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1/22/2020 12:12:56 PM
Posted: 9/12/2009 9:37:07 AM EST
For those who decided to make a career out of the military, did you think it was a good decision or would you have done the shorter enlistment. To sum it up I am currently in the enlistment process with the Army National Guard and looking to do my three years as an 11b and in the process finish getting my degree at home. If I do enjoy my time in the army I am thinking of reenlisting and going career.

Now at the same time I am currently going through the hiring process with the government as a LEO with the Border Patrol. I hope to get it but there is around 25,000 applicants like me with only 1000 slots available for employment. I would like to get this job but the odds are not in my favor obviously and me going to basic might jeopardize my consideration for employment. However if by the grace of God I do get it then obviously I would make a career in the National Guard as opposed to active duty. All being said if I dont get the job I would like to go career active duty as an MP after my service with the guard since I want to be in law enforcement. Now going back to my original question how did you guys find it. Was it easy to raise and start a family even though your constantly moving from base to base? Do you think your quality of life would have been any different if you did decide not to make it a career? Did you make the right choice? Just thought Id like to get your 2 cents and not those of my recruiter.
Link Posted: 9/12/2009 4:33:10 PM EST
Well, no, I didn't really think I was going to make a career out of it. But as time went on, I kept getting interesting assignments, and interesting jobs. I am USAF, so I do not know much about how a career in the Army would be. And my Air force career is not typical of most USAF members. I started out as a Carpenter/Mason in a RED HORSE Unit which could be described as the SeaBees of the USAF. Then Cross-Trained to Aircraft Comm/Nav in 1992. I started that career path working on B-52G/H bombers, and finished up my flight line wrench turning days on MH-53J PAVE LOW III helicopters in 1998.

Then I got assigned to the best job I have had; TALCE (Tanker Airlift Control Element) Comm/AGE. My job was to go to locations and setup and maintain 24/7 communications links (SATCOM/UHF/VHF/HF/InMarSat/Telephone/Internet) to any place in the world. Our mission was to support HQAMC in Airlift missions of all types; Presidential Support, Contingency, Humanitarian, Training, etc. After doing that for a few years, I became an Instructor teaching the deployable comm systems to other new TALCE comm guys, commanders, and operations folks. Then it got really interesting when I moved over to the dark side and started teaching ground combat skills to the same folks. The TALCE folks needed these skills because they would sometimes go to locations where they were the only American presence, or they might have to follow on the heals of the Army after an Airfield seizure, and they would need to know how to defend themselves, equipment, and airfield against hostiles.

Got a little burned out living in New Jersey, and really wanted to get away from the East coast before I retired, so volunteered for another special duty assignment out here in wonderful Wyoming. Now I am a Facility Manager in the Nebraska Missile Fields. Not a bad assignment, low stress, but I do spend half the year away from my family.


Now to answer your question; "how did you guys find it. Was it easy to raise and start a family even though your constantly moving from base to base?"

No, it was not easy, and many of my coworkers over the years have gotten divorced/separated. Almost every assignment (I have PCSd 6 times) I have had was a mobility assignment. In RED HORSE we went TDY for months at a time, in AFSOC I was TDY a year and a half out of a three year overseas assignment. In the TALCE we went TDY many times a year. They were usually fairly short, but up when you did a lot each year the days/months away from home really added up. As a Facility Manager I am gone approximately 180 days a year. It takes a special woman/man to stay with a Military person who is gone all the time. Raising kids (I have two sons; 19+13) can be hard too. I missed many birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries.

Do I have regrets...hhmm, hard to answer because I have been places, seen and done things, that most folks will never have the chance to experience. I do regret that I have spent so much time away from my family, but I do not regret joining the USAF over 20 years ago. And even though working outside of my AFSC (MOS) for over half career has kind of hurt me making rank, I do not have any regrets about the path my career has taken me on.

Sorry for the rambling post, but a career in the Military is what you make of it.
Link Posted: 9/12/2009 4:44:15 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/12/2009 4:46:43 PM EST by moc51ar]
The NG isn't the Army. Regular Army is a full time way of life. The NG is something you do one weekend a month and two weeks a year unless deployed.

I'm not trying to be a dick here, but there is a huge difference between regular Army, the NG, or even full time NG.

If you have a day job like BP that you can't get fired from for serving with the NG, then go for it. It will count as an extra retirement after 65 and you will be able to serve in more than one way.

