By Amanda Huffman
Military life can be challenging. Having someone who has experienced the lifestyle longer than you can really help you not only by giving you advice for the future, but also by helping you not feel so alone. And while my greatest mentor has been someone who helped me with my writing career, the fact that she is also a military spouse has helped me know that, despite all the challenges I have faced as a military spouse, my goals are possible.
While I was in the military, the main source of mentorship provided to me was through the senior officers and was fairly formal and rigid. Typically, the commander of my squadron would take time to mentor the officers. We had monthly luncheons, one-on-one counseling, and received general feedback. And I thought I knew what it meant to be in a mentor-mentee relationship. But as I look back at these mentorship sessions, they were more focused on the military and checking off boxes and not focused on me and what I needed. Although helpful, it was not personal.
It was not until after I left the military behind that I learned the value of mentorship.
One of the best mentors in my life journey is Lizanne Lightfoot. As a new MilSpouse — and one hoping to build a writing career — I was mesmerised by the work Lizanne was doing through her blog The Seasoned Spouse and her freelance writing work. Somehow (I don’t even know how we became connected), she has been a source of feedback and encouragement throughout my writing journey.
I won’t ever forget her taking me under her wing at the first Military Influencer Conference. She introduced me to so many different people and helped me feel welcome in a space I wasn’t sure I was supposed to be in.
I even followed her path of publishing with Elva Resa for my new book A Girl’s Guide to Military Service. She also published her book, Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses with Elva Resa, and she has given me sound guidance in the publishing and book-launching process, both from following her example and by listening to the advice she’s given to me.
And while Lizanne and I do not have a formal mentor-mentee relationship, it does not change the impact she has had on my life by helping me realize that a writing career was possible. She has been a constant source of both inspiration and encouragement through our friendship.
Sometimes I think we can get caught up in creating formal mentorship relationships that we forget there likely are mentors all around us in our own lives. People who inspire us, give us wisdom, and encourage us to follow our dreams. I am lucky because I could list so many amazing men and women who have helped me in my journey to entrepreneurship, and I am always looking not only for people who can help me learn and grow in my journey but also in how I can work to help those farther behind me in their journeys.
Who has inspired you in your journey? Tell them how much they mean to you and how they have helped you. They may have no idea the scope of the impact they have made on your life until you do.
Amanda is a military veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer who served on a combat deployment with the Army in Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career in the Space Force. Amanda is the host of the Women of the Military podcast. There she shares the stories of women who have served or are serving in the military. The podcast has over 200 episodes and over 100K downloads. Amanda is also an author and has published two books. Her first book, Women of the Military tells the stories of 28 military women who served in the military. Her second book, A Girl’s Guide to Military Service, is the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Winner for Teen Non Fiction. It is a guide for high school girls considering military service to help them build a strong foundation for their future career. She also works as a freelance writer and has been featured in a number of military publications including The War Horse, Military.com, Military Families Magazine, Clearance Jobs, Military Spouse Magazine, and more.