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2024 Virtual Return to Work Conference, May 14-16

Episode 162: Military Spouses, Relaunching and What's Different in Covid/2020, with Sue Hoppin

Sue Hoppin headshot

Episode Description

Military spouse Sue Hoppin is a nationally recognized expert on military spouse and family issues. Sue tells us about her own relaunch at the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) 15 years ago in an admin role that led to her becoming MOAA's first deputy director for spouse outreach. While moving every few years nationally and internationally while her husband was an active duty service member, Sue discusses her "strategic volunteering," and the role it has played in her relaunch and beyond. Sue is the co-author of “A Family’s Guide to the Military” for the popular Dummies series and the founder of the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), a membership organization supporting the professional goals of military spouses. Sue comments on how the Covid threat has popularized virtual work environments and portable jobs, both of which favor the military spouse.

Read Transcript

[00:00:00] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:00:00] Welcome to 3, 2, 1, iRelaunch...the podcast where we discuss strategies, advice, and success stories about returning to work after a career break. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the chair and co-founder of iRelaunch, and your host. Before we get started, I want to remind our listeners that we have one more virtual return to work conference this fall, and you can register and get more information, if you go to and click on conferences. Today, we welcome Sue Hoppin. Sue is a nationally recognized expert on military spouse and family issues.

[00:00:45] She has more than 20 years of experience developing programs, focusing on military issues, serving as spokesperson and reaching out to train top tier military affiliated groups, veteran and military services, organizations, and key leadership within major military commands.

[00:01:04] Sue is the co-author of A Family's Guide to the Military for the popular dummy series and the founder of the national military spouse network, a professional development and networking membership organization supporting the professional career and entrepreneurial goals of military spouses. Sue currently serves as a member of the Veterans Advisory Committee on Education for the US Department of Veteran Affairs.

[00:01:33] She was a presidential appointee to the board of visitors of the United States Air Force Academy, and served as the first deputy director for spouse outreach for the Military Officers Association of America, known as MOA for short. And she was charged with creating and spearheading military spouse initiatives for the 375,000 member association, Sue and I met when she was at MOA and we profiled her relaunch success story there.

[00:02:01] I also served as an advisor on career continuity issues to the National Military Spouse Network organization that Sue founded and runs. Sue, welcome to three, two, one, iRelaunch!

[00:02:13] Sue Hoppin: [00:02:13] Oh, Carol. I'm so happy to be here. Thank you so much for the invitation.

[00:02:17] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:02:17] We are thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with you.

[00:02:20] And I want to start by asking you to please take us through your career path before your husband began military service, and then once he was serving, where were you living and what did you do during all of those years?

[00:02:34] Sue Hoppin: [00:02:34] Sure. So I met my husband when he was still a student at the Air Force Academy, and I was actually a year behind him.

[00:02:41] As a student at the University of Denver, just up the road. So when he started his Air force career, he was at flight school in Oklahoma, and I was still in school in Denver. So by the time he finished flight school and went to his first assignment, I had just finished school and I was either headed to graduate school or law school.

[00:03:01]But you know, life happens and we ended up getting married and having a son within a year. And, you know, then, all the best intentions of going to school, kind of went out the window, when I started following my service member around the world. We started at Eglin air force base, and there wasn't much I could do there with my degree in international relations.

[00:03:22] So I did what a lot of people do and went to temp jobs, right? I connected with Kelly services and I have a job as a front office manager. I feel like manager is too elevated of a word for what I did. I minded this were all gone for an insurance company, and that was really my first job that, you know, it went from temp to perm.

[00:03:46] And then from there, we went to McConnell air force base, and we had a young son, my husband was deployed constantly. He likes to joke that we were there for three years, Garrett and I were there for three years and he spent one year there spending the other two years deployed in the desert. Following McConnel, we went overseas to Kadena air base in Okinawa, Japan, beautiful country, lots of travel opportunities, not a lot of work opportunities due to the SOFA status, which is, you know, an issue that spaces, military spouses, whenever they go overseas

[00:04:21] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:04:21] Wait, what is SOFA, can you just explain that for our audience, what it stands for?

