Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Should I Stay or Should I Go (Mil Retention)II
Old 06-11-2011, 09:08 AM   #1
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 125
Should I Stay or Should I Go (Mil Retention)II

I read the same thread by Nords posted awhile ago and wanted to kind of continue the conversation. My wife and I are having a hard time deciding whether or not to stay in the Air Force. Some of you may have seen some of my previous posts, some talking about separating some talking about staying. We both pretty much agree that we can't decide. I'm hoping to hear some input from those that stayed 20+ and got their pension and some who decided to separate and go a different route. The reserves or ANG doesn't sound too appealing at the time because if I go civilian I want to fully go civilian and not have to worry about deployments, base closures, or guard work as my civilian counterpart job would be long hours as it is. I'll give some info about myself and wife's situation:

-Both 24, I am a young officer in USAF and have roughly 3 years left on my service commitment.
-No kids but plan on having them in a few years (exactly when depends on if we stay or go and if we go, when I can secure new employment).
-We should have about $40,000 put away in emergency fund type of accounts by the time it is decision time at age 26. No currently investing in retirement accounts because of the future unknown.
-If we left the USAF, I would likely be trying to get in with the FAA which can be a grueling task and could take a year after separation. If we go this route I will have between 2-3 months of leave saved up to use as terminal leave past my separation date, we can then apply for unemployment and also use emergency funds to help us to get a point of employment. The big draw to leave is to settle in a permanent location, no deployments, and better pay once hired and certified.
-If we stayed we could start investing that money and future money for retirement with the ultimate goal being possible full retirement at 42 by LBYM and saving as much as possible over my service time. This would be the biggest draw to staying. The FAA would require me to be in until roughly 50 for a pension adding 8 years to my ER and the pension would be close to the same dollar amount as the military.

I guess I'm just not sure if my wife and I and future family can last 20 years. I have heard mixed things from people who have stayed and left. So far things have been good but who knows about the future. I really need to make a decision to stay for 20 or not at this first active service commitment point because I want to devote my time toward one of the two routes to get the pension as quickly as possible. Also, if I stay and later decide to leave, the FAA has an age 30 restriction on hiring for ATC. So basically in 3 years is my crossroads to figure out which route to go.

I believe I would enjoy both jobs more, maybe civilian ATC a little more but maybe not enough to add 8 years to retirement (again, indecision).
__________________

__________________
Money is freedom.
ATC Guy is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 06-11-2011, 10:05 AM   #2
Recycles dryer sheets
DFA's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Earth
Posts: 311
Well I stayed 20 years (USAF enlisted), I can tell you that while the duty station changes and TDYs were a pain at first I found the experiences the best in the world. I got to go places and do things that most don't do in a life tiime.

I started out as a Jet Engine Mech, but cross-trained as a Flight Engineer on MC-130s so I got to go TDY a lot. I also met my wife while stationed in NM, she spent 13 years in and got into the Air National Guard in Colorado, both Guard and full time tech she will have 30 years when she retires in 3 more.

As for retirement, left at age 37, I used my education benefits and got into Computers since my reitrement pay was not enough to live on, but would not trade the experiences for anything. We never had kids and that could be an issue we never had to deal with, but I would bet that they would have great experiences too. I found the job to be a grin once in awhile, but the people I met and the places I went to more then made up for it. I also did not care for the bad guys shoot at me, but I still would not change a thing.

I have seen people on this board say how tough it is to get into FAA and with the job market the way it is that may be the biggest issue, but I would add that if you get a job with the FAA you may be stuck in one place doing the same job every day for a very long time to get the same $$, but you could be traveling and going to and doing things that you may never get to until after ER.

Just MHO.
__________________

__________________
DFA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2011, 10:09 AM   #3
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
REWahoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Texas Hill Country
Posts: 42,074
It seems to me the decision to go or stay is highly personal and based on your individual circumstances and personalities. I'm not sure how much you can glean from hearing others ancient history stories but as someone who left the AF after eight years I will share the reasons I decided to leave:

  • Family separation - Three of the eight years were spent away from my wife and two small children. Future TDY/deployment/remote tour prospects looked no different from the past.
  • Post Vietnam military environment - The USAF had too many officers in their ranks, particularly pilots. They made it clear they were going to trim the numbers and developed tools to reduce rated head count without spending money offering separation bonuses. Unpopular "desk job" assignments for pilots and an experimental unfair and abusive Officer Effectiveness Rating system were two very effective tools employed. (BTW, they were so successful at this they overshot their target by a substantial margin. A year or two later the AF offered separated pilots bonuses to return...)
  • Man vs. machine - I my last assignment was as an instructor at Officer Training School and flew only once a month to maintain proficiency. I found I was better (happier) working with students/people rather than machines/aircraft. It was a three year assignment and when it was over I was slotted for another three year assignment back in the cockpit and would be stationed in one of a handful of prime locations just south of the Canadian border. Neither DW or I were very excited about that.
There were other factors as well, but these three carried the most weight.

