Anchors Aweigh: Charting a New Course After Military Service

Jessica Makin
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My journey into the United States Navy had begun with a longing for adventure, a desire to explore far-flung corners of the world, and an insatiable curiosity about life beyond high school. Joining the Navy had always felt like an escape from the ordinary, a chance to discover the extraordinary. I had been raised in the military lifestyle and always wondered what it would be like to join for myself. Yet, from the moment I stepped onto that military transport plane bound for the Middle East, I knew my life was about to change in ways I couldn’t fathom.

Life as a Master-at-Arms began with a profound sense of duty. Every day, we stood as sentinels, entrusted with the safety and security of our ship and crew. It was a solemn responsibility, but one that filled us with pride. The Navy’s core values—Honor, Courage, and Commitment—became our guiding principles, shaping not just our careers but our character as well.

My first duty station in Bahrain was a world away from everything I had ever known. The vibrant culture, the bustling markets, and the captivating history of the region were all overwhelming. As a junior enlisted sailor, I had the privilege of working alongside some of the finest men and women in the Navy, each of us contributing to the mission in our unique ways. I’d never imagined that my job in security could be so pivotal, ensuring that our ships and bases were safe and secure across the Gulf.

Further into my career, I was tasked with deployments to Jebel Ali and Dubai. It was during those deployments that I truly understood the significance of my role. I saw the impact of our work as we supported naval operations in the region, and I felt the camaraderie of my fellow sailors who, like me, had ventured far from home in search of adventure.

But with every thrilling adventure comes a moment of reckoning, and for me, it arrived as my time in the Navy drew to a close. As I contemplated transitioning out of the military, the excitement that had carried me through my years of service was tinged with anxiety. The prospect of civilian life was a daunting one. I realized that while the Navy had provided me with invaluable skills and experiences, it had also shielded me from the complexities of the civilian world.

The transition process was stressful and bewildering. The military had been my home, my family, and my purpose. Now, I found myself adrift in a sea of uncertainty, not knowing where to turn for guidance.  I wasn’t prepared for just how difficult the job search would be.

In 2010, I separated from the United States Navy as an E4. I felt clueless about how to handle my search for employment. The Navy gave me a pep talk before they sent me on my way but after that, I was on my own. At least it felt that way. I decided to try out college with my G.I. Bill benefits for a while until I could decide on what career path I should take. Looking back now, I wish I had prepared more with a plan before jumping ship. Over the next few years, I struggled from job to job with no real guidance on how to write a resume, network, or showcase myself as an asset to a company. Eventually, I was able to find my way, but no military member should have to feel alone in their transition as I did. If there is one piece of advice, I could give to someone transitioning out of the military it would be that it is never too early to plan for becoming a civilian again. Don’t hesitate to reach out to organizations offering valuable employment resources. Hire Heroes USA is a wonderful place to begin.

As I look back on my time as a Master-At-Arms in the United States Navy, I am filled with gratitude for the lessons I’ve learned. I learned the true meaning of service, the importance of adaptability, and the power of camaraderie. The Navy taught me that in the face of adversity, we find our greatest strengths. 

Since my time in the Navy, I have had the privilege of working different jobs within the military and veteran communities. I am humbled to feel such a sense of purpose in my career. I am truly proud to work for Hire Heroes USA and be able to continue my passion for connecting military service members, veterans, and their spouses to the resources they need.

At Hire Heroes USA, we understand that the transition from military to civilian life poses distinct challenges for junior enlisted service members. Recognizing the unique hurdles they face, we’ve developed the Junior Enlisted Program to provide specialized support tailored to their needs. These brave men and women often begin their military careers fresh out of high school, diving headfirst into an environment of discipline, structure, and camaraderie. Yet, upon their transition, they sometimes find themselves navigating unfamiliar territories with limited professional networks and experience outside of their military roles. Our program is designed to bridge this gap, offering targeted career counseling, skills training, and networking opportunities to ensure their invaluable military experience translates seamlessly into the civilian workforce. By focusing on these specific issues, the Junior Enlisted Program at Hire Heroes USA is breaking down barriers and paving the way for a smoother, more empowered transition for our junior enlisted heroes. 

For more information about obtaining services with Hire Heroes USA, go to