Former Marine, Dianna DiToro, joined the Marines shortly after college and transitioned to life as a Reservist in 2008. Read below to hear her inspirational story about navigating life outside of active duty and finding success in a rewarding new career as a Certified Personal Trainer.
Former Marine Navigates Life After Active Duty
by Dianna DiToro
Many servicemen and women will choose to leave active duty this year and many veterans will be left wondering, “what’s next?” From my personal experience, there many unanswered questions when you make the transition into civilian life, especially when it comes to finding a job. I hope my story about career selection may provide some with a different perspective.
I joined the Marines shortly after graduating college. I saw the opportunity as the ultimate test of mind and body, a challenging fit for my competitive nature. After serving as an air support officer and deploying twice, my husband and I decided that I would leave active duty and serve as a Reservist so we could expand our family.
Using the standard post-military resume builders and tips, I found a desk job quickly after the transition, but it wasn’t something I loved; it was difficult to find the same motivation and excitement in a career outside of active duty. I knew that there must be something else. After a series of life events, I found myself newly widowed and alone with my young son, who suffered from health problems as an infant. I was afraid and the path in front of me felt daunting, but I knew my experience in the Marines had provided me with the courage to not only face fear, but also overcome it.
I quickly realized that any job I pursued couldn’t be “just a job,” it had to be something of which I could be proud. I asked myself, “What would I do even if I wasn’t getting paid to do it?” Helping people and fitness were the answers for me. A few of my friends encouraged me to look into the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) program. I was hesitant at first but after attending a seminar, I was impressed by the NASM instructors’ knowledge and decided to enroll in the CPT program. The fact that I could do something I loved on a flexible schedule was an added bonus.
After I completed the program, a few of the instructors told me about NASM’s Military Pursuit of Excellence Award and I jumped at the opportunity. On a whim, I applied for the award and was shocked, and honored, to learn that I had won. The award paid the full tuition for my master’s degree and gave me the foundation I needed to pursue my next dream of working as a physical therapist.
Today, I am finishing my doctorate and feel fortunate to have the skills I received through NASM. My journey hasn’t been an easy one, but I’ve found comfort in working with wounded warriors to teach them adaptive exercises through Team Red, White, and Blue. I’ve been able to use my education to offer online and in-person training sessions when my schedule allows and best of all, my son is a happy and healthy four-year-old who tags along to my group training classes.
I know that if I can overcome, so can others. I can only encourage my fellow Marines to think about what their passion is and what truly matters to them. Reflect on what you would do even if you weren’t getting paid and then use your creativity, resilience, and motivation to find a way to get paid for doing what you love.