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APUS Alumni Stories: Exploring the World through Military and Civilian Eyes

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Learn more about degree programs at American Public University.

By Melanie Conner, APUS Alumni Relations Outreach Liaison, and Matthew House, AMU Graduate

Matthew House completed a master of arts in political science from AMU in 2012, while he was stationed in Japan. He also received a master of arts degree in Asian Studies from Florida State University in 2017.

In addition, he recently published his first book “Soldier and Spouse and Their Traveling House” about their off-duty weekends traveling from Ireland to the Mediterranean.

In honor of Earth Day on April 22, we connected with Matthew to learn more about his career and travel adventures.

What have you been doing since you received your master’s degree from AMU?

I commanded the largest forward-deployed Army Company in Japan. Later, I moved to Fort Irwin, California, where I served as an Observer/Coach Trainer at the Army’s National Training Center.

After that, I changed my career path. I moved to D.C. to attend language school for Vietnamese in 2016, because I was selected to be a Southeast Asian Foreign Area Officer. I spent eight years as a Military Intelligence Officer.

I am now a U.S. Army officer and Southeast Asian Foreign Area Officer with a language focus in Vietnamese. I will be living in Hanoi, Vietnam, and working at the U.S. Embassy there.

What inspired you to pursue a career as a Foreign Area Officer?

Having previously been stationed in Germany and Japan, I wanted a career where I’d be predominately stationed overseas. Foreign Area Officers spend a large portion of their career overseas, and this led me to switch my career from Military Intelligence to Foreign Area Officer.

How did you prepare to enter this field?

Becoming a Foreign Area Officer is a three-year process. During the first year, you typically go to the Defense Language Institute in either Monterrey, California, or Washington, D.C., to learn a foreign language. After completing language training, you go to either In-Region Training or Graduate School. The Army sent me to Florida State University to get a specialized master’s degree in Asian Studies.

Now, as I go through In-Region Training, I am gearing up for a year in Vietnam. I will intern as a Foreign Area Officer in Vietnam, where I will get to know the ins and outs of my role and how the other branches of the military operate in embassies.

I will also travel extensively around the region to familiarize myself with the countries, cultures and job functions at the various embassies. In this role, I will also focus on understanding the strategic importance with these countries and their relations with the U.S. and regional neighbors.

How has the knowledge you acquired at AMU assisted you in the field?  

Getting my first master’s from AMU in political science has helped me in my professional and personal development as an Army officer and as a concerned citizen of the United States. Because of my AMU degree, I have a better understanding of American politics, domestic and foreign policy, and geostrategic politics.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?  

As a budding author, writing my book was a challenge enough with the occasional writer’s block and countless revisions from my editors after I “thought” I was finished. Once the editing phase was over, the real challenge began to find a publisher.

Once the book hit the shelves of Amazon and Barnes & Noble, I quickly realized that I needed to be an expert in marketing and a social media whiz to sell my book. I wouldn’t change it for anything, though. The words “published author” make the two years it took to write and publish my book all worth it.

What inspired you to write?  

I love to travel. When we were stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army and in between my graduate studies at AMU, my wife and I explored 27 countries in Europe and North Africa. Our misadventures on every trip made it clear we had a story to tell.

What is your greatest accomplishment to date?  

Aside from publishing my debut book, I am most proud of being able to make my book into an audiobook. I narrated and produced the audiobook version. Let me tell you – it was no easy feat. It must have taken me over 17 hours to narrate my book in the studio.

Luckily, I found a rock star audio engineer to edit out my ums, long pauses, hiccups, coughs and stutters. After the masterful sound editing, the finalized audiobook runs for four hours and 37 minutes. Whew!

What advice do you have for someone seeking to be a writer?

If you think you have a story to tell, put it on paper. If you think someone might read your story and like it, chances are they may.

Becoming a published author is a very rewarding experience. You may gain a gray hair or two during the entire process, but you won’t regret checking this item off your bucket list!

What do you do in your free time?

We recently moved to Vietnam and in our spare time, we travel. Aside from seeing much of Asia, I love to work out, play with my two-year old daughter, Lily, and immerse myself in the Vietnamese language and culture.

How are you engaging with your community? 

I have a website, Facebook page, Twitter feed and LinkedIn account where my wife and I share our one-off adventures and stories through our blog, travelinghouses.com. Aside from that, I’ve held book signings in Tallahassee, Florida, and plan to hold another here in Hanoi. Hopefully, the Vietnamese will understand my butchered pronunciation of the Vietnamese language.

Learn more about degree programs at American Public University.

Susan Hoffman is a Managing Editor at APU Edge, whose articles have appeared in multiple publications. Susan is known for her expertise in blogging, social media, SEO, and content analytics, and she is also a book reviewer for Military History magazine. She has a B.A. cum laude in English from James Madison University and an undergraduate certificate in electronic commerce from American Public University.

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