The decision turned out to be a good one for me, but the first year after separating was a bumpy one financially. My first job didn't pan out and I was unemployed for a couple of months before finding another job - and took a 40% haircut in salary...and an even larger one in benefits. Took me about three years to get back to where I was, then it was all good from that point on.

Best of luck in whatever decision you make.
__________________
Numbers is hard

When I hit 70, it hit back

Retired in 2005 at age 58, no pension
REWahoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2011, 10:10 AM   #4
Administrator
Gumby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,137
It's a tough decision, and a good thing that you are thinking about it now rather than in 3 years. I was one of those who left active duty the minute my service commitment was up. However, my dad was career enlisted USN, who retired at 20 years, when I was a 17 year old high school senior, so I have seen a little of both sides. Here are a few of my thoughts.

1. Family life -- there is no question that a military career is hard on a family. Children, of course, are an important consideration. Growing up, I almost never saw my father. Consequently, we do not have a very close relationship today. That may have been the case anyway, but the long deployments didn't help. I didn't have that much of a problem moving and switching schools periodically, but I know that many Navy kids, including my younger brother, did have big issues with that. Aside from any children, there is the effect on your spouse. While I was on active duty, my young wife trailed me around the country. She never could have a real job or career and it made her unhappy (which made me unhappy). Leaving the Navy and settling down allowed her to go to graduate school, get a teaching certificate and go into a career that she has now enjoyed for over 22 years.

2. Reserves -- I served in a drilling Reserve unit for a little over a year after I left active duty. I enjoyed it, but since I was on shift work at my civilian job, it quickly became almost impossible to work out the logistics. That said, if you can swing it, you will have a nice source of a little extra cash, and you can eventually get a decent pension.

3. Civilian job -- it sounds like you are looking to do in civilian life what your are currently doing in the Air Force. That is perfectly understandable. You are undoubtedly accomplished in your field and it is comfortable to do something that you already do well. I did the same thing for the first three years -- worked as an engineer at a nuclear power plant because that's essentially what I did in the Navy. But then I quit and went to law school, and I have enjoyed being a lawyer for 19 years now. Not that I would necessarily recommend a legal career to any young person, but I do think you should expand your thinking about your options. What do you really want to be when you grow up? Was it always your dream to be an air traffic controller or did you just end up doing that? If you could start all over again, what would you do? You will spend a long time working, so make sure it's doing something you like. You should ask and answer these questions before you make any big decisions.

4. Pension -- a government pension, be it USAF or FAA, is undoubtedly a big draw, but I wouldn't let the pension tail wag the work dog. You should do what you like, not just what will someday bring a pension. Plenty of people on this board have retired early with no pension, and they appear to be doing fine.

5. Meaningful purpose -- When I was on active duty, I always felt that I was doing something good and noble, defending my country and the people in it. As much as I have enjoyed my civilian career, I have never felt that same sense of honorable purpose since leaving the Navy. Although, from talking to my Dad, I think he struggled with the same sense of loss when he retired after 20. Perhaps more so, since it had been his life for longer.


Whatever you decide, I wish you and your wife well.
__________________
Living an analog life in the Digital Age.
Gumby is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2011, 12:31 PM   #5
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,616
Quote:
Originally Posted by ATC Guy View Post
I read the same thread by Nords posted awhile ago and wanted to kind of continue the conversation.
We both pretty much agree that we can't decide.
... if I go civilian I want to fully go civilian and not have to worry about deployments, base closures, or guard work as my civilian counterpart job would be long hours as it is.
-If we left the USAF, I would likely be trying to get in with the FAA which can be a grueling task and could take a year after separation.
... we can then apply for unemployment and also use emergency funds to help us to get a point of employment. The big draw to leave is to settle in a permanent location, no deployments, and better pay once hired and certified.
-If we stayed we could start investing that money and future money for retirement with the ultimate goal being possible full retirement at 42 by LBYM and saving as much as possible over my service time. This would be the biggest draw to staying. The FAA would require me to be in until roughly 50 for a pension adding 8 years to my ER and the pension would be close to the same dollar amount as the military.

