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March 9, 2022

20 Years In The Navy & The Toll It Takes On Your Family- Stephen McIntosh

In this episode, we we have Stephen McIntosh. He's spent 20 years in the Navy and most of that time away from his family. Listen to his perspective on how it takes a toll on his family for being gone so long. But what special things he did to stay connected to him. Stephen's almost ready to retire and start a new way of life and a new business called Salty Hands Woodworking , which creates wooden amazing flags. 🇺🇸

In this episode, we we have Stephen McIntosh. He's spent 20 years in the Navy and most of that time away from his family. Listen to his perspective on how it takes a toll on his family for being gone so long. But what special things he did to stay connected to him. Stephen's almost ready to retire and start a new way of life and a new business called Salty Hands Woodworking , which creates wooden amazing flags. 🇺🇸

What we can learn from this episode:

👉How hobbies can help your mental health;
👉How is boot camp;
👉How to keep the marriage with a military spouse;
👉What it's like to be a prison guard;
👉Thoughts about Ukraine and Russia War;
👉What it's like to be a Navy Sailor;
👉How to transition from military to civilian life; and
👉Many more!


Stephen McIntosh

I am a Sailor in the US Navy. I have 20 years of service and in the process of retiring this year. I am a plumber and welder in the Navy, currently teaching self awareness and ethical behaviors to Sailors.  I am originally from Mass and now a resident of New Hampshire. I am married and we have a 13 (soon 14) year old daughter and a 10 (soon 11) son. I have been stationed in Perl Harbor, Groton, CT, Iraq (one tour), Yokosuka, Japan, and Bremerton, WA. I am now stationed in Virginia Beach and my wife and kids are living in New Hampshire. I enjoy BBQ'ing and woodworking.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/saltyhandswoodworking/?hl=en
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oldsaltyhands/?ref=pages_you_manage


Hi, everyone, and welcome to this week's episode of Enduring the Badge Podcast. I'm your host Jerry Dean Lund and I don't want you to miss an upcoming episode, so please hit that subscribe button and while your phones are out, please do me a favor and give us a review on iTunes or Apple podcasts. It says, "Hey, this podcast has a great message and we should send it out to more people. So please take that 30 seconds to a minute to do that review. And just maybe by doing that, it will push this up into someone's podcast feed that really needs this message.


My very special guest today is Stephen  McIntosh. He's spent 20 years in the Navy and most of that time away from his family. Listen to his perspective on how it takes a toll on his family for being gone so long. But what special things he did to stay connected to him. Stephen's almost ready to retire and start a new way of life and a new business called selfie hands woodworking, which creates some amazing flags. Let's jump right into this episode was Stephen.


How you doing Stephen?


I'm doing pretty good. How about yourself? 



I'm doing good. Doing good. I had a little vacation last week. So come back to work a day after, Now I'm back to work doing this. So yeah, it's it's been. It's been busy. But good, good. Tell the audience a little bit about yourself and your background.


Yeah. Thanks. Thanks for having me on first of all. I'm originally from Massachusetts, back and right after September 11 happened I ended up joining the Navy went to boot camp in 2002. Thinking that only do one enlisted in the Navy. And one thing led to another and unexpectedly got well expectedly got married and decided that I'll try one more reenlistment just to get my family stuff straightened out. And here I am 20 years later still in the Navy about to retire. To retire.


Yeah. And so how many kids you have? 


We have two kids, our daughter Kaden she just turned 14 and our son Call and he's about to turn 11. 


Wow, nice. This is a fun ages. Or can be? 


Fun. Fun is one word. 


Yes. Challenging. This is probably another.

Yes. It's it's navigating. Navigating adulthood are apparently daily learning every day how to how to navigate these ages. 

Yeah, right. Yes. So your living situation is probably not overly unique to a lot of people that are enlisted. You live in one, one place, and then your family lives in another.



Yeah, so I'm currently living in Virginia Beach, and my wife and kids. We have our house up in New Hampshire. We had every intention of retiring in Washington State. But my family and her family are from New England family dynamics changed. And we made a decision to move closer to family in New Hampshire was the place we decided. So we decided to get them settled. So they don't have to move again. And I came down to Virginia to finish out my time in the Navy. And when I'm retiring, just go back up there and meet me back up with them again, so we can sit down our roots. We don't have to move again. It's one less move for them. 


Right. Right. So you enlisted after 911? Was it? Did that have something to do with it? Is that was that a motivating factor to enlisting? 


How 9/11 helped to militarize American law enforcement



It it was. I just like everyone else, I remember where I was at and in exactly what happened watching the news. And then my brother actually joined a navy he was flying out that same day to go to boot camp. And I came from a I come from a family of military a military background army, some Navy Air Force. And after that I just decided instead of reading and looking at videos of what boot camp is like everything else like that decided to jump in I experienced that myself and do what I felt was the right thing to do at the time. 


Right. How was boot camp?


I was it was new. The easiest way I could say it's nothing like what you think it is. But I mean, it challenges you right? It's really just like anything else you you get out of it which you you put into it. Yeah, a lot of discipline and following orders and just going from civilian life and whatever, you want a very structured lifestyle. 


Right. How old were you at this time? 


