MSEJ November 2018 - Page 23

Years ago, I was standing in line at the Norfolk Naval Station personnel center, eagerly awaiting my paperwork to get a Military Visa to accompany my husband to Italy. As I looked at the uniforms that surrounded me, I felt a sense of nostalgia. I had worn that uniform myself not that long ago.

I had just separated from the military, and being a civilian wasn’t really familiar yet—not when so much of my life was bound up in the service. I met my husband on our ship, and when my enlistment term was up, I decided to get out. I reasoned that it would be easier to become a civilian, to do my own work (and for only one person’s occupation to dictate moving considerations).

I approached the window, I handed over all of my documents. I was asked for my husband’s Social Security number, along with my ID.

After the specialist looked through the records, he politely informed me that I would need a power of attorney if my husband wasn’t present.

When I took off my uniform, I lost a sense of my professional and personal identity, along with any requests for my own Social Security number and the ability to navigate a system I knew so well.

Amanda Huffman, blogger at Airman to Mom, describes her transition from service member to spouse as disorienting, noting that:

Going from active duty to military spouse felt like I was going from having one hand on the wheel to being thrown in the trunk and going along for the ride. [Life] used to be focused on our careers. When I left, it felt like the goals and dreams I had for me no longer mattered. It was a hard transition, and one I still sometimes struggle with.

Although our lives differ in many ways, Huffman’s reaction and experience mirrors my own, and that of many other service members turned spouses.| HOT JOBS 23

Transition: From Service to Spouse

By Charlie Palumbo, 2018 CASY & MSCCN Writing Intern