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Old 06-11-2018, 01:13 AM
 
3 posts, read 867 times
Reputation: 15

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I'm an E-5 in the Air Force, and I'm a little beyond 4 year initial enlistment. The time is closing quickly when I'll have to decide to hang up the uniform and head back to the civilian world, or re-enlist and do another four. I'm in an AFSC/MOS/rate that isn't marketable. I do have a bachelor's degree, but it is unrelated to my work experience.

As you all know, there's good days and bad days. I've done some amazing things and have gone to some amazing places, but I have also been sent to some crappy places. I dislike my AFSC, but I'm eligible to crosstrain/reclass.

There's definitely things I miss about civilian life. I would love to get back the freedom to go where I want and not risk another deployment or crappy assignment during some bad timing in my life. Not being treated like just another number, or a second class citizen in the enlisted/officer hierarchy. Shake off the stigma of the military when I tell people how I earn my pay. Generally speaking, I don't really "jive" very well with the military lifestyle.

With that being said, I try to put into perspective how good we have it sometimes. Free medical, relatively competitive pay, great benefits, tons of paid time off. It seems like just yesterday I hollered at the recruiter when I was a lost soul who was on their last dollar and couldn't afford college anymore. I estimate that I would have to gross roughly 85k all in to match what I would make in a couple of years when I'm out of grad school (my plan if I do decide to separate).

It's weird, because civilians (my parents, old friends from school) tell me to stay in because of the competitive pay/benefits. On the flipside, most of my mentors (senior NCOs and young officers) tell me to punch out while I'm young, single, and have no ties and go do whatever the heck I please.

I can't be the only one who's been here before. What have your experiences been?
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Old 06-11-2018, 01:57 AM
 
Location: Wasilla, AK
5,072 posts, read 2,656,322 times
Reputation: 9945
It doesn't appear the military is a good fit for you. I got after six years, because by then, I was married and didn't want to raise a family while having to move every three years. I wound up going into the Guard, where I continued to serve for over 25 more years. It worked out great for me, but I enjoyed serving. I don't get that impression about you. You stepped up and did your part, which is more than most people do. But now it's time to move on to the next phase of your life, as a civilian. I wish you the best of luck.
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Old 06-11-2018, 08:12 AM
 
Location: San Antonio
3,076 posts, read 8,860,589 times
Reputation: 4428
You're 16 years away from a pension, and that pension is worth about $2,000,000 if you live to be 80. I can't imagine walking away from that. You won't get anything close to that in the civilian world!
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Old 06-11-2018, 08:17 AM
 
Location: New Mexico U.S.A.
23,519 posts, read 37,499,228 times
Reputation: 27457
Quote:
Originally Posted by goosebumps View Post
I can't be the only one who's been here before. What have your experiences been?
Briefly, I was originally drafted into the U.S. Army. I ended up staying in 22 years. Retired at age 40 from the military, and then landed a good paying civilian job. I ended up fully retiring in my 50's and did a variety of things to keep busy. Our children enjoyed and remembered our tour in Germany, which I extended just because I could. I was stationed on two Air Force bases for about five years. I have a good pension and excellent medical coverage.

I would do it all again, with some slight changes, but I would do it again...
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Old 06-11-2018, 09:03 AM
 
Location: Hiding from Antifa?
5,350 posts, read 3,518,444 times
Reputation: 4518
Even now, as I recently retired last year about this time at 66, I wonder what decision I would have made knowing what I know at this point. I got out with a little less than four in 1976. Many times I missed the camaraderie I felt while in the service, and from the time I was 55, I wished I had stayed in for 20 to have the medical benefits. I could have retired much sooner. The medical premiums are unmanageable lately.

But, I wouldn't have had the good career I had in medical equipment service and installations, making good money without having had a college degree. And I wouldn't have had the family I have now, because I would have never met my wife of 37 years.

