Become the CEO of Your Own Company

Flooring Contractor
Flooring Contractor

You’re home from a life that has been planned for you. There were no job interviews, just orders.

But here at home no one has planned the next phase of your life. The one thing most returning service men and women are prepared for is leadership, so why not become CEO of our own company?  Some of the transferable skills all veterans have are the ability to balance a budget, complete a mission, and train and manage personnel.

The options you consider somewhat depend on the job you had in the military. If your skills directly translate into a civilian job, great! Open your own diesel repair shop, launch a computer repair business, start your own restaurant, or form an engineering group to repair roads and bridges. Make it your own!

If your job doesn’t directly translate to a business, consider purchasing a franchise in a business you see a need for.  In the south, 55+ communities are everywhere, and their HOAs require landscaping, painting, and pressure washing be kept up year-around. A talented handyman or cabinet maker with reasonable rates can make a great living remodeling homes. One contractor in South Florida makes Murphy beds in all types of creative styles.

HVAC Repair
HVAC Repair

It is very hard to find honest, hard-working contractors, and many seniors find themselves repeatedly taken advantage of by unscrupulous servicers. If you emphasize your military background and live out the work and personal ethics you learned in the service, you will have far more work than you can keep up with. Soon you’ll be expanding and adding your military friends as your business partners.

JDog Junk Removal and Hauling and JDog Carpet Cleaning are among the few franchises open only to veterans and their family members. Veterans who have purchased a JDog franchise find it an easy transition because the organization is built on the very same values you learned in the military. With low start-up costs and a complete training program, JDog helps you become successful very quickly.

Look to resources like and for former CEOs who are willing to mentor new entrepreneurs. These sites offer all kinds of educational and informational articles on starting up a business.

My Friend, You’ve Got a Problem

Meet La Wanda, a U.S. Navy Veteran, who cares and shares with fellow Veterans as often as she can.

La Wanda’s story is not so different from many of her fellow soldiers.

“I will fully disclose anything and everything about me when it comes to helping another Veteran,” La Wanda shared with Make the Connection.

La Wanda’s Journey

La Wanda’s journey began like many of us — partying with her friends. Unfortunately, it gradually evolved into the misuse of controlled substances. Her addiction led to an other-than-honorable discharge, followed by battle after battle with an enemy more powerful than her Navy training: addiction, anger, and PTSD.

Today, following years of detox and counseling, La Wanda has her addiction in control. She now shares her story with other soldiers facing her former foe. She finds that the walls addicts usually hide behind crumble when she shares her story. Their whole demeanor changes, and they ask, “Wow! Why would a total stranger tell me that?”

La Wanda’s openness is not without expectations. She assumes those she shares with will respond just as openly with her.

She acknowledges there is little difference between the addiction of a soldier and a member of the general public. “Substance abuse is substance abuse.” However, she wants the public to understand the unimaginable experiences Veterans encounter. Simple acknowledgement by a civilian may be the catalyst to a Veteran entering and remaining in a recovery program.

Drug court teams were established to assist Veterans caught in the legal fall-out of substance use and mental health. This program offers support systems in lieu of jail time.

Giving Back

La Wanda has become more than a survivor of addiction. Her time is now divided between employment as a Veteran Resource Coordinator for the VA and her role as a mentor with the drug court team.

“The Veteran track is something that I firmly believe in because Veterans, you know, sometimes we’re prideful and we don’t want to admit that we need help. And a big thing that you have to do is you have to surrender — you have to admit you have a problem. And to surrender, for Veterans, is something we’re not going to do.”

La Wanda’s Story

It was a friend who forced La Wanda to confront her problem.

Following a day of heavy drinking, La Wanda heard the dreadful proclamation that, until she sought help for her addiction, she would no longer be welcome in her friend’s home. Simply, she told La Wanda: “You can do something about this. You know there’s help available out there, and you need to get it.”

Rejection by someone she loved became La Wanda’s breaking point. La Wanda now admits it took her friend’s actions to make her stop. She had never been confronted by anyone before. It took more than just knowing she had a problem to force her to quit.

La Wanda has now been sober for seven years. A 12-step fellowship program was the key to her success. She found she first had to change the way she thought and viewed things around her; then she had to change her lifestyle.