I actually flew to boot camp on my 20th birthday. So it was like Happy Birthday, welcome to boot camp.


Did they have a big surprise party for you waiting there? 


Um, the surprise party was for me and everyone else. We all enjoyed the party at the same time. Yeah.


So let's talk a little bit about your career in the Navy. It was why was the navy or Was that your first choice?


So I originally was going to join the army. But then they gave me a list of jobs which I qualified for. And realistically, they said, um, there was a you qualify for a dentist. So I was I'm not, there's no way I think this is a hoax. Really. You're trying to get me to enlist. So when right over to the Navy recruiters. In my head, I wanted to be a Navy Diver like an underwater while there was my career path. I want to enter my Hey, what do you have for me? They're like, here's your jobs. Mike, how do I become an underwater welder? But you got to go here. This Ray was like, Sign me up. But then I went to boot camp got to my first day. Yeah, you just go to your first command. Tell them you want to be a Navy Diver. I was like, Oh, that's easy. Went to my first clan. I'm like, hey, I want to be a Navy Diver to like, Nah, that's not how this works at all. And that was my my dose of reality. Like you're not you're not motivated enough. Go Well, disco, unclog these toilets. And yeah, kind of went from there. 


Yeah. So what is your title in the Navy right now?


My job title is a hull maintenance technician, really just the welders and plumbers of the ship's pipe fitters stuff like that firefighters. 

File:US Navy 091109-N-3830J-225 Hull Maintenance Technician 1st Class  Thomas Kiefer, assigned to the amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC  19), demonstrates pipe patching to Vietnam navy officers assigned to Naval  Zone

So that's a pretty important job. No matter where you're at, but especially on a ship and being able to see.


Yeah, a lot of I found out a lot of people really, under appreciate plumbers until you need one. And especially when you're middle of the ocean, when you have some toilets that don't work. It's a huge, huge habitability concern and right really takes away from the morale. But if they're totally to work in, everything, everything else kind of is good to go. 


Yeah. So you have when you enlisted, how long after that before you got married?


So I actually met my now wife in September 2003. I went home on leave and chances I met her and we got married. Because I was stationed at y, went back to Connecticut met her went back. We kept in touch and then got married in 2004. So it was pretty quick. And this year, 18 years later, here we are, here we are. 

And those those 18 years have had to have some challenges.


Yes, still still to this day. Taking her from her family and moving her to Pearl Harbor, just away from everything she knew put on an island. I was like, hey, you know, welcome. We're newly married. We're still staying at the hotel waiting for our housing. And then I left for four and a half months. I just that was the nature of the business. Right? It's been like that, ever since.


So you're constantly have this separation from your family where you're out to sea, and then you're back for Is it a short period, and then you're back out again? 


So we, depends on which platform you're on in their particular mission. But usually they do leave for a couple weeks, come back in for a couple of weeks. That was my ships mission. Go out, come and go out. So I mean, we were we were away from, I think the first two years or 300 days out of each year, just away from home. Wow. It was pretty, pretty intense. 


Yes. How do you keep a marriage together? When you're when you're in that kind of temporary circumstance?


It's interesting you ask I have had this question quite a few times. And I try to think about it each time. Open communication. For us. It's a lot of humor, trying to make the best out of the situation. My last deployment was on an aircraft carrier. And it was sending gifts home to our kids. And then they had to do research on were country hours and do all that. And then they had to guess where I was going next. And I'd send them gifts. And so it kept, kept their mind off of me being away. And same thing on my wife sent her gifts and just communication. And for us, it's a lot of humor. 

9 ways to make your military marriage stronger - Sandboxx


Yeah. So that's kind of a unique way to handle that situation. So that's a, I think that's pretty brilliant idea, I think.


Yeah, I was trying to find a way to get their mind off of me being away all the time, and getting sucked into that black hole of like, Dad's away. So I'd say they were like, you know, what's he going to send us next? Whatever little gifts and turn around and do research. And guess guess where I'm going next? And I obviously I couldn't tell them what they'd find out after they got the gifts and made it a little bit easier when I came home. So they weren't. It wasn't nine months of just dad's away. Yeah. 


Yeah. See, miss a lot of your kids lives being on deployments like that.


Yeah, I missed more than I ever wanted to. But because of their support, it kept me going on doing what I really, I guess, wanted to do with my career and needed to do to support that, that definitely has his downtimes is as well, it can get hard, it can get challenging. 


Yeah, I'm sure they're very proud of, you know, of a dad like yourself, you know, being enlisted and dedicating your time to your country. And then when you're home dedicating the time to them, and that's a incredible, incredibly hard balance to, you know, to keep, keep the bond with your kids keep the bond with your spouse, and I, you know, I could see how that could be very challenging when you come home or, you know, all this stuff has happened, and you're trying to catch up on it in a couple of weeks, and then you're gone again.


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Yeah, I mean, we've had plenty of friends that end up separated and in whatnot, more than I can count people that I've worked with. And our goal is to beat those odds of the military divorce rate or separation rate. Alright, we I mean, we've talked about that we're like, Hey, we're doing pretty good. But in the military, 20 years seems like a 50 year marriage. We really, we really made it here. It's a lottery.


Where you gone for some of your kids births?


