Most of us know that feeling when something just isn’t right. It’s much like that initial jolt you get when you remember the seafood casserole you ate earlier in the day may have been left out of the refrigerator just a little too long. As time goes on, what you had hoped was nothing more than a fleeting, faulty idea becomes too strong to ignore.
I’m talking about that sinking sensation, that suspicion, when something or someone is holding back, distorting the truth, or downright trying to take advantage of you.
Over the past year, I have become increasingly accustomed to such situations, and I think its cause for concern. It’s not the feeling itself that bothers me, but instead the circumstances in which that internal alarm starts screaming a warning. Sadly, it usually involves an interaction with someone claiming to be a patriotic American and who talks a whole lot about their military ties, but very little about their actual reason for talking to me. Though their words express how much they support the troops, time reveals their passion is more for serving their wallet than the needs of the military. In some cases, I’ve actually been yelled at.
Aggressive tactics and potentially unethical practices that got companies promoting life insurance policies and payday loans into hot water on military installations have now spilled over into seemingly all other aspects of our lives—from buying a car to getting a degree.
I am certainly not saying that anyone who provides services to our military and their families is unethical. There are truly wonderful organizations and businesses out there, with the military’s well being in mind. It’s the way a business goes about providing those services where things go haywire, and as a business owner myself, I am frustrated because it only takes a few unsavory people to give all businesses a bad reputation. You can of course, protect yourself. Based on my experiences, here are some tips to keep safe:
- Don’t believe just because they are a spouse or have prior service, they are legit. This was a shock for me to find fellow military community members taking advantage of one of their own (knowingly or not).
- Ask for references and recommendations and actually use them
- Research the company. Google unceasingly
- If someone gets offended you are asking a lot of questions, know you proved to yourself right there that you made the right choice to ask! Stay away. If someone is ethical, they won’t mind sharing information with you.
- Gut check: If you just aren’t sure, don’t do it!
Army wife Stacy Swearengen, The Portable Career Planner, is the author of the forthcoming book, Packing Peanuts and Portable Careers: A Military Spouse’s Guide to a PCS-Proof Career. A Certified Career, Education and Adult Learning Coach, Stacy founded Military Spouse Portable Career Planning, where she helps military spouses plan for and create portable careers they love!