Recovery is hard work, and it takes a team who offer support and an honest, open-minded willingness to help others.

La Wanda now looks back and says she does not regret the difficult journey she has come through because it brought her to the place she’s in now:  open and eager to help others.

“All Veterans suffer from a disease: They think they’re alone. I need them to know they’re not alone. They’re not alone,” she says. “We let them know, ‘Hey, I did it. You can do it, too.’ So, it’s probably one of the most gratifying, fulfilling things I’ve ever done.”  La Wanda

Like La Wanda, there is help available for you. You are not alone. Reach out. Find a program near you.

Story published at

Bad credit loans: How to get personal loans for bad credit

Our thanks to David Lafferty at Bankrate, Inc., for taking time to write us and offer to contribute this great article for our readers. Many of us have faced this mountain with little assistance. It’s nice for someone in the industry to offer his assistance. We hope this information may help many Veterans with a pressing need for financial advice.

MAY 14, 2019

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict editorial integrity, this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here’s an explanation for how we make money.

Having bad credit can feel like getting a flat tire on your way toward a solid financial future. It can also make you feel like you’re the only one stranded on the side of the road with no help in sight. You could convince yourself that things may have been the same had you taken a different route. But even if your situation was unavoidable, it doesn’t make it ideal.

The good news? You’re not the only one with blemishes on your credit record, and you have options for getting your finances back on track. Choosing a bad credit loan could help you bridge the gap between a long-term plan and a practical step toward rebuilding credit.
What are bad credit loans?

Bad credit loans are a type of loan offered to borrowers who have a less-than-average credit score. These loans can be either secured (backed by collateral like a home or car) or unsecured. Interest rates, fees and terms for these types of loan products all vary by lender.

Check Your Personal Loan Rates

Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. The process is quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

Various banks, credit unions and online lenders offer loans to those with weak credit, but the threshold for what’s considered a “creditworthy borrower” varies by institution. Some lenders have stricter requirements than others, which makes it important to shop around thoroughly when looking for a loan.

How do you know if you have bad credit? Check out these FICO score ranges to see where you land:

Exceptional: 800-850
Very good: 740-799
Good: 670-739
Fair: 580-669
Very poor: 300-579

Scores below 669 are considered to be below average or poor, and 34 percent of Americans fall into this category, according to credit bureau Experian.

How do bad credit loans work?

Personal loans for bad credit can be used for a wide range of purposes,

from debt consolidation to financing major purchases.

But it’s important to note that borrowers with poor credit are seen as riskier in the eyes of lenders. In exchange for taking on additional risk, lenders generally charge higher interest rates and fees than they would someone with excellent credit.

Legitimate lenders will typically check your credit history, financial situation, ability to repay and other information before extending a loan offer.

Does having bad credit mean I’m being punished for bad financial habits?

Keep in mind that having bad credit doesn’t always mean that someone was irresponsible. There are a myriad of life circumstances that can negatively impact your finances and set you back – such as unexpected medical bills, loss of employment, a natural disaster and more. Having a low credit score can also be due to the fact that you’re just starting out and have yet to build any credit. The bottom line: many people find themselves having a low credit score through no fault of their own.

But regardless of the circumstances that lead to it, there are some general side effects of having bad credit.

Higher interest rates

A lower credit rating could mean a higher risk for default. Lenders compensate by setting interest rates higher to protect their investment. So, borrowing a large amount could mean paying a large amount of interest over time.

Lower odds of loan approval

If you have an unusually low credit score, you’ll likely see fewer lenders willing to take a chance on approving you for a loan. This is the unfortunate predicament that many with poor credit find themselves in – such as a student applying for a loan or a potential borrower hit with an unexpected medical bill. In this case, getting a cosigner is usually a good route to take.

Difficulty renting an apartment or getting a phone contract

Even if you’re trying to rent an apartment or sign a smartphone contract – neither of which would call for a loan – having bad credit could still potentially cause a problem. Landlords and phone companies could also check your credit before agreeing to do business with you.

Paying more for security deposits

Utility companies – similar to landlords and phone providers – can check your credit as well. You may be asked to pay a security deposit, or a higher security deposit, depending on your credit score and the company’s policy. Since you wouldn’t be paying interest on utilities, the one-time upfront fee works the same as insurance would for the utility provider, as they could refuse to return your security deposit  if you don’t pay your bills.