[00:04:25] Sue Hoppin: [00:04:25] Absolutely. It's called the Status of Forces Agreement, which dictate what service members and spouses can do overseas and military spouse employment is a very tiny part of the sofa and that kind of regulates whether or not you can work while you're in that country.

[00:04:40] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:04:40] Ah, got it. Thank you.

[00:04:42] Sue Hoppin: [00:04:42] Sure! So I found myself teaching English as a second language on the economy to Japanese students who wanted to learn how to speak English.

[00:04:51] And then, you know, by the time our son was able to go to school full-time and I was ready to relaunch back into the workforce, we got another overseas assignment to Ramstein air base in Germany. Again, not a lot of opportunities there for a professional spouse, unless you wanted to work on the installation or for one of the defense contractors, which was not something that I had explored at that age. Our son was also young, and then, we happened to be there during the advent of 9/11, which the whole world changed and being overseas when 9/11 occurred that added an extra security of safety protocols and so on and working was just not practical.

[00:05:36] After Ramstein, we actually came back to the States and settled in the DC area, which is where I'm from originally. So I thought, you know, I was so excited, we're finally going back to my home town. At the time, when we were at Ramstein, I had done a master's degree with my husband, so I was coming back with a fresh new degree, I spoke three languages, I still speak three languages. I thought people would be waiting in line to hire me...that was not the case. So it was kind of devastating.

[00:06:06] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:06:06] Yeah. So when you were there in DC, what happened after that? Did you keep moving around or were you there for an extended period?

[00:06:16] Sue Hoppin: [00:06:16] So we thought we were actually just going to be here for three years and then we were going to move. But, we decided that our son really liked the area, you know, our family was here, he loved the schools. There are a lot of military state department children, people who had been overseas. So, there was a lot of diversity in the population, in the schools.

[00:06:36] So we really loved, he didn't want to move. And so we had decided that we were just going to homestead here, meaning we were going to spend more than three years here and my husband would, could move if he wanted to, but we were going to stay. But we still thought we were going to be subject to another move, but in the end we ended up staying here until we retired. Did not know that when we got here. So when we got here, I went into the job search with the notion that I was looking for a job for the next three years.

[00:07:00] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:07:00] Got it. And so what did you end up doing?

[00:07:04] Sue Hoppin: [00:07:04] So I ended up working at MOA, but that was actually not my dream job. My dream job was to be an analyst for the FBI. And so I applied for government, for a government job. And I was actually in the application process and this was when they were accelerating hiring processes. So, you know, I was notified that, Hey, you're picked as an alternate, but you know, we really need to hire a lot of people right now.

[00:07:27] So this was in the early 2000's. We really need to hire a lot of people right now. So we're going to put your application through with the primary and you guys are both going to get your security clearances, and then we'll see where it lands after this is all done. So fast forward, I think it was like four months, which I think is accelerated for the government, but it was like four months.

[00:07:48] They said, you know what? The primary came through, he checked out and so we're going to offer him the job in DC. But would you, you know, would you be open to a job somewhere else? Cause we really like your package. And my first thought was, Oh my gosh, something else I can hate my husband for, you know, it was those frustrating moments where I'm just, I'm on the phone with the person.

[00:08:09] I'm just thinking, what do you not understand about the fact that I'm a military spouse and I really want to live with my family. I can't, I can't go. And I still remember him at the time asking, well, do you want to know where it is? And I'm like, was it DC, Maryland, Virginia. He's like, no. So I'm like no I don't want to know where it is, because if you tell me it's Hawaii, I'm going to have to divorce my husband!

[00:08:31] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:08:31] [Laughter] So you never found out where it was?

[00:08:34] Sue Hoppin: [00:08:34] No, and I'm, you know, and I've never regretted that, but that was, that was a crushing blow because, you know, for so many months and I mean the polygraph and everything. And while I was going through the process, I, you know, I had another temp job that I was working. I was working for a computer software company and, you know, I wasn't looking for a job because I knew I had a job to pay bills now and I was waiting for my big job.

[00:09:02] And so I was just going to events and networking. And I went to an event at the National Defense University, my mentor was teaching there and she said, you should really come and learn about Congress and the military. There's a really great session...there is one that's being taught for us about lobbyists, you should come and listen.

