About Jessica Bertsch

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So far Jessica Bertsch has created 426 blog entries.

One Final Thought

Jessica Bertsch, president of Powerhouse Planning and proud 17-year military spouse to a CAPT in the U.S. Coast Guard

In 1976, my father-in-law wrote Nobody Asked Me But . . . and my husband, who is currently serving in the United States Coast Guard, recently sent it my way. I thought the write-up was brilliant, and I wanted to attempt to write it from a military spouse perspective. So, here you go . . .

Friends,

The following is a list of what frustrates me to no end when it comes to being a military spouse:

  1. The 25+ deployments I have been through
  2. The endless nights of solo parenting
  3. The dang fire alarm that ONLY goes off at 2 a.m. when my husband is at sea
  4. The T.V. remote that never works once he ships out
  5. The ant invasion that happens day two into his deployment that means I now have to become the “exterminator”
  6. The car issues I have to deal with by myself and explain by noise and vocal demonstrations to the mechanic
  7. The selling of homes twice solo
  8. Reregistering my company in five different states
  9. Having to change my state of residency three times because of owning a business
  10. Dealing with a break-in and going to court solo to provide a statement to the judge
  11. Registering the kids for doctors and dentists every. single. move
  12. Finding a new church every. single. move
  13. Building a sense of community every. single. move
  14. Chasing a squirrel out of my house while my husband was at sea (Thanks, Tim and Ron, for helping me on that one. That’s the best defense I’ve ever seen in a noncompetitive sport.)
  15. Evacuating from two hurricanes with three small children and a dog (which was made even more frustrating when all the stores ran out of ice, so I was “forced” to buy boxed wine so the wine bags could serve as ice bags to keep my food cold)
  16. Sending a dog to heaven solo
  17. Finding a leak in the ceiling of our first home only to realize the home was infested with black mold and being removed for months while the home was tarped, gutted, and remodeled
  18. Having to explain that the U.S. Coast Guard is indeed part of the military
  19. Having to explain what the U.S. Coast Guard does
  20. Having to answer the question “How do you do it?” a thousand times over the past 17 years
  21. Not being able to travel internationally easily because my spouse needs special permission
  22. Not being able to take vacation easily or on a whim because my spouse needs permission
  23. Not ever having a spouse that is settled in a career because he is essentially restarting his career every two to three years
  24. Having a spouse who has a PhD but makes only a portion of his worth
  25. Dealing with a horrible dental plan (currently we pay out of pocket for ours)

But the thing I hate most is that I love it.

I love the other spouses and friends I’ve met on this journey.

I love that I’m married to a man who has given so selflessly to our country.

I love that throughout his career journey he has seen me as an equal and provided me a place to share my dreams, hopes, and wishes and has worked tirelessly to provide me fulfillment too along the way.

I love that I’ve been forced to learn a ton of things the hard way, but, man, it’s made me strong.

I am grateful for this military spouse walk and can proudly look back at every single home we’ve had and see blessings each step of the way.

Onward I go to keep loving this crazy life we’ve built.

Did you enjoy this article? Read the full e-magazine, here.

 

Jessica Bertsch is a proud Coastie wife and mom to three children. In her “spare” time she runs Powerhouse Planning, LLC: powerhouseplanning.com

2024-03-11T13:28:43-04:00March 8th, 2024|Powerhouse News|

Starting Out on the Military Spouse Journey – Fionna Schoener

Fionna Schoener and her Marine husband, Jay, celebrated their first year of marriage in December 2023. The two met during college through friends. “Jay did his first year at the Naval Academy,” Fionna explains. “I was at Penn State. Friends introduced us. Jay ended up transferring to Penn State after that first year.” Though Jay’s year at the Naval Academy gave Fionna “a taste” of military life, she had no experience with the military prior to marrying him. “I think maybe a great, great-grandparent or someone may have served, but no one in my memory.”

Currently, Jay and Fionna are enjoying their first duty station, where Fionna works as an architectural designer at a firm that designs K-12 schools. “I love it,” she says, referring to both her chosen profession and the firm she currently calls her work home. Remote work isn’t really an option in her field, and she’s dreading the day they PCS. “I don’t want to leave my firm,” Fionna says, “but I know I’ll have to find a new firm. And it will be a great opportunity, too.”