I guess I'm just not sure if my wife and I and future family can last 20 years. I have heard mixed things from people who have stayed and left.
I really need to make a decision to stay for 20 or not at this first active service commitment point because I want to devote my time toward one of the two routes to get the pension as quickly as possible. Also, if I stay and later decide to leave, the FAA has an age 30 restriction on hiring for ATC. So basically in 3 years is my crossroads to figure out which route to go.

I believe I would enjoy both jobs more, maybe civilian ATC a little more but maybe not enough to add 8 years to retirement (again, indecision).
I'm having a hard time understanding that you're applying what I said in that other post. You realize that I'm saying "persistence" is not always a good thing, right?

I don't have a dog in this fight, but I don't want to be responsible for persuading someone to get out just because that's what I wish I'd done.

I want to be responsible for persuading someone to get out because I encouraged you to do more creative thinking than I did. I also want to be responsible for persuading someone to stay in because I encouraged you to do more creative thinking than I did. Considering the amount of creative thinking I did back then on my own retention, you'll have an easy time of exceeding my achievements in that area.

One of the reasons you're hearing mixed reports about staying or leaving is because it's a highly individual decision. If there's one thing anyone can learn from E-R.org, it's that we can't agree on hardly anything. (Of course there's some disagreement on this subject.) Yet somehow we almost all end up at our ER goals, even though we ferociously argue that everyone else is doing it wrong.

If everybody says something bad about a particular situation then I'd avoid it. But if I heard mixed news then I wouldn't avoid it just out of fear of the unknown. I'd collect more data.

If your assignment officer called you up and said "Hey, ATC, we 'need' you to make a decision to stay for 20 at the end of your first active service commitment!", would you feel that was reasonable? If you don't want it to be done to you, then why do it to yourself? Committing your time toward only one of the two routes to a pension means you're also discarding one of the two routes. Instead you could stay on active duty one tour at a time... and then get out when the fun stops. Avoid making any more retention decisions for any longer time period than absolutely necessary.

Here's the path you want to avoid: "eliminating all risk". Minimizing risks is fine, but eliminating all risk practically guarantees that you'll end up with a suboptimal result.

One of the reasons I stayed for 20 was spouse collocation. We lived in fear that if I left active duty then she'd be sent on an unaccompanied tour to Diego Garcia for a year. So instead of risking a year of potential misery, I darn near guaranteed that we'd both be miserable for 10 years longer than I needed to. The reality was that I could've started a Reserve career (or a civilian one) or been a stay-at-home parent. (Maybe I could've written a book.) She could've taken her chances... or started a Reserve career... or a civilian one. But instead we declared the DGar option completely unacceptable and discarded any alternative that had even a small risk of that outcome. We did so without considering how much more miserable our "eliminate risk" decisions could make us.

In our defense, we were overworked & exhausted new parents. But that's another thread.

If we'd inverted the decision process, and realistically assessed all the 80% probabilities instead of avoiding one 20% probability, then we might have made a different decision.

You seem to really really want to work for the FAA. Yet you're also telling us that the FAA is grueling and could take a year, and you can only do it before you turn age 30. You'd need to risk a substantial portion of your net worth, not save for retirement, perhaps file for unemployment, and put your future on hold while awaiting their decision with bated breath. They'd want you to work for eight years longer than a military career. You're sellin' the hell outta that job, although presumably they wouldn't deploy you or shoot at you. Once you're in the FAA, is it really all that rewarding and fulfilling? Or is it more the comfort of knowing that you'd have steady, reliable, no-risk predictable employment?

Your plan appears to be to jettison active duty, jettison the Reserves, and risk it all on the FAA. I'm having a hard time seeing where the FAA is reciprocating your sacrifices by showing you the love, but let's put that aside for a minute. In aviation terms you appear to be susceptible to target attraction, so force yourself to evaluate the alternatives. I could understand wanting to work for the FAA if they were offering your a 15-year guarantee with bonus pay and benefits. Sure, the job would suck sometimes but at least they'd want you to be there. I'm not seeing those sentiments from the FAA. I suspect you are probably going to see those sentiments from the USAF.

Do a thought experiment and assume the FAA says "Um, no, not really." What's your Plan B? "Try harder"? Seems to me that you're already trying as hard as you can. What would you fall back on?

Assume that the FAA says "No, never!!" Then what's your plan B? In other words, if you couldn't have the FAA under any circumstances then what would you do?

Would you prefer to have a job where they actually like you and want you to work for the company? Is it possible that you're in such a job right now, and all you have to do is agree to do it somewhere else for 2-3 more years? Maybe get a graduate degree, develop your other skills & interests, start a family, and just enjoy living your life for a while? Then, when someday a headhunter makes you an offer that REALLY shows the love, you could decide whether to stay in or get out.