Options for people with bad credit

There are two main options when it comes to getting personal loans with bad credit — secured and unsecured.

Secured loans require the loan amount to be backed by collateral, like a home or car. This is often a good option for borrowers who can’t qualify for an unsecured loan. And because it’s collateralized, secured loans generally offer more favorable rates, higher loan limits and better terms. But there’s a caveat: if you default on the loan, you could risk losing your collateral.

Unsecured loans don’t require any collateral. The rate you receive is based on your creditworthiness. Since it’s not secured by an asset, this type of loan typically comes with a higher interest rate and lower loan limits.

Fortunately, whatever your needs, there’s likely a lender that’s a good fit. Here are just a few of the many lenders that offer personal loans for poor credit:

Upgrade: This online lender offers fixed-rate personal loans to those with less than average credit for things like debt consolidation, home improvement and major purchases. Its unsecured personal loans have interest rates ranging from 7.99 percent to 35.89 percent APR with loan amounts from $1,000 to $50,000 and lending terms of 36 or 60 months. Origination fees range from 1.5 percent to 6 percent.

Upstart: Founded by former Google employees, Upstart’s algorithm uses more than just your credit score to determine creditworthiness. It lends based on education and experience for purposes including debt consolidation, personal expenses and college costs. Rates range from 7.69 percent to 35.99 percent APR with loan terms of 36 and 60 months and amounts from $1,000 to $50,000. One-time origination fees run from 0 percent to 8 percent.

OneMain Financial: OneMain is another lender who accepts applicants with fair to poor credit. Loan rates range from 16.05 percent to 35.99 percent with lending amounts varying from $1,500 to $30,000. You can find 24-, 36-, 48- and 60-month terms.

TD Bank: If you’re looking for a full-service bank that offers secured and unsecured loans, TD Bank might be a good option. It offers loan amounts from $2,000 to $50,000 with rates from 6.99 percent to 18.99 percent. Repayment terms of 12 to 60-months are available.

Choosing a bad credit lender

Despite the obstacles, having a low credit score doesn’t mean getting a loan is impossible. What it does mean is you may need to utilize a little more strategy in selecting a lender. You can be approved through a short-term lender, online lender, bank or credit union. You have plenty of options to choose from and convenient ways of searching for them. But if you decide to do a little more digging on your own, it helps to know where to start.

Competitive interest rates are only one piece of the puzzle. Your goal is also to identify supportive resources that help you chip away at debt and ultimately get back to building your credit score. Here are a few things to think about when considering your loan options:

Types of bad credit loans

Installment loans: These loans are for a specific sum of money that you repay with interest in equal monthly installments over the life of the loan.

Payday Loans: While this type of short-term loan with high APRs doesn’t require collateral, you must repay it by your next payday.

Cash advances: Similar to payday loans, cash advance lenders most likely won’t check your credit, but these are most useful if you have a credit card or steady income. Not available in all states.

Bank Agreements: Per your bank’s policy, they may approve you for a short-term loan or minimal overdraft agreement. This is, of course, dependent on your banking history and ability to keep your account open.



Customer service/assistance

Do they have a full online/mobile service?

Is there a comprehensive pre-approval process?

Are there service agents ready to speak with me whenever needed?

Service reach

Are they licensed in all 50 states, and where are the branch locations?

What’s the minimum credit score to receive service?

How is underwriting handled, and will they consider alternative credit data?


Are there a variety of secured and co-signed loans options?

Do they offer zero and low down payment options?

Are they willing to waive lender fees?

How to fix credit in order to get a better loan

The best way to get better terms and rates on a personal loan is to improve your credit. And while there’s no quick fix for bad credit, even small increases in your credit score can help lower the rates you receive on a loan.

It’s important to remember that boosting your credit takes time. Here are several things you can do to get started on the path to a higher credit score:

Pay bills on time, every time. This doesn’t just apply to your credit card bills, but also to any other debts, including auto loans, mortgages and student loans.

Watch your credit utilization ratio. Keeping an eye on your balances relative to your total credit limit is crucial for improving credit. According to Experian, lenders typically like to see a ratio of 30 percent or less.

Use credit score boosting programs. Experian Boost and UltraFICO connect to your bank account to grab utility and other financial information. This is especially beneficial for those with a thin or no credit profile.

