What sort of a hit profession route takes you from having a GS-thirteen lawyer activity in Washington, D.C., to turning into a GS-6 government assistant to, ultimately, being showed by means of the Senate because the chairman of the Department of Veterans Affairs Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA)?

A army spouse one, of course. And at the same time as it wasn’t conventional, BVA Chairman and previous Air Force partner Cheryl Mason does fee her journey for the equipment it gave her to assist army spouses working in her employer now and the training it taught her along the way.

Mason’s tenacity in pursuing her dreams at the same time as also balancing the demands of being a army spouse provide a few terrific lifestyles training for career-minded spouses seeking to do the equal nowadays.


It’s thanks to that lifestyles enjoy — combined with her function at the BVA, wherein she manages nearly 1,000 federal people set to method about ninety,000 veteran score appeals this year — that Mason has been able to put in location military spouse-friendly employment rules.

For instance, navy spouse legal professionals who’ve been with the employer greater than a 12 months can observe to take their position faraway, disposing of the need to find a new activity or retake the bar examination when they move. And the BVA is the only part of the VA that has joined the Defense Department’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership and made a pledge to lease spouses.

So what classes does Mason have to bypass on? Here are her best hints.

1. Look at profession demanding situations — even disappointing ones — as opportunities.
When Mason followed her Air Force husband to Germany, she was pressured to depart her job as a BVA lawyer in D.C. With no lawyer positions open at their new OCONUS obligation station, she had to make a hard desire: Stay out of the paintings pressure or take a secretarial process. She selected the task.

“My advice: Challenges are opportunities as a way to determine the way you need to have that effect for your existence,” she said. “Especially military, but I suppose all and sundry in present day international, you get to define what your career looks like, and that is a large deal. … What I might advise is, when you see demanding situations and you’ve got the ones matters and it’s now not working such as you wanted, search for opportunities to peer ‘what I can study or how can I grow on this job? If I take this function, what is it going to allow me to do?'”

It became that mind-set that allowed her to use the administrative assistant position to no longer just fill her time, however lend her precious lifestyles revel in in operating with human beings or even managing contracts as they got here across her desk.

“Sometimes, you do have to take a step backward to move ahead due to what you will study,” she said.

2. Remember that army existence occurs in seasons.
As their time in Germany came to a close, Mason and her husband sat down to discuss their next move. To provide her a shot at a profession, they chose to move returned to D.C. With a small baby, her task hunt there had one-of-a-kind priorities than it had earlier than she had a circle of relatives. And while their 2nd child became born, matters have become even extra complicated.

That intended she needed to stability her new priorities with her preference for a a success career — and say “no” to things that weren’t the proper match for that time.

“I assume you need to take life as seasons,” she stated. “Each a part of your lifestyles is a season, and so whilst we are raising our children, that became a season.”

She selected a function that wasn’t the whole thing she dreamed, but did provide her the flexibility to commit time to her own family. Then, when her youngsters had been older, she shifted awareness again to her profession.

“It’s approximately figuring it out, defining the lifestyles that you need, and identifying and trusting that there could be other opportunities to develop your self,” she stated. “But you need to parent out what that looks like. If you just take a seat and wait, it is no longer going to paintings.”

three. Learn to make difficult selections via communication.
As Mason’s career improved, she and her husband confronted a selection: Attempt to stability two very demanding career fields with a own family, or allow one determine step again. After searching at their alternatives, they decided her husband would go away lively obligation after extra than 14 years to join the Air Force Reserve and take a civilian job. That let Mason shift her awareness from family to task.

Making that decision turned into hard, she stated, however thanks to true communication they were able to pick the proper route for their circle of relatives.

“I suppose for anyone approaching that, that’s what they ought to have a look at: This is this type of huge lifestyles choices, and you need to do it together. You can not do it one at a time,” she said. “Sometimes they get their flip, and every now and then you get your flip, but you have to determine out a way to balance it.”