Had I not been married to my first wife, I probably would have stayed in, even if I remained single. In fact I probably would have enlisted the much sooner, knowing what I know now. Just thinking about how slightly different decisions made back then could drastically change my life, makes me dizzy.

One thing to keep in mind is the difference in what you contribute to Social Security while in the AF versus what you might be contributing in civilian life. It is something many don't consider. The four years I was in do not count toward my top 35 years of earnings, because I made so much more the rest of my life. What you are receiving with your military retirement could be equivalent to what you will fall short with SS. At least you would have the time between the military retirement until your SS FRA retirement, or 62, if taking SS early, to get the extra money from your service retirement.

It will be a tough decision, either way you decide. If you stay in, you might always get into something that would correlate to a good civilian career, too.
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Old 06-11-2018, 02:28 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
12,919 posts, read 41,493,064 times
Reputation: 10672
Quote:
Originally Posted by goosebumps View Post
I'm an E-5 in the Air Force, and I'm a little beyond 4 year initial enlistment. The time is closing quickly when I'll have to decide to hang up the uniform and head back to the civilian world, or re-enlist and do another four. I'm in an AFSC/MOS/rate that isn't marketable. I do have a bachelor's degree, but it is unrelated to my work experience.

As you all know, there's good days and bad days. I've done some amazing things and have gone to some amazing places, but I have also been sent to some crappy places. I dislike my AFSC, but I'm eligible to crosstrain/reclass.

There's definitely things I miss about civilian life. I would love to get back the freedom to go where I want and not risk another deployment or crappy assignment during some bad timing in my life. Not being treated like just another number, or a second class citizen in the enlisted/officer hierarchy. Shake off the stigma of the military when I tell people how I earn my pay. Generally speaking, I don't really "jive" very well with the military lifestyle.

With that being said, I try to put into perspective how good we have it sometimes. Free medical, relatively competitive pay, great benefits, tons of paid time off. It seems like just yesterday I hollered at the recruiter when I was a lost soul who was on their last dollar and couldn't afford college anymore. I estimate that I would have to gross roughly 85k all in to match what I would make in a couple of years when I'm out of grad school (my plan if I do decide to separate).

It's weird, because civilians (my parents, old friends from school) tell me to stay in because of the competitive pay/benefits. On the flipside, most of my mentors (senior NCOs and young officers) tell me to punch out while I'm young, single, and have no ties and go do whatever the heck I please.

I can't be the only one who's been here before. What have your experiences been?

The highlighted sentence leads me to suggest you would be better off leaving the service.



It would help if you detailed what your MOS is, why you think it's not marketable, and what your degree is in.


At the end of the day, life is too short to spend it doing something you don't like, IMHO.
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Old 06-11-2018, 03:25 PM
 
3 posts, read 867 times
Reputation: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlaskaErik View Post
It doesn't appear the military is a good fit for you. I got after six years, because by then, I was married and didn't want to raise a family while having to move every three years. I wound up going into the Guard, where I continued to serve for over 25 more years. It worked out great for me, but I enjoyed serving. I don't get that impression about you. You stepped up and did your part, which is more than most people do. But now it's time to move on to the next phase of your life, as a civilian. I wish you the best of luck.
After giving it some more thought I do agree. I don't think the guard/reserve is the right move for me either. Most days, I just want to be completely done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmarie123 View Post
You're 16 years away from a pension, and that pension is worth about $2,000,000 if you live to be 80. I can't imagine walking away from that. You won't get anything close to that in the civilian world!
16 years seems like an eternity. If you gave me the option to work until my 60s as a civilian in a career I enjoy while amassing a 401k vs chugging it out in the military for another 16 years, I would gladly take the former.

And, now that I just typed that out, I think my mind is made. Hah

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poncho_NM View Post
Briefly, I was originally drafted into the U.S. Army. I ended up staying in 22 years. Retired at age 40 from the military, and then landed a good paying civilian job. I ended up fully retiring in my 50's and did a variety of things to keep busy. Our children enjoyed and remembered our tour in Germany, which I extended just because I could. I was stationed on two Air Force bases for about five years. I have a good pension and excellent medical coverage.