That attitude, one where she embraces the challenges of military life, has already seen her through Jay’s first deployment. “Nothing can prepare you for that first deployment,” Fionna says. “The missing communication during deployment is so hard. You’re used to sharing everything about your day with this person. Sure, we have texts and things, but nothing replaces that everyday communication you’re used to.”

Even with all the challenges that come with deployment, Fionna focuses on the positives. “When Jay deployed, we hadn’t been where we are for very long,” she says. “I didn’t know a lot of people, but during his deployment so many people came to check on me and now we are close friends. I wasn’t alone one weekend of his deployment.” In fact, if she had to offer a piece of advice to new military spouses it would be this: “Say yes to everything. Put yourself out there.” It’s advice that didn’t come naturally to her, but Fionna stands by it. “It wasn’t exactly comfortable, but I would accept any offers to hang out, go with someone to something,” she says. “Now, Jay and I just hosted our first Friendsgiving with our new friends. That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been open to trying new things.”

Speaking of trying new things, a new hobby ranks among Fionna’s favorite memories as a military spouse so far. “We’re in southern California,” Fionna says, “So Jay and I decided to try surfing. It’s not something either one of us had done before and we never would have had this opportunity if not for the military. Now, it’s one of our favorite things to do together.” In addition to creating the memories that each duty station affords them, Fionna and Jay are committed to settle into each place they’ll be stationed no matter how long they’ll be there. “It’s important to settle in,” Fionna stresses, “no matter how long we’ll be there.” How does she do that? “I find a church,” she says. “That’s important to us. Once we have a church, we start to make friends. But whatever helps you make a place a home, focus on making that among your first priorities when you move.”

As for reflecting on her first year as a military spouse, Fionna says there’s one thing she wishes new military spouses knew before becoming a military spouse. “It’s a job!” she says. “In addition to your relationship, especially as you’re starting out and learning what that looks like for the two of you, being a military spouse is a lot of work. It’s worth it, but it’s a job.” Just in the first year, Fionna has made lifelong friends, taken up a new hobby, survived her husband’s first deployment, found a rewarding job at a firm she loves, and is already looking toward what comes next. As she says, if military spouses had a motto, it’d probably be, “We’ll make it work!” One year in, Fionna is living proof of that.

Did you enjoy this article? Read the full e-magazine, here.

 

 

2024-03-11T13:28:31-04:00March 8th, 2024|Powerhouse News|

In the Midst of the Military Spouse Life – Rossmery Oakes

Rossmery Oakes is an Air Force spouse of nine years and also happens to be one of Powerhouse Planning’s uber-talented freelance graphic and web designers. When we launched our “Empowering the Homefront” initiative in January 2023, Rossmery was right there volunteering to be a part of giving back to the military spouse community, one of the most overqualified and underappreciated communities there is.

Rossmery and her husband, Chris, grew up in the same hometown. In fact, when Rossmery was in sixth grade, her family moved to the same street Chris’ family lived on. It may seem inevitable that the two were “middle school sweethearts” who transitioned into being best friends throughout high school. Still, that initial connection never went away, and they started dating seriously in college and never looked back. Together, they have been through four PCSs, with the last one being the first their daughter, Gabby, also experienced. “That was challenging,” Rossmery recalls. “For me, I love PCSs. Obviously, they’re stressful, but the thrill of moving somewhere new, learning all the new things of a place is exciting.” But moving with a baby was a whole other level of “excitement.”

With Chris driving their two dogs, Rossmery enlisted her parents to help her fly halfway across the country with Gabby. As we all know too well, things never go smoothly during a PCS. For a variety of reasons, Rossmery’s parents ended up flying a day later, leaving Rossmery to travel with the baby and arrive at a new house alone. Luckily, for some reason, a lone recliner was left behind in their new home, and that first night, Rossmery slept in that recliner before being reunited the next day with the rest of her family.

When Chris first joined the Air Force, the military experience wasn’t something Rossmery necessarily knew she could handle so well. “I was completely unprepared for military life. It’s a very different lifestyle from civilian life. I didn’t expect it would be so different, but it teaches you a lot of things,” she says. One of those lessons is learning how to navigate a career as a military spouse. “I was in my last two years of college when our military journey started and spent some time settling for jobs unrelated to my career field just to have income,” she says. “It’s hard to convince employers to invest in the uncertainty of knowing how long you’ll be there. In fact, my first job gave me a temporary position instead of the job I applied for. I worked that temporary job the whole time, but they were so reluctant to just hire me outright.”

