Amanda Huffman traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag after six years as a civil engineering officer in the Air Force. Now, as a military spouse, mom and owner of the Women of the Military podcast, she works hard to raise her two boys while balancing the demands of the military from the other side.
Leaving the Air Force wasn’t just a job change for Huffman. As many veterans find out, it means stepping out into the unknown with no clear roadmap or objective in mind for their next career.
“When I left the military, I was really lost … I felt like I lost my purpose,” Huffman explained.
As a stay-at-home mom, she needed a job she could do at her own pace, with the flexibility to work whenever she had time. So Huffman started blogging. At first, she covered a broad array of things she found interesting or shared her feelings about various subjects. She found that her audience resonated most with her stories from and about the military.
The Transition from Starting A Blog to Launching A Podcast
In 2017, she wrote an interview series focused on deployments. That inspired her to learn more about the experiences of women veterans. She planned to do the series again the following year, but the writing process was very time-consuming.
“I was doing all this work to try and capture these stories, but only 30% of people would send everything back to me. That meant a lot of the time, I was doing all this work and not getting an answer,” Huffman said.
At that point, she realized a podcast may be a better option. Huffman could send her interviewees questions, have a discussion with them and publish the podcast right away. That process would significantly cut down on all the back and forth on email.
“I realized that with a podcast, it would just be us talking, and then it would be done. I wouldn’t have to spend so much time trying to get responses,” she said.
How Huffman Launched The Podcast
So in 2019 Huffman launched her podcast, “Women of the Military.”
Through networking and attending the Military Influencer Conference, Huffman met different editors for whom she started writing articles. Soon people began recognizing Huffman for her podcast and written work.
As her podcast grew, she carved out her niche: women veterans, which evolved into focusing on women at the beginning of their military careers.
“Once you’ve established yourself as an expert in something, people know they can come to you. They tag you in comments or refer you to their network as a knowledgeable contact,” Huffman said.
As her network and reputation grew, she was invited as a guest on other podcasts. From those experiences, she learned from her peers in the industry and advanced her brand. She also published a book called “Women of the Military: A Compilation of Stories from American Women Service Members” in 2019.
Adapting to a Virtual World
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Huffman had to find new ways to connect with others as in-person events were postponed or canceled. She faced additional challenges when her children’s school switched to remote learning. Suddenly Huffman was balancing her roles as a military spouse, mom, homeschooler and entrepreneur, which put more demands on her time.
“I was going to DC every other month to network at veteran events, but that all stopped with COVID,” she said. “As a military spouse, I didn’t have the support network nearby to help take care of the kids.”
That didn’t stop Huffman from growing her business. Recently, she started writing for ClearanceJobs, which threw her into the world of current events and forced her to become more in tune with the happenings at Capitol Hill. For Huffman, it represented an opportunity to broaden her expertise to include policies affecting women veterans.
“It’s given me another avenue to grow as an expert in the veteran arena, but just from a different angle,” she said.
Slow and Steady Growth is the Key to Her Success in Her Veteran Career
Huffman’s goal for her business is to grow it–little by little.
Aside from the podcast, Amanda is working on a new mentorship program for women vets. Here, she hopes to connect women together to help each other on their journey as they join the military. She is also working on a second book: A Girl’s Guide to Military Service: Selecting Your Specialty, Preparing for Success, Thriving in Military Life, coming out in September. She is also working on her memoir about her deployment to Afghanistan.
To date, Amanda has interviewed 171 women from all branches of the military except Space Force. She was recognized in the HillVets100 (class 2019), as a Women Veteran Trailblazer (2021), and was a finalist for the Melissa A Washington Small Business Award.
To veterans wanting to become an entrepreneur after the military, Amanda offers this advice:
- Start planning as early as you can.
- Stick to your budget.
- Don’t count on an overnight success.
- Build your network with other veterans.
- Don’t be afraid to switch industries and learn new skills.
“You don’t have to do whatever you were doing in the military. I had my professional engineering license when I left the Air Force, but I really hated engineering. So I followed my passion and I’m a lot happier for it.”
You can find Amanda’s podcast and more on her website at airmantomom.com.