Reading through my first two posts and the comments, I realized that I made things tougher and more confusing for everyone. Many ideas and thoughts came flooding out in no particular order in those first two blog entries, resulting in some 3000+ words for readers to work through and think about.

As a result, the comments and my responses were all over the page. Many readers brought up legitimate points that deserve attention. It’s a disservice to brush over these, and I have barely even started scratching the surface. So I’m going to simplify things. This will (hopefully) be a long-running blog, so I’ll try to stick to addressing one issue per post, posting only every week or so, as time allows.

First issue: is this just about my choices, or is it bigger than that?

For the first few years after my oldest was born, I was on AD, and the scarcity of other female pilots (and absolute lack of pilots who were also single mothers) meant all of my decisions were made in a vacuum with little outside guidance/support. When faced with the reality of what I was trying and failing to do, I looked at my options and chose the only one that made sense given what was available. I got out. Switched over to the Reserves.

I assumed I was alone or one of only a handful in my situation. Accepted in, didn’t like it, but figured that was it and I would find other ways to contribute. But as a Reservist, I kept running into other Reservists, male and female (all male at first because of my MOS), with similar stories. So about two years ago, I started looking into what the policies were across the services, and what many seniors and peers—again, of both genders—had decided and done. Kept coming back to the same stories, the same decision points.

So I thought, maybe we should start talking about it. Many of y’all have asked if this is a selfish thing on my part, and perhaps I should just accept the options available and get over it, or if it’s really for the good of the services. It’s a valid question, for sure.

My experience has shown me that it’s not just me, not by far. As more women enter the service, dual military marriages increase, and men take on greater responsibilities at home because of shifting gender roles, increasing loss of mid-grade enlisted and officer members absolutely will affect readiness and numbers. Many of the responses back this up.

The Reserves are one choice, made by many. But the inefficiencies of the Reserves bother me, the severe limitations of the Reserve contributions. Within my own job I’ve tried to manage that and somewhat improve it, but why stop there? Innovation is not the enemy. There are certainly holes in some of the ideas I will propose in future blogs. But that’s where informed, open-minded readers come in.

There are shortages in the force, even with manpower drawdowns. There are members—of both genders, again—that want to stay but cannot with existing policies. Is it possible to be on the tip of a spear, or to make flag rank, pursuing alternate career paths like those I’ve suggested and will suggest? Likely not. But most of us would happy to retire at 20 or 30 at any rank as long as we feel we were able to make a difference and continue to serve.

And again, these are ideas that do—and should—affect both genders.

So I’m trying to think outside of the proverbial box. Which is not a bad thing. Looking forward to future input…just don’t expect my posts to be as frequent or as long. Thanks for reading.




Posted by Jeannette Haynie in Uncategorized


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  • Ken Adams

    Jeannette,

    Don’t let the negative reactions (or their volume) discourage you from writing. This piece, being shorter, may lend itself to a more focused discussion.

  • Charity

    Jeannette,

    I’m excited to see you on the Blog, and this is the main reason: “I assumed I was alone or one of only a handful in my situation.”

    I’m an AD spouse but have many friends who are dual AD/Reserve with children, so many can benefit from your discussion. Keep it up, and great post!

  • Chaps

    is this now the Jeanette Haynie blog?

  • Derrick

    My understanding of these posts is that:

    If the US navy wishes to keep top performers who are having trouble balancing work and family it will have to find ways to compromise.

    Is that correct?

    If so, there’s no harm in doing some research. Private industry does the same to keep top performing managers, etc. Except that there will likely be a cost to the taxpayer which would be hard to finance in today’s deficit climate.

  • GIMP

    Please stop.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Chaps,

    It’s been the “front porch” blog from time to time as well. What’s your point?

  • F/A18 2 C-40

    At the risk of sounding curt, I think a brief summary of your posts thus far would be: I wanted to stay active duty, and I feel like I was a solid Marine that would be good for the Corps to keep around. There are others like me that I think the Corps should try to keep around. How can we change the system so that people like me can have a career in the Corps and still do the other things in life that we would like to do like (yours more specifically involving family).

    The evidence is out there that the military is going to contract before it expands again. There are limited dollars coming into the defense arena. We already have a shortage of aircraft, ships, equipment, and personnel. Those shortages are not because we have more demand than supply in the most technical sense. It is because we have have more demand than resources to afford the supply. So, I believe I left out a caveat as I responded to your earlier posts. I am answering your questions from a reality-based perspective. What can we afford to do with the resources we are being granted? If I thought that getting an increase in resources was something likely to happen in the coming decades, your questions would be an interesting look into how we could attract the best and brightest and keep them for 30 years.