Being a military spouse did make her eligible for the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program, which gave her a grant to use for accreditation in coding and web development, an accreditation that she’s leveraged along the way to become a graphic designer as well. “My bachelor’s is in biology. I actually wanted to enter teaching or research, but those aren’t military-friendly fields,” she says. “So, I started with the coding program and expanded on that. Ultimately, that opportunity and hard work landed me at Powerhouse.”

Having the ability to freelance and work remotely allows Rossmery to balance the unique needs of military life, from working around her husband’s Air Force schedule to being able to carry her career with her no matter where they’re stationed. Yet, career advice isn’t the thing Rossmery lands on when we asked her what she wishes military spouses knew before or shortly after entering military life. “Lean on financial education,” she stresses. “[The military] has programs out there, but they’re primarily targeted at the military member. Military finances work so differently. You have to know about things like PCSs and TDYs, deployment pay, bonuses, and how money works around those things. Talk with your spouse, attend the programs you can find, and use your network. It’s so important.”

Networking is huge for Rossmery. Aside from finances, she recommends joining Facebook groups centered around places you’re going to live, the Military OneSource website for all kinds of resources, and the MyCAA grant program if you’re interested in school options. “Facebooks groups especially are a great resource,” she says. “They offer you all the things you won’t get from official sources. You can really get a feel for what a base is going to be like just from the Facebook groups.”

As for the dreaded deployments, Rossmery offers up a couple of pieces of advice. “Make plans for yourself for while your spouse is going to be gone. For me, that looks like trips, family visits, etc.—things I can schedule that give me something to look forward to throughout the deployment,” she says. “And my second piece of advice is reach out, especially to stay-at-home spouses, not necessarily during your spouse’s deployment, but when you know others are deployed. Adopt a friend and check on them often. Bring them dinner or invite them on an outing. Offer free babysitting. I’m fortunate enough to have been adopted by military spouses before, and I know how much it can make a difference. Lean on your military spouse community because no one knows how to get through it quite like other military spouses.”

As for her military spouse motto, Rossmery pointed us to something her husband Chris says. “When he’s stressed, he’ll say, ‘It’s a great day’ over and over until he starts to believe it. Being a military spouse is great, but there are days when you’ll need to repeat ‘It’s a great day’ more than once.” At Powerhouse, we are thankful that Rossmery chooses to share her days and her talents with us and that she is such an asset not only to our clients but also to “Empowering the Homefront.”

Did you enjoy this article? Read the full e-magazine, here.

2024-03-11T13:28:18-04:00March 8th, 2024|Powerhouse News|

Tales of a Veteran Military Spouse – Christy Dewitt

Christy DeWitt has an impressive amount of experience as a military spouse. She and her husband, Kevin, celebrated their 30th anniversary in July of last year, and Kevin retired from active-duty service in 2020. Given all that time spent with the United States Marine Corps, Christy sounds almost embarrassed when she admits that in her family “only” moved nine times. “We might not have moved as much as many military families, but I’ve loved every place we’ve ever lived,” she says.

A pastor’s daughter, Christy met Kevin at church where her dad was Kevin’s pastor. “I actually tried to set Kevin up with my little sister,” she confesses, but things worked out for the best. Having spent her childhood in Texas as a preacher’s child, Christy readily admits that she had no idea what she was signing on for when she married her Marine. “I knew nothing! Before becoming a military spouse, though, I did all the research I could. I tried to get the jargon down. As a new spouse, if there was a seminar, class, or anything available where I could learn, I took it,” she says. Christy credits her time as a military spouse for teaching her so many things, but mainly how much she’s capable of doing on her own. “I really had a chance to build my confidence, my self-advocacy,” she says. “Through deployments, TDYs, etc., I learned we’re more resilient than we give ourselves credit for.”