Leave unused credit cards open. As long as there is no annual fee associated with an unused card, leaving it open can be beneficial to your credit utilization ratio.

Limit your credit applications. A “hard” inquiry is made on your credit report every time you apply for a new line of credit, which lowers your score temporarily.

Fix errors on your credit report. By law, you’re entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus per year. Correcting any blemishes on your report can help you improve your credit standing overall.

Is there risk in bad credit loans?

As a borrower, you take on some risk whenever getting a personal loan. If you default on a secured personal loan, for instance, the lender could take your collateral, and your credit score could take an even bigger hit. Defaulting on an unsecured loan could mean being pursued by a collections agency, or it could result in your wages being garnished if the lender decides to take legal action.

You also chance racking up even more debt if you don’t pay bills on time. That’s especially true with a riskier payday loan, which may charge as high as 400 percent interest, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Scams targeting borrowers with poor credit seeking loans are also a concern. Fortunately, these fraudulent lenders throw up some red flags that are easy to recognize. Here are some of the signs you might be walking into a scam:

Guarantees without approval. Reputable lenders generally want to see your credit report, income and other information before extending an offer. If you come across a lender who isn’t interested in your payment history, you might be getting lured into a bad situation.

No registration in your state. The Federal Trade Commission requires that lenders be registered in the state where they do business.
Poor advertising methods. Phone calls, snail mail and door-to-door solicitation are no longer considered legitimate advertising streams for trustworthy lenders. Look for lenders that advertise online instead.
Take steps to check on a lender before you decide to submit an application. Read online reviews and look at ratings from companies like the Better Business Bureau in order to get a full picture.

Protecting your credit score after laying fresh ground
Building credit and boosting your credit score aren’t always synonymous, but they are related. Once you’ve regained some financial footing via a bad credit loan (and you will), you can then continue to practice good habits and set up protections around your credit score.

Three quick tips:

Make automated payments: Start by setting up automatic payments for your bills through your bank. This will relieve you of the burden of having to remember due dates. And it will get you into a consistent  rhythm of repayment, which is music to a creditor’s ears.

Cash in, cash out: Be strategic with your credit cards and pay for more purchases using cash. Your budget shouldn’t allow you to spend beyond what you earn. Using cash will help you keep track.

Keep an eye on your accounts: Even when you’re not overly active, continue to check your FICO score and credit card accounts regularly. This will help you maintain an ownership mentality, monitor spending  and keep annual fees from sneaking up on you.

Check Your Personal Loan Rates

Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. The process is quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.


The bottom line

Starting over financially most likely means starting over personally in some areas as well, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. A lack of knowledge, adequate resources, or access to funds to pay off debt can have a swift impact on your credit score. But remember, bad credit isn’t irreversible. You still have options toward building a functional financial life; and a bad credit loan could be a viable one.

The Challenge of Reentry

Coping with Years of Deployments

Leigh Ann Bowman has served her country as the spouse of a career Army helicopter technician. She recently shared with Legacy Beyond Valor what life was like while Scott was deployed and the challenges they faced when he returned. Our hope is that her words may help others understand the mind of the soldier and find peace and contentment during times of deployment.


  • Scott and Leigh Ann married in 1981.
  • Three years later Scott enlisted in the Army.
  • He spent 14 years with the Active Army (most of which was spent in various Cavalry units) maintaining and bringing helicopters back to life.
  • Following his departure from active duty in 1999, they remained in Colorado where he served in the Colorado National Guard.
  • While with the Colorado National Guard, Scott deployed to Kuwait for one year.
  • After accepting a position in 2004 as a military technician, he transferred to the Army Reserves and Conroe, Texas, where he continued to serve for another six years – 15 months of which he spent deployed to Afghanistan.
  • Timing placed him in the National Guard at the time of 9/11, and his deployments increased dramatically. During one five-year period, he was home sporadically a total of 16 months out of that 60-month period.

Live Fire

Through his 25 years of service, Scott moved up the ranks to Sergeant 1st Class. He was once awarded the Bronze Star.