I was actually gone for both of them. I was stationed in Connecticut, and I was training in Washington state for a deployment to Iraq when our daughter was born. And then when I finally deployed, I was gone for her first birthday. Same thing with our will not same thing for our son. So she was pregnant again. And I got stationed from Connecticut to Japan. And I got sent over there. And she got they kept her behind because of her high risk pregnancy. So I missed her birth or his birth as well. But the blessings are is when I went over there, that's when the big earthquake happened in Japan. And I didn't have to worry about them. Being in a foreign country with all that going on. She was in Connecticut with her family. So we tried to take a look at the positive of everything rather than we were separated. 

Right. So you went to Iraq on one of your deployments? 


I did. I was on my first show today. So they sent you from a ship shortly to spend time with your family and kind of decompress a little bit. And they needed a volunteer to go to Iraq and I was the first one to raise my hand. I was like, send me. I don't care what I do. But I had my reasons for wanting to go. And I ended up deploying only for nine months to be a prison guard.

Prison guards living in jail and COs not allowing telework: Inside the  military's coronavirus complaints

Wow. That would be very interesting in that not only being a prison guard, but being a prison guard in a foreign country.

Yeah, it was nothing I ever expected to do. But the Navy had said, hey, we'll help alleviate some of the army deployments, but in some of the non combat roles, so a lot of Navy stepped up and said, hey, we'll we'll take those over and the prison guard was one of them.


Yeah, I want to imagine how was that? Like can you describe kind of how that was? 

It is, it's interesting. So they train you for the worst. And you go over there, and you're just looking at the prisoners with a chain link fence between you and them? You don't you don't know what they did. You don't know why they're there. There's just so much more to it, you just know that they are on one side of the fence and you're on the other side of the fence. And they don't like you. And that's all there is to it. They don't like you. Yeah, well, they didn't like us in any way, shape, or form. Right. And then we had the dynamic of working with the hierarchy, correctional officers as well, on our side, it was just a different dynamic. And it's just really a mind game for them. Because they get bored, they start playing games with us. And we're like the game and we're just trying to keep them behind the fence.


Prison guards: Life on the other side of the bars | Article | The United  States Army

Right, I could see that happening. And that's probably even more difficult when you don't speak the language.


So they, I couldn't speak their language, but they were very fluent with English, didn't want to speak English, right. And they had their little, I guess, chain of command as well as only one person would talk to us on behalf of all of them. So pirate had any issues, I will just talk to us one person, or if they had an issue with us, we'd be the only one to talk to us. They understood everything we said, they just wouldn't talk to us.


I would imagine that can be kind of nice. Only having one person like come to with issues and you go into one person, but I'm sure that probably causes other issues in itself. 


It. It was kind of nice. But I mean, I knew that everyone else spoke English as well. So yeah, we made sure they knew exactly what was going on. But if I had an issue, I will just talk to one person rather than the other 50 disgruntled prisoners over there. 


Right? How long did you stay in that position?


I was over there was nine months.


Nine months. And then you came back home? And then you in and how far out was the Japan deployment?


So I came back from Iraq in 2009. And at the time, the Navy had a program in place where if you were away, a deployed while you're on your surety, you can extend on that surety for the same amount of time you are gone. So they don't take away your time away from your family. They asked me they're like, Hey, do you want to extend for the year and some change that you're gone? And I said I do not. I want to go back to see. That's the only way I'm going to advance. And I talked to my wife about that. She's like, that's fine. Took a little bit more convincing to go to Japan, but they got there. And then 2010 I went over to Japan.


And then they had the massive earthquake over there in Japan while they're there?


They did and we were pulling in from an underweight period and the earthquake happened we had no idea what was going on. We just started bouncing, waited there for a couple hours. Left again came he said the tide the ocean tides were too crazy for us to pull back and safely. Okay, and we went in, we couldn't leave the ship, they had to account for everyone. And then they said hey, we may be leaving again to go to Northern Japan later on today. And sure enough, Nolan left the ship a couple hours later, like you're leaving at four o'clock in the afternoon, turn around and went right back went away and went straight up north.

Japan earthquake tips: What do do before, during and after - The Japan Times

What did you do when you arrived in northern Japan?


So at first it was search and rescue because a lot of debris from those tsunami came back out the ocean. And each each command each ship was given a little box to stay in. So if they found a random boat out there, our team would small boat team would go out there search the boat see if there was any survivors or the seas, people locals on the bow. And if that was the case, bring them back and turn them back over the Japanese authority for dignified transfer of them. We did search and rescue for a week and a half, two weeks. And then they just turned into recovery. And then it just turned into, we were out there to provide fuel to helicopters that kept going into land to drop off food, supplies everything back out to our ship, get fuel. And then the mission kind of changed with the with time. 


Right, right, those all those type of missions as the extended time, right, there's the survivability of people and you know, they've been hurt and stuff like that, you know, that 10 that time tenza fades away and your mission changes for sure. How did that wear on you mentally?