That resiliency has stood her well as she raised three children while Kevin was active duty, endured two deployments over a year, and co-founded the military-centric jewelry company Nomadés 14 years ago with other like-minded military spouses. “Things have come so far for military spouses in the last 23 years,” Christy reflects. “I was a stay-at-home mom. I always volunteered. I even tried to go back to college twice. All those experiences I had because I was a military spouse are what gave me the experience and the confidence I needed for Nomadés. I am excited for today’s military spouse, for the options they have through companies like Powerhouse and organizations like Blue Star Families. We have a long way to go, but these changes are so positive.”

Christy can’t remember a duty station she hasn’t loved. “I know all these people who talk about how they didn’t like this place or that place, but for me it was always a chance to live a new experience. For me, I looked first for a church family. Once I found that, everything else would fall into place. I could look for what I could do and where I could make a difference,” she says. Still, for the sheer experience alone, Christy names Okinawa as her favorite duty station. “I was far enough into my military life that it didn’t feel new. I didn’t feel like I was still learning how to be a military spouse, so I could enjoy it,” she says. “We made great friends and got to travel to places like China, Guam, mainland Japan, and Hawaii. And it’s where we were when 9/11 happened.” While the tragedy was certainly difficult for everyone, when Christy reflects on that time, the togetherness and sense of purpose she felt from everyone provided a bond of support and love.

We all know that military life can be hard. “There are times when your spouse’s job comes first,” Christy says. “You don’t have to like it, but I encourage military spouses to be supportive, even if it’s irritating. Go to the coffee shop and rail, alone or to friends, but support your spouse. Complaining won’t change it.” And she offers some old-school advice for deployments: Write your spouse handwritten letters. “Kevin and I have every letter we’ve ever written to each other through deployments,” she says. “My father-in-law passed two years ago, and my mother-in-law had all the letters they’d written to each other when he was deployed. It was so special to Kevin to be able to read those parts where his dad was asking about his little boy and talking about how much he missed him. They’re tangible memories in a way texts and emails just aren’t.”

She also encourages military spouses to keep family contacts strong. “As often as I could, I tried to be with grandparents, whether they visited us or we visited them. It helps that our parents are friends and more often than not our families do things together. Our kids don’t even really realize that their cousins from my side of the family aren’t cousins with Kevin’s side of the family!” she says. Traditions, especially holidays, might look different from year to year for military families, but family remains an important connection that is worth nurturing.

Go to the classes, Christy suggests. Go to seminars, to anything where people come together where you are, especially if they’re events where local resources show you what your home-for-now place has to offer. “The military is doing a lot better at having local resources available,” she says. Making connections like these are what led Christy to some of her best friends and people she’s kept in contact with, even before social media sites like Facebook were available.

Christy’s military spouse motto? “We didn’t, in fact, know what we signed up for!” she says with a laugh, referring to an idea that military spouses know what they’re getting into when they marry a military member. “I had no clue what I was signing up for all those years ago,” she says, but she wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.

Did you enjoy this article? Read the full e-magazine, here.

2024-03-11T13:27:51-04:00March 8th, 2024|Powerhouse News|

New Powerhouse Team Member

Christina P. brings quite a diverse background to the Powerhouse team. Originally from south Louisiana, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy from Grambling State University in December 2000. After two years of working in the field, she found herself in debt like every recent graduate, so she enlisted in the Coast Guard as an electronic technician. Two years into her first tour, she met her husband, and for 18 years, they were co-enlisted.

After 20 years in the service, it was time to retire. During Christina’s transition, she participated in the SkillBridge program, where she discovered a passion for grant writing and research. She is attending Grand Canyon University to obtain her MBA in business analytics to be a better asset to clients.

In her personal life, she loves her husband, her motorcycle, her 14-year-old dog (her study partner), and the great outdoors.

2024-03-07T09:30:37-05:00March 7th, 2024|Powerhouse News, Spotlights|

Proudly Owning I’m A Non-Traditional CEO

I’ll admit it. I’m a mixed-breed career woman/military spouse. When first meeting someone, I always stumble to state my roles in life quickly and concisely. In short, I’m a full-time stay-at-home mom/wife and a full-time CEO. (Please go ahead and pick your jaw up off the floor.) Then I usually get a, “Bless your heart—how do you balance it all?” I almost always have a snarky comment like, “Wine and Jesus.” Truth be told, I’ve been processing how I do it, and it boils down to this: I’m a non-traditional CEO.

Allow me to explain.