[00:09:20] And I met a speaker from MOA, from the military officers nation. And she was so impressive because we met, and we learned from two different speakers. One was a lobbyist who was a lobbyist for hire. So they just lobby on whatever issues they get hired to lobby for. With MOA, the lobbyists was there, they're like we only have one issue we care about, which is military families, veterans and service members. So everything we do is to advocate for a better quality of life for them. I was so taken by the mission that I walked up to her afterwards and said, here's my business card, if you ever need a volunteer, if you ever need someone to lick stamps back when we licked stamps, give me a call.

[00:10:05] So the next day she actually called and said, we'd like to hire you. And I'm like, I'm actually not looking for a job, but thank you. I got several calls from them. And so by the time the FBI had said, you know, that they weren't going to hire me for that initial job, it was devastating, but I'm like, I'm ready to work. I was ready to work yesterday. So I called MOA and I said, I don't know what the job is. I don't care. I'm ready to work. I'm all in. So I got the job.

[00:10:33] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:10:33] Wow. Well, let me take you back to one thing you said earlier, you said my mentor told me to go to this event. So can you tell us, like, how did you get this mentor? Was that over a period of time and, and what happened there?

[00:10:48] Sue Hoppin: [00:10:48] We met when we were in Okinawa and she was actually the spouse of our commander at Okinawa air base, air force base. So, the general in charge of the installation, that's the commander. She was his wife and she had actually taken time off of her job, you know, working as a professor at NDU, National Defense University to accompany him to Okinawa. So she was already a professional woman in her own right. She used to be the chief of staff for Senator Leahy, she worked on the ag committee. I mean, she was a woman who was on her own career trajectory, took the time off, married her husband later in life, the second marriage for both of them.

[00:11:29] And she went and like, she was such a breath of fresh air because she landed on this installation. She didn't bring any biases into the situation and she was just a problem solver and I could really relate to her. And so, you know, I just would look for opportunities to engage with her in conversations.

[00:11:47] And I served as the president of the spouse club at Kadena, so we had an opportunity to work together a lot. And then we came back to DC, so we stayed connected and pretty much, if she told me there was something that I needed to do, I would do it. You know, if I was going to make a career change. I would just give her a call and, you know, ask for advice. And in years later, she would become my sponsor as well, to where, when an opportunity came up in the Obama administration, she would actually put my name in for positions or went on to be the ambassador of Saudi Arabia. And so she was actually, the person who encouraged us to reach out at NMSN to reach out to the state department, to bring state department spouses into the fold of the work that we were doing.

[00:12:32] So, I've been really fortunate to have really great mentors and sponsors throughout my career.

[00:12:38] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:12:38] All right. So we'll talk about the national military spouse network, the NMSN in just a minute, but I have one more question for you. And that was when you were interviewing for this FBI job that ended up not working out, and then you had that exchange about the MOA job and ultimately they hired you, was there any discussion at all about the fact that you had, you know, career breaks and career continuity issues or I'm guessing the MOA people were thrilled to have you because you were a military spouse yourself. Was there any discussion about that with the FBI job?

[00:13:16] Sue Hoppin: [00:13:16] There wasn't actually with the FBI job and it didn't become an issue until the job was actually offered to me. And so I really respect that about them. No, that never became an issue. And I don't know if that's a norm or whether, that was an anomaly, but now that you mentioned it, that never came up.

[00:13:30] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:13:30] That's so interesting. And then the MOA job, you know, you have the lived experience of the audience that they want you to serve, so that makes a lot of sense. But when you said yes to that job, was there a discussion, did they say, how long are you going to be in the area? And is this a short term thing for you because, or was that still at the time where you didn't know if you were going to be there more than a couple of years?

[00:13:52] Sue Hoppin: [00:13:52] You know it never came up and I will tell you that they didn't offer, they didn't hire me for the job that I ultimately ended up holding. They hired me to be an admin, like a super admin, like let's rewind to that job that I held at Eglin where I was the super admin. Right. And so even being lacking confidence, I knew I could do the job cause I'd done the job. And remember I said, I didn't even care what the job was. I literally did not ask what the job was.

[00:14:20] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:14:20] So how long were you, were you in the super admin job? And then what happened after that?

