Monday, July 22, 2013

Military Monday - WORK

Ashely over at Eights on the Move is hosting a new link up on Mondays -- Military Monday. For this week she gave us the topic about WORK. As a spouse in the military how does work/career pan out for us?

Interesting topic, and I do have some experience with this.

After Ryan and I moved to Japan as newlyweds we weren't really sure what life would be like. I was still working on a degree and taking classes online. With all the major life changes I had just gone through I fell into a funk, got depressed, and spent a lot of time eating and watching movies alone at home. Ryan was (lovingly) fed up and basically told me to stop moping around and get a job and DO SOMETHING!

So I did.

For awhile I taught English at home to a few students. Although it was fun, it was also limiting and not everybody was consistent. Getting approximately $20 for an hour of conversation and reading assistance isn't bad though.

Kayoko, my student, with me and Ryan at Hard Rock Café Tokyo in Roppongi.

Then I branched out and started looking at what jobs I could get on base. Some stuff I wasn't interested in or the pay was crap. But I did get spousal preference when applying for positions.

Through NAF I got a job working at the base's Pet Boarding Facility. There were aspects I loved about my job: wearing scrubs to work every day, spending time with animals, chatting with co-workers, helping find homes for pets. But there was also plenty that wasn't so great: a facility that should have condemned, same sad story for quarantine pets not living with their families, sending feral cats to be euthanized, cockroaches, no A/C during the summer, and lack of heat in the winter.

Our facility used to be for the military working dogs, but they moved to a newer facility and that's when it changed to be used for pet boarding and adoption. Over a year after I left here a new facility was built and this one was (thankfully) demolished.
the cat room

This is the quarantine kennels. The other kennels were the same, but the lower ones had doors to the outside that we would open to dog runs so we could clean inside. I can't tell you how many times I banged my head on the corners of those rusted doors!
Happy work day... right?

Also? I was low man on the totem pole and basically had to work every weekend and holiday since living animals still have to be cared for regardless of the day. I wasn't considered Full Time so I didn't get vacations or benefits and things like that. Oh... and it was always split shifts. Though I did use that break to go to the gym all the time.

After a final run-in with another employee and being fed up with my schedule with no chance of advancement for a couple years, I began looking for a new position. Hopefully one that would allow me to spend more time with my husband on days he had off.

A supervisor position opened up with the base movie theater through AAFES. The pay was better and I had the ability to move to a full time position... so I took it.

Stress. Yes, I traded a fairly laid back, dirty job with crappy hours for a stressful, in your face responsible position, dealing with druggy teens, rude people, strange demands, and not seeing my husband in the evenings.

It was also the place where, while unloading the snack bar shipment, I was whacked near my eye by an unbalanced dolly, got blood all over, and was sent to ER down the road where they glued me back together. I still have the scar.

Some things were good and I was able to assist in making some great improvements and implement better managing but in the end I got burned and thankfully had already put in my 2 weeks notice before all hell broke loose.

During all this time I was still taking classes. It was slow going, but I was slogging through them with high marks.

I took my last job working at the GNC store. Again, another laid back job. And the pay was miniscule. Not long after being there Ryan and I discovered I was pregnant. Then a really creepy guy was hired and I was getting blamed for his lack of work. At that point I just decided to call it quits and focus on school, taking on extra classes so I could graduate before the baby was born.

And that's what I did. A couple weeks after Will's birth I finished my finals and earned my Bachelor's Degree in Paralegal Studies with an emphasis in Alternative Dispute Resolution. I graduated Summa Cum Laude.

William (5 months old) with me at my graduation in Chicago

I had chosen that degree so I could hopefully access and use it during the transient life Ryan and I would be living with the military. But after having one child and then another I feel that my job is to take care of the home and raise my children.

Occasionally I might make some money by selling a craft and even seriously entertained the idea of opening an Etsy shop. In the end I discovered the time I have to spend actually doing that isn't always the best way to spend my time.

So that's MY work experience as a military spouse. A couple base jobs in my early 20's and now I'm the mommy to 2 great kids. I still volunteer where I can and am active in groups on base but I don't get paid anymore. Maybe I'll find something in the future. Perhaps some freelance work in the legal field? Anybody got any connections?


  1. You working at a Pet Boarding Facility was interesting! Gross - cockroaches lol
    Following from the Military Monday Link-Up :)


  2. New follower from Military Monday linkup! Sounds like you had a few crappy jobs in your day! Congrats on graduating! Such a great accomplishment especially with a little one and being a MilSO. I graduated with a degree in Psychology but can't find a job in that field without a Masters and I'm not sure I want to further my education in that field anymore. Nothing wrong with you spending your time being the best mom you can be! =]

  3. Geez what a crazy string of jobs. My past was similar but all retail and food service-with crazy things at teach one.