Joining the Military in your 30’s: finding that open door twenty years later.

March 12, 2021 0 Comments

Did you ever have one of those things that you’ve always wanted to accomplish, but it just never seemed like the door was open or the stars aligned in the right order?

That was the military for me. Since the age of 14, I had dreamed of enlisting, serving, helping, teaching, and wearing a uniform. I’m not sure why the military was my “thing”. I grew up next to several Coast Guard bases, love watching World War II movies in high school. I loved doing hard things… although some would say that I was just stubborn…and they’re not wrong. But none of that really screamed, “JOIN THE MILITARY!”

When I graduated high school the stars just never aligned, the door just never opened. It was one of those weird experiences where I could see the light on under the door. I could see movement behind the door. But the door would just never open.

Until 2020. The year everything went to crap. It was the year that my dreams came true.

Every few years I would gently knock on the door. “What about now, Lord? Can I do it now?”

Nothing. So, I wait a few more years. “Maybe now? Our circumstances have changed…And I’m getting older… I have kids now… it’s complicated, but the passion and desire is still there, Lord.”

Nothing. So, I wait a few more years. With each passing year it seemed as though the complications grew, along with our beautiful children and our business and our life.

We run a successful firearms training company. I finally completed my dual masters and post grad certificate. Our family was complete, and the hubby was eyeing retirement; or at least working less. We’d been saving money like crazy (Thanks Dave Ramsey). We were in a good spot.

“What about now, Lord?”…..

And the door creaked open, just a little. So naturally, my bull-in-a-china-shop personality blew it wide open and poked around. Meaning I started talking to a recruiter. I wanted all the info so I could make an educated decision and so we take this decision before the Lord.

My first chat (realistically this is well after chat number 9 or 10) with a recruiter out of state was less than ideal. She wasn’t helpful. She wasn’t willing to do the work, meaning her job. After the hubby had spent a few years in recruiting, it has left us both jaded (him mostly) to recruiters who simply want to hide from deployments and be turds. Recruiting Battalion can be an amazing job if you genuinely care about others. But I digress. She told me a flat no, unless I get another tattoo to cover up a little bow on my ring finger.

“Well, that’s the end of that I guess” was my mental thought. I wasn’t going to get another tattoo to join the military. That was crazy pants. So, I let it die. The door seemed to close again, but it didn’t quite latch this time. One thing that I have learned about being a National Guard spouse is that there is a waiver for nearly everything. My tattoo was waiverable; someone just had to do the work.

Through a friendly conversation with a local recruiter buddy, he said to call his friend-of-a-friend in the Air Guard in our state. Our friend said that he was a good guy and could answer my questions. What did I have to lose? We set up an appointment to meet with him and through the course of the conversation, we chatted about training lengths. Everything in the Air Force was shorter than its Army counterpart, but as a mother, that was a big deal. How could I be gone from home for 7-8 weeks for boot camp (BMT)? What if I got back-to-back dates and had to go to tech school right after? The AFSC (MOS) I wanted was 12 ish weeks. Could I really be gone for my kiddos for 3 months? Or 5?! I must be losing my mind.

I went home heavy-hearted, but slowly, as I was able to digest the information the fire grew, and the passion and desire intensified.

My two biggest worries were finances and the transfer of primary parent duties. Meaning, I am the primary parent. The hubby makes the money. I pay the bills. I make all the doctors’ appointments. I know what foods our toddler likes today that she didn’t like yesterday. I know who pooped last, and when, and the color and consistency. Gross, I know, but if you’re a mama, you just get it. I know what needs to be clean. I know where laundry is in the cycle. When the bills are due, how much juice and diapers we have left. I know ALL.THE.THINGS. Because I’m home, deep in the trenches of a-stay-at-home-mama in motherhood.

We also knew that we would have a period of time with zero income. All I have to say for that is Thank God for Dave Ramsey. We already had 6 months of expenses saved up, which was a great foundation. But in the face of uncertainty (and all things 2020), it just didn’t seem like enough. So, we sold a vehicle, pinched pennies hard, and had a loving parent gift some cushion money to get us through. We ended up with anywhere between 18-24 months depending on how far we can stretch our income.

The hubby turned in his AGR resignation and went on AGR terminal leave and we started learning from each other before I left. Learning how to meal plan, grocery shop, make doctors’ appointments, figure out who the doctors were, how to use my budget spreadsheet, check bank accounts, etc. Literally, all the family things piled right on top of the business things.

To help, I went full on Leslie Knope and made a color coded and tabbed binder to help during my time away. And I did it. I joined the military. In the middle of a pandemic. Taking a huge, but calculated risk and turning our lives on its end. The hubby would now be the primary-stay-at-home-homeschooling-parent and I would be going to work full time after training. That’s the goal.

As I work out like a crazy person and try to increase my push-ups and as the hubby and I learn from each other all I can say through the random tears that hit at the thought of being away for months is ‘Thank You’. The Lord is faithful. The Lord has worked this situation for good and we are excited to see where He has us going next.

I leave in a few months, for a few months for San Antonio. Yep, you read that right. The Air Force is going to stick an Alaskan in San Antonio over the warmer portions of the year. Not looking forward to being permanently sticky, but that is something that I have zero control over. Embrace the suck, right? I enlisted into security forces, which I am also excited about. It will be challenging, but I am so very excited to learn from this new adventure.

1 Corinthians 1:9 “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”



Mil-Spec Mom

Nila is an Army Wife, mother of two boys, and a firearms instructor. She is currently pursuing a double masters in Homeland Security & Emergency Disaster Management, while trying to balance the daily life of being a SAHM/WAHM. She loves ice cream and learning about self-defense as a mother. For more info please click the "About Mil-Spec Mom" tab at the top.