113. Facing Anger to Move Past Trauma with Amanda Huffman

The Do a Day Podcast from Bryan Falchuk

Amanda is a military spouse and veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer including a deployment to 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. She is the host and creator of the Women of the Military Podcast sharing the stories of women who have served or continue to serve in the military. You can learn more about Amanda at her blog Airman to Mom.

Amanda is a military spouse and veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer including a deployment to Afghanistan. She met her husband while attending college and they served on active duty together until their first son was born. It was then that she traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home. Amanda is now a mom of two boys and continues to follow her husband’s military career. She has lived in New Mexico, Ohio, California and currently resides in Northern Virginia. She published her first book in 2019 titled Women of the Military, sharing the stories of 28 military women. In 2019 she also launched her podcast also titled Women of the Military. On the podcast there has been representation from all five military branches and featured stories from the 23rd Secretary of the Air Force, the Women Air Force Service Pilots to present day. She has been published on multiple military sites and magazines, has been featured in a number of podcasts, and she was a panelist speaker at Podcast Movement in 2019. You can learn more about Amanda at her blog Airman to Mom.

Key Points from the Episode with Amanda Huffman:

  • Amanda, who was an officer in the Air Force, hosts a podcasts called “Women of the Military” to share the stories of other women veterans and build community amongst them
  • She had been blogging after leaving the military and becoming a stay-at-home mother
  • In 2017, she did a series on deployments, and put out a call to get people’s stories, and got those of many women telling their stories
  • This was surprising as many female veterans did not feel comfortable sharing their stories, but when another woman asked, the response was stronger.
  • She took the stories people shared to create a book of them called Women in the Military
  • To keep the project going, she started interviewing those who were willing to share their stories without anonymity for her podcast
  • She talked a lot about the feelings when you come home after serving, and finding that you couldn’t really understand what it would be like until you live it, and you realize how much of your identity the military was
  • Amanda started her military career in ROTC while in college, with an interest to be in the military sparked in her after September 11th, which happened her senior year of high school
  • The military gave her a purpose and alignment of beliefs that she had not had before as she had felt lost before
  • Amanda was tasked to Afghanistan with the Army to work on roads, bridges, retaining walls and other public works projects in conjunction with the Afghan people
  • While Amanda has been shot at, her experience with PTSD is not a result of that. It came from treatment within her base.
  • The treatment, harassment, lies, manipulation and anger drove her PTSD.
  • To understand why being mistreated can create PTSD, it’s important to remember the context of everyone’s lives being at risk.
  • When Amanda was asked to do something she knew wasn’t right, the officer who requested it of her started spreading lies about Amanda in conjunction with another woman on base.
  • There were many examples of how this played out, but the key issue being the repeated manipulation and disrespect in the context of lives being at risk
  • At the same time, her husband also got into a masters program in Ohio, and moved there from New Mexico and bought a home while she was in Afghanistan so she came home to a home she didn’t know
  • When she looked for help, the response was focused on whether she was suicidal, which she wasn’t
  • When you aren’t suicidal, help becomes harder to get in the military and the response turns more to just dealing with it
  • Today, after therapy, Amanda knows this isn’t the right approach or answer
  • When you’re in it for so long, it’s hard to see that it can be better or that this isn’t normal, but therapy helped Amanda see that it can be better
  • She didn’t get help until after her kids were born
  • The switch that told her she needed help came from getting extremely, irrationally angry and knowing she can’t be that way for her kids
  • She kept getting in the car to go her therapy group, but would talk herself out of it, and eventually decided to just drive to the meeting without allowing herself to think
  • Once she started sharing, the flood gates opened up as she recognized she was in a community of others who were in similar places and could be supports for her from a place of understanding
  • The cycle before was to calm down, but not talk about it again, so no progress was being made. Now it became about getting it out and talking through it.
  • The last step of most 12 Step programs is to give back to the community, which is what the podcast is for Amanda
  • Amanda originally thought a measure of being ok is to never get angry again
  • What she’s come to realize is that people get angry, and that’s ok. It’s about what we do in those moments and how we handle it.
  • The first step is to recognize that you have a problem and that it’s ok to not be ok
  • Amanda’s story is a great reminder that we shouldn’t be comparing our difficulty to someone else’s as justification for ours not being valid or something to address because someone else’s seems worse
  • She mentioned a book by Gary Chapman called Anger: Taming a Power Emotion, that helped her see that anger is a good thing and you can control how you use it and react


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