I would do it all again, with some slight changes, but I would do it again...
Thanks for your input and your service

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruzincat View Post
Even now, as I recently retired last year about this time at 66, I wonder what decision I would have made knowing what I know at this point. I got out with a little less than four in 1976. Many times I missed the camaraderie I felt while in the service, and from the time I was 55, I wished I had stayed in for 20 to have the medical benefits. I could have retired much sooner. The medical premiums are unmanageable lately.

But, I wouldn't have had the good career I had in medical equipment service and installations, making good money without having had a college degree. And I wouldn't have had the family I have now, because I would have never met my wife of 37 years.

Had I not been married to my first wife, I probably would have stayed in, even if I remained single. In fact I probably would have enlisted the much sooner, knowing what I know now. Just thinking about how slightly different decisions made back then could drastically change my life, makes me dizzy.

One thing to keep in mind is the difference in what you contribute to Social Security while in the AF versus what you might be contributing in civilian life. It is something many don't consider. The four years I was in do not count toward my top 35 years of earnings, because I made so much more the rest of my life. What you are receiving with your military retirement could be equivalent to what you will fall short with SS. At least you would have the time between the military retirement until your SS FRA retirement, or 62, if taking SS early, to get the extra money from your service retirement.

It will be a tough decision, either way you decide. If you stay in, you might always get into something that would correlate to a good civilian career, too.
Thank you for sharing your experiences. Also, thanks for serving

Quote:
Originally Posted by M3 Mitch View Post
The highlighted sentence leads me to suggest you would be better off leaving the service.

It would help if you detailed what your MOS is, why you think it's not marketable, and what your degree is in.

At the end of the day, life is too short to spend it doing something you don't like, IMHO.
I agree on all parts. I think I just needed to type it out to reaffirm my decision to punch out.
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Old 06-11-2018, 06:39 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
12,919 posts, read 41,493,064 times
Reputation: 10672
Do take advantage of "transition" services that I think are generally offered, leave on as good a terms as you can, talk with your direct boss as the time gets close so you can train up a replacement, or replacements, for your job.


Not a great idea to just finish up, and separate, without a plan to get a civilian job.


Sometimes writing out your position does make it more easy to see. Odd as that is.
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Old 06-11-2018, 08:41 PM
 
832 posts, read 348,499 times
Reputation: 2101
Have you considered changing your afsc?
Perhaps you would "fit in" better in a different community.

Maybe try an office job, maybe try ops or aircrew, maybe try maintenance etc.. Try to find something your interested in.

If not give the guard a try. It gives you many of the benefits of being in the military but for 90% of the month you get probably 90% of a civilian lifestyle (there are obviously things you can't due) but even when on duty in the guard it's much more laid back than active.

At the end of the day if you decide none of it is for you, you can still be proud of Your contribution and know that you did more than most have. You can take that with you the rest of the life. You did your part.


In the flip side... The civilian world may be disappointing for you. You may find that your co workers will stab you in the back or throw you under the bus for their gain, that your managers spend their entire career just trying to not get blamed themselves not necessarily doing what's right.. Etc..

Depending on what your civilian career expectations are you may be let down. Also possible that you excel and do great at it. I don't know you or your personality or what you are looking for.

Good luck.
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Old 06-11-2018, 08:52 PM
 
Location: Middle America
35,088 posts, read 37,797,506 times
Reputation: 47103
You might consider going the reserves route shorter term as a potential way to transition partially back to civilian life while maintaining some aspects of military culture and benefits of service. It may ease the full transition in the long run. Our experience with reserves is that military lifestyle can be a very minimal part of the package; it certainly is minimal compared to the 24-7 immersion of the active duty lifestyle.
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