Uh, so at first, it was just kind of up tempo, going away, do your thing, do your thing. And it started to wear on me once I was in a, we'd sit in our little box in the ocean. And I'd be outside. And what the news didn't show is after a tsunami, it was snowing up there. So it went from devastation to complete snow. Like our ship was covered in snow, it was just freezing out. And we're going through and I'm looking down in a water, we're going through just the brief fields of look, I pulled out and there is, rooftops doors, family pictures, kids toys, and that's when I started, I'm like, this is complete devastation. And kind of just. I mean, while I was out there looking at it, but go back and go back and said this kind of inside the ship, and it's just so anything else, you put that aside, and you continue along with whatever you have to do for mission success. If your personal feelings kind of get pushed to the side a lot of times.


Yeah. And when when that happens, though, I feel like you you still have to deal with them. At some point, did you feel like there was a time that you and a place where you could do with the things that you've seen?


At in the operational tempo out in Japan, or there never was a time. It's just always so fast paced out there, you're always doing something. So for me personally, there was never really a time to decompress. And then I went from Japan over to Washington State. And I went back to a ship that was about to prepare for deployment. So it was straight into fixing the ship fixing the ship. And it's just never, I guess not until recently within the past few months. Cause it start, not coming out. But I started thinking about it more and more. The longer I'm away from that high up up tempo setting. Right? 


Yeah, I can understand that. When you're, you know, in the moment, doing your job. Sometimes there's there is no downtime, like you said, or there's no time to think about that. Because you are working so hard for your mission success that you're so focused on that. Do you think maybe now, your kids are getting closer to retirement, some of those things are just kind of just coming out?


I'm seeing it, I think my wife has seen it for a little while. But I'm actually I'm starting to recognize things more and more. And trying to I guess do not deal with them in my own way. But based on how I was dealing with those things is going to seek mental health for instance, and, and try to work through some of those things. But even now, today's a challenge because of everything going on, there's a shortage and there's so many people and it's just a it's a challenge in itself, trying to find all these resources to kind of work through all these things effectively. 


Right. Do you have any particular thing that you do for yourself that helps you with some of those things, you know, between like, finding the mental health resources that you need?


Mine are just kind of hobbies that put me aside by my by myself. So I'm not around a lot of people. Barbecue and woodworking are my two really go to hobbies that really, I can focus on one thing for a long period of time. And while I'm focusing kind of think through some things and do some self reflection in that aspect as well. 


Right. You probably didn't have time for those hobbies why you're so busy being deployed these various major events and you know, just your probably your routine deployments.


I didn't I did not. I had no time because before the Navy I I went to school for carpentry and I really love woodworking. And in the Navy, I learned about barbecue. But not until my my last command in Washington when I was on surety that I started getting more into woodworking and barbecue. Even more. So now really focusing on those two things. It's just my time to work through what I need to work through.

No photo description available.

Right. So that's barbecue is kind of any unique one.


So yeah. I, what I've learned is that the majority of people enjoy the end result of barbecue. Yeah, I am on that complete opposite side where I enjoyed a long process of barbecuing sort of my bar. The process takes 12 14 16 hours. Yeah, I'll wake up early in the morning, and I'll tend to the fire and I do all this is just, I have in my head 14 16 hours high need to focus on that. Yeah, focus on the end result. And then when the end result comes up, that's for everyone else to enjoy. And I'm thinking about the next time I get to focus on the process.


You gotta get a love so your own food, though? 

I I do. But I get. I enjoy it very much. I get more enjoyment personally from the process and let everyone else enjoy it. Yeah, I try to stay behind the scenes with all that. 


I bet your family loves it, though.

Right. So that's barbecue is kind of any unique one.


So yeah. I, what I've learned is that the majority of people enjoy the end result of barbecue. Yeah, I am on that complete opposite side where I enjoyed a long process of barbecuing sort of my bar. The process takes 12 14 16 hours. Yeah, I'll wake up early in the morning, and I'll tend to the fire and I do all this is just, I have in my head 14 16 hours high need to focus on that. Yeah, focus on the end result. And then when the end result comes up, that's for everyone else to enjoy. And I'm thinking about the next time I get to focus on the process.


You gotta get a love so your own food, though? 

I I do. But I get. I enjoy it very much. I get more enjoyment personally from the process and let everyone else enjoy it. Yeah, I try to stay behind the scenes with all that. 


I bet your family loves it, though.


They may like it, they say it can become too much. But I'm always trying to find new ways to bring barbecue into whatever we're doing. 


So are you actually doing like real barbecuing or using a smoker? Are you what? What style? Are you doing?


The real barbecue. Would just would if times not on my side. I have like our daughter does gymnastics, I'll use a pellet smoker just kind of set it and forget it type thing. Yeah. But if I have time, on a weekend, I'll use just wood and do what people would consider the real barbecue. 


Right? Kind of just switching gears to Navy to like what's happening today in the world, with Russia and Ukraine and all the things that surround that. How do you think a lot of the men and women feel that are enlisted right now? Is there a certain like, heightened alert or, or what, but maybe share something, maybe your thoughts on that?


Ah, my experience and the people I still talk to are on the side of more as a political. Really don't get too involved with the politics of what's going on. But if we were tasked to go do A, B and C, we will want 100% support A, B and C. Without personal feelings involved. There's not a whole, at least from where I'm at not a whole lot of talk about what's going on. We just know that if we were called to do something, we are 100%. And on going to support whatever we are tasked to do.

