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BY Hope Nunnelley

The Transition Journey from a Military Spouse Perspective

Significant others always play a significant role in a military transition. The majority of the officers who come through our program have significant others, spouses and/or young families. Family plays a big factor in making the transition decision! And the Cameron-Brooks team has always encouraged involvement from significant others throughout the process, from joining our first conversations to participating in the Career Conference experience.

A few members of our team, Rachel and Julie, actually went through the Cameron-Brooks process as military spouses. I asked them a few questions about the transition journey.

I believe hearing about the journey from someone else’s perspective (especially someone who has lived it) is a valuable resource for a military spouse or significant other. I’ll also suggest a few additional resources below.

Cameron-Brooks Q&A
  1. Tell us a little bit about your transition journey.

J: Our transition was super quick! One day my husband was going to be staying in the military for 20 years, and then the next he was getting out, and we were off for the next adventure. I had expectations of what I thought we would be doing post-military (like moving straight home to Texas) but realized that there were so many more opportunities if we kept an open mind. The Army would have moved us wherever it decided, so we took that perspective and went for it. It was a little scary, but also really exciting!

R: When my husband told me he wanted to leave the Army, I was really scared. I loved the security and sense of purpose that the military provided. It wasn’t until reading PCS to Corporate America and having conversations with other families leaving the military that helped me to realize there is security and a sense of purpose outside of the military too! It wasn’t easy, but it is worth it.

  1. From your point of view, what was a driving factor behind wanting to separate from military life?

J: My husband wasn’t satisfied with what he was doing with the Army anymore – he had the opportunity to serve as a secretary for the general staff and thought that things might be different as far as autonomy and how resources were utilized and quickly learned that it was all the same, just on a bigger scale. He wanted more out of his career and wanted to be able to make an impact on others’ lives, and knew that he wasn’t going to be able to do that in the military anymore.

R: Two factors drove [my husband’s] decision to leave the Army: 1) He wanted to be financially compensated for going above and beyond in his career, and 2) He wanted more autonomy over the trajectory of his career. 

  1. What was one of your biggest fears about making a transition? What resources/types of conversations helped assuage those fears?

J: For me personally, it was not knowing what I was going to do next or where my career was going to take me. I had become comfortable with the idea of being a military wife and letting my husband’s career lead. I really loved my career before I moved to Ft. Campbell and had a strong career path, so for me, it was just adjusting to the idea of “starting over.” I continue to hear that everything good happens outside of your comfort zone, and that’s proven true for us over and over again. Family support was a big thing for us – they were always only going to be a plane flight or a phone call away.

R: After leaving the “bubble” of the military, I was worried about losing a sense of security that the military provided and finding our place in the community. We got involved in our local community by joining a church, investing in our neighbors, and getting our children involved in community programs. I also found small joys of connecting with other moms going through different transitions by listening to the Mom Struggling Well podcast.

  1. How involved were you during the Cameron-Brooks process? If so, which parts?

J: I wasn’t super involved in the preparation for a career conference – I did help Ben look over his resume (and also thought, “wow, could Cameron-Brooks help me revise mine? This is amazing!”) and helped him practice his answers for his interview questions. It was a really quick process for us – we had about 3 months to a career conference by the time he made a decision, so he got very plugged into a study group.

     I was very involved in the career conference. We make our decisions as a team, and I wanted to be able to support him as much as I could. I went to every meeting that I could at the career conference, made note cards for interviews, helped him move from one interview to the next (when we were in person) and just made sure that he didn’t have to focus on anything but his interviews when we were there. I couldn’t travel to his follow-up interviews obviously, but we had lots of conversations about the positions he was interviewing for, what he liked, what challenges he might face with the position, etc. Ultimately the decision came down to where would he be most happy, and then we went from there…funnily enough, it wasn’t in Texas.

 R: I wasn’t involved until the conference. Kingsley (my husband) would meet with the coaches and relay the information, but my “buy-in” happened during the conference. It was clear during the conference that we were on the right track. The coaches were so knowledgeable, helpful and ready to shepherd us through this experience. 

  1. What’s one piece of advice you would give to a military spouse/significant other/partner you wish you would have received prior to making your transition?

J: I don’t know that there was advice that I wanted to get prior to the transition – I think I got it as we were going along. Make the decision that’s best for you and your spouse. This is such a short time period in your life, and you only get to make the transition out of the military once. Make it a really good one. Seize the opportunities and go for it. You can always go home – it will always be waiting.

R: Be gracious with yourself and each other. I thought it would be a lot easier than it was – financially, emotionally, and mentally, it took a toll on our lives and marriage. This was something Kingsley wanted to pursue, and I was behind him 100%, but it wasn’t easy. Being gracious with each other while you undergo this transition will help in the long run! This is a big step, but with a lot of communication and patience, we are so much happier on the other side. 

  1. Any other parting thoughts for military significant others?

J: Keep your mind open to the possibilities – you never know where life is going to take you.

R: Be patient and trust the process! It works!! 

Additional resources we recommend for military significant others include: