Our Transition Out of ARMY


Our “Transition” journey out of the ARMY. What the transition out of the ARMY was like for this mom.

The word transition as per google:


[ tran-zishuhn, –sish– ]


  1. movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change:

What a GREAT word. But with it comes changes, a journey, that we needed to conquer and how were we going to do that. One word “Together”

Hello I’m Jenn, Mom to 4 incredible adult children and wife to a forever Red Legger, KABOOOMMMM!

We have been married almost 28 years. Though he served this BEAUTIFUL country 30 years on active duty, he returned back to the same building the following week just not in uniform. We like to say he is “semi-retired”

So here we were stepping away from his many years of service to what we called “the real world”. What were we going to do? No more deployments, FRG’s, coffees, hail and farewells, hosting, planning, participating and volunteering obligations were required of us. We took a breath, pondered a bit and said “What’s next”?

Decision Time ~

Our journey to get to retirement didn’t go without a few hiccups, bickering (because he was home more then I was used to) and learning how to communicate along the way was key.

First where were we going to land, permanently? Both of us are from the East coast but found Oklahoma pretty great. Very cost effective and we could keep our last two kids in the same high school, yes, we did have to move a senior the year before. The tax break here was a bonus, cost of living is low, and Oklahoma had most of what we were looking for minus the heat and minimal snow.

I did have mixed emotions about staying here. Being so far from family that we have spent so much time away from, other than holidays and moving to our next duty station. The climate of dry wicked heat, I was not a fan of and still not.  Tornados and field fires were something I was not used to, but to see the JOY on my husband’s face when we purchased our 40 acres and all the possibilities it had/has was priceless.

We loved our church, we are close to post, which is great for medical/VA care and big cities are only an hour or so away. But I felt like I was missing something. Kids were leaving the nest one by one, my place as a neighbor on post was taken by someone else. Volunteering was slowly coming to an end and I felt like I was ready to step away.

Stepping Away but into new adventures~

I asked a few of my Sister ARMY Spouses who are going through transition and or now retired, what their struggles were or are. Here is what they said:

“The biggest thing I missed was the instant friend group you had as an ARMY spouse.

“The camaraderies of living on Post, where we had the best neighbors.”

“My close friends are not my neighbors”.

“Supporting my spouse in the many options he had, watching him try to make the best choice for our family”.

“I struggle with not knowing my place, as we retire all those coffees and other social events, we won’t have those anymore”.

“I think it was a little hard to feel comfortable in our new roles”.

Do I miss the ARMY and the families, YES, but with that many years given, I felt like the ARMY is changing and I am pretty much “out dated” with just a few years of semi-retirement under his belt. It was time for new and improved energy and me just being a mentor on the sidelines

With our final decision made to stay here in SW Oklahoma, we planted our roots, literally with building our forever home. Finally remembering all the things, we liked and

didn’t like about living in military quarters came together, but this time in a permanent location. We went ahead and bought some chickens, the nest needed to be filled again. Continued to learn how to grow my “forever” garden and dabbling in new adventures outside of the military community felt pretty good and exciting.

Those same Sister ARMY spouses above gave GREAT advice:

“In the civilian world, I really had to put myself out there, I started volunteering and joined the gym”.

“Luckily we moved into a neighborhood where everyone wants to be involved and friendly”.

“I have to be intentional about making plans with close friends or otherwise I won’t see them”.

“Trying to focus on the word “growth “ and not “change”.

“Everyone’s journey is different. Get up each day and do something for yourself and others”.

I have started blogging our life after the ARMY, working as a sous chef, supporting military businesses and continue to contract work as remote leather for RRiveter. Needless to say, I’m staying busy, all while listening/reading a good book or magazine through a virtual book club I started.

You find people that you have connected with in your military journey. Whether they are still active duty, getting ready to retire from service or already retired we all will go through this transition phase. Reach out to those people. Their transition may be different than ours or yours, but I think we can all relate in some shape or form. Give advice, things that worked or did not work for you. Share how you were able to get through those ups and downs and the fears of walking away. You will be surprised there is a lot of spouses out there that had/are having the same concerns.

I hope that our journey and my fellow ARMY sisters’ journey quotes and tips were helpful. Peace and Blessings in your transition journey, yes, it is a journey growth doesn’t happen overnight.


PS Yes, the beard did come with retirement and it too had its own transition…LOL

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Jenn Smith
Hey I'm Jenn, NYer turned OKie after my husbands 30 year ARMY career. We have four pretty amazing adult kids, two of which are active duty soldiers, so yes we are "empty nesters" But that didn't last, we bought 40 acres called The Roost and a few chickens to fill that void. Though my career was Physical Therapy many years ago, I chose to stay at home with our kids during my husband's active duty career with lots of volunteering added to my resume. I dabbled in substitute teaching at many duty stations and started contract work with R. Riveter as a Remote Leather Riveter, RR131 :). I love to cook, garden, create garden/field to table recipes and listen to audiobooks while doing that. My goal is to "keep moving" so staying active as long as I can through running, yoga, biking is my go to, but I do enjoy a frothy cup of black coffee, a glass of wine and chips and salsa. Here with Military Mom Collective I want to inspire, guide, share tips and tricks that we have learned through our military journey. Also to help other empty nester moms out there who have kids that are active duty. It is a different ball game when your kids are active and deploying, but we can get through it together.


  1. Jenn, I loved reading about your post army journey. We are 6 years out now and living in our forever home in South Carolina. We love the area, our church and being able to be on the water most of the year. We do miss many things about our old life – mainly how easy and fast the friendships were. Those take a little more work in the civilian world.

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