Ukraine-Russia War: "Won't End Campaign Until Ukraine Stops Fighting," Says  Putin: 10 Facts

Yeah, yeah. For me, sometimes I can look across where I'm working the in the valley and I can see another fire or something across the valley. And then I'm like, Who are they gonna call us? Are we gonna get to go get to do something? 


Yeah, I don't think we're ever I've met someone like not, unless it's like my army friends. They're trained to go do their thing. Yeah, no one in a navy. Because for the Navy's unique in a way to where even if there's nothing going on, we are still out there doing something. So sailors tend to think a little bit different like, Man, I hope we get a break. Because if they were called to action is more or less like, oh, this time on deployments gonna turn into a 12 month deployment. And we just came back from one. My friends in the Army are over here. Like we've been training for something like this, like, Yeah, send me in sailors or like, send me home. I'm trying to take a break. 


That's that's, I'm glad you brought that up. That is interesting perspective to have. Because yeah, it's probably. Does the Navy get deployed more often like that, then maybe the other branches of the forces?


Just our mission, so protecting the ocean ways, the freedom of navigation, so shipping can continue on. There's missile defense, there's all kinds of things that the Navy duck drugged counterdrug operations or counter attack operations, operating with different navies. There's just so much that the Navy does on a daily basis that never makes the news other than like, a really long deployment. It's just ever everywhere. It's just ever going. It's constant. 

Yeah, I would imagine the average person probably just thinks you're just out sailing around. Doing who knows what, right? I mean, I honestly don't think a lot of people really know what the Navy does.


Uh, no, that's I learned that a while ago. Sailors just go to sea and come back and they're stationed on the coast. But there's so much more to the Navy, there's intelligence, there's the IT world. The ships, they all have different missions. But just always underway supporting air operations or drug operations. Submarines are always underway. I don't even know where they're at. They do their top secret missions. I don't even know. They're just the Navy is so dynamic that like you said, a lot of people just don't understand how dynamic that maybe really is.  There's so much to it.


Yeah, cuz I think, right, the Navy has their own pilots there. too, right. And then their own vibe like their own support systems and their own thing where like, maybe I feel like the Air Force is right they do a lot of flying. Military does a lot of you know, the Marines do a lot of groundwork and stuff and but with the Navy, there's a fg multi facets you can go into.


Yeah, there's security guards that Navy Seabees are always deployed to different countries helping build stuff. The Navy pilots are always flying or missions and practice practicing. Maybe helicopters. Sailors are in the shipyards fixing the ships, sailors or other places doing their IT stuff the crypto world maybe has crypto people. I mean, gave me the Navy SEALs EOD divers. Yeah, it's just a lot.

US Navy launches Mideast drone task force amid Iran tensions

What recommendations would you have? Because maybe there are some people listening that they're thinking maybe with what they're seeing going on in the world that maybe they want to serve? And what would you what would you recommend to them?


Um, if you're gonna join, I guess, do your research on what you want to do, not what the recruiters want you to do. I see a lot of, especially sailors get, they get to the ship, and they're like, Oh, my recruiter lied to me, my recruiter lied to me. Because their job is to find the best talent and put them in a navy based on the needs of the Navy. And a lot of sailors just go into it like this, not what I really wanted to do is really do your research and what you want to do. Because at the end of the day, it's really your choice whether you want to join and do that job where you can just walk away before you sign any papers and be like, I don't want to join and if you do fully understand what that job entails and more they'll be going and I guess follow on like if I if I choose this job Cadet translate into things in the outside world. And yes, verbal skills and just more research rather than here's where I want to join. Right who joined for the right reasons not just winging it.


Yeah. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Most people I feel like are getting into the servicing getting out so fast, like they're doing like the minimum amount, and then they're jumping out. What kept you going for so long?

For me, it was really a lot of medical medical benefits. The housing benefits, I always knew that I had a my, my wife and kids had a roof over their head, whether it was based military housing, or how someone out in town, and our son has a lot of therapies and medical appointments. And that's none of that comes out of pocket for us. So for me, it was a matter of the stress in I guess the suck of being away from them is offset by knowing that he can continue his his medical appointments. My wife always has a place to live and it comes at a price. Yes, for me that was more worth it. And just deal with the suck and have it to know that they're taken care of.


Right. What and so how close are you to retirement now?


My actual retirement day my into service day is November 30.


November 30? That'll go by pretty fast. I would imagine.


It it is and it is it is coming up really fast. And it's a whole new chapter for me. It isn't just because I'm so close to the end and I'm away from my family every day seems to drag by but, yeah, it's coming up.


Yeah. What recommendation as far as I want to say, what recommendations would your wife give to, like, some other wife that, you know, that's in, You know, like, let's say someone's looking to get into the military and they're married. What things maybe would your wife say to the other wife? Like, hey, this is what you should expect.


Expect, I guess, expect the unknown. That was the biggest shock for my wife, I would leave. She's like, when you come back. I was like, I don't know. Say, how do you what do you mean, you don't know you're on the ship? I was like, I? I don't know. I'll show up when I show up. When? I don't know. Yeah, it took her a while to get used to that aspect to the point where she's like, I'll leave she was like, Alright, I'll see you when you get back. I'm like, Alright, I'll see you when I get back. Once she, I guess got a wrap her head around, not knowing anything. It became easier. And it's more or less, find a support system, find friends. Find friends that are faithful. So when their husbands are now underway, they're out there doing their things, find the right group of friends that make it make it better. Yeah, be prepared for not knowing anything and your significant others just given the I don't know, answer. Yeah, I've given that answer more times than I can count.