[00:14:25] Sue Hoppin: [00:14:25] I worked in that job for about a month and the only discussion point that they had when I was doing the interview was they were a little concerned that I had a lot of education for the jobs that they were going to offer me.

[00:14:37] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:14:37] You mean like you were overqualified?

[00:14:38] Sue Hoppin: [00:14:38] They thought that I would keep looking for another job. They weren't worried that I was overqualified because they knew, you know, that military spouses are underemployed just by virtue of the field that they serve, but they were concerned that I would keep looking for jobs, but I wasn't in that job very long because I was doing the job and then I realized that it could be automated. And, you know, I was listening to what was going on around me and I realized that it was an organization in transition and used to be named TROA. And it went from the retired officers association to the military officers association of America. And they were trying out the currently serving, but I was looking at what they were doing in marketing and I realized you're not doing the right things. Like you need to, if you're going to reach out to the active duty service members, they're not reading your magazines, they're not getting your emails. They don't care. They're busy serving their country. Like they don't care about your avatar. They just don't care.

[00:15:34] Those people who care are the spouses. Like they need all your services, they need all your advocacy, like they care. And so like, knowing that I just talked to my boss. And I said, look, I have a proposal for you. You're paying me anyway. I'd like to do some pilot programs around this because I think he could really help with your numbers and I could still do it and still do the job you hired me for, if we do it this way, we can automate in this manner. And if everybody spends 15 minutes of their week doing these other reporting things, which they have to do anyway, I think I could do both jobs. You don't have to pay me more. Let's give it a try.

[00:16:11] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:16:11] So you made it, you made them an interesting proposal. Basically. You made them an offer. They couldn't refuse. Right. Who would say no to that?

[00:16:19] Sue Hoppin: [00:16:19] I guess, I'm glad they didn't refuse!

[00:16:21] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:16:21] Okay. So you ended up doing that. And then when did you end up switching jobs?

[00:16:26]Sue Hoppin: [00:16:26] I don't even remember how quickly it was, but it was pretty fast. It was in the first six months, easily and maybe three or four months, and so they made me an assistant director and then over the course of almost five years, I think I was like maybe three or four months shy of five years. They kept giving me promotions then broke down walls to create an office for me, to make me equal to my peers at the organization, so I could have a seat at the table.

[00:16:52] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:16:52] That's just a great, great story. Sue, you know so many military spouses over the years and are somewhat of an expert of, well, you're an expert on military families and military spouses and an expert on military career arcs and career continuity.

[00:17:15] Can you talk a little bit about the two stages of military spouse career paths. One when their spouse is on active duty and the other one is once the spouse retires from active duty. First, the one while they're on active duty and while spouses are moving around. What kinds of examples or roles do you see spouses take to maintain career continuity when they can work?

[00:17:45] Sue Hoppin: [00:17:45] No, it's interesting. And that's a really interesting question. And the most interesting nuanced part of that question is the fact, I think you almost have to bifurcate spouses in today's world versus like when I was coming up in my generation, because I think, technology and societal changes have caught up almost in the military spouse experience to normalize issues that we had.

[00:18:08] So, I mean, like we're so much more open to telework opportunities now, you know, because of COVID and even before COVID, right. I think some of the situations that I had to deal with when I was coming up don't necessarily exist now. So I will just, you know, put that disclaimer out there. So I'll talk about generation first, and this is the generation, you know, my husband's been retired for like seven years now.

[00:18:32] He served for 22 years, so this was up until 10 years ago. Right. And maybe five years, I think spouses, the biggest issue is the stigma of a military spouse. Because military spouses move every 18 months to three years, there are huge gaps in their resumes. We didn't have LinkedIn back then, and we didn't have the ability to really network at the next location before we moved. In military terminology, we call that a PCS. But now spouses are able to start networking at their next installation even before they get there. And employers are more apt to, if they have a good employee and the spouse has done her or his due diligence and, you know, signed on with an employer that has multiple outlets around the country, or maybe, have a virtual component to their employment, then they're able to move that job with them.

[00:19:30] We're all seeing, DOD has something called the military spouse employment partnership. You know, these are companies that have signed on to hire military spouses. The Department of Commerce has Hiring our Heroes, which has a commitment from companies who are, you know, want to hire military spouses and then want to maintain them through transitions.