Quality of life? If I told you that 90% of everyone who went to work for IBM quit as soon as they could, would you think IBM was a great place to work? How about if I told you that when business slowed down that IBM would invent reasons to fire people, some so trivial as to be verging on insanity? How about if I told you that joining IBM meant that you would probably be divorced within 3 years? Does that sound like a great quality of life to you?
Link Posted: 9/12/2009 5:09:06 PM EST
Originally Posted By moc51ar:
The NG isn't the Army. Regular Army is a full time way of life. The NG is something you do one weekend a month and two weeks a year unless deployed.

I'm not trying to be a dick here, but there is a huge difference between regular Army, the NG, or even full time NG.

If you have a day job like BP that you can't get fired from for serving with the NG, then go for it. It will count as an extra retirement after 65 and you will be able to serve in more than one way.

Quality of life? If I told you that 90% of everyone who went to work for IBM quit as soon as they could, would you think IBM was a great place to work? How about if I told you that when business slowed down that IBM would invent reasons to fire people, some so trivial as to be verging on insanity? How about if I told you that joining IBM meant that you would probably be divorced within 3 years? Does that sound like a great quality of life to you?



Sorry dude, when I was Active Duty Army I never considered it a full time "way of life". It was important for me get away often. Look, I know I dressed up like a bush for WORK, but it didn't rule every little aspect of my life, and shame on you if it did yours. Funny, when I joined the NG I have the same tape of my uniform that reads, U.S. ARMY. I have only had two 2 day weekend in the year I have been in the NG. Most are 3 days, I have even had a 7 day train up and a 4 day stateside deployment to a place that I would have probably never seen otherwise.

Sorry you lost your job at IBM.

To the OP. I like the NG for the way it is different than the regular Army. They treat you like human being, not like an idiot. In my experiance, I have done a ton of very good training and look forward to my drill weekends. A 3 year enlistment would surely give you a taste of the NG, you might even want to re-enlist. You can even get a full time Guard job. I have no regrets yet.
Link Posted: 9/12/2009 8:58:23 PM EST
You're asking questions from guys who joined in the 80s or maybe mid-90s. The vast majority of retirees did not have the joy of multiple deployments, numerous firefiights, mortars, and a shifting politlcal spectrum. Keep this in mind when you get their answers. I would imagine some say "I had it good, deployed a few times, even went to Afghanistan and Iraq, retired in 2005..."

Now, take that experience with someone like me (not the best example but for this topic, it fits) who has ten years in and I have to decide if I want to spend the next ten years of my life doing the same thing: deploying for a year, coming back for maybe a year and a half, then deploying some more... Nevermind the daily operations my occupation does back stateside, contingency operations to other Third World shitholes, train ups for deployments, and so on and so on. To be honest, it wears you down and I'm not in combat arms but I am Army. I'v eknown several grunts to deploy 3 times before their first contract is even up and... they reenlist. It is a lifestyle that while draining, you become accustomed to.

So with that in mind, live it all one enlistment at a time. Have a backup plan every step of the way in case anything happens or if you get out. Since you're going into the Guard, talk to those around you who were active duty before, there will be a few. Yes you'll do the traditional Guard stuff and drills but you'll also deploy alongside active duty forces for up to a year if not longer. You'll rotate back home and go back to doing the Guard thing. My best friend redeployed back to Georgia and ended up doing recovery operations in Mississippi and Louisiana after Katrina, he did not reenlist in the Guard after that.

None of this should be taken as a deterrent from enlisting and serving in any capacity. I've had a good run in the Army for the past ten years but I'm considering joining the Reserves as a way to maintain retirement benefits and still be around Soldiers and serve my nation when needed. What this should be is a thought provoking exercise for you young Jedi- you have to know what you want and what you want to achieve. Its fine if goals change, mine did, but know what you want overall. I want stability, a home, and a place to raise my son without moving every year... I can't do that in the active Army. Someone like you can do that with the Border Patrol (a tough job all on its own) and in the Guard, but that may not be what you want. Gotta figure out what you want and make the Army work for you.
Link Posted: 9/13/2009 1:07:11 AM EST
Originally Posted By cavscouty:
Sorry dude, when I was Active Duty Army I never considered it a full time "way of life". It was important for me get away often. Look, I know I dressed up like a bush for WORK, but it didn't rule every little aspect of my life, and shame on you if it did yours. Funny, when I joined the NG I have the same tape of my uniform that reads, U.S. ARMY. I have only had two 2 day weekend in the year I have been in the NG. Most are 3 days, I have even had a 7 day train up and a 4 day stateside deployment to a place that I would have probably never seen otherwise.

Sorry you lost your job at IBM.

To the OP. I like the NG for the way it is different than the regular Army. They treat you like human being, not like an idiot. In my experiance, I have done a ton of very good training and look forward to my drill weekends. A 3 year enlistment would surely give you a taste of the NG, you might even want to re-enlist. You can even get a full time Guard job. I have no regrets yet.


