Navy veteran Jane Calloway has twice been shocked by an unexpected and crushing chain of events. The first was in college when she played soccer on a scholarship. She tore her ACL and could no longer play. The second was more recent when she was diagnosed with epilepsy which forced her to leave her military career behind.
“I begged,” Jane said, “I pleaded. I asked if there was there any way I could switch jobs, but they said because I could not deploy I had to leave. I couldn’t control helos and that was very heartbreaking. I cried in front of the neurologist.”
Jane was a tactical air traffic controller for the helicopters taking off and landing from the ship. It was a job she absolutely loved but it was not initially part of her life plans. She joined the Navy in 2008 after her ACL injury resulted in the loss of her soccer scholarship.
“I had been playing soccer since I was four,” she said. “I went into a downward spiral and my grades went down.”
Her family is “a big navy family” and they encouraged her to enlist. She thought she would complete her five-year contract and leave to go back to college. But when she was getting ready to discharge, a job opened up that caught her interest—the anti-surface/subsurface tactical air controller. She passed the schooling and decided to stay in. She has deployed four times, once to in the South Pacific in 2009 and three others to the Arabian Gulf.
She had her first seizure in 2017 and was later diagnosed with epilepsy. Unsure of how to start over and having gone through a divorce, the single mother and her five-year-old daughter turned to Operation Homefront’s Transitional Housing (Villages) program.
Jane applied and moved into the San Diego, California Village apartment in July 2020. She had been living with her parents and space was tight. At the Village, Jane received financial counseling, help budgeting for the future and the security and stability they needed to work on her treatment. In the height of the pandemic, she was grateful to have a safe place for her and daughter, where she could take steps to transition and learn how to cope with her epilepsy, which affected when she could drive.
“I am very thankful and grateful for this program,” Jane said. “It has helped me and my daughter out very much. Everyone we interacted with were so nice and always made time for us. This program really helped me set my life straight and I learned a lot.”
After graduating the program, Jane is renting a place in California closer to her daughter’s father. She is continuing to go to school to become a dental hygienist.
Operation Homefront’s transitional housing programs provide military families with the resources they need so they can start strong and stay strong when they make the transition back into civilian life.
Operation Homefront launched ‘Start Strong, Stay Strong,’ a national brand campaign in March 2021. The initiative brings much-needed attention to the dedicated service of our military families and the support that Americans can provide to build the stability, connections and comfort these families deserve to start strong in their communities and stay strong throughout their journeys. #StartStrongStayStrong. Find out more at operationhomefront.org/start-strong-stay-strong.