    So, knowing that we have a mission and limited resources, how can anybody fairly and with a straight face talk about how hard it is on us that are choosing to put family over mission? There are people making the sacrifices daily. Sure, I believe I would have made a great CAG. Maybe better than one of my peers that will necessarily have the job someday. But, I chose to avoid the 6-8 years of additional sea duty that it would take to get to that point because I have a child that I do not enjoy being apart from for 6-10 months at a clip. Did the Navy lose out because I wasn’t retained? Maybe. Are there enough resources for the Navy to keep me happy and still have me take up a critical spot in its undeermanned VFA community?

    So, your complaints aren’t that the military is not doing enough for women. Women are treated as well as their male peers (probably better). Your complaint is that there are not enough resources to give you (and arguable other women and men) the lifestyle you desire and still retain you in the force.

    So, go back to my comments about the military giving up a billet for you (a limited resource), and now you want them to give up more resources to keep you around because they have already invested in you. I still argue, with the very limited resources the military has, the military would be better off researching who the better candidate is on the front side. By that, I do not mean that you were an incapable officer and pilot. I mean that the military would be better off profiling who is likely to be available for 20-30 years (if that is truly the desired career length) and put its very limited resources into developing and training that person. Statistically, women (and I’m sure other demographics that obviously must include myself) would bear the statistical reality that they tend to have other priorities around their late 20’s to early 30’s. So, is it really in the nation’s best interest to pick you over a peer of yours that comes from a different demographic?

    Let me end by saying that I am basing most of my argument solely on the reality of resources. If resources were less limited, I do believe that there would be arguments that other demographics might be better to look at when choosing candidates. Maybe having women flying jets would be better than men (or substitue any group x better suited than group y) overall if they weren’t more likely to leave during the prime of their career. The problem is that we do have limited resources, so I am trying to inject reality into the discussion. I know you are asking how to make it better for you to stay in your position, but I argue that maybe you shouldn’t have been in the position in the first place. (Nothing personal, I mean the collective you which probably includes me).

    Maybe on another blog somewhere we could discuss the wishes and dreams of a military that has unlimited resources. I know some very cool equipment that people would love to take to war. I worked very closely with the Marine Corps, and I already wonder how they do their mission with so few people, so I think there are many Marine commanders that would love to have more people working for them. I know for sure there are admirals that are screaming for more jets and carriers. Then we could all join the military when we want, leave when it is convenient, and come back when it suits us.

  • Mittleschmerz

    Jeanette – sometimes the negativity only shows that you have hit a nerve with those firmly wedded to their opinions. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts…but also recommend two things, both of which you have already recognized – more time between posts and shorter, more concise, messages.

    The modern reader is pretty adept at skipping over text and that easily leads to misunderstanding.

    If you post every day, or every other day, you run the risk of saturating the ether. Were this your personal blog, that would be different, but with a group contribution blog you need to let things percolate. Just write your post, then schedule it to publish in a couple of days and leave it as a draft in WordPress. You can go back and edit to your heart’s desire.

    Oh, and your critics will just completely come unhinged when they figure out that Navy (and the rest of DoD) is trying to figure out how to get to population parity in the military…in other words 50% men and 50% women.

  • F/A18 2 C-40

    Mittleshmerz,

    CDR S does a good job already of showing why having diversity goals is counter to good order and discipline as well as not often the best thing for readiness.

    I do not have a problem with women serving in the military. My issue is whether we have the resources available to support women serving in the military given the fact that we know there will be pregnancies and that a high percentage will choose to leave during child-bearing ages. I argue that we should not dedicate even more resources to retaining women that prioritize family over their military career. Just as I do not see it being a net gain for the military to expend limited resources on men who do the same thing. I argue that the value added is less than the cost of the resources expended (though I might not argue very well or eloquently).

  • Kennedy

    Post three and still stirring the pot. Good for you. I’m glad that you limited your scope this time. In our military careers (20 year enlisted Navy) we are faced with many hard choices. I never had to choose between the family or the military. The family would have won every time. Keep pressing on. I look forward to your next post.

  • Matt

    F/A18 2 C-40 say it nicely.

    I would also like to know how the injection of women into the ranks of frontline warfighters affects their concentration on fighting. How can we gloss over the fact that woment attract men? I just don’t believe the men won’t be distracted at the very least when their minds should be totally focused on staying alive and killing to put in bluntly. I was alway distracted at school by pretty girls and have heard girls perform better at school when they aren’t distracted by boys. Do anyone really think as we get older we aren’t distracted by the opposite sex?

