Organization helping military spouses tell their story

Organization helping military spouses tell their story

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Okinawa
The Other Side of Service, aka OSS is active in gathering and sharing stories by military spouse professionals and empowers them to find fulfillment in their chosen career fields.
According to its homepage, they recognize and understand the unique challenges of balancing military service and spouses’ careers, and through storytelling, they highlight examples of military spouses negotiating these challenges, and most importantly, succeeding.
In February, Teal Jennings Yost, executive director of OSS held a seminar “Crafting Your Story to Work for You” in NAF Atsugi, and nearly 40 participants learned the step-by-step process in crafting their stories in a confident and polished way.
Recently Stripes Japan talked with Yost about her group and how it contributes to the military community. Being a Naval spouse herself, Yost is known as an award-winning journalist and former television anchor and reporter, as well.
Can you tell us about “The Other Side of Service” and its members?
The Other Side of Service empowers military spouses to fulfill their career aspirations. We recognize and understand the unique challenges balancing military service and spouses’ careers. Through storytelling, we highlight examples of military spouses negotiating these challenges, and most importantly, succeeding. Our community platform allows spouses to connect to resources tailored specifically to their professional needs. The Other Side of Service humanizes the bleak statistics on military spouse employment in order to encourage significant change.
Our executive board consists of proud military spouses, all of whom are successful professionals in a wide variety of fields.
What drove the founding of the organization?
It is said necessity is the mother of invention. The Other Side of Service was founded at NAF Atsugi out of necessity. With so few opportunities for spouses to work overseas in their field, there was a need to build community.
Since I have not been with OSS since the beginning, I had our founder (Lynn Waidelich) answer this question:
“In retrospect, I don’t think I would have started the Other Side of Service without meeting a young woman named Rachel. She was smart and capable. She was passionate about women’s rights and embodied the word potential. She had recently graduated from a prestigious university and had just finished volunteering in the Peace Corps. Yet, she too was moving to Japan with no job opportunities in sight. She was discouraged, and I feared she may quickly become disillusioned. As she told me her story, I realized we were navigating the same professional waters. I guessed without a group of like-minded spouses, she may also feel lost and alone.
As I went about my daily life, I thought about my professional journey and Rachel’s and all the other amazing military spouses I have met over the years. I realized we have an important story to tell, and collectively, we are powerful and significant. So, with Rachel and an amazing team, we built the Other Side of Service. That’s the thing about our organization, it affects us as deeply as our audience because it stems from our life experience. Who better to show us the way than those who have gone before?”
We created OSS to fill a gap in the market. While many organizations are working tirelessly on the issue of military spouse employment, we are the only group to provide expansive interviews with spouses about their professional experiences. 
How was the recent workshop you held at NAF Atsugi, and what are some of the things you taught?
We held our very first “Crafting Your Story to Work for You” seminar last month on NAF Atsugi. There are so many things we can’t control as military spouses, but we own our professional stories. The way we speak about our experience and expertise matters, yet many people struggle with their professional narrative. The Other Side of Service has designed a seminar to address this. Using real-life examples (both poor & strong) and self-reflection, we took participants through a step-by-step process in which they were able to craft their professional story in a confident and polished way. They then had the opportunity to practice their delivery. We also introduced our audience to Lindsey Savage with the Military Spouse J.D. Network, our guest speaker, to talk about redefining professional breaks as sabbaticals, important insight, especially for spouses living OCONUS, where professional job opportunities can be few and far between. For the nearly 40 spouses in attendance from Atsugi and nearby CFA Yokosuka, it was a unique opportunity to come together, reflect upon our professional journeys, and build community.
In the future, we hope to bring this seminar to military installations across the world. We’re also looking to leverage technology with a live webinar, bringing this valuable step-by-step approach to crafting a clear and coherent professional story wherever military spouses may be in the world! 
Can you tell us about some of the other activities put on by the organization?
In October, The Other Side of Service was inducted into the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP). MSEP connects military spouses to partner organizations and companies who have committed to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses. As an ambassador organization, we work collectively with other organizations to open more doors for professional military spouses. Through this partnership, we are active in seminars and conferences devoted to promoting military spouse employment. Dr. Jill Biden, who helped to launch the MSEP program in 2011, spoke at our induction, echoing what we at The Other Side of Service know to be true, “Military spouses are among the most skilled and dedicated members of America’s workforce” she said.
How does your group contribute to the military community?
In 2016, The Other Side of Service shared the stories of two dozen military spouse professionals in video and print —spouses with diverse backgrounds, careers and challenges.  Knowing that one spouse’s professional journey and experience can help another, we’ve tackled issues including continuing education, remote duty stations, whether or not to bring up military affiliation at a job interview, and the difficult decision for a service member to ‘geo-bach’ so a spouse could continue her career.
We also help connect spouses to people and resources that might help them on their professional journeys.
How can people become involved with your group?
Connect with us on social media! We’re active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.  There, you will find a community of like-minded, ambitious military spouse professionals. 
In addition, we’re always looking for military spouse professionals willing to tell their stories. We have a contact form on our website,, and encourage spouses to introduce themselves!
The Other Side of Service
Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn
For more
Six weeks after Laura Winthrop Abbot moved to Japan with her military spouse, the Great East Japan Earthquake struck the country, causing a giant tsunami and widespread devastation in the Tohoku region. Laura didn’t hesitate and immediately sought ways to help those affected. Her initial efforts grew into a long term initiative to provide relief and recovery called the TOMODACHI Initiative.
Her story and videos are available at:

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