[00:19:50] So all these experiences and all these resources now exist to help the military spouse transition from location to location. Still not simple, but more doable now, than I think it was 10 years ago. We also dealt with entrepreneurship and it wasn't really viable and back then, or we didn't know about it.

[00:20:12] And so it was, you know, you were always looking for jobs. Nowadays military spouses understand that they might wear several different hats. And so in one location, they might work for a government contractor, right? Or in another location, they might work for the federal government or a company and another location they might act as a freelancer and still work for their company, but as a freelancer as well. So they're, they're more fluid in the way they think about their career. I don't think that existed up until like five years ago.

[00:20:44] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:20:44] Yeah, such a good point to talk about how things have evolved in a relatively short time to work in favor of the military spouse and a virtual career.

[00:20:56] Sue Hoppin: [00:20:56] And then all that changes once a spouse, you know, the service member spouse retires, because I think there's actually three, three times because one of the service members and going through the transition of retiring that is so jarring on the whole family that I think whatever job or business the spouse has at that time is also going to go through some upheaval because in an ideal world, the spouse would already have a career and be making some money that she or he could contribute to the financial well-being and readiness of the family so that when the service member is in transition, they can just live the same lifestyle they've been living the whole time. And then after it's all over, they should normalize again. But if the spouse isn't able to have that career where she or he is actually able to contribute in a meaningful manner to the financial readiness of the family, then there's another little situation. And then once they normalize, then the spouse is looking to restart his or her career.

[00:21:55] So the number of times that you're going to have to relaunch actually depends on the way you look at your career and your career trajectory and the way you map out what you're going to do based on the life cycle of your service member service, if that makes sense.

[00:22:12] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:22:12] Yes. Got it. Thank you. Can you tell us a little bit about the National Military Spouse Network? Why did you start it? How did you start it? How old is it and what does the NSMN as we'll call it for the abbreviation? What does the NSMN do?

[00:22:29] Sue Hoppin: [00:22:29] Sure. So I started the National Military Spouse Network 10 years ago. We're exactly 10 years old this year. We're very excited about that. Thank you so much for being part of our journey, Carol.

[00:22:38] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:22:38] Oh, it's been a privilege to, even contribute a teeny amount to it. So I love watching this evolve from, from the very early days.

[00:22:48] Sue Hoppin: [00:22:48] So, selfishly I started because I had such a tough time finding a job when we came to DC and I just thought this is my town. I grew up here, this is where I come from. Why is it so hard for me to find a job?

[00:23:03] I have a binder that's about an inch and a half thick of rejection letters. I keep it in case I ever lose any of my passion. I'm like, why do we do this? I look at the binder. I'm like, oh yeah, I remember why we do this now. And I just didn't want another spouse to have to go through that. I just thought it was ridiculous that it would take me 18 months to get a job because it's not like I didn't have the connections. It's not like I didn't have the background. It's not like I didn't have the qualifications. I just didn't have the right networks and the right know-how. And so I didn't know how a spouse who wasn't from this area was ever going to survive here if they couldn't connect with somebody who could kind of guide them.

[00:23:40] So, very simply I just wanted to connect my friends who needed jobs with my friends who had jobs. But when I started that route, I realized that military spouses weren't career ready because they didn't know that people were actually looking for them.

[00:23:54] And again, this was 10 years ago. And so it's almost like we had to take it back to square one and start these conferences to teach them everything they need to know for their professional development on salary negotiations, what to wear, how to network, et cetera, like everything. And then we had to bring employers to the table.

[00:24:13]And so, you know, you look at the playing field now and you're like, there's so many players in the spousal employment arena that I can't believe that this was lacking back then, but it was. And so we're really happy that, you know, everybody's out here now doing all this great work, but back then it was a real need.

[00:24:34] And so that's how I started it.

[00:24:35] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:24:35] Right. and how many people are in the network now?

[00:24:39] Sue Hoppin: [00:24:39] We have about 20,000 people in our community who access us either through our website or on social media platforms or at our events. And our recent white paper, the 2020 white paper, has been accessed by over 44,000 people.

[00:24:54] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:24:54] And what's the white paper on?