Keep in mind that none of this is a test of your commitment to the FAA. Personally I don't care either way about your future with the FAA. I care that you give yourself a chance to think through all the permutations, invert all the decisions with devil's advocate thinking, and maximize the probabilities instead of eliminating the risks.

If you two can't make a decision then I wouldn't make a decision. "Getting out" requires a hard, clear decision. "Staying in" only requires picking whatever "choices" the assignment officer can come up with.

Once you're done with the active-duty retention decision then take another look at the Reserve/Guard decision. I'd say that somewhere in the first five years of a Reserve/Guard career you could be asked to deploy. However I doubt it'd happen in the first year, and maybe not even in the second. A lot of other things could happen during those times, and for those months you'd have a backup source of income as well as a supplemental contact network. You could network your way to a mobilization at a command (near your home instead of in Afghanistan), or you could be on ADSW for months (instead of on a deployment list) and still go home every night. While you're drilling or on AT you could stumble across an opportunity as a contractor or a civil servant. You could even go back on active duty. If the possibility of a year overseas was absolutely positively unacceptable (there's that "eliminating all risk" issue again) then you could go to the IRR.

Some other thoughts to consider:
- Base closure: The "low-hanging fruit" is gone. The highest risks of base closures are where the Reserve/Guard opportunities really suck in the first place. You wouldn't choose to drill in an area whee the base might be closed because there wouldn't be any drill billets at it in the first place. Not worth worrying about.

- Guard work vs civilian job hours. You're gonna work long hours. That's a given. Your choice is whether you work long hours at one career or whether you work long hours at two careers. The surprising conclusion of this analysis is that you can't work more than 168 hours/week. Working at both a civilian & Reserve/Guard career will suck no more time than a straight civilian career-- and maybe less! Your civilian employer should say "I'm not going to ask ATC to spend more hours on this mindless thankless soul-sucking task because he's already sacrificing enough for us by balancing a civilian career with the Reserves." Instead they're going to give that bag job to someone else. If they give it to you anyway then you've just been given a clear signal that you don't want to work at that company. The Reserves/Guard gives you a chance to work for your own future without hanging all your hopes on just one career.

Whatever thing you do, if you're only doing that one thing then it will expand to fill all your free time. Having a Reserve/Guard career alongside a civilian career forces you (and your employer) to make better work/life balance decisions-- and you end up with a better life.

- "Go fully civilian"?!? Do you get extra money for that "commitment"?!? Does being fully Catholic require you to become a priest? One of the advantages of the Reserve/Guard is that you can be a civilian most of the time while still getting to be military some of the time. If that can't be balanced then you can go IRR and still have options. But going fully civilian means you have no military options, and it's awful hard to sign back up once you slam that door shut.

Whichever decision you end up making, I hope you'll continue to discuss the process on the board. No matter what you decide, someone else will learn from seeing how you made your decision.
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2011, 12:32 PM   #6
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 11,615
Quote:
Originally Posted by ATC Guy View Post
I'm hoping to hear some input from those that stayed 20+ and got their pension and some who decided to separate and go a different route.
I did 21 yrs as a USAF officer, so that's my background.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ATC Guy View Post
-No kids but plan on having them in a few years (exactly when depends on if we stay or go and if we go, when I can secure new employment).
Well, that's not exactly what it depends on, but I'll let you guys figure it out.

As I'm sure you both know, this is a decision you'll have to make with insufficient information.

Observation: If you stay in the USAF, you'll be managing those who perform ATC operations, you wont be doing them. And, you'll spend some time doing nothing related to ATC (schools, etc).

Observation: In the USAF, your pay is (for the most part) not directly linked to your particular technical skill set. That can be a very good thing. It may be hard to imagine now, but lots of folks just want to do something new after a decade or so. You'd have a good foundation to jump into a job as an air planner on a staff or CAOC, to (if you act fast) cross over to the "dark side" and work air battle management. You'd keep your same pay, something the FAA (or a civilian employer paying for your niche skills on the scope) is unlikely to offer.

About the retirement pay wagging the dog: It does, and I don't think that's necessarily irrational. I'd have to be VERY miserable at the 15 year point to jump off the train rather than hang on and earn that retirement. The more time you put in, the more sense it makes to stay until 20.

