I grew up in a family with a military service tradition. My father flew B-17’s in Europe in World War II, and when I was four and my parents decided to move from New York to Florida, we settled in Satellite Beach, FL, next to Patrick AFB because my father (then retired from the advertising business in New York) liked to be around pilots.
After graduating from Cocoa Beach High School in Cocoa Beach, FL, I turned down a scholarship to Florida State University because I felt a burning desire to enlist in the Navy as a crypto-linguist. I went through 1.5 years of basic and advanced Russian training at the Defense Language Institute on the grounds of the Presidio of Monterey in Monterey, CA, followed by cryptology school at Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo, TX. My career took an unexpected turn when the Berlin Wall came down, my career prospects disappeared and I earned a nomination to USNA via NAPS.
After commissioning as a Surface Warfare Officer I had a challenging and rewarding DIVO tour aboard a pre-commission destroyer, USS DECATUR DDG 73, built in Maine and stationed in San Diego. I saw the ship through the late phase of construction through sea trials, christening, commissioning, more sea trials and prep for deployment. My second officer tour as the Assistant Auxiliaries Officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS JOHN C STENNIS CVN 74 was cut short by my discharge under DADT.
During my nearly twelve years active duty in the Navy, including my four years at USNA, I experienced the stress of coming to terms with my sexuality in an environment where being outed would have bad consequences, both before and after DADT was instated. Despite the difficulties, I left with a valuable enlisted and officer experience that proved to myself I could persevere and succeed under challenging circumstance. I am grateful to the Navy for that experience, and for the great lifelong friendships I gained during those years.
Through USNA Out in its early years (roughly 2004-2010) I had the honor and privilege of being actively involved in supporting gay and lesbian mids and officers, building lifelong friendships and deriving as much personal satisfaction from the mentorship relationships as I hope the mentees feel they received. The advent of social media vastly improved the ability for GLBT midshipmen and officers to connect, build support groups and share important information. While the repeal of DADT is a victory, challenges will remain during the coming years as the Navy socializes openly GLBT servicemembers into its centuries-old cultural structure.
In 1998 I started a wonderful romantic relationship with a college student I met while stationed in San Diego, and after navigating many personal and professional challenges including being away at sea, taking care of parents, and completing numerous moves, we legally married in Washington, D.C., in April of 2014. My husband, originally from Southeast Asia, became a talented fine dining chef and he brought me back to his homeland in 2006 for an incredible three-week kayak journey on the Mekong River through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, with a sojourn in Thailand at the end. It was truly a life-altering experience.
I live in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside D.C. Since leaving the Navy in 2000 I’ve had a pretty challenging and exciting post-Navy career as an aspiring tech entrepreneur and screenwriter. I worked in Silicon Valley for several years before moving back to the East Coast for project/program management positions in technology, culminating – ironically – in running a Navy headquarters contract for a large company from 2006-2013. All the while, I dedicated my nights and weekends to my own tech startups and/or writing feature film screenplays. In 2012, a screenplay that I wrote placed second in the largest international GLBT screenwriting competition, and was a semi-finalist in the LA and Visionfest competitions.
In 2013 I took the plunge and quite my job to start PerCredo, a cyber security company, with one of my USNA class/company-mates who had become a senior FBI executive. Our clients include U.S. intelligence agencies. Despite having a great team and building an incredibly necessary and differentiated technology, leading the business through multiple phases of technology development and investor rounds has been grueling. I also co-founded a mobile app in 2013, Pikmobile, which is hopefully heading into acquisition discussions. And much to my own surprise, I made a Hollywood connection who liked my 2012 screenplay and presented it to her agents, and I was asked to do a major rewrite to adapt the film script as a TV series. I’m hoping that the TV series will sell during the summer of 2018.
With my husband’s support and a rather insane tolerance for risk and uncertainty, I was able to leave my full-time paying job to pursue my entrepreneurial and writing dreams. It’s been a rough but rewarding road, allowing me to work with some amazing and motivational people, on game-changing technology and now on breaking into Hollywood. For any midshipmen or junior officers struggling through career and personal challenges, just know that you will persevere – and better yet, achieve fulfillment and have fun – if you foster great peer friendships as well as seek mentorship by people who are experienced in what you dream of doing in the future.
Skip Muller ’96