Fortunately, as a member of the aviation support team, Scott was never directly involved in any hand-to-hand combat during his deployments. However, his FOB repeatedly took fire from rockets and mortar rounds, during which the entire FOB would take cover in bomb shelters. His only direct combat exposure came during his deployment with the Third Armored Division during the Gulf War when he was positioned right up front. Leigh Ann couldn’t tell me much about that time because Scott still doesn’t talk about it.

Far too many families are dealing with the aftereffects of combat injuries. Leigh Ann was very blessed to have her soldier deployed to a combat zone for a total of four and a half years without severe injury. However, we want to acknowledge the thousands of soldiers who were not as fortunate, and we thank you for both your service and your sacrifice.


Compared to many military families, the Bowmans have been fortunate in the number of times the Army relocated them during Scott’s enlistment: Colorado Springs, Germany (during the Gulf War), El Paso (where Scott spent a year unaccompanied to Korea), back to Colorado Springs, then Conroe, Texas, and, finally, Kansas.  Each time held its own challenges and insights into different cultures.  The challenges for families during these moves cannot be described. They are the ones who are uprooted from their community. Their soldiers continue doing what they have been doing and their lives go on. Spouses give up jobs, homes, and their support network. Children give up homes, schools, and friends they have barely had time to get to know. Now they are starting over again. It can be very challenging for military spouses to find employment because of the frequent moves.  


Leigh Ann could not remember exactly how many times over Scott’s 25-year enlistment he had been deployed or away from home for months on end, but she believes he has been gone a total of at least eight years of their 37-year marriage. He was actually deployed more while with the National Guard and Army Reserves than with the Active Army.  Timing was a big part of those deployments because they followed 9/11.

Scott’s deployment to Afghanistan was 15 months long, and Leigh Ann considers that their hardest reentry. She explained that, as the maintenance supervisor for all the Apache helicopters in the unit spread over two FOBs, he had a considerable amount of stress.  At one point, he worked 45 days straight with no days off, working 14 to 16 hours a day.  He managed the maintenance flow charts and flight schedules for 10 aircraft, and he felt a tremendous burden for the safety of the helicopter pilots as he trained their maintenance crews.

Scott told LeighAnn that no one flew any guard helicopters without his direction throughout the entire deployment. Much like auto maintenance, there are items that must be checked on scheduled intervals, so before a helicopter leaves base, its maintenance schedule must be checked. If it is going to fly for five hours but is due for an oil change in two, that helicopter is unavailable. The same is true if an incoming helicopter is scheduled for maintenance. Another helicopter must be ready to take its place. These schedules are critical to the safety of everyone on board, and that weighed heavily on Scott, both while he was deployed and even more so when he was home.

“PTSD” or “Reentry”

When asked whether she and Scott had ever dealt with the effects of PTSD, LeighAnn replied, “Yes, but they never called it that. They just called it ‘reentry.’” Every reentry was rough, and some more so than others. She believes the severity of reentry issues depends on the job Scott was performing at the time and the amount of stress he was under while deployed.

“Don’t get me wrong. Scott loves me and wants to be close to me, but there is part of him that misses that combat environment.” Leigh Ann shares. “He’s spent every waking moment, fast paced and on mission for an entire year with these same people.  It’s a closeness that cannot be recreated at home in the U.S., with Wal-Mart down the street.  They have a longing for that team mission and adrenalin rush.  TV and video games just don’t get you there.  But the truth is, we’ve all changed.  And even when the crew/team get back together on American soil, it’s still different. In a way, comforting, but still different.”

Overcoming Rough Reentries

I asked Leigh Ann what she did to overcome these rough reentries, and she replied, “Well, my first answer is going to be prayer because that’s what it was. The hardest reentry was his return from Afghanistan with his Army Reserve Unit.  What made our situation more difficult in Conroe was it was the first time we had lived in a non-military community.  Members of his Reserve unit were spread out all over the Houston area.”

“No one understood what we were going through when he got home. Nobody had friends or neighbors who knew what we were going through. One day while I was at work at a local church, I was experiencing an extremely stressful time, and another employee responded, ‘Well, we just can’t relate to that. I’m sorry.’ My heart just wanted to scream, ‘Well, okay, but I’m still going through it, whether you can understand it or not.’  And when he’s gone, I felt like a third wheel at most gatherings. People tend to keep a distance because they don’t know how to relate to your struggles and they don’t know what to say or do.”

