#WhatWorks: A Thriving Career
Finding a job post-service isn’t the end of the road. Veterans share how they not only found a new paycheck, but built thriving, creative, entrepreneurial new careers.
By M.L. Doyle
… It took me almost ten years to finally write about wearing a uniform, traveling to remote places for duty, and deploying to Bosnia. Once I began using former mission sites as backdrops for my mystery series, my family and friends had a better chance of understanding what my duty had been like. In The Peacekeeper’s Photograph, I describe our living conditions on Camp McGovern, Bosnia, painting pictures of where we ate, the country, the people, the destruction we saw, and the difference we made. In The Sapper’s Plot, the focus is on Honduras, the mountain villages we lived in and the people who flocked to receive medical treatment. And in, The General’s Ambition, the setting is a large training exercise in Hohenfels, Germany. There’s a mock press conference, training sites, dirt and dust, and a keen desire from the characters to finish the exercise and go home. In the book, it’s when “end-X” is called, that the story begins.
In the Army Reserve I forever had one foot in the military world and the other in a civilian world that didn’t understand what happened once I shrugged on a uniform and laced up my boots. One would think the frequency of transition would eventually make things easier, smoother, less likely to trip you up. After all, I had plenty of practice.
For me, transition means being able to write about military service, to get it recorded, to share it with those who might never otherwise know what wearing a military uniform is like.
By Jesse Frewerd
To be honest, I’m not sure if I ever would have picked up my guitar again if it wasn’t for a fellow veteran. I came really close to just shelving it, letting my passion collect dust on my bookshelf of forgotten hobbies. Without that veteran’s help, it is possible that I might have let a huge part of my identity atrophy all because of circumstance, depression, and maladjustment. Thanks to my friend, however, I completely changed course. This past summer was the first time I played Summerfest, and I am writing new music again. I am also looking to record some new material for the first time since 2012.
Let me first back up for a second. There is some background and context you really need to comprehend how I got to where I am today. My transition from the military was multi-layered and multi-faceted. When I left the military, I was young, and inexperienced with anything outside the Army. At the same time, I was confident and unabashed. Only 20 years old when I got out, I had a plan, and I stuck to that plan: Go to college.
I was supposed to use my time in the Army to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, but I didn’t quite get around to that. Almost half of my three-year enlistment was spent at war. Nevertheless, having just spent over a year in Iraq, my return was thrilling and emotional, but also thoughtful and controlled. I held my daughter for the first time, saw my parents and close friends, and felt the comfort being back home. I also had a decent chunk of change from my deployment. I had fun, traveled and vacationed, but then got back to my “normal” life. With the money I saved, I was able to buy my first house while I was in college. In addition to receiving my GI Bill, I was able to get some grants to cover tuition. Overall, I thought I was all set.
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