As a military spouse and mother with 27 years under her belt, you could say Gretchen Barnett knows her way around military life and the Marine Corps. That’s one of the many reasons she makes such an impact supporting Sandboxx customers every day in Customer Happiness.
When asked what her favorite part of working for Sandboxx is, it’s clear to see where her passion lies.
“It’s just about being able to help our military families. It is my passion as I am a military family member. To continue to do that after my husband has retired is really cool. I enjoy it.”
How long have you been with Sandboxx?
“I’ve been at Sandboxx going on 3.5 years now.”
What do you do at Sandboxx?
“I work in Customer Happiness – answering questions to help out military families. I work in marketing as a Social Media Associate as well.”
How did you and your spouse meet?
“We were in an audio production class together at Central Michigan University. I thought he was funny and we had a group project together and I asked him out.”
What bit of advice would you give new military spouses?
“Don’t be shy! Put yourself out there in your community. Get to know neighbors and volunteer whether it’s with your spouse’s work or your church or the school if you have kids. Take full advantage of all the opportunities that are there for you. If you do that, you will have a much more positive experience and make a ton of great friends.”
And new military parents?
“Be patient. As parents, we think that we should know everything they are doing and know everything first hand. You have to be patient because [during basic training] the military is the parent and you are there watching from the sidelines. When we wanted to make plans, we wanted to plan 6-8 months ahead of time. With the military, everything can change last minute. Make plans, but know it may not happen. Be patient and supportive.”
What has been your favorite part of living the military life?
“I have loved being able to travel across the country and overseas. You meet all kinds of wonderful people and see new cultures. I think of all the opportunities we got along the way living in all the different places and the vast amount of friends I’ve made that are my best buds no matter what. We have people all over the place that we can stop and visit at any time.”
Perks of having children while living the military life?
“Our kids have had the opportunity to learn to adjust and adapt and make friends quickly. Now, when our two older adult kids have to move or start a new job, they adapt quickly because it is in their blood.”
Any funny memories from life before your spouse retired?
“At LeJeune, there was a group of spouses who would raise money each season for different causes. So, you would get groups of spouses together and then ‘Flamingo’ a house–meaning you would put a bunch of flamingos in their yard with a sign stating they were ‘flamingoed’, and if they wanted to donate to the cause they would move the flamingoes the next day. Well, one night my friends and I went over into the General’s houses. One of the Generals could hear us giggling as we were hiding behind some bushes.
We heard him say in his Marine voice, ‘Who’s there?’ Finally, one of the spouses let him know it was us and we were about to Flamingo one of the houses. That was kind of funny! Plus, the different ‘groups’ that ‘flamingoed’ would compete against each other and try to catch each other in the act. Here’s a group of 40/50-year-old women running around the neighborhood like we were playing Hide and Seek (or what do kids now call that). Chasing each other around and spraying each other with water, etc. Those were really good times.”
How has being a military spouse impacted your career over the years?
Ha! Well, I was a stay-at-home mom for over 25 years. We chose for me to stay at home to be that one constant for our kids since my husband’s job had him traveling often and deploying for months at a time. I chose to volunteer with my husband’s units, volunteer at the kids’ school through the classroom and through the PTO, and volunteer in my community as well. I did feel throughout my 25 years at home, especially as I aged and was out of the “workforce”, that it was harder to start back up with a career. I was very insecure about myself, who would want to hire me after all of those years taking care of the family and what I would do.
There was a great program at Camp LeJeune that I got involved in through the Family Member Employment Assistance Program (FMEAP). They offered 5 classes. Each class was a week. Once you completed those 5 classes in such things as resume writing, job career exploration, interviewing skills, social media integration, etc, they paid for you to go to 1 class through their local community college. It was through those courses that I started to gain confidence and have some direction.
I ended up getting my CMAA which is a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant certification. However, we ended up moving shortly after that to a new location which is another reason it’s very hard for military spouses to find jobs/careers. Sandboxx really came into my life at the perfect time. I ended up getting the job networking with another military spouse who introduced me to the opportunity. It was a true blessing and I consider myself extremely lucky to have had such an awesome opportunity. I will always love Sandboxx and am grateful for the opportunity to be on the Sandboxx Team.”
Any experiences you hold near and dear to your heart?
“I really loved our tours on Parris Island because we were able to be witness to the making of a Marine. We could attend the Family Days/Grad Days and on Family Days, we had a club called the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club. This club was for the Marines whose family wasn’t able to make it to the Family Days. All the spouses donated baked goods, drinks, etc, but I decided that these Marines needed Mom Hugs just like all the other Marines were getting, so I started giving “Mom Hugs” out at each Family Day I could attend. I would literally almost sob at every Family Day watching the Marines and the families greet each other for the first time after a long, hard 13 weeks.”