Midwest Military Outreach

Supporting those who serve and their families

Barb Duder

It is hard for me to believe that this year is the 10th Anniversary of my discharge from the US Military. I spent over 16 years of my life in a uniform; whether on Active Duty or in the National Guard, then I suddenly found myself in “Civilian Land.” In the Military I was the person in charge, but in “Civilian Land” I was just a newbie and I had no idea how to navigate. The transition to civilian life was difficult.

I landed a good job doing clerical scheduling, but then I needed a professional wardrobe. The Military used to dress me, and when I wasn’t on duty I wore jeans and tennis shoes. It took a long time for me to learn this new professional dress code, new professional language and new civilian chain-of-command. I found that I had absolutely no one to turn to to help me successfully navigate this transition and no one to help me map out a plan for my success.

I have been a member of The American Legion for 26 years. During this time I was given the opportunity to collaborate with Michelle Ruess on several projects throughout the years. I have always known Michelle to have a heart for the military and the drive and dedication to accomplish the mission in front of her, to empower veterans. That is why I jumped at the chance to work with Michelle and the team at Midwest Military Outreach, Inc as an Intake Adviser for transitioning military.

My goal as part of Midwest Military Outreach, Inc is to make sure that no Veteran struggles to navigate “Civilian Land” the way that I did. Leaving the military is always a huge change in a person’s life, but instead of fearing the unknown - I want to encourage people to embrace the change as new opportunities and new challenges. When we entered the military as new soldiers we were met with terrifying changes and major challenges, and we conquered them all. Together, with Midwest Military Outreach, Inc support - we can conquer the transition from military service to meaningful civilian lives. I am proud to be part of such an innovative, talented and committed team!