As Veronica Medley puts it, she comes from a family of “teachers, preachers and soldiers.”
That includes two parents who served in the military and a family history of service dating back to World War I.
“A lot of civil servants,” Medley said. “So knowing that this is in my blood helps me to just continue to take the path. Even when things get rough and when they get rocky and every single plan I have fails, I know that, OK, this is a part of who I am. This is my path, and it will all work out in the end.”
For nine years, Medley has leaned on her inspirational bloodline and learned resilience as she navigates being the spouse of an Army staff sergeant. While there are certainly benefits to military life, some of those same perks have made pursuing her own career challenging.
Medley and her husband have lived in places as varied as Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Grafenwöhr, Germany. There’s always something new and different around the corner, and Medley said she enjoys the flexibility.
But at times, it has meant putting her dreams on hold.
“Some of the challenges that I face personally, of being a military spouse, is that same element of flexibility, the unknown,” Medley said. “I had this whole plan of my education and my career. And then we moved, and then we moved again, and then he deployed.
“So having to weave my own plans into his own career plans has been the main challenge.”
On top of all the moving, Medley’s chosen field, psychology, requires an education that can’t always be obtained online and licensing that often differs from state to state.
That’s why Medley turned to DAV job fairs. She was working in Germany as a career counselor for transitioning service members when it came time for another permanent change of station back to the states.
“I had the exact same freakout moment that everybody has,” Medley admitted.
Then she realized she had access to the same resources as the service members she counseled.
“And so when we were about to [change stations], I remembered, OK, I am still a military spouse; I am entitled to use the services as well. Let me utilize the services,” she said. “And that’s how I found my way to the job fair.”
DAV hosts dozens of virtual and in-person job fairs across the country every year, connecting transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses with employers who appreciate their unique skills while also understanding the challenges they may face.
Because she and her husband were still stationed in Germany, Medley took advantage of DAV’s virtual job fairs. Even once they were stateside, she lacked reliable transportation and continued to use the virtual job fairs.
“The virtual job fairs really came through for me, personally. It was so easy to navigate, [and] they were so easy to access. I was able to just do it from my phone a couple of times,” Medley said.
Medley said the virtual environment allowed her to ease into the job search process, and she gradually became more comfortable. It’s an asset particularly for those who may feel overwhelmed by the traditional in-person job fair, she added.
Medley connected with an employer that reached out a couple months later. After a series of interviews, she accepted a job, but something was gnawing at her. In her previous job counseling transitioning service members, she encouraged people to pursue their passions, and yet, she wasn’t pursuing hers: a doctorate in psychology.
Medley decided to take some time off to figure out her next steps and pursue additional education. She now works as a consultant for Fayetteville State University in North Carolina and continues to work toward her doctorate. Her ultimate dream is to work as a pain psychologist for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In a “zig-zaggy manner,” Medley’s job fair experience led her back to the dream path she had strayed from soon after her husband joined the military. It also helped her understand the job market, including the needs of job seekers and employers. That perspective helps her in her current job, which involves advising the university on how best to serve the students who will one day enter the job market. It also gives her clarity on her own goals.
“I love going to job fairs even when I’m not looking for a job,” she said. “I’m able to keep a pulse on what’s happening.”
Medley said she encourages other military spouses to attend DAV job fairs for the same reasons. She also encourages employers to be as flexible as military spouses have to be, noting that the service member’s schedule can change day to day, requiring the spouse to adjust their schedule. Those challenges make many military spouses skilled planners, organizers and managers.
“If you can accommodate us,” Medley said, “you’re going to have a really, really valuable employee.”
Find a full schedule of upcoming DAV job fairs and other employment resources at jobs.dav.org.