That part of the difference between the Marine and the Army, although in both services you still belong to the service one seems not act that way. Army seem to think it is strange that SNCO in the Marines enforce the silly little rules on weekends and off base. Something I never saw when I was with the army. I have seen young Marines get lit up at Walmart on the weekends in Jacksonville for not shaving.
Link Posted: 9/13/2009 4:19:44 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/13/2009 10:21:10 AM EST by Double-E]
The most important thing is to make sure that you join the service and job that you'll feel most comfortable doing for a career. I thank GOD everyday that dad dropped me off at the Coast Guard recruiter 21 very short years ago. He was drafted in 1968 into the Army and didn't want that kind of life for me. (Tanks 3rd Armor) He's visited just about every duty station I've been at and just marvels at the opportunities that are available to me. The next ten years should be the best as a CWO.

Research the role, interview those in the role, visit any unit you can and ponder more than just the first four years before you sign anything.
Link Posted: 9/13/2009 6:29:06 AM EST
Hell yes. Ev ery time I come back from the Commisary, the PX, and the post Pharmacy.
Tricare Prime can't be beat by any civilian insurance company and Tri-Care for life has stepped in every time Medicare can't pay.
Link Posted: 9/13/2009 7:55:03 AM EST
JackDaniels556, if you can balance a family life and a military career without some kind of heart ache or hassle, you're on the right path. I was married the last four years I was in and my wife and I did ok. However I was gone the first three years of our marriage. I missed the first 8 months of my childs life. I missed a bunch of holidays, anniversaries, etc. My wife was a soldier about it but who knows how long it would it have been before she would thrown up the bullshit flag. If you can find a good woman who is willing to stand by your side and not sand bag you every turn of the bend you will get by.

Todays military is totally different that what most people who served before 9/11 with tell you about. The ops tempo is insane, there aren't enough people and not enough equpiment to do the job or sustainment training. People are gettting burned out. Many of them have come from their third deployment to find empty homes and bank accounts because their wives didn't have the emotional maturity or intellect to stand on their own two feet while their husband was off defending their freedom.

Some people decide to stay in for many reasons, they like it, the benefits, steady work, or in some cases, though not all, they couldn't do a job doing anything else. The military is a good start for many people who wouldn't have gotten one anywhere else.

As for a career in the National Guard, unless you became a state employee or an AGR, I wouldn't consider it a career. More like a hobby. Albeit a noble one.

Above, go into the military with the right attitude and be adaptable. You'll be fine.
Link Posted: 9/14/2009 11:06:48 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/14/2009 11:14:19 AM EST by 762gunman]
I just finished twenty-seven glorious years on 30Aug09. Was it worth it? That of course depends on what you want out of it. I did ten years active duty and seventeen years of ANG. If I had stayed on active duty it would have driven me insane, it was petty and wasted a ton of time that could have been spent on life in general and my family life was in trouble so I had to choose and I chose to transfer to the ANG.

I can see a few posts on how guys from back in the 80's and 90's did not serve in the deployments they have today so they cannot accurately convey the problems with a career. That is basically a silly statement. While deployments might be a bit longer it is the same misery for most folks. I was TDY more than 100 times for nearly four years of time, including three war deployments and also had one twelve month tour to the ROK in 89-90. At one point my shop was 90% divorced and working 60 hours a week. I survived upsizing and downsizing and at least 10 revisions of the PT standard and three of the rating system, reorganizations from SAC to TAC to ACC then a transfer to AMC for the same unit.

I went thru the ranks to E7 and supervised a large shop, I ran the largest USAF operated power plant in the AOR with a crew of nearly all ANG troops to 99.9% realibility only to have the AF give it to KBR on the next rotation. My squadron commander and chief were the CE deployed management and felt it was a meaningless accomplishment because they felt "to get electricity all you gotta do is go find a power pole". So working for idiots can be a way of life.

On the cool as hell side, I started on B52G/H and worked three Bomp Comps in the late 1980's, As an Electronic Warfare specialist we won the Bartsch Throphy, the Academy Award of EW for SAC. I worked U-2R overseas, transfered to crew chief then left for the ANG and worked Combat Comm for several years before becoming a CE puke in Power Production for the last decade.

I ran a unit shooting team for 13 years, shot on the national team for five, competed in a dozen nationals in three disciplines and over 140 competitive shooting matches of all sorts over 20 years. My rich Uncle Sam paid for most of it including over 100,000 rounds of ammo. I qualified as an Expert with a pistol or rifle in EVERY branch of service including the USCG. Instructed hundreds of folks who went into harms way on the joys of marksmanship. I'm sure more than a few came home alive because they could actually hit something they shot at.

