Being in the Navy was mentally, physically, emotionally draining. It also was very rewarding and gave me a sense of pride. No one can take away or credit themselves for my accomplishments. I worked my ass off and proved myself in a male dominant field that I would be equal if not better than my subordinates. When I decided to join, I was 18. Attended one year of community college and I felt stuck. You're probably thinking, "If you couldn't commit to going to community college, why make a four year commitment in the Navy?" That's the million dollar question. I still don't know why or what made me take a drastic change in direction. It just felt right.
I do remember thinking if I make it a career I would love for my future children to have the same experiences I did. My sister and I had a really good childhood. I primarily lived with my mom and my step-father who is currently still serving in the Navy. We moved very 3-4 years but looking back my parents never made it a negative subject. It was more of an adventure to a place that we've never been before. And again you're probably thinking, "Why would you want this for your children?" Moving around so often doesn't sound like a fun time. Well, after my freshman year in high school we moved over seas. By the time I graduated, we visited 10 countries. Given that, not every military family gets the opportunity to live over seas but I will have those memories forever and wanted to push my life/career in that direction.
My first year in the Navy was whirlwind. Plain and simple. Lots of adapting. In the mix of that, I met my husband. Fate would have it that we were assigned to the same duty station. Now, dating your "co-worker" especially in the Navy is not easy. Definitely not filled with rainbows and butterflies because we get to see each other everyday. Some days it was nice don't get me wrong. Other days, I just wished that we had a "normal" life where you'd say, "Have a great day at work babe. See you when you get off." I say that because working together and in the same organization, we have the same stresses about work. And a lot of times we brought them home with us. It was hard being in a committed relationship where there is no guarantee that we will be stationed together again. Because we were not married at the time, he or I could be in a different state or even a different country. It was hard to talk about that future and what we both wanted when our careers and where we were headed was not set in stone.
That was the beginning of our relationship and as time went on, things got easier. We learned to separate military life and our personal lives. A year later we were both excelling in our careers and killing it. Climbing the ranks and adding qualifications to set each other up. No matter what came our way, we stood by each others side.
We got married April 14, 2017. It was the best day of my life. I look back at where we started and how much we have both changed together. We grew through life's ups and downs and came up on top. I gained a bonus child. My step-daughter Hayden. Which is probably one of the big reasons why I fell in love with him in the first place. He is a amazing father. Seeing this big tough guy just melt over his daughter is incredibly attractive and makes me proud to call him my husband.
Back track to a couple months before our wedding. In January I had my first seizure ever. Very scary time. In the days following lead to many doctors visits which lead to medications. Shortly after, lead to another seizure. With no history of seizures and having two in a month was alarming. Doctors began running tests and even inpatient care to figure out what is causing this and why. Which leads to the veteran part.
In May of 2017, the Navy basically told me you can either cross rate (meaning switch jobs to something else to accommodate my disability) or get medically discharged from the Navy. My job in the Navy required me to handle weapons and missiles. Due to my disability the Navy found it unsafe for me to maintain my job. Now with this huge decision on my plate, I was not ready to leave the Navy. I was planning on reenlisting because I didn't have a back-up plan set yet. Wasn't sure what I wanted to pursue in college, no job lined up. It was an unexpected plot twist that life had thrown at me.
With all the tests complete and found a medication that worked for me temporarily, doctors still had no source of where these seizures were coming from. They diagnosed me with Epilepsy and I had to make a decision. My husband and I talked for days about what to do. How would we survive for potentially taking away one income until I find a job? When I enroll in school what the heck will I study? My husband said he would support me with whatever I choose. Which ultimately lead me to my final decision to go through the VA compensation process and to be medically discharged from the Navy.
It came down to my health. I have to be physically ready to be in the Navy. The uncertainty of cross rating to a different job would only give me "red flags" for rest of my career. I wouldn't be able to move or work in certain areas of the world given that I need a facility to access my medication, take it everyday and have follow up appointments. With both of us in the military it wouldn't only determine where I go but also my husband as well. He could have amazing opportunity somewhere and because of my disability and constant care, they can and will say no to him. It was a hard decision. Very hard.
Memorial Day 2018 I successfully got VA compensation and discharged from the Navy. My husband was right there with me every step of the way. Every doctor visit, ER visit, test done and mental breakdown of why this is happening to me and how it absolutely sucks! My family encouraging me to do the right thing.
Five years ago I made a decision to join the Navy and looking back I wouldn't have changed a thing. It's made me a badass, strong, mature, smart women. I got to see more of the world. I met some incredible people. Most importantly, I met the love of my life. I will forever be internally grateful for what he has done for me and how much he has supported me through my naval career and diagnosis.
And that's how I went from Military. Wife. Veteran.