I don’t hustle.
Over the past few years I’ve read article after article about “hustling to succeed.” Let me tell you, the only hustle I do is at 8:45 a.m. Monday-Friday to get my three kiddos to the bus stop. To me, if I’m “hustling” in my business, then I didn’t plan appropriately. I don’t want to work in chaos. I like order, plans, and processes. So, I’m not a CEO you’ll find hustling to drum up work.

I don’t set goals.
I’m an Enneagram 3 and I’ve learned that if I set goals then I will set out to achieve them. However, over the years I have decided I no longer want to be goal-driven. I’ve started measuring success by the impact we are making for our clients, team members, and our world.

I sat out the conference season (again).
This is the time of year when you start seeing conference picture after conference picture and fellow CEOs begin receiving award after award. In this season of life, that’s not me. In fact, I haven’t been to a conference in more than 6 years. I’ve chosen being present with my family over attending large-scale networking opportunities. I know there will be a time when I’m going to have that professional flexibility again, but I also know the years with my kids are going by fast, and I can’t miss this stage of life that only comes around once. So, I cheer from afar for my CEO counterparts and stand proudly at home, growing a company.

I rethought my approach to networking.
Bus stop. Playdates. School holiday events. Local events. That’s how I “work it” these days. For years I thought I needed to attend any and every professional event I could find to build leads. Then I realized that the more I made legit friendships the more people learned about my company, and that turned into business opportunities. Simple conversations on the go have turned into profitable contracts. It didn’t require me to get all fancied up or spend a mint on airfare and hotels. It took me chatting, getting to know someone, and speaking about my company (and their needs) when the time was right.

I keep politics out of my social media posts.
I don’t take a public stance on my political position via social media. I welcome the opportunity to chat face-to-face with anyone about my beliefs regarding religion, politics, etc. My personal and professional social media feeds will continue to be pics of my family and furry pets, primarily because I want to work with diverse clientele. I don’t want to work with people who are just like me; I want to learn from others. I believe that when you start sharing your beliefs as the best (and only) option out there, then you lose opportunities to learn from others. And, to me, that’s potentially lost goodness I could’ve had in my life.

I am transparent on social media.
I have two social media pages. I have my personal page and my business page. I’ve noticed over the years many CEOs opt to have a personal page and then a separate personal page that’s only used to show their professional side. #1, This mama ain’t got time for that. #2, I am who I am. I want to be transparent. If my personal life is so crazy that I can’t show everyone “who I am,” then in my mind I’ve stepped away from who I aim to be.

I created a non-traditional corporate culture.
I strive to prioritize my life in the following order: faith, family, career. I encourage this daily at our company. In the beginning, I remember people would be worried to tell me they had to go on vacation for five days and they’d make sure to bring their computer. My answer was (and still is), “Heck to the no.” We need breaks. We need to feed our souls. We’ve implemented policies where team members cover other members so they can step away.

I’m not striving to be rich—I’m striving to do good.
If I die and have grown a company that’s insanely successful, but I have a ton of money just sitting in the bank, then I’ve failed with how I define success. I’m human; therefore, I enjoy nice things. But I also know I’m crazy privileged, and that means as our company grows, we need to share. If I’m not giving more as I continue to gain more, then to me, that’s failing. I want us to “Share the Goodness.” At my company, Powerhouse Planning, we support local and international efforts that give back to our world through our Share the Goodness initiative. We’ve done simple things like race sponsorships, and we also engage in large-scale efforts like sponsoring a child monthly so she has food, shelter, and an opportunity to receive an education.

So that’s me.

I know I’m different, and I know many people will tell me I’m sipping on crazy juice. That’s okay, because I’m me and you’re you. But for those of you out there thinking you have to hustle and kill yourself on your way to success, look at your season of life. Look at the season of your company. Start to embrace and celebrate your ideal image of what a successful CEO looks like.

So go onward. You be you, and I’ll be me—and we can all just be proud of how we find success.

—–
Jessica Bertsch is a proud Coastie wife and mom of a 12-year-old son, 9-year-old daughter, and 7-year-old daughter. In her “spare” time she runs Powerhouse Planning, LLC, www.powerhouseplanning.com.

2024-01-30T12:20:11-05:00January 30th, 2024|Powerhouse News