“When you live in a military community, close to a military installation, your friends are experiencing the same issues, and they understand exactly what you are going through. The movie American Sniper did an amazing job of portraying what spouses go through during deployment and the emotions of re-entry. Scott and I didn’t go through anything more than any other couple. It isn’t just because Scott had a high-profile job. It’s the cooks, too. Everybody goes through something similar when they return home. The person you sent away is not the person who comes home. There are little idiosyncrasies that change over time.”

“People tell me all the time, ‘Oh, I understand,’ and they’ll say things like, ‘My husband was a truck driver. He was home every other weekend, and I got a phone call every day.’ Well, I’m lucky to get a phone call every other week. Try to have a relationship that way. And when I do get to talk to him, he doesn’t have time to listen to my day or my issues which he can’t really do anything about anyway.  You just try to hit the highlights.  He’s got a really important mission to run. So, you just suck it up, buttercup. At least you have physical contact, a snapshot of married life. I’ve got a phone call and sometimes a Skype date.”

“When the guys do come home, it’s like you’re having your honeymoon again for the first three weeks. Then one day you look at him and say, ‘When did you start doing that?’ Or ‘that’s really annoying.’ And you’ve changed, too. I’ve had to run this place by myself since he’s been gone. Family drama, bills, home maintenance, emergencies – the list goes on.  Even though he doesn’t know the routine here at home now, I must let him try. It’s about the ego.”

“I learned early in life some wisdom about men – and it must be twice as hard for a husband who has a wife in the military when she comes home because we have all of these emotions.  Guys are real simple creatures. You just need to feed them – feed their bellies, feed their egos, and feed their libido. If those three things are being fed, they’re happy campers. Women…far more complicated.”

“But, Scott is dealing with me, who is not so simple. So, he’s really frustrated. We have been in counseling after deployments – not generally right after because he’s not ready. I’m always ready, but he’s rarely ready for that. What helps us is being active in a church home.”

“And, honestly, this was the other part of him coming home. The military is kind of a filthy place to live. The language, all the cheating and porn – it’s a gutter. You can’t go live in a gutter and not smell like poop. There have been embarrassing times. He’s so used to hearing profanity, he doesn’t even hear it. He’ll say something inappropriate and the hair will stand up on the back of my neck, especially if we’re in front of our church friends. We are both embarrassed. It’s not really him. It’s just because he’s lived in the gutter for so long. It’s hard to brush off. I almost don’t want to take him out in public before I can clean him up, but I can’t be his mother either. It’s difficult and frustrating. It takes a lot of patience, and a lot of it is grace.”

“There are times when we get back in the car that I may bring it up because I can tell he is totally oblivious. Other times, I can look in his face when he says it, and I know he realizes what just happened, and he’s totally embarrassed. That’s knowing each other well enough to be able to read those things.”

“One time while we were living in Conroe shortly after he returned from deployment, we were in our truck when someone cut him off. Scott just snapped. He just snapped. I don’t know how else to describe it. He’s usually a mellow guy. We were on his bumper. Scott actually tapped his bumper on purpose at the stop sign. Fortunately, the guy sped off. I asked Scott to pull over, and I asked him, ‘Can we calm down? You just scared me to death! Did you even stop to think that he might have a gun in the car and could have killed both of us?’ He said, ‘No. Okay. I get it.’ Situations like that put me in a bad place as a wife because I feel like I’m scolding a teenager.”

The Greatest Struggles

When asked what about separation caused the greatest struggles, Leigh Ann had these thoughts: “We don’t have kids. I can’t imagine being a single mom while my husband is deployed. I have two Pomeranians. I’m a pretty independent woman. Some of it was because I had to be, but I was born independent.  I know my way around a tool box.  I can’t think of time when he was gone that something didn’t break or quit working.”

(Writer’s note: LeighAnn is an expert carpenter, can remodel her home, including walls, floors, backsplash, and tile. She does everything outside, including jack hammer to remove cement. Her pantry has shelves specifically designed for the size of cans or boxes it holds, as does her closet for DVDs, CD and VCRs.)

“But I still had to learn to adapt. My circumstances as a military wife can change any minute. He can come home and tell me to start packing, but then the orders change. And they can change five times in eleven weeks. I’ve learned to accept and just tell him to let me know when the movers should be here.

