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Tag: military

Am I over military retirement? (updated February 2022)

Am I over military retirement? I asked this question around April 2019, a year after. I said I thought I should be by now. As far as now, now, the answer is a resounding yes, and no.

What military retirement feels like: Grandma looking at the computer with a WTF face.

Just to be clear, I know that the proper term for active-duty military moving to the civilian workforce is ‘transitioning.’ Saying retirement implies that I no longer need to work. For a select group, that may be the case. The rest of us needed to continue working to take care of our families. I found out my wife was pregnant in July 2018, which meant the three months of sitting on my ass were over. Unfortunately, I had some trouble finding work then and now.

Was it because I was a veteran? Not according to the latest official numbers. Was it because of my age? Also, not according to current official stats. It’s been frustrating, to say the least. I suspected three things may have contributed to my transition woes at the year after mark.

  1. The well-intended but ill-conceived choice to change careers from manager to public relations/journalism/writing
  2. My foolish and detrimental aversion towards becoming a manager
  3. A misguided and ultimately self-defeating approach to seeking opportunities for employment

Much has changed three years later. But some attitudes have remained the same.

Military retirement woe #1: Writing Career

Military retirement = Slacking on writing - Drake meme
Image from Lindsay Lovin’ Life

Here’s what I wrote regarding the first item

Yup, I wanted to be a writer. It’s why I have this blog. But I wanted to make money from it. Oh, silly me.

Now, I’m not knocking it as a career. I’d love to have it as a career. And technically, it’s not off the table. But it is obscured from my view, tucked squarely behind my shelves of parental responsibilities, educational obligations, and reality checks.

Well, here I am at the three-year mark, and, wow, I’m back to being a writer, well-intended but ill-conceived choice be damned.

via GIPHY

The initial reason I resisted delving into writing stemmed from the starving artist trope. It was a concern I had some entries ago. Nevertheless, I’ve taken the plunge back to putting words on paper (or the internet) for money. It also has something to do with my aversion to having to tell people what to do.

Military retirement woe #2: Don’t talk to me. I’m not the manager.

Pictured above is why

Down below is what I wrote regarding being a manager.

As for the whole manager bit, well, it’s less of an aversion and more of a reluctance. I can do it. I just won’t if I don’t have to. Call it 10+ years as a glorified babysitter/secretary/punching bag. Like my’ retirement,’ I’m kinda over that, but I still get nightmares sometimes.

Do I feel this way still? Oh hell yes! Though I’m thankful for my service, it did leave a bad taste in my mouth when it came to any kind of leadership position. Although it did teach me how to lead, if given a choice, I’d pass. Then again, I’ve made questionable decisions that indicated otherwise.

Woe #3: Do you even wanna do this?

Let me tell you some decisions I regretted.

And how did I self-sabotage my job search? One, by turning to a modest but respectable student assistant job here in the local area because I wanted to be a writer instead (see above). And two, getting all dressed up and ready to go to some job fairs only to give in to fear, tuck tail, and run.

Although there was one that I did make that (might have) paid off.

I need to pay more attention to the total Vocational Rehabilitation (Voc Rehab) services the VA offers me because, if I had, I would have taken advantage of the VA Work-Study Program waaaaaay earlier. Under this program, I can do a Non-paid Work Experience initiative where participants (mostly other VA offices, but other government agencies) take eligible veterans in and provide them with training and practical job experience. I thought the ‘non-paid’ part meant free labor, which was for the employer. But you do get compensation from Voc Rehab, which is technically minimum wage, but it’s better than nothing. But, in my opinion, the best part isn’t the on-the-job training (although that is a huge part), but the network and connections that you develop within that office.

This path led me to intern for the U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, State and Private Forestry Office. Indeed, I got paid a stipend through the VA for my “free labor” and built up a good amount of connections within the public sector. Plus, it might have paid off if it wasn’t for…

(Surprise) Woe #4: COVID

Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini during the UEFA Super Cup final soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at Philip II Arena in Skopje, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

The plan was to use my internship to build connections within the Forest Service and eventually land a job internally. I had my sights set on Public Affairs because, again, it went well with my dreams as a writer. In the beginning, I did pretty well.