    On that show Carrier there was a male pilot who took the place of a female during hard flying conditions on the Nimitz. I could easily see male pilots going out of their way to protect the females thereby risking the mission. Have you ever had a male put himself into more danger to keep you safe Jeannette?

    As long as the Navy is crazy enough to allow women to fight I can’t blame women for jumping at the oppurtunity and it is cool to have women dropping bombs on people who won’t let women drive cars or come out of the house. I only worry about the affect of women on the mission when and if we ever see another war with a closely matched adversary which would require every ounce of ability and concentration for an extended and severe duration.

  • F/A18 2 C-40

    I don’t think I made the same arguement as Matt. The distraction (or lack of) of having both genders (as well as homosexuals) is a discussion that has passed us. Women are going to be allowed in almost every job that men are allowed. I did argue that screening who we give billets to based on statistical demography might be a smarter way to apportion limited resources, but that does not necessarily mean that it would favor men over women or straight over gay or any other presumed group over another.

    The reality is that we have men and women in the jobs. Do we need to spend more resources catering to their individual desires for retention when we do not have a retention problem and have very limited resources? I argue that we do not.

  • Andy (JADAA)

    Jeanette:
    “For the first few years after my oldest was born, I was on AD, and the scarcity of other female pilots (and absolute lack of pilots who were also single mothers)…”

    Did I miss something earlier, and I freely admit I may have, but that sentence construction reads to me that you willingly bore, delivered and cared for your oldest while not being in any sort of permanent relationship with anyone. That, of course, brings a different response to some of the issues raised, and further complicates the discussion. Can you elaborate, please?

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Madam: With half the force women (just kidding – I’ll leave that red herring strictly alone). But I digress… with the women with children on leave of absence, and with the women coming back to the force after a period of years, perhaps multiple periods of years, and competing with the men who stayed and stood the watch on an undiminished footing, and justice being defined as equal promotion opportunity for men and women no matter what…

    Please define the following terms…

    fungible skill; devotion to duty; sustained superior performance, constant striving to improve the individual’s qualifications. State how these concepts are pertinent to the duties and responsibilities of a selection board.

    Will retention of males be affected?

    Admin: “Let’s improve the Mommy Track” – three posts in rapid succession? Really? And more to come? I question your priorities… How about the effect of sequestration the viability of the fleet as a combat force? Or, “Will drones replace the attack helicopter, making snake pilots obsolete?”

    No, I am not volunteering to write it. I have grandkids to take care of while their parents are working at their careers (i.e., hanging on to their jobs and keeping their employer afloat in this economy). Family duty. No time.

  • Cap.n Bill

    A few observations.

    I credit you with loads of smartz and enough experience to “sell” whatever it is that you are promoting. At this time I find it all very hazy…haze gray if you’ll accept a pun.

    I suggest that all your commentary be very well scrubed in advance. Only the Cream of the Cream, please. Otherwise you may find this a rather hostile old sailors club.

    You might profit by establishing a sub-group where people of similar tastes and aspirations can hash things over. Get the best possible product. Hit the Naval Inst blog only when you are sure of the excellence of your work. If you are successful you will attract some people who might do you some good.

    Once you get your thoughts in order provide an outline of the chain of commentary that you’d like to see follow.
    Cheers!

  • Capt. HW “Woody” Sanford,MC,USNR(ret.)

    Major:

    Above, two bloggers addressed you as mittelschmerz. This is a term for pelvic pain during ovulation, which I learned in Medical School. I assume these two are using it as wiseass jackasses. They should be ignored. They also misspelled it.

    Doc

  • Capt. HW “Woody” Sanford,MC,USNR(ret.)

    Andy:

    Above you asked the Major about her marriage status with her first child. I am absolutely not answering the question for her, but it occurred to me that she and her husband could have been in separate active duty stations at the time of the child’s birth and could not be together because of distance or operational requirements. In that case, I can see her thinking of herself as a “single mother.”

    Woody

  • Jeannette Haynie

    Sir,
    I missed this comment on the first go-round. I’m also an AD spouse, my husband was on two back-to-back OIF rotations with MEU workups in the middle. Thus the single-parenting, about 17 out of 24 months.

  • Capt. HW “Woody” Sanford,MC,USNR(ret.)

    Thanks for confirming my thought. I’m not really sure what Andy was getting at anyway. I repeat my request for you to at least complete 20 years active or reserve. If you don’t, I suggest you will regret it later. I had a 6-yr break between active and R-R.

    When you are home in NOLA, establish a relationship with someone in your community at USNR HQ. Could be a mentor, advisor, just a contact. Where is USMCR HQ? Of course our NAVMED community was small, but we always knew someone to call.

    Woody Sanford

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