Halley Trembath’s husband, Ben, is currently serving as a C-130 pilot in the Wyoming Air National Guard, giving the family some permanency in their living situation, but Halley and her family have experience with active duty and National Guard life. “Ben graduated from the Air Force Academy. He always wanted to be a pilot, but like with most things in the military, he was originally assigned a different career field, Halley says. “He eventually found a way to make his dream happen with the Guard.” She’s proud of her husband for persevering in realizing his dream job, especially for the lessons that can teach their two sons, ages seven and five, as they grow up. Sometimes you have to embrace the now in order to realize your future.

Halley and Ben met in Colorado, when Halley attended the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. Her roommate knew Ben from high school and Ben offered them free tickets to an Air Force football game. Halley jumped at the chance to attend an Academy game, where she met Ben and the two became great friends. “We were friends for about a year,” Halley says, “then we went on our first date at the Garden of the Gods National Park. Coincidentally, there was a wedding ceremony happening when we were there, but we both quickly assured each other it wasn’t a sign of anything. Although if I’m completely honest, I was kind of hoping it was.” The couple wed two days after Ben’s graduation from the Air Force Academy.

Halley still sees Ben’s graduation as a highlight of their time in the military. “It’s the ultimate pomp and circumstance,” she says. “The president was the speaker that year, and just seeing the joy on all the graduates’ faces that they’d made it [is] a core memory for me, and every time I think about it, I still get all the feels.” After that great start to her new chapter, Halley and Ben began Air Force life, and Halley quickly realized it wasn’t always as great as graduation had been. They moved five different times during his time in the Air Force, and with no military experience (no one on her side of the family had ever served) Halley quickly realized how independent and resilient she’d need to be. “I’ve always been a super independent person, which helped with TDYs and deployments, but learning how to be all things was new to me. It’s Murphy’s Law,” she explains, “if it could break while he was gone, it would. I’ve been a plumber, an electrician, and who knows how many other things over the years. I even love moving. It’s fun and exciting to discover a new place.” Military life can be challenging, but Halley’s personal motto is “If you let it be yucky, it will be.” So, early on she made a personal resolution to find joy and good no matter where they were or what was going on, and as a result, she cannot pick a favorite duty station easily.

When pressed, she says it was probably the years they spent in Little Rock, Arkansas. “Absolutely because of the friends we made there,” she says. “All our husbands went on their first and second deployments together, so we were all learning this Air Force thing together. We really got to know those people so well and we still talk to them all the time.” In fact, Halley still goes back once a year to visit friends who are still in the area and to check on the rental properties she manages there.

Which brings her to what she feels is one of the most significant challenges she’s faced as a military spouse. “I’ve actually only had one job in my degree field,” she says, “at our first base. Then we were told on a Monday that we were PCSing on that Friday—the only time in Ben’s career it’s been that quick—and the company I was with wanted me to stay for another six months before transferring to their offices where we were moving. I didn’t want to be apart that long when we didn’t have to be, so I left thinking because we were going to a big city (the biggest we were ever stationed in) I’d be able to find a job there.” Spoiler alert, she wasn’t, and she attributes that directly to being a military spouse. She decided to take the year they were there to work on her skills, not just professionally but mostly life skills. “I learned about eating healthy. We were still used to eating like college students, which isn’t necessarily the healthiest lifestyle. I got involved in a spouses’ group, went to the gym, and just generally took every opportunity to work on things that would set me up for success,” she says. She adds that while she experienced some heartache over her career, her natural resiliency helped her make the most of the situation.

Eventually, once they landed in Little Rock, Halley started a job in property management, working her way up from leasing agent to her firm’s top manager. She got her Arkansas real estate license and realized she’d found a career she was passionate about. When she and her family eventually moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, Halley ran right into another professional challenge associated with being a military spouse. “I had to wait two years to restart my license,” she explains. “I had to bide my time for two years working for another firm and to get my broker’s license. It’s hard to have to start over every time you move, but I’d heard horrible things about property management in Cheyenne, and I wanted to change that, especially for military and veterans.”

Knowing Cheyenne was their last stop, as Ben planned to transition from active-duty Air Force to the Guard unit there, Halley started making plans to open her own property management business. “One of the things I did professionally was work for the Chamber of Commerce,” Halley says. “It was such a rewarding experience. I loved the work, but the hours were challenging since I have a family. I learned the roles of business in the community, big, medium, and small. My time there really shaped my ideas of business.”

That knowledge helped her a lot when she launched her company, Rock Solid Properties. “The core of our business has always been to help military families and veterans with their housing needs, whether that’s long-term purchase, rental, or even Airbnbs. Of course, we help anyone, but our experiences with the military have made us passionate about helping other military families have the best experience they can when they’re in Cheyenne,” she says. Being her own boss lets Halley achieve the work/life balance she needs, especially as Ben’s job still has him deploying and going on TDYs.

Her favorite deployment trick is surviving the first two weeks however you can. “It’s the time when they first leave and you realize that you’re it until they’re back. Give yourself time to make that transition, that adjustment. Then, start planning things to make the time go faster,” she says. Halley says that having little things to look forward to helps. For her children, she involves them in planning things that are just for the three of them. “We’ll go to the zoo; there’s a great one not far from us. Or we’ll take a short trip somewhere an hour/hour and a half away.” It helps that Denver is within that time frame and offers lots of opportunities. “You don’t have to take a vacation or go anywhere expensive or that requires a lot of planning on your part. Just find things to do that you can look forward to and plan them for different times throughout the deployment,” she says. She also suggests making the most of the holidays when your spouse is home. “For us, Ben’s deployment schedule always seems to mean he’ll be gone for Thanksgiving and Christmas. So, we don’t create traditions or expectations around those holidays,” Halley says. “Instead, we’ve adopted St. Patrick’s Day as our big family holiday. I know it sounds strange, but Ben is almost always home on March 17th, so we do it up big. We have the food and the beer and the friends and make it fun.” It helps that there’s a lot of Irish in her ancestry, but more importantly, it’s a holiday the family can usually count on being together.

What’s surprised her the most so far about military life? “How small and how big the community is at the same time,” she says. “The C-130 community particularly feels small, but it’s really big. Still, I feel connected to people all over the world. Everything feels intertwined.” Resources like the Family Readiness Center and opportunities like MyCAA, which lets military spouses get professional certifications for free, also help you feel connected and offer great resources for military spouses.

Her best piece of advice is to “join a spouses’ group of some type wherever you are—a traditional spouses club, a book club, whatever. Just join one to meet and get to know other military spouses. It helps a lot. Also, always check out your Outdoor Rec center. They can be a great resource and people don’t think about them.”

Halley’s motto for military spouses is “Take it and run with it.” “Don’t let it run you,” she cautions. No matter where you are or what challenges you’re up against, face them head on and always, always focus on finding the good things about wherever you are. It makes all the difference. 

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