Sadly the military has become very anti-gun. The AF has some bitter lesbo general from Security Forces working full time to deny weapons to anyone other than SF pukes. They have been working for the last decade to destroy the ANG shooting program, the almost have the Army Guard finished off, the Army Reserve is going as well. The USAF big teams are all but unsupported and the near constant claim is that competitive shooting, especially pistol has no place in combat.

I shot pistol for the most part, the first time I picked up a rifle at a long range rifle school, I bested 225 of 230 folks for the 5th highest scores overall. I have NEVER seen a rifle shooter do that at a pistol match of any kind. In twenty-seven years, one SF guy ever beat me at a match of any kind and I trained him for four years before he could do that. To this day, I think over all the most dangerous combat unit in the USAF is a CE unit. They are generally all rednecks who hunt and fish and do not have problems working with weapons. hahaha

I happen to think competitve shooting does wonders for marksmanship in any unit. If even a few folks are comfortable and knowledgeable with weapons and their operation they can spend time making everyone more effective and in most cases safer with weapons. Silly shit like playing "Do you trust me?" games and shooting each other in the head would be avoided. I also think team contact sports and unit shooting teams can add a combat skill and unit spirit to an outfit for very little money. They are far more useful that bowling, volleyball or golf in combat.

I retired when I was totally sick of the asshole command staff running my unit. They were the lyingest bunch of pricks in the ANG. They were petty, underhanded and treated the weekenders like total crap. I had to sit through supervisors meetings listening to them plot shitting on folks and treating them as cattle. When I fought them over some of the shady things they pulled, they hated me even worse to usual. I am always amazed at how many folks forget the care and feeding of their troops when they get to the top. I never did and my guys worked hard knowing they would never starve or freeze to death while I sat on my ass in a heated or A/C'd truck and called them names. My decision to retire was based on my dislike for the socialist President and the pricks from my unit. Also, I did not have an interest in rotting for 6-7 months in Afghanistan for a guy who will apologize for me going in the first place. Of course I won't get to complete my set of medals from the war, that kinda sucks. I only had one to go.

It is what you make of it. There are tons of cool jobs doing anything you ever dreamed of, all you have to do is find them. You can be deployed forever if you like, to all sorts of exotic places, not just the war zone. You can live in any cool part of the world and see stuff most folks only dream of in places most people will never go. You will meet and serve with some of the best people on earth and occasionally some of the worst oxygen thieves to have ever lived. hahaha

Overall, I enjoyed it tons. Having a life and family and all the hard work that entales will make it tougher by far. The only thing I'd say is marry well. There are an endless supply of miserable sluts( both male and female) to make you miserable if you pick poorly. Family drama can make life in the military totally miserable. I've seen more folks leave because of family than any other reason. I was single for eighteen years of my career and spent seven as a single Dad raising my daughter. That was tough, but a lot nicer than having a hoochie wife who was off humping the 1st Sgt when I was deployed.

Was it worth it? That is something you have to decide for yourself. Plenty of guys are happy to give it a try and go to college a better person. As Paul Airey once said at a school I went to. "If you dislike the military, serve your time honorably and get out." "Your swore an oath and signed on the dotted line, keep you word and earn the right to bitch about it." He was long retired when he said that, I am not that old by the way.
Link Posted: 9/21/2009 5:47:19 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/21/2009 5:50:54 AM EST by Breaker83]
Originally Posted By moc51ar:

Quality of life? If I told you that 90% of everyone who went to work for IBM quit as soon as they could, would you think IBM was a great place to work? How about if I told you that when business slowed down that IBM would invent reasons to fire people, some so trivial as to be verging on insanity? How about if I told you that joining IBM meant that you would probably be divorced within 3 years? Does that sound like a great quality of life to you?



This tells you volumes!
If you want 20 years of hardship, make 11B in the US Army your career.
I did a 4 year enlistment(1983-87,11B). I went in career minded. One year before decision time, I asked 10 NCO's: "Why did you stay in the Army, and make it your career?"
9 said either "I already was married with a kid",or "Because there was no jobs on the outside, and I was already E-5".
ONLY ONE SAID "Because I love this shit". Incidently, he was deaf in one ear, and was on "profile"-he did not have to do PT because of bad knees!!!!! The last one really helped me decide.

I refused to re-enlist,even though I was offered a bonus.
I've been out of the Army 22 years, and have had two GREAT jobs since then.
I own a house. I mean-as in no mortgage. Try doing that on Army pay.
I decided against making the Army a career because I thought I could do better.
I was right.
Good Luck.
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