You Yeah, I'm sure that'd be very difficult, you know, having your spouse leaving with an unknown return time. That'd be very difficult to like, how do I plan my life? If I don't know when you're coming back?


Yes. And that was the adjustment part for me is that I, she, she came into her routine and did her thing, even with the kids get a routine. And it was more of an adjustment for me to come back to that. And think, "Hey, why are we doing this? Why are you putting dishes here? Or why? It's hard for me to wrap my head around that", because I have my way of doing things. But I was never, I wasn't there. To work that out with her. Yeah, it took a long time for me to kind of just accept that fact. As well as that they have the routine. They don't have to change because I'm now home. I have to change to see things their way and kind of work through that.


Yeah, that would be quite an adjustment. Because you have so much structure probably on the ship in and doing things a certain way and then coming home, and just trying to fit in and give up all that kind of structure that you have on the ship because there's comfort in structure. And then when he come home, I would imagine it's just like, it's got to be a little bit weary or just kind of you have to have the mental wherewithal to be like, "Hey, I'm fitting into this card of the family that's going on."


It yeah. It took me a while to kind of work through that. And then you go through such a high op tempo at the whatever command you're at, like work work, do this, do that. Yeah, to go home. You can't just switch that off. Like I'm just dad that shows up randomly. I go home and I'm like, I'm still in that mindset, which my wife has to really set me straight with Dallas. She's okay. Our kids aren't your sailors. Yeah, but because it's so ingrained in us or for me, going home was more of a challenge because I couldn't quite switch it off right away. It's not that easy.


Yeah, I could see that. Now I can see why do the barbecue. It can take up some time for you.

That's my time to work through things. Give me time to think. 


Time to time to think and you're giving. Like you said you're probably so used to be an up tempo, that probably gives you a little bit of maybe some normalcy of being in some up tempo, but kind of relaxing, working through some things at the same time. 


It forces me to slow down because I can't rush those things. And if you rush it, you know the end results gonna be bad. So it's really just my way of forcing myself to slow down and let the whatever process work itself. But while that's happening, I have that time. Or I'm just waiting for that process to kind of just think to myself, that pretty much.


Right right. Does does make some sense now. What are you going to do with yourself when you retire?


I'm kind of working through that right now. I wanted to get into construction. What I want to do before I join the Navy, my body's just not going to handle that. anymore, and I'm not willing to give up more of my body for a passion. So right now I'm looking towards management positions, and then continue to stand aside working on the woodworking and barbecue with hopes of becoming self-employed and doing what I really want to do. And spend more time with my family.


Yeah. So you want to take that hobby and turn it into a business?


Yeah, that I think you totally should do that. If you enjoy it and love it so much. I think that's a, that's a great way to do it. And I think there's a lot of resources out there for someone like you that served to, you know, maybe get some financial backing to do those type of things.


There is there's a lot of research or resources. And I'm still to this day, looking through those resources. The military has programs where you can find a mentor, Veteran Small Business Administration, like all these resources are out there. It's just a matter of trying to navigate find them and find a mentor, find a coach, find someone that can help you kind of focus, help me focus on what I really want to do. How do I get there.


Yah, yeah. Because mentors and coaches are gonna get you to that point faster, and you will be more successful with them for sure. What is what's your wife think about this? Like, you're going from like being gone all the time. It's and now you're going to come home and start a business what?


She she is actually 100% supportive. In me getting out and staying in, these aren't as decisions where I just come home one day, and I tell her, Hey, I'm gonna reenlist or I'm gonna get out of the Navy. These are long conversations that happen over a long period of time. And I actually transferred my GI benefits over to her and a kid. So she's actually using the education benefits to work on her degree. So because she was a stay at home mom my whole career. Yeah. And I want to give her a chance to pursue her passion, which is being a teacher. And I just find that it's the right time by kids, for me to step out of the Navy, and be at home with with them. And then my daughter has these these perspectives. And got to listen your kids perspectives for me to change. I'm like, I don't want to work weekends. I don't want to work nights. I don't want to work holidays. I want to be home. My wife's like, Nah, that's not how this really life works. I was like, Oh, okay. So then I asked my daughter, like, how would you feel about me working on weekends and holidays? Her perspective, she's like, Dad I wouldn't even care. Do you get to go home come home every day, I was like, I would she's like, I wouldn't even care. As long as you get to come home every day. That completely changed. Like, sort of weekends, holidays doesn't matter. I get to come home and knowing that they're excited to have me home, more so than they've ever had before is just, I know the time is right for me to move over to 100% Dad mode and have my wife pursue her passion and give her that chance since she gave so much up for supporting me.

Yeah, yeah. I'm sure that was. It's someone that sacrifice for her right to do that for you, that shows how much she loves and cares about us to sacrifice, you know, her hopes and dreams. But that's just awesome that you're willing to step in that role. And now let her pursue her, you know, dreams stuff.


