’s marriage, geographic location, and so much more.
One of the toughest areas that it can affect is one’s civilian career. As a military spouse, I’ve had disappointing encounters with potential employers. It’s easy to feel nervous to tell companies that you’re married to someone serving in the military. However, many times one’s resume tells the tale anyway. After finishing graduate school, I fielded a call from a potential employer. I was immediately asked, “are you a military spouse or something? I noticed that you’ve lived exclusively in military towns.” My heart sank. Despite graduating at the top of my class and doing everything that I could to stand out on my own volition, it was obvious.
Yes, I’m a military spouse. However, I’ve come to realize that fact is a strength, not a weakness. I’m proud to be a part of the military community. I’m proud of my husband’s accomplishments. I’m proud of myself.
To my fellow military spouses: You are stronger than most, more qualified than you feel, and an example of true dedication. I’m proud of you. I’m proud of the military community. I’m proud of the companies that consider military spouses to be ideal job candidates. The military spouses that I know inspire me to do more, be better, and work harder – even when the odds are stacked against us.
Take advantage of available educational and professional resources. Military OneSource has many avenues available to connect with companies that desire to employ military spouses and veterans. There are also many educational programs that can help you stand out among other applicants. I wrote a poem that outlines the struggles that we military spouses encounter in our job hunts. Know you’re not alone. Keep being true to yourself. Remember: Perceived weaknesses can be your greatest strengths.
“To Whom It May Concern”
By: Charlotte Graham Porter
I’m hardworking and educated. Take me seriously. Please.
One degree, two degrees, should I get three?
Pick me for the job. I’ll wow you, I promise.
We’re military spouses. Don’t cast doubt upon us.
I’m smart. I’m accomplished. Top grad in my class.
But when you detected my affiliation, you passed.
You saw my credentials. “Military spouse,” you presumed.
The places I’ve lived were my chance’s doom.
Military towns are where I’ve resided,
But I’ve done more than most in the time that I’ve bided.
I’m not defined by his job. But for it, I’m better.
I’m flexible, organized, many struggles I’ll weather.
Full-time worker, student, self-sufficient, ambitious.
My awards and my history, take note, they’re prestigious.
I’m a hard worker, I go above and beyond,
I’m self-reliant, ambitious, skillful, and strong.
I worked to be picked as the cream of the crop.
Despite my tireless efforts, you scoffed,
“She’ll move away in a blink, that’s a fact.”
You moved my name to the depths of the stack.
Yes. I married a sailor, I’ve moved all around.
But I’m also a scholar, my grit will astound.
Consider a person, aside from presumption.
Perhaps he or she has invaluable functions.