Reserves/Guard: I agree that it might sound like a big PITA for a relatively small reward (compared to AD), but try to remember that you've experienced a very unusual time, and the future is more likely to be like the past (I think!). Throughout the Cold War and the immediate aftermath, a typical reservist really did put in one weekend per month and a two week annual tour. Some got to retirement and never deployed aside from that 2 week period unless they sought out an opportunity. So, while in your mind right now the Reserves aren't too attractive, don't rule them out entirely down the road. You might find it to be a good option if the traditional AD/RC roles return. Also, no employer treats reservists better than federal, state and local governments do--if you get on with the FAA, they really will hold your position if you do get called to extended active duty. And, as you know, more and more ATC is being contracted out, so you might end up in the private sector--while the reserves can certainly strain an employee's relations with a private employer, a reserve paycheck can also be a very welcome fallback to the uncertainty of a civilian paycheck. When Eastern Airlines went under, I knew a lot of Reserve C-141 pilots that were very happy to be able drop by the squadron and fly trips to make enough money to keep the family fed until they could line up another job.
I'm certainly biased. I enjoyed the work I did in the USAF, as did most of those I served with. Some days/months were bad, most were not. I'm glad I (we) stuck it out. Yes, it was tough on the family, and that's a major reason I didn't stay longer. But some of those pressures are going to ease, too. As a nation, we're dang near out of money, and wars/deployments are expensive things.

Sorry, no facts, just more grist for the mill. Good luck.
__________________
"Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite." - R. Heinlein
samclem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2011, 02:31 PM   #7
Administrator
Gumby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,137
Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
Well, that's not exactly what it depends on, but I'll let you guys figure it out.
At the risk of a threadjack, this reminds me of a brief sea story:

It was late evening, my submarine was in port and I was the duty officer. Suddenly the phone rang in the wardroom. It was Ensign Schmatz, who was due to report aboard the next morning. He said "Sir, I'm in a hotel room here in town with my wife. What should I do?" To which I replied "Well, I have several ideas, Ensign, but why don't you just plan to be here for quarters in the morning."

Carry on.
__________________
Living an analog life in the Digital Age.
Gumby is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2011, 02:54 PM   #8
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Indialantic FL
Posts: 1,196
Nords gave you great advice, I'd only add that it sounded like you were gonna get out because maybe your family can't deal with a 20 yr Military career. Why not stay in until you know it? FAA is still there for you, perhaps while you stay in you can complete any and all training that would better qualify you with the FAA(Plan B) or a Plan C career. I'd err on the side of staying in IF you enjoy wearing the uniform and doing your job, otherwise I'd get out at the earliest possible day.
__________________
JimnJana
"The four most dangerous words in investing are 'This time it's different.'" - Sir John Templeton
jimnjana is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2011, 03:31 PM   #9
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
REWahoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Texas Hill Country
Posts: 42,074
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gumby View Post
At the risk of a threadjack, this reminds me of a brief sea story:

It was late evening, my submarine was in port and I was the duty officer. Suddenly the phone rang in the wardroom. It was Ensign Schmatz, who was due to report aboard the next morning. He said "Sir, I'm in a hotel room here in town with my wife. What should I do?" To which I replied "Well, I have several ideas, Ensign, but why don't you just plan to be here for quarters in the morning."

Carry on.
Carrying on with carrying on:

As an OTS instructor, I had the final say on whether or not the Officer Trainees (OT) assigned to me had any weekend leave, which they could earn after the end of the third week in the program. The 24 hour passes were granted only if the OT earned fewer that a specified number of demerits during the week, and only the most exceptional managed to earn a pass the first week or two after becoming eligible.

Late on a Friday afternoon six weeks into the program, I addressed my class and noted every OT had managed to earn at least one day of leave at some point - except one. The OT in question had almost, but not quite, earned his first pass - he had one to many demerits.

Having nothing to lose, he stood up and asked for permission to speak. When granted, he said "Captain REW, I understand I did not meet the requirements to earn a pass. However, I ask that I be granted a pass due to extenuating circumstances." When I asked what he meant by extenuating circumstances, he responded. "Sir, my wife is in town this weekend. She told me she planned on getting pregnant and I'd sure like to be there."

I gave him the pass...
__________________
Numbers is hard

When I hit 70, it hit back

Retired in 2005 at age 58, no pension
REWahoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2011, 03:55 PM   #10
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,616
That reminds me of a sea story too. It was told to us by the department head of our submarine department-head school. The boss wanted to make sure we stayed out of trouble, so he told us what happened to the last guy who made trouble.

A class had graduated and was having a party at a local bar. One of the less popular newly-graduated department heads had a little too much to drink (as usual) and started shooting off his mouth (as usual). Unfortunately the object of his affections attentions was the spouse of another newly-graduated department head who figured he didn't have to put up with the guy anymore. The shouting match degenerated into shoving and fisticuffs.