Yeah, that's the other aspect of that marriage is that it's not about me and my paycheck. And my what I want to do is that if I'm not letting her pursue hers, I can't say I'm sacrificing my cuz I'm really I'm transitioning to another aspect I really want to go to but shifting from the Navy into civilian and dad mode to let her pursue hers, I think is just a good even balance of supporting each other again, it's not just one way.


Yeah, I would like to be home that first month when that transition happens. Like to be there just witnessing what would be happening with the because that's going to be a little bit difficult, I think for everybody.


So when COVID happened, we were actually teleworking to prevent our version of the spread of the virus. Yeah. Oh, still working mouse a little bit. And my wife. We were getting on each other's nerves because we were around each other all the time. She actually called her dad. She's like, Dad is this is this what it's really like when he retired? He's like, it'll pass. So I guess we got a glimpse of what it would be like. But yeah, well, we'll work through our challenges.


Yeah. Yeah. I'm sure she's like has, like you said she has her routine and the kids have their routine. And you're, you're stepping on their routine by when you're when you're home for that amount of period of time.


Yeah. But she's shifting more time not stopping routine. But like, Oh, you're home, I need you to do this. I need a break. I'm over here. Like, I'm trying to take a break. So it's that whole aspect of I need to remember, she's doing mom, dad, everything up there by herself. So when I go up, there is not a break for me. It's my chance to give her a break. So when I leave again, she's still ready to go.


Yeah. Yeah. Cuz that's a long time for her to not have any breaks. I'm sure.



It is. But I do. I do try.


Yeah. I mean, it's the military lifestyle. Right. It's there's not a lot of breaks, dependent on your young what we're doing for your job in the military.


Yeah, when they do when they do calm, it's still not a break. Yeah.


So that's, that's the future, you know, is the, you know, for barbecue, your woodworking, turning that know, being a clean home dad and stuff like that. Your wife's transitioning from being a mom to, you know, looking at to being a school teacher, Where do you kind of see yourself in five years?


Yes, I'm not even sure I'm able to look that far ahead right now. I'm just trying to figure out the whole transition from Navy to civilian, that in itself is a huge challenge for me. I'm just trying to work through that to where I'm not even thinking about five years down the road, I guess, when I'm retired and retired from the Navy, next chapter, give it a couple months, get used to being a civilian, and start thinking about one year, two years, five years down the road. But right now, my mind is all wrapped around, transitioning or retiring successfully in the civilian world.


Do they give you any training to make that transition to like when you retired to go into civilian life?


They give you, they give you training, they give a three day class, but it's a lot of information in a short period of time. You have to try to figure out what is even though it's all important, but what's really important to you and what's pertinent to you. Because some people need a job. Some people want a job, some people don't need this, some people are single, what's what's really applicable to you. And then once that three, three day class is done, you have to find more classes that would pertain to you starting your own business or higher education or how to use LinkedIn, how to use how to network, how to do interviews, how to do all this stuff, and those just aren't given. They're out there. You just have to go seek them out. And really find what's applicable to you and, and go after it because they're not they're not coming after us. We have to proactively find all these resources. And there's a lot.

The right way for military veterans to start a new career

Yeah, well, I think it's a lot for you spent half of your life, you're basically a teenager, now you spent another when you're now you're 20 years later, and trying to make change identities, I guess, is what I'm trying to say now you have an identity basically change.


And that's something I'm working through as well. I'm still talking to people about when I'm done with the Navy, that said, based on what I've seen is that we are not out there trying to get the civilian world to the form to us is that we have the form back to being a civilian. And I hear that a lot of the the challenges at service members faces, recognizing that you're this person in the military, you are now this person. So if I'm working with all civilians, they don't know the military, or they're not as aware of it as I am. But I can bridge that gap. It's really trying to find my civilian identity. But yeah, also finding your support groups as well to where I don't completely lose my identity. I can go to a veterans group and still find my not lose my identity but find my identity while finding my civilian identity.


Yeah, yeah. I would imagine that's that's hard for any first responder to make that transition because they've spent so much of their time in life, all consumed by doing you know, this job or these types of jobs, and I think it's, it's gonna be, you know, a unique challenge for for me to make that transition to because you're like, you're your military person, you're always a military person type thing, you've been a firefighter police officer always, you know, that's carry still carries a lot of your identity but but there's a transition, there's the transition and and there's a miss you're gonna miss some of that.

And that and that's where I'm learning is which try to find these veteran groups or these other veteran style groups. It could be even respond first responders because everyone deals with their own challenges. And when I go back to New Hampshire, they talked about the military civilian knowledge gap. Was there a way to kind of bridge that gap between civilians and military but also military to first responders. Because do they share some of those same struggles. And can they help each other so it's not just yeah, that trains in first responders and civilians but kind of like, right, bridge that bridge that gap to combine more support, resources to help each other rather than just your own little group.


Yeah. Before Steven, before I let you go, where can people like follow you? Or maybe reach out and say, Hey, maybe I have some resources that would be be good for you. Or hey, Steven, such a cool did I want to invest in this barbecue business.