[00:24:56] Sue Hoppin: [00:24:56] So we started writing a white paper two years ago [00:25:00] because we looked at all the research and studies that were being done around military spouse employment and they all seem to stop short of making recommendations. And we're like, we could do this. Like we can take all the research and analyze and spit out some recommendations based on the gaps and opportunities.

[00:25:17]The other thing that we really want to do is when we wrote our white paper, we wanted to make sure that we offered all the solutions in layman's terms. We just wanted to make it simple to understand. And we just want to say, Hey, here are five recommendations. If you do these five things, we will, it will help move the needle.

[00:25:33] And then I guess other people, it resonated with people because the first year we put it out, every recommendation we made was introduced as potential legislation. So we were pretty thrilled about that and you know, that's what NMSN really does. We really work to make sure that the people who are policy makers and in a position to change, you know, military spouse employment for the better, that they understand the challenges that military spouses face, and then in addition to understanding the challenges we like to bring them possible solutions.

[00:26:03] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:26:03] Got it. Well, let me ask you this Sue. When I read your bio at the intro, you have so many significant volunteer roles that you're currently doing and I know we didn't even touch the surface about what you've done in the past. And I wanted to know if you could comment on the whole concept of strategic volunteering and the impact that it has had on your relaunch and on your career path since then.

[00:26:30] Sue Hoppin: [00:26:30] Sure. I wouldn't have a career if I hadn't engaged in strategic volunteering. And that sounds like a bold statement to make, but it's absolutely true.

[00:26:38] When I went to pull together my resume for the FBI application, I worked with a resume writer and he actually pulled out the things I'd done, you know, to come up with analysts' bullets. And yes, education was certainly part of it, but if I hadn't done the strategic volunteering, I would have missed out on an entire segment of the application that required certain skill sets that I attained through strategic volunteering.

[00:27:07] So, I'm a huge proponent of it. And I really think that, for anyone, not just military spouses, but for anyone out there who is in a position where, you know, they might be engaged in elder care or staying home with children, I really encourage people to engage in strategic volunteering. And I know you do too, but I think it's really important.

[00:27:25] And we always tell our NMSN community, it's like, understand that not all volunteering opportunities are equal. If you're in a financial field, look for something that will allow you to stay within that field. You know, maybe it's tax help on the installation where, you know, they're helping prepare tax paperwork or if you're in event planning, there are plenty of events that take place or if you're in marketing.

[00:27:54] I mean, there's so many opportunities to engage people. People are always looking for force multipliers, and you're going to be able to hone your skills and stay relevant. And I'm really, really, really grateful that I happened to fall into strategic volunteering, and that was purely by accident. And I just thank whatever pointed me that way. And I mean, I started volunteering because they paid for childcare. You know, my husband was employed, my son was young, I was starting to speak in not full sentences. I mean, it was terrible. I needed to get out of the house and someone told me, and you know, we were poor. Like we had our son when, you know, my husband was a second Lieutenant, which is very young in the military. And so we had no discretionary income, everything went to diapers, right. It wasn't like I was going to pay for childcare so I can have a break. But when they said, Hey, you know, like if you volunteer, they pay for your childcare. That's all it took...that hooked me. But then knowing you make an impact...kept me.

[00:28:50] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:28:50] And can you give us an example of an early volunteer role that you had that was relevant later when you applied for the MOA job?

[00:29:00] Sue Hoppin: [00:29:00] Sure. So I served as the president of the spouse clubs. Often, I don't know why, I think it's because I was the only person to ever make eye contact with people when that position came up, but I was leading volunteers.

[00:29:12] And that meant that I was in charge of a budget, you know, philanthropy budget, and an operational budget. It meant X number of events per year. And it meant that I had to be able to brief leadership because, you know, we were accountable to the installation. I had to understand and read contracts as we were negotiating our non-profit status.

