My role as a military wife has changed. I went from being married member to member to being a retired spouse. While we knew my retirement was coming, the switching of the roles was a difficult transition. The transition has been tough to say the least because I know how the United States Coast Guard (USCG) works and operates. I was a part of the organization for 13 years. And while I loved the USCG and my active duty time in all organizations civilian or military there are flaws in the system. Whether this comes from bad leadership, a bad duty location or station, or just getting qualified to do an important job, the USCG is not without flaws. In fact there have been several studies (I love studies) and focus groups about women’s retention and reproductive health lately. While upper leadership is making huge strides to improve the organization this does not negate the fact that humans run the organization and sometimes mistakes will be made. Well, because we are all human (after all), we are allowed to make mistakes, we are allowed to be flawed. That is why there was a huge flaw in our next duty station.
I received a call from my husband, stating he wanted to put in for a position in Alameda, California a USCG ship. I am supportive. I know he needs this experience to advance to Chief Machinery Technician (MKC). Him making MKC means a substantial raise for our household and you can bet your ass I am going to push him to a higher rank. I might be biased but he is a strong worker and strong leader. He needs a promotion. I told him to go for the job, we will move to Cali. I love California. I could not wait for the change and to get to a new location.
Then things got weird, because the USCG is such a small service, my girlfriend and I knew the Ombudsman from the boat and we gave her a call. This is what you are supposed to do as a spouse you call the Ombudsman let them know you are coming. Before I would just be in contact with my new command. The weird part was the job my husband was filling was her husband’s job. Knowing what I know about the USCG I knew they would not need an extra MK1 on this boat, the situation did not make sense.
Starting to plan for a cross country move, looking at jobs in Alameda Area I only did so half heartedly, somewhere deep down I knew the plan was going to change. I received a call from my husband a week later, “Don’t get mad,” he stated, I hate when he says that just saying that makes me mad already. “Ok.” I said as calmly as I could. “We are not going to California, but I did tell the detailer (the guy who places you in the job) that we will go to Miami if you are okay with that,” he said cautiously. “That is fine,” I said, scaring him to tell someone on the other end, “Wow she’s being really calm about this.” I knew we were not going to the West Coast, I was disappointed, but Zack needs Sea Time and overall Miami was going to be a better fit for our family. If we laid out a pros and cons list of Miami versus Alameda, Miami would win. Less time underway, smaller crew, family 3-4 hours away, and friends still stationed in the area were some of the huge pros to Miami.
However because of the inner Cali girl in me and a lover of the West Coast disappointment was there, but overall my one requirement was we need to get somewhere warm again. My number one will always be Hawaii, number two anywhere in Cali and then Florida. So getting our third pick, Zack getting to get the experience on a boat again, and being close to family is a win too. As a family we will make our lives positive anywhere I would just prefer to be somewhere warm.
We could have waited until next year to move but, with the priorities shifting in the USCG and him being a number six (the worst and one being the best) we could have ended up in Maine, Alaska or Michigan. No offense to any of those states or if you are from there, but I love warm weather and the city life which Miami will have, Miami will be a good fit for our family.
The transition from active duty military wife to retired military wife has been hard because before I could have the inside details. I’m nosy I was an Operation Specialist, I would have known about the error before and put two and two together that the job was shopped wrong. We always kept things separate within our roles of being active duty unless we had to work together, thanks Sector Key West and Station Key West, but I was always in the know. I always had the details. Now that I am a retired spouse my role has changed to trusting the system and that the USCG will do right by us with our next transfer.
Please wish us luck as we are in new territory and I have taken a step back from that aspect of our marriage to focus on raising our girls and planning the move to Miami. There are certain aspects of moving that I just did when I was active duty military, being higher ranking I would do the move.mil, I would call the movers and I would make sure both of our commands knew our departing dates and arrival dates. Now my husband has to take over that ball and play it in his court, with myself on the sidelines assisting where I can.