Sure 'nuff, the police arrived. Everybody pointed at the less-popular department head to say "He started it!" "He" started mouthing off explaining himself to the police, and earned a free ride to the jail.

Eventually he decided to make his one phone call, and chose to call the boss in charge of department-head school. Even though it was close to 2 AM by this point, he expected some sympathy for his jail plight.

The boss didn't miss a beat.
Boss: "Thanks for calling. Did you happen to get a detaching endorsement on your orders before you went to the party?"
DH: "Yes, sir, I did."
Boss: "So technically you're no longer attached to department head school, and no longer a part of the command?"
DH: "Yes sir, that's right."
Boss: "OK, thanks for clearing that up. You can take care of it yourself. Good night."

The young DH eventually made bail, but his first act when he reported to his new command was to request leave for his next court appearance...
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2011, 04:24 PM   #11
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 11,615
See, ATC? You're not gonna get great stories like these working for the FAA as a controller (though you might get a little shuteye, from what I hear).

Private pilots have a love/hate relationship with the FAA. Well, mostly "hate". Not the controllers, but the regulatory folks.

FAA Motto: "We're not happy until you're not happy."

Sorry. Back on track now . . .
__________________
"Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite." - R. Heinlein
samclem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2011, 04:44 PM   #12
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
braumeister's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Northern Kentucky
Posts: 8,587
I would agree with jimnjana. I certainly didn't expect to make it a career, and 21 years later I was slightly bemused that I was actually eligible for a gray card. When my initial commitment was up, I was in an assignment I loved. As the years rolled by, I just found myself continuing to enjoy the career, so I stayed in. Probably would have stayed longer if the Pentagon duty hadn't burned me out.

One day at a time is never bad advice, just because strategic planning has so many pitfalls we can't foresee.
__________________
Pas de lieu Rhône que nous.
braumeister is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2011, 05:04 PM   #13
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 538
Good advice in the thread. I have 21 yrs and will be starting terminal/PTDY on 13 July. Am I happy I stayed? I guess. I know I have some pnut butter coming in for the family. Am I ready to go? Yep. I would say stay as long as it makes sense for you. At some point the assignment is going to be calling and its not going to be pleasant. Everyone told me that as I moved up I would have less freedom. I would agree.

Tomcat98
__________________
JDARNELL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2011, 05:40 PM   #14
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
martyb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Bossier City
Posts: 2,182
Hard to beat a lifetime COLA'd pension for only 20 yrs on the job.
__________________
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
-John F. Kennedy

“Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?” - Edgar Bergen
martyb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2011, 09:45 PM   #15
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,616
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomcat98 View Post
Good advice in the thread. I have 21 yrs and will be starting terminal/PTDY on 13 July.
Just 32 days? Holy cow, that's less than a thousand hours! It's less than 50,000 minutes!! Congratulations!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by martyb View Post
Hard to beat a lifetime COLA'd pension for only 20 yrs on the job.
Except for the shooting-at and the disability issues, it's almost as good a deal as the firefighter & police pensions...
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2011, 08:04 AM   #16
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 1,072
To the OP, you are asking great questions - if I may say, after coming up on 26 years combined active and reserve duty, my crystal ball sucked at what I thought would happen when I first separated from the Air Force 20 years ago and looking back my affiliation with the military has been one of the most rewarding in my life; fraught with challenges, yes; exposure to so many experiences, yes; opportunities for outstanding education, yes; predictable, no.

Some of the previous posters know my story - in any case, I was where you were about 20 years ago - and the Air Force was a *very* different place. Even now at times I struggle to stay on and look forward to retirement; the buffoonery at times is hard to take; however, the people, their dedication, their selflessness, their worldliness is not something you find anywhere else. Even fellow foreign military personnel are brethren - we all just 'understand.'

When I came in, the Air Force was about to start the 'blood-bath' years of personnel reductions; I used that to leave active duty early and dutifully went into the Reserves as per my ROTC contract. Back then, you got the minimum amount of points per year (50) and that was it - there were very few opportunities to add on points for retirement (Reserves uses a point system for retirement pay accounting -basically one-day of duty counts as a point). It was a manageable part-time job and frankly at times the income was welcome (especially when I was in graduate school). Later on, the opportunities opened up to go more places - now that might have been a function of my AFSC (acquisition and engineering), but I was now able to volunteer for overseas short term 6 month tours - hey, who wouldn't want to go live overseas for awhile while being paid (try getting that opportunity as a civilian).

