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What means more: The start or the finish?
Old 11-07-2008, 12:53 AM   #1
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What means more: The start or the finish?

I'm not on MySpace, Facebook, etc because I like my privacy. Plus I'm too lazy when it comes to updating those things.

What I can't help is listen to old friends, family members, etc when they talk about their lives. Its not often that I see/talk to any of them, but when I do the conversation is always about how their lives are on the up and up, how they've been able to buy this car, that watch, those clothes, graduate from a "known" college/university, etc. When the conversation comes back to me all I can really do is shrug my shoulders, scratch my head and say I'm in the military.

I know I'm a humble person, and I know I should avoid caring about their lives. I don't talk about specifics of my job, but sometimes I wonder if I would have been better off just going to college and becoming the next pharmacist, doctor, or lawyer. Blah its just one of those days I suppose.
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Old 11-07-2008, 07:37 AM   #2
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I'm not on MySpace, Facebook, etc because I like my privacy. Plus I'm too lazy when it comes to updating those things.

What I can't help is listen to old friends, family members, etc when they talk about their lives. Its not often that I see/talk to any of them, but when I do the conversation is always about how their lives are on the up and up, how they've been able to buy this car, that watch, those clothes, graduate from a "known" college/university, etc. When the conversation comes back to me all I can really do is shrug my shoulders, scratch my head and say I'm in the military.

I know I'm a humble person, and I know I should avoid caring about their lives. I don't talk about specifics of my job, but sometimes I wonder if I would have been better off just going to college and becoming the next pharmacist, doctor, or lawyer. Blah its just one of those days I suppose.
Just remember- you'll be retired when they are still struggling to pay off their college loans. I just went to my 50th HS reunion. Most everyone went to college, many Ivys, but pretty much the only retirees were a couple of ex-Navy guys, and a bunch of women who had been teachers or social workers or this or that government functionary. Oh yeah, and one Episcopal priest. Another group with a gold plated retirement.

There were a few guys who had hit it with busiensses and retired, but not many.

Ha
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Old 11-07-2008, 07:59 AM   #3
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If you measure your life by what other have or do, you won't have time or freedom to do as you please.
I never gave a darn about who had what or why.

Short story: when I was out of basic training in the Army, I did not smoke. But always on payday got my cigarette ration card maxed out. Most of the others went to the gin mills, smoked cigars, lived the high life.

Two weeks before payday I was usually selling cigarettes for 25 cents... each.... mind you this was 1967. After a while I could afford tailor made suits and shirts, that as corporal. Never played cards or played gambling games. Having lost my very first paycheck of my life in a game of chance was instructive. Based on cigarette profits, could go to nice restaurants. Bought a beater car. ever since that first beater, I always bought used cars in various states of disrepair.

So choose, keep up with the Joneses or ignore them.
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Old 11-07-2008, 08:02 AM   #4
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I just went to my 50th HS reunion.

Ha
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Old 11-07-2008, 10:21 AM   #5
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What I can't help is listen to old friends, family members, etc when they talk about their lives. Its not often that I see/talk to any of them, but when I do the conversation is always about how their lives are on the up and up, how they've been able to buy this car, that watch, those clothes, graduate from a "known" college/university, etc. When the conversation comes back to me all I can really do is shrug my shoulders, scratch my head and say I'm in the military.
You're having overseas experiences that the rest of them can only dream about, and soon you'll be saddled with more responsibility & authority (and accountability) than they'll see before their mid-30s.

As for what to say, when you're among veterans the sentence "I can't talk about that" might be an admission of ignorance-- but among civilians it's frequently interpreted to mean the subject is a classified matter.

A few years back the Army Reserve ran an ad showing an artillery crew firing some of their large-caliber guns. The caption said "In your civilian job, right now you'd be firing off a memo." Some of today's military recruiting ads make me want to sign up all over again...
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Old 11-07-2008, 11:01 AM   #6
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If you are career military, you will have a great pension.

If you are not, or even if you are, the GI Bill can help you with college later on if you decide to go. In college when I was working all night and going to school all day and living on coffee, fellow students on the GI Bill were always fresh and well rested for classes because they were living on the GI Bill. They earned it. I don't think the GI Bill is as good these days as it was back then (during VietNam), but it is still a good benefit.

My ex was a Navy Sonar tech for ten years, got out, and was making $130K/year as a civilian in 1998 when we divorced. He had to go to sea and work very long, hazardous hours to do it, and he was very good due to his Navy training and talent, but still - - that is far, far more than I will ever make. The military has some opportunities for the best training in the world, in some occupations. So even if your pay is not huge right now, you are investing in your future.

Military or not, there will always be people boasting about their latest purchase of some status symbol or other. It took me until I was 50 before I could really ignore that. But honestly, it means nothing - - especially if they are up to their eyebrows in debt, and I am not.
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Old 11-07-2008, 11:09 AM   #7
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IMO, most people love to talk about themselves and are eager to find someone that will listen. Apparently, you are a good listener. I think you should hold your head high, tell them you are in the military and you protect their right to live their lives in freedom.
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Old 11-07-2008, 11:39 AM   #8
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In my grad and undergrad programs the military (ex or career) guys were some of the best students in the class. They all had their s**t together.