Um, I'm on I'm on Facebook, just Steven McIntosh. My Facebook is pretty professional right now has the just a random picture up there. I don't know. It doesn't have my face for for me security reasons. But if you search Steven Mackintosh and there's no pictures, it's it's probably me. And then, the barbecue business I'm still working on that's really in house right now. And then the woodworking is just Salty Hands Woodworking. That's my woodworking side of things, as well. Same.


Do you have a page for that?


It's Salty Hands Woodworking on Facebook, and on Instagram. Trying to keep it small right now.


Yeah. Tell us a little bit about the Salty Hands thing for.


So when I was trying to find a way to kind of focus on some things and keep my mind occupied. I started woodworking in Washington again, I was like, oh, I want to get back into this. And I started with some pickets from our cedar fence, I was like, I'm gonna make an American flag cross, I can't find one. That turned into different techniques, which turned into American flag, friends and family like, Oh, this is awesome. It is awesome. turned into like, one after another to kind of where I'm at right now and trying different things where people have a vision, and I try to make that a reality for them. So it's not for me, not mass produced, but a way for me to focus on something for someone. Yeah, one on one type of thing, not just customs of business for mass amount of people, but just one on one.


Yeah, yeah. And the stuff that you have there is art. It's pretty cool. So I've seen some like you have some unique designs. I haven't seen anybody do.


Some of them. I'm still I have so many thoughts in my head, which I'm trying to focus on. Some are new techniques. I'm trying some things I have seen other people do. I'm trying to figure out a way to make it I guess, my own and some things I haven't seen. So some of these things are just trial and error with epoxy and I'm going to try to integrate my my metalworking into American flags and things like that to make something more unique without taking away from the overall concept of the American flag.

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Yeah, I mean, these fairings just are so unique that I mean, this could be another way to generate money to do your barbecuing thing, because I it's gonna be really tough to do both of them at the same time.


Right now I'm leaning more towards the woodworking side of things in doing barbecue more locally, my my wife's or kids school, or something like a family gathering. More local, so I'm not a restaurant. I don't want to get into the restaurant business just it's never been a passion of mine. Right? Yeah, friends and family and enjoyment like that. But for me, the woodworking is really what I want to go with barbecue on the side.


Yeah, I wish we had some pictures But if they can go to your Instagram, and see these these flags,

Yeah, I started to Instagram later than Facebook, I was like, hey, you need to do this. And as well, I'm still learning the different forums I can use. Because again, I was so focused on work that the business thing never really became a thought. But at some point, it became too much I took it off my personal page made a business page, and it's kind of slowly growing, which I'm fine with, I'd rather slowly grow. So I don't feel like I've failed right away. And now it's Facebook, Instagram, and kind of where I'm at right now. And I'm perfectly happy with not exploding to a point where I just I fail right away.


Not gonna fail, man, you can't fail. You can't fail. You just just keep trying to just keep getting after it. And with those designs that you're doing things like that, there's always going to be demand.



I appreciate I appreciate it. I'm, I'm going will now focus is retirement and then we're working.


Yeah. Are you going to do that out of your home? Or?


Yeah, so I have a good sized basement now. So once I build my wall, I have my woodworking side. And that way I'm home, I can help with the house. I'm kind of focusing on not renting out a business and taking money away from what really matters to us, like my daughter's gymnastics and our son's basketball. So if I have my shop in my house has no overhead. I'm not paying rent on something. Yeah, kind of keep it in my house.


Yeah, that's awesome. So we'll put in the show notes where people can find you and how they could possibly order one these custom flags that you do or send their idea to you and have you create that for them.


Hampshire. But once I make it off there, hopefully, hopefully July timeframe, I can get back into it. And like I'm right at that transition period right now.


Yeah. Yeah, maybe you have some pre orders. You started some motivation,


Some motivation, external motivation. I like it. 


Well, thank you. Excuse me. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today. Really appreciate your insight into the Navy and how the Navy life is and maybe some listeners are. Well, sure, watching the world's events, we'll have even more appreciation for our men and women that are serving and not just them, but the toll that it takes on their families.

No, I appreciate you having me on.


All right, take care. 


And you as well. 


Hey everyone, please check out my very own apparel on Fire and Fuel Apparel. There you will find a wide array of apparel honoring first responders that can be shipped worldwide. Please give me a follow on Instagram too.


Thanks again for listening. Don't forget to rate and review the show wherever you access your podcasts. If you know someone that would be great on the show, please get a hold of our host, Jerry Dean Lund through the Instagram handles @jerryfireandfuel or @enduringthebadgepodcast. Also by visiting the show's website, enduringthebadgepodcast.com for additional methods of contact and up to date information regarding show. Remember the views and opinions expressed during the show, solely represent those of our hosts and the current episodes guests.

Stephen McIntoshProfile Photo

Stephen McIntosh

I am a Sailor in the US Navy. I have 20 years of service and in the process of retiring this year. I am a plumber and welder in the Navy, currently teaching self awareness and ethical behaviors to Sailors. I am originally from Mass and now a resident of New Hampshire. I am married and we have a 13 (soon 14) year old daughter and a 10 (soon 11) son. I have been stationed in Perl Harbor, Groton, CT, Iraq (one tour), Yokosuka, Japan, and Bremerton, WA. I am now stationed in Virginia Beach and my wife and kids are living in New Hampshire. I enjoy BBQ'ing and woodworking.