Welcome to The Taking Off The Armor!
This is the first of many weekly blogs pertaining to various aspects of the military affecting service members that have, are, or will be transitioning back to civilian status. I also plan to include a heavy emphasis on Guard and Reserves because honestly, their challenges are rarely afforded the time and attention they warrant.
While some blogs will be more general and applicable to Total Force members; others will be more specific on issues pertaining to a particular section of the military, and then there will just be those that are more personal or just a thought that hit me. Anything goes…
I guess the first thing to do is introduce myself. Donna Hoffmeyer is the name. Mom, nurse, writer, educator, overthinker, straight shooter, BS detector, and slightly type A (okay, highly type A) with a soft underside…and now a retired veteran.
I’ve transitioned twice. The first time, I separated from active duty Air Force after 12 years of service. The original plan was to finish my graduate degree and then work in the health and wellness industry. The divine universe had other plans for me. During those four years, I finished my degree. I also got married, had our wildly witty two kids, taught college, moved, and found myself coming back to the Air Force reserves.
The second time was for retirement, after a cumulative 21 years of service — 12 years active duty, 2 years traditional reserves, and 7.5 years as an active guard reserve member. My last job was working with wounded/ill/injured Guard and Reservist; initially as a clinical case manager and ending as a subject matter expert in policy pertaining to medical care for guard and reserves.
The last seven years have been extremely eye-opening. Learning the system is seriously polarized by biased beliefs at all levels was a hard pill to swallow for this idealistic mind. A belief the service member is out to “get theirs” or “milk the system”; belief Guard and Reserves do not deserve the same benefits as their active-duty counterparts; belief some people are not as worthy as others for care and benefits; belief the military can only help so many…and the list goes on.
In fairness, there are good people within this system; there are even great people working…