I think that if you like what you're doing, who cares what kind of car you drive? I'd rather have an authentic life than, as they say in Texas, have a "big hat, no cattle."
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Old 11-07-2008, 11:48 AM   #9
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I'd look at it this way. By choosing active duty ASAF over a civilian career,you are making an investment in your future. (and in your country, something a civilian career doesn't necessarily offer-but that is a whole 'nother thread.) The experiences, discipline, and leadership skills you learn during your military career will serve you well in the workforce later. If you pursue higher education when you get out, you will be a more serious student, and probably get more out of your education than a lot of 18 year-olds with mommy and daddy footing the bill. If you stay in for 20 to earn a full military retirement (and a lot of folks here will tell you- how quickly that 20 years goes by...) you will still be able to enter the civilian workforce with a comfortable backup pension with good medical benefits- something most of us who worked purely in the private sector don't have.

My brother retired a few years ago after 20 years in the navy. Like you, when he was active duty, he was wistful about the lifestyle and assets many of his civilian peers (and his siblings) were accumulating and enjoying. (Homes, mortgages, boats, cars, credit card debt )
He retired at 38 as a senior chief, with no bills, few assets, a good pension, lifetime medical and dental benefits, and it only took him a few years to "catch up" to his peers in terms of lifestyle and possessions. His civilian second career is now on par with or ahead of most of his peers. Is he better off? As someone who has made a good living in the private sector but doesn't have a defined pension or more importantly, an economically feasible medical insurance solution for ER, I would say yes. I am reluctant to ER because I have to make X$ last for ?? years. He doesn't have that worry. He now works because he wants to, not because he has to.

If you make the USAF your first career, you will still have a world of options when you retire - And who is to say you would like a traditional civilian career path any better?- the only sure thing there is you won't get a military pension.

Best of luck to you. Keep us posted on how things are going.
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Old 11-07-2008, 12:01 PM   #10
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I was in your shoes....believe me!!!

I remember the first time I went home on leave after joining the Navy, and I went back to my hometown and the guys were doing the same thing...cruising, drinking, working at Wendy's, etc.. I had nothing in common with them! I was coming back from seeing the Far East and most of them had never left Oklahoma or Arkansas.

Now, it is 20 years later, and I am enjoying life on terminal leave awaiting my retirement on 31Dec08. I have a great pension, 6 hours left for a Bachelors Degree (that the govt has mostly paid for!) and still have my full GI Bill to use for whatever!

When you are young, you see your friends doing this and that...but I can tell you this..the military takes care of you as you advance in years! The benefits outweigh the costs!

When I tell people in small town New Mexico what my pension is, they are amazed and best yet...I get to tell them, "I don't have to work anymore for it!"

Hang in there...and as you get older you will start to hear this, "I wish I would have joined the military...I would be retired by now!"

COUNT ON IT...IT WILL HAPPEN!!!!
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Old 11-07-2008, 12:04 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Keyboard Ninja View Post
What I can't help is listen to old friends, family members, etc when they talk about their lives. Its not often that I see/talk to any of them, but when I do the conversation is always about how their lives are on the up and up, how they've been able to buy this car, that watch, those clothes, graduate from a "known" college/university, etc.
I was at a party in Silicon Valley back in the late '70's at the start of the boom. DH and I are not the best at social graces but we were trying.
There was a group of people standing up, holding their wrists together. I went to join them. One of them was saying, "My watch is a Rolex and it can do blah blah", then the next said, "My watch is a Seiko and it can do blah blab". I thought this was hilarious. So I held up my wrist and said, "My watch is a Timex....".
Nobody laughed.
That's when I knew it was time to move. I have never regretted my decision.

I'd misheard the quotation from Fran Lebowitz, but here is apparently the correct version which still rings true:
"Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about wine".

I always substitute "people" for "wine", but anyway, you get the idea.
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Old 11-07-2008, 12:04 PM   #12
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If you are not, or even if you are, the GI Bill can help you with college later on if you decide to go. In college when I was working all night and going to school all day and living on coffee, fellow students on the GI Bill were always fresh and well rested for classes because they were living on the GI Bill. They earned it. I don't think the GI Bill is as good these days as it was back then (during VietNam), but it is still a good benefit.
It is getting better..

Come 01Aug09, you get the cost up to the most expensive college in your state, book stipend up to $1,000/year..PLUS you get a monthly housing allowance!

Here in my small town, I could go to the Junior College and get an estimated $18,000/year in benefits!
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Old 11-07-2008, 01:16 PM   #13
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I was in your shoes....believe me!!!

I remember the first time I went home on leave after joining the Navy, and I went back to my hometown and the guys were doing the same thing...cruising, drinking, working at Wendy's, etc.. I had nothing in common with them! I was coming back from seeing the Far East and most of them had never left Oklahoma or Arkansas.
I second this experience. Mine was back in 89 as a young E-5. I saw my buddies on 4 Jul 88 at a party down by the lake. A year to the day I went back to the same spot and they were doing the same thing. I had just returned from a 30 day backpacking trip in Europe via Space A. I still remember what I thought about how our lives were so different.

Nineteen years later I am nearing the end of military service as an 0-5, can probably afford to only work part time if I choose and they are still doing the same thing. We all have bad days or Blah days but at the end of the day we are truly blessed. You may decide to go before 20 or stay but no matter what you do your military experience will serve you well.

Tomcat98
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Old 11-07-2008, 01:40 PM   #14
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It is getting better..

Come 01Aug09, you get the cost up to the most expensive college in your state, book stipend up to $1,000/year..PLUS you get a monthly housing allowance!

Here in my small town, I could go to the Junior College and get an estimated $18,000/year in benefits!
GOOD!!! I am so glad to hear this. I think the GI Bill is a wonderful benefit and should be pretty generous. Those serving in our Armed Forces have more than earned a good college education, thanks to their service to our country.
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