“I’m an extrovert; I need to be around people. So, I think coming home to an empty house, too much quiet, is the hardest for me. Whereas, Scott is an introvert. For him, he just loves peace and quiet and being by himself. Working outside the house helped me with the need to talk with people, and attending church events also helped, but there’s a part of you that feels like half of you isn’t there. It’s hard to brush off the fact that almost everyone has a spouse with them when you do not.   And yet I’m still a very happily married person….just by myself at this moment, making it hard to fit in even among friends.”

The Decision to Separate From the Army

Next, I asked Leigh Ann about Scott’s decision to leave the military for the last time (sort of).

“Too many deployments. He was getting too old for this. He was broken. It was painful. And the military was changing. Of course, Clinton decimated it. Bush had no time to rebuild. Then we went into the Obama years of social experimentation.” And the jury is still out on the Trump administration policies.

“So, Leigh Ann, did social change bring about a mass exodus from the military ranks?”

“Absolutely. The seasoned warriors or veterans just said ‘Forget it. I’m done.’ They can’t even raise their voice to them in boot anymore. Can’t hurt their feelings.  The ones Scott is working with now on the helicopters don’t seem to know anything. They can’t even read a book. He’s teaching them what they should have learned in AIT. But when you get in a work situation, there are consequences. They don’t seem to understand that you can’t fly a four-hour mission on this helicopter that is two hours from a phase.  But Scott knows that, if they have to, they can bring this other bird up by cannibalizing this other one while they are waiting for another part.”

“In the early days after 9/11, when he was deployed to Afghanistan, he was dealing with guys who have never been deployed. He and his Captain were the only combat veterans.  Scott is a good leader.  He started with a group of young soldiers with no real experience and by the time they got home, everyone wanted ‘his boys’ in their units.  In fact, we still keep in touch and call them ‘his boys’ and they call him ‘Papa Bear’. Now they’re spread out all over the United States with families of their own, and some have gone on to become pilots.”’

“When he retired from the Army Reserves, Scott took a job with the Department of the Army, Civil Service, known as AMCOM (Aviation Missile Command). He’s a LAR – Logistical Assistant Representative – between the military and the manufacturers of the helicopters.”

“He still goes out on deployments with AMCOM, but the deployments are only six months long. There is no real pressure on him. He’s an adviser. They don’t work for him; he doesn’t work for them. He’s not supervising anybody.  Scott says that his deployments as a civilian are a lot less stressful.”

“They come to him with issues the book doesn’t talk about, or maybe they need to modify something on the helicopter. One time a General wanted to use the telephone on the helicopter. Scott deals a lot more with the engines and the blades, but they do have specific LARS that do electronics as well. So, he is there to help make decisions and give guidance on things that break or that they want to modify. Weights and balances, or if they nick a blade. He can tell whether it’s safe to fly. That kind of thing. He’s a government anomaly. He saves the government money by fixing things instead of replacing them. If they need parts, he can try to expedite getting them.”

Advice to Others

“And our last topic, Leigh Ann, will be in the advice column. With 25 years as a military wife, do you have any advice for those in the middle of it right now?”

“Buckle up and hang on. Get used to change. If you can’t handle change, you’re not going to last long. Get out in the community. Get to know other military friends. Take advantages of the resources available to you as a military spouse. Get familiar with the chain of concern, which is like the chain of command for the guys. The wives have a chain of concern. Everybody has all their phone numbers. They call and check to see if you need anything. When an emergency happens, they are there for you. The military is a tight-knit community that protects and takes care of each other. When you find yourselves away from that, you find yourself alone.”

Final Thoughts

“I worry about the generation coming after us because they’re used to getting their way, and the Army’s not about that. You must be flexible. The hurry-up-and-wait is always going to exist as long as we have government. They can’t always tell you everything. They can’t always articulate it. Our nephew, who also served in the Active Army, has been through a lot. War is not pretty. We’ve been at this a long time now, so there are a lot of guys that are deployment weary. They’ve been away from home way too much and seen things that can never be erased from their memories. They’re so hardened and the rest of the world has gotten so soft, it’s no wonder we have two different versions of what the U.S. is.”


LeighAnn, thank you for taking time to share  what life is like as a military spouse. On behalf of the team at Legacy Beyond Valor, thank you for your service, and please thank Scott for his service as well.