[00:29:33] Budgets. I mean, it was all in there and it was just, you know, it's just changing your mindset and the way you look at it. It's not, " Oh, I was just the president of an OWC officer's wives club" at the time now it's spouse's club, but I mean, if you break it down to the volunteer opportunity to the actual skill sets, there was marketing in there, there was publicity, there was negotiations there's event management, there's volunteer management, all sorts of bullets. So valuable. So I was able to do that several times. And then, I also would give advice like people would call and the calls just grew in terms of, you know, the frequency, but also in terms of, the people who are calling at the end of not the end of the volunteer work, cause I still volunteer. Like even now, I get calls from. The government, like the White House calls, because they need specific advice on specific issues. And so, it's always weird when that happens, but you know, you just take the call, you give advice to the best of your ability and then you find yourself an appointee and giving advice on a more frequent time, you know, like with more frequency. It's interesting, like volunteering, I've always been a huge proponent of it. I believe in it. I think it's because I grew up understanding that too much is given, much is expected and, you know, you kind of live that with those that servant leadership. And if you're in a position to help you should, and it's all the other cliches, but it makes me feel so good to know that you're doing something to help other people, because the notion of doing good while doing well. I love it. I mean, I think that's why we started at NMSN as a social enterprise because, it exactly fits into, you know, the way we live our lives.

[00:31:19] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:31:19] Right now, Sue we're we're running out of time now. So I'm going to kind of combine my last two questions because you know, you relaunched your career at MOA 15 years ago now in 2005. And I wanted to ask you, like, looking back on your relaunch, is there anything you would've done differently, but it's almost the same question that we ask all of our podcasts, guests, which is what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience, even if it's something that we've already talked about today. So just want to know between those two questions. can you give some advice or talk about something that you. You might've done differently.

[00:31:57] Sue Hoppin: [00:31:57] Sure. I think some things that I would have done differently is I shouldn't have waited to start. I think I was just waiting to start my career when my spouse retired and that was foolish.

[00:32:06] I should have done what I could to chip away at it throughout the years, I mean, I started, I think, you know, five years before he retired, but I should've done more. I'm really fortunate that I fell into strategic volunteering, but I think people should put that into their toolkit of ways to stay relevant.

[00:32:23] And, that would be one of my recommendations to stay relevant. But the other thing I should have done was I should have been better at keeping up with industry trends, meaning salary, you know, like what's the current salary, how you negotiate compensation packages, like the compensation packages that exist now are different than, you know, when I relaunched 15 years ago.

[00:32:41] And so I think a better understanding of those would help. And you have to trust, but verify, especially for the people coming out of the military community. Our community is a bit of a bubble. Most people live by a certain creed that involves honesty and integrity. So entering the workforce, I trusted everyone and took them at their word and it sounds really naive, but like not everyone is an honest broker and, you know, like just you may run into dishonest people and people might be less than moral. I know that sounds really crazy. Cause everybody's like, you have to understand that. Like that's just a matter of course.

[00:33:13] But coming out of the community after you're there for like 20, 30 years, you kind of. You know, it's not homogenous, but on some things about honesty, integrity, it's kind of homogenous. Right? And so I think the other thing, the final, the final thing that I would recommend for people is please stay relevant and keep everything up to date even before you relaunched. I mean, be disciplined about keeping up with your connections on LinkedIn and in-person, you know, you don't do that when you need them. You just keep maintaining those relationships throughout. And then I think that includes, maintain up-to-date bios and headshots, because you never know when an opportunity is going to rise and you want to be ready.

[00:33:50] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:33:50] Right. Well, so much great advice there condensed into a small amount of time. So thank you so much for joining us. And as we're ending, I want to know if you can tell our audience how they can find out about NMSN, the National Military Spouse Network.

[00:34:08] Sue Hoppin: [00:34:08] Sure, we'd love it if you guys would connect with us and learn more, you can go to our website, which is

[00:34:16] Or you can find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram or Twitter, and it's an NMS, N E T W O R K, NMS network. We'd love to connect with you all and thank you so much for this opportunity, Carol. It's been so lovely catching up with you.

[00:34:32] Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:34:32] It's been lovely having the conversation, Sue thanks for joining us.

[00:34:37] And thanks for listening to 3, 2, 1, iRelaunch...the podcast where we discuss strategies, advice, and success stories about returning to work after a career break. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the chairman co-founder of iRelaunch and your host. For more information on iRelaunch conferences and events.

[00:34:54] And to sign up for our job board and access our return to work tools and resources go to And if you liked this podcast, be sure to rate it on Apple podcasts and your favorite podcast platform, and be sure to share this podcast with a friend on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media.

[00:35:13] Thanks for joining us.

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