I truly love what I do as a civilian, however, that particular profession has not given me the opportunity to live overseas; it has not educated me in the ideas of leadership (and expected me to demonstrate it), history and national security; it has not expected me to be able to quickly and extemporaneously communicate in written and oral forms to executives making strategic decisions; if has not exposed me to people who are truly worldly both experience-wise and education-wise. The military has given me those other opportunities and that has helped me in my civilian capacity.

Yes, there have been long-term breaks from my civilian job for some military duties, however, as samclem mentioned, most organizations make accounting for that and have a job for you when you get back (in my case after nearly four years - same job!). And, it can be a welcome break from a sometimes stale civilian position. You gain a newer perspective and can at times come back refreshed.

As for the pension - well, as Nords book can attest to, by staying in the Reserves, I have shortened the time I need to cover any early-retirement desires through investment income as well as minimized the amount that I do need to save for retirement.

As far as family impacts - I say it depends. My father was a career Air Force pilot - yes, he was TDY a lot (went to Vietnam as well), however, I am very close to him still - he endeavored to be there for us as much as possible. Unfortunately, my mother was not enamored of the military lifestyle and they ended up divorcing. I believe the strife caused by the mis-alignment of their goals and poor communication caused more of the traume than that of my father being gone and/or the moving we did. It is here that the adage of marrying properly is very important. Many military families are still very close, but the team approach the couple has is what sets the tone. My current husband is active duty and we are both aligned with our goals and supportive of each other. He will be retiring this winter while I am still doing Reserves (just recently got promoted and will be doing the three years to have the time-in-grade and maximize the point value for my pension).

As for opportunities for spouses, well, the internet has definitely become a game-changer in that respect. I moved to Europe with my husband on this last PCS, leaving a career and company I had been with for 14 years; I asked my husband to support an entrepreneurial approach for me - the internet has made that possible. As for schooling, there are on-base and on-line colleges that are aching to assist the military family. So much so that my mother was shocked at how much it had changed from when she was a military spouse.

Now, what do I regret: at times not sticking it out for 20 years to get that active duty pension; the opportunities to change one's route along the way were actually quite numerous as I look back; it was all about timing. What do I not regret and am super thankful for: staying in the Reserves - one of the best decisions I've ever made on so many levels; personally, professionally, financially, etc. The positive aspects have overwhelmed any negative aspects that occurred along the way.

As many have said before, it is a very personal decision; however, I urge you to think much larger than you are and which I believe the other posters are saying as well. One of the things that has driven me has been widening the number of options I have in life; that entails taking more risks, but then your list of possibles becomes much larger and offers some great life experiences if you are willing to take the risks.

Good luck with your decision.
__________________
Deserat aka Bridget
“We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” - George Orwell/Winston Churchill
deserat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2011, 01:03 PM   #17
Full time employment: Posting here.
HawkeyeNFO's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Inside the Beltway
Posts: 573
Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
Also, no employer treats reservists better than federal, state and local governments do--if you get on with the FAA, they really will hold your position if you do get called to extended active duty.
Sure, they'll hold your job. It's the law. But beyond that, I respectfully disagree. I'm AD but have been in a reserve squadron for over 2 years now. Our reserve guys who have gov't jobs in the real world are the ones who get the most grief from their employers. One of them is an FBI agent, and he has actually discussed filing a lawsuit against the FBI, because they have repeatedly violated federal laws in place to protect reservists.

Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
And, as you know, more and more ATC is being contracted out, so you might end up in the private sector--while the reserves can certainly strain an employee's relations with a private employer, a reserve paycheck can also be a very welcome fallback to the uncertainty of a civilian paycheck. When Eastern Airlines went under, I knew a lot of Reserve C-141 pilots that were very happy to be able drop by the squadron and fly trips to make enough money to keep the family fed until they could line up another job.
Our squadron has a few guys whose sole source of income is working part-time as a reservist. They are able to take a month off, then work for a month, and that is great for anyone who can make it work. They are all single and don't have kids, and that is obviously a key for them in making that type of work arrangement function well. One of the guys is able to work about 150-180 days per year. I'm pretty sure this is not the norm for the reserves, but if you are able to find such a deal, maybe that will work for you for now.

As for me, I've simply had too much fun to want to get out, but yes I've missed my share of birthdays, Halloweens, and other important family holidays. My advice is to not rush your decision, and always tell your bosses that you want to make General, until the day you apply for TAP class. Best of luck.
__________________
HawkeyeNFO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2011, 02:07 PM   #18
Administrator
Gumby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,137
I have been thinking about this subject since I first posted. Obviously, I believe that leaving the Navy was best for the young wife and me. But lest my earlier post be seen as too strongly advocating that course for you or anyone else, let me list some of the things that I do regret about my choice.