My time working for the U.S. Forest Service, Region 5, Public Affairs Office with the legendary Stephen Dunsky
My time working for U.S. Forest Service Tahoe National Forest Public Affairs Office with the eponymous Joe Flannery

Three months later, a raging pandemic destroyed whatever progress I made.

Conclusion/Final thoughts

It’d be easy for me to blame extenuating circumstances beyond my control. But I could also point to my difficulties in making informed choices. Ultimately, I ended up where I am, three years later, wondering if leaving the military in 2018 was worth it.

The answer is yes, primarily because of past events and for the sake of my physical and mental health. However, I wish I had been more informed and prepared. Maybe if I were, I would be seeing my departure from the service as a worthwhile but necessary event rather than a questionably regretful one.

Nevertheless, I am where I am. As long as I keep my family as my main reason to trudge on, I believe I’ll thrive.

Spent Sunday: It’s been a while.

Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini during the UEFA Super Cup final soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at Philip II Arena in Skopje, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski) ORG XMIT: XPG134

Well damn it has, hasn’t it?  I guess the last post I made wasn’t so much a post than it was a test to see if I knew how to use a WordPress plugin.

Anyway, as much as I’d like to start tonight, I don’t think it’s happening.  I’m still picking up pieces of my brain off the floor after watching the season 2 finale of WestWorld.  Instead, I’m doing the cop-out repost of what I think my best post has been so far.

It’s a serious piece I did on Professional Burnout in the military, the lesser known than PTSD but still dangerous consequence of serving not only in the front lines, but in support of the mission.

Please click here to read more.  Thank you

Military Mondays: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

This is an easy one.

What is really derived from NATO, the phonetic alphabet is used to convey clear and concise messages over telecommunications platforms.  Before the advent of the cel-phone, most verbal commands or inquiries had to be requested over a walkie-talkie.  You remember those right?

I get the talkie part, but why the walkie?

Well, hypothetical idiot, they’re mobile telecommunications equipment, which means you can talk while walking.

You know when you pull up in a drive-thru, and both of you have to repeat what you’re saying over and over because of the poor quality?  Well imagine the same scenario, except the speaker is asking for reinforcements while being shot at by the enemy.  Kinda important to get the message clear.

 

And so the phonetic alphabet was taught to all military personnel in order to relay coordinates and reports that are usually in the form of a mish-mash of numbers and letters.  So as to not confuse the receiver (like saying “b” but the guy hears “v”), the letter is said using the phonetic alphabet (“b” as in Bravo, “v” as in Victor).

And that’s pretty much it.  If you want to know what all the letters are, just refer to the featured image above.  I also recommend checking out Military.com for all your questions about the military.  It’s where I get most of my sources, aside from a couple of outliers and personal experience.

Tune in next week for another Military Mondays feature.

Military Monday-Misconception #1: Not everyone in the Air Force flies.

“Off we go, into the wild blue yonder, flying high, into the sun…”

– Air Force Song

Although the word “airmen” implies flight, not all Air Force personnel fly.  If by fly you mean control a plane, that would be a pilot, or co-pilot (usually the newbie pilot in training).   If you mean riding on a plane while doing their job, that’s aircrew.  For example, those would be your navigators or combat system operators on the officer side, and loadmasters (the guys who pack everything on the plane and, on most cargo aircraft, air-drop everything at the command of the pilot.

More often than not, mission essential personnel are included with the aircrew as well.  They can be aircraft maintenance personnel such as crew chiefs, and even specially trained security forces that provide extra protection while the aircraft is on the ground and in contested or hostile territory.  Then you have your mission support personnel like your financial managers, medical technicians, firefighters, etc.

All airmen play a part in U.S. air power, whether they are up in the air or on the ground.  But yeah, not all of us fly.

Militarisms Monday: Introduction post

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: You best unfuck yourself or I will unscrew your head and shit down your NECK!

R. Lee Ermey (R.I.P.) Full Metal Jacket

This will be the first post of a weekly set of topics dedicated to expand upon the sub-cultural elements of the military.  Topics include, but are not limited to

Keep in mind, there are already websites that explain these which you can find here, here and here.  I’ll just (militarisms alert!) piggy-back on what they’ll be saying and use my experiences in the Air Force and put my own spin on it.

GIT SOME!!

P.S. Why is it that no matter which branch of service you’re from, most of us have some sort of masochistic affinity towards Gunnery Sergeant Hartman?  Future post?

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