Military Career vs. Family (Do you have to choose?)

As a young Private in the Army I never really considered what was most important in my life. All I knew was "show up at the right place, in the right uniform." While my leadership tried to guide me down the correct path (which I veered off of at some point), it wasn't until I had a child and became an officer that this topic really crossed my mind.

Whether officer or enlisted, at some point you will decide whether or not you're in this for the long haul. That could be 20 years, or it could be "I'm out after my first enlistment". Nevertheless, if you have a family it can be extremely hard to decide what is best for your situation. I'll share a few nuggets that I've picked up along the way:

1. Define your own military journey.

While your leaders can offer you advice, they can't ultimately dictate what is best for YOU. Perhaps you don't want to pursue the "hard jobs", but do have a desire to serve honorably in an MOS/Branch that suits you. You're ultimately responsible for seeking out the opportunities that you desire, and not allowing someone else to define it for you.

2. Don't be afraid to pursue another MOS/Branch.

Piggybacking off of #1..maybe after 6 years of being in your current field, you no longer have a passion for it.

THAT is ok! Enlisted members reclass often and officers VTIP (Voluntary Transfer Incentive Program) quite frequently (I'll share my journey from 35D to 51A at some point in the future..know that it was a great move and there are tons of info about on the Human Resources Command Website). If you meet the qualifications for the new field go for it, it may be just the thing you need to renew your passion for the military.

3. Determine what's best for your family

One day we will all unlace these boots and take off the uniform. Know that it was your family who stood by you through all of the deployments, training, and daily venting sessions. At some point you may have to make the sacrifice and choose an assignment that suits your family situation. It maybe your child's school or even a spouse's ability to stabilize in a job, but just make this is at the top of your list and that it stays there throughout the duration of your career.

4. Consider what you want post military service.

If you have a desire to pursue a career in the same field after the military, wouldn't it be great to get a head start while in uniform? Obtaining certifications prior to getting out can serve as golden tickets for you in the civilian world. Definitely something to consider (look for programs that the military will pay for; ACS, reenlistment for school, tuition assistance programs, or if you can sacrifice foot the bill if it makes sense).