1. The camaraderie -- this is one of the things I really miss about being in the Navy. My shipmates had their own quirks and foibles, but they were almost universally interesting, inquisitive, hard-working, dependable, loyal and easygoing. I would, and did, place my life in their hands. They were also a built in social community outside of work. We all had similar interests and got along famously. Except for the nuclear plant (which was almost exclusively ex-Navy nukes), I have never experienced a similar bond with my coworkers in civilian life.

2. The responsibility -- when I was the mid-watch Officer of the Deck on my submarine, I was responsible for a multi-billion dollar submarine, 16 ballistic missiles, a 78 megawatt nuclear reactor and 125 men who could easily die if I screwed up. I answered only to the the Captain (who was asleep) and I was 25 years old. The Navy had confidence in me and I believed I could do the job, so I did. It was actually sort of addictive to meet the challenge and seek more. In civilian life, I have never been entrusted with that level of life and death responsibility, and I'm sure that it would be a very rare circumstance where anyone who had been in any branch of the military would have equal or greater responsibility outside it.

3. The sheer fun of it -- In the Navy, they paid me to go traveling to interesting places and do cool things (like driving a submarine). Now I pay others for that privilege.


As I said before, ultimately you will need to ask yourself the hard questions about what you really want to do with your life and think very hard about the answers. Whatever you do, I would encourage you not to simply follow the path of least resistance. Make a positive decision, one way or the other. It's a little scary, because then you own the result of that decision, but I think that in the end you will be happier if you are in charge of your own destiny. And to be clear, that destiny may include a renewed commitment to the Air Force.
__________________
Living an analog life in the Digital Age.
Gumby is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2011, 02:28 PM   #19
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
REWahoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Texas Hill Country
Posts: 42,074
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gumby View Post

1. The camaraderie -- this is one of the things I really miss about being in the Navy. My shipmates had their own quirks and foibles, but they were almost universally interesting, inquisitive, hard-working, dependable, loyal and easygoing. I would, and did, place my life in their hands. They were also a built in social community outside of work. We all had similar interests and got along famously.
Although for me leaving was probably the right thing to do, I certainly did miss the first item Gumby lists above. It was probably the most difficult change my wife and I had to adjust to in moving to the civilian world. Truth is I was totally blindsided by it as the thought never crossed my mind. Six months after separating from the AF I became the manager of a manufacturing plant and had no peer group doing the same or a similar job as in the AF. For the first time since we left college we had to work at making friends and it was tough at times, especially for DW.
__________________
Numbers is hard

When I hit 70, it hit back

Retired in 2005 at age 58, no pension
REWahoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2011, 02:37 PM   #20
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 125
Thanks everyone for your posts thus far! Very good information and I really appreciate it. To clarify a few things there has been a few responses stating I should stay until it is no longer fun then jump to the FAA. This is not possible as the FAA's doors shut when I reach age 30. It is good advice however about no chasing a pension, yet at the end of my commitment I will be 26 with only 16 years left to a full pension and medical benefits. With that looming over me, sometimes I feel like any other decision would be a FIRE mistake.

So far I enjoy my job. With the Air Force it is more leadership and management than ATC. I love ATC and that is one of the appeals to getting in with the FAA. Nords you made a great point about Plan B if the FAA doesn't work out, it has always been in my head that it might not work out but it's something I ignore and really haven't planned for.

Do I think I would enjoy the FAA work more than my current job? Maybe, but that may be a grass is greener situation. The big draw is a continued high paying government job/pension in a career field that I do love in addition to more stability and predictability, and I think that is what it boils down to; predictability and stability.

If someone for the USAF could sit down with me and say, alright you will have 8 more assignments after your service commitment, here are the locations, and there will be 3 deployments in there as well for these time periods, I would likely stay. But that is just not how the military works; instead it is a year-by-year job that can change at a moment's notice.

Bottom line, I like my current job. It's not the job, it's the stability and predictability unknowns that have me looking at turning down 16 years to a pension and FIRE. So I'm trying to figure out if that unknown is worth the risk.
__________________

__________________
Money is freedom.
ATC Guy is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Need Record Retention Help haha FIRE and Money 3 05-17-2010 09:44 AM
Military retention considerations: "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" (very long post) Nords Young Dreamers 25 05-14-2010 06:37 AM
Car help for my MIL bank5 Other topics 6 07-27-2009 02:52 PM
MIL estate issue... REWahoo FIRE and Money 9 06-22-2009 01:22 PM
advice for my MIL WM FIRE and Money 10 03-26-2007 04:28 PM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:36 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.