United We Serve: Tammy Meyer on being a United States Navy Family

I recently connected with Tammy Meyer, fellow military spouse, and asked for her thoughts on being a Navy family for the #unitedweserve series. Needless to say, I was thrilled when she said yes! Tammy, thank you very much for all of your time and insight!

LEOMILSpouse: Tell me a little history about the branch that you and your family serves? What are some unique challenges that you feel your branch experiences?

 Tammy: First of all, thank you so much Ashley for letting me connect with your readers and “Hello” from a Navy Spouse! More specifically from the Navy Civil Engineer Corp (CEC), Seabee Spouse Community! Most spouses, at least most of my friends in the CEC community will tell you that the CEC is the best community in the Navy! I can say that, because I’m confident most every other community in the Navy would tell you the same thing about their community, from aviation to subs, to ships and everything in between. What’s unique about the Seabee community is that these Navy men and women, unless your part of an Underwater Construction Team, they don’t spend much time, if any, on the water. All of their work is on land. Seabee also stands for CB, or Construction Battalion. They build. They fight. They build bridges and airstrips, schools and hospitals. They build infrastructure and barracks for other branches to work out of when deployed. They drill for water and when necessary, they fight. They defend the perimeters of work sites and convoys to move materials to construction sites. They also provide much needed humanitarian efforts all over the globe. This brings me to the uniqueness of our community which means perpetual deployments.

During peace time or war time, the Seabees and their families are always cycling through continuous deployments. Battalions were commissioned in World War II and haven’t stopped deploying ever since. Seabees were deployed long before Dessert Storm, and Iraq, during Iraq and during Afghanistan Wars, and deployments will continue even as the wars draw down. Although our community might be unique for these reasons and many more, the entire Navy is unique because there are so many different communities that make up our great Navy, which speaks to many different experiences, not only for the service member, but also for their family.

LEOMILSpouse: How did you and your spouse come to be a military family (personal family story)?

Tammy: I married my spouse after he had already been active duty for 12 years. We’ve been married for almost 8 years, together for almost 10. Do the math, and we’ve celebrated the 20 year milestone (and counting). In our time together, we’ve experienced 4 moves (1 international), 2 deployments, and one major hurricane by the name of Katrina. Although my spouse is not currently in a job where he is deployed, I’m experiencing my first ‘geobachelorette’ tour. We did move together, however he will hopefully be home a total of 4 weeks over the next 8 months. Yes. You read that right. He’s not deployed, but he’s gone more than he would be for most deployments. This experience certainly helps me appreciate our other branches and communities even more where they have frequent bouts of separation for undetermined amounts of time. My compassion grows.

LEOMILSpouse: If you could answer/solve a misconception about being a military spouse, what would it be?

Tammy: Before I met my spouse, I had already established and invested a significant amount of time, energy, money and much sacrifice into my own career. After two bachelors degrees, six different professional certifications, and over 12 years climbing the corporate ladder, I married the military (as they say) with much enthusiasm, and didn’t look back. I took my personal and professional experience and opened the virtual doors to my own business as a Certified Life & Business Coach. I spent over 100 hours interviewing other military spouses about their role as a military spouse. From those conversations, I learned that although we are our service members number one fan and biggest supporter, our own personal dreams and goals often get put on hold. Navigating the unique challenges of a military lifestyle often leaves us feeling last. We lose our identity along the way and sometimes don’t even realize where it was that we lost it. Was it during the last deployment or the first? Was it at the last duty station or the one overseas? Was it after welcoming the first child, or the third or during the single parenting? Was it during the last underemployed job, the bout of unemployment, or the 26 hour days finishing a degree?

Although we sometimes can’t pinpoint when and where we’ve lost our identity, or may not even realize that this military lifestyle has swallowed it up, I’m dedicating my time, passion and business to helping spouses keep their identity, to enjoy a thriving career of their own and to pursue their personal best in health and fitness. We lose our identity when we put too much of ourselves into one area of life. By nature, that’s what the role of a military spouse can do, if we let it. Kids, spouse, volunteer work, career, any area of life can take our identity. This is what motivates me to solve a common misconception about being a military spouse. Too many of us, too often, feel that we do have to put our own personal dreams and goals on hold. By default. It comes with the territory. There are too many unknowns.

We don’t. It’s simply a story we tell ourselves and that too many of us believe. The answer starts with asking “What do I need to keep my own identity, or to find it again?” Once you ask yourself that question, don’t stop asking it. The answer can change with every twist and turn of your service members career. If you keep asking yourself what you need to keep your identity, you will be able to identify what you can change and all of the unknowns, the real parts of this military life that we can’t change, will fall away just enough out of your direct focus so that you can see what is possible. What we’re left with is what we can focus on and what we can do and enjoy and be, with a refreshing perspective that puts us at the beginning of a journey to keep our own identity while still supporting our service member. If you stare too long in the rear view mirror, you’ll miss the opportunities that are directly in front of you.

Regardless of branch or how long you and your family have been living the military life, most spouses simply want a little something to call their own; just a little something for yourself. I believe wholeheartedly that you’ll find it.

Tammy Meyer is currently enjoying life in sunny southern CA and keeps her identity by helping others find theirs. She is a speaker, a life and business coach and was overwhelmed with gratitude to receive the 2014 AFI Navy Spouse of the Year Award. She would love to hear your story. tammymeyerlifecoach@gmail.com
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