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Posts Tagged ‘Reclassification’

And The Next Chapter Awaits

Just a quick update to let everyone know what’s going on, and how things are working out for me.

I will be at Intel School at Goodfellow in just a few short weeks. My class start date is Feb 5th. I have been doing as many drills days as I can until I leave for school here in a short while. It’s been really cool as I’m able to actually see the mission we do, so it’s really giving me a good understanding of what I’ll be doing when I’m done with training. I should be at Goodfellow through the middle of September for school, and then I’ll be back in Indiana for additional training with my unit. I’m really looking forward to what awaits me in the next many months, as I’ve been waiting quite some time to be able to do this. I know it’s going to be a lot of work, and a lot of class/studying, but I am definitely ready for the challenge.

In other good news, I officially got promoted to First Lieutenant, so that’s even better! I guess I technically need to rename my “title” line of the blog to “The Journey of a 1st Lieutenant…” haha.

I appreciate everyone that reads this, especially the people that reach out to me. Knowing this blog helps anyone is, in itself, reason to write the blog. Until next time.

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The Journey and the Dream, Reignited

25 August 2013 4 comments

I’ve been waiting to write this post for a very long time. For a while there, I thought I would never again update this blog. After Almost three years exactly to the day I officially commissioned into the Air Force, I took the Oath of Office for the Indiana Air National Guard. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. It’s been a long road of waiting and patience, but it’s finally starting to pay off. I am now officially an Intelligence Officer (though I have yet to go to San Angelo for training.) Since swearing in, I’ve had multiple drill days, and it sure does feel amazing to put the uniform back on. I cannot explain how much I missed wearing the uniform. I definitely enjoy my civilian career, but I couldn’t be happier to know I finally can serve my nation again.

Currently as it stands right now, I am waiting for my security clearance for final approval. Once that is completed (and it should be very soon) I will be able to get dates to go to Intel school. I am very excited for that! As of right now I am just a traditionalist for the Guard, so I just do one weekend a month currently. There are several full time opportunities out there with the base as well as around the nation, and hopefully things will line up for me to be able to do that. At the moment though, I’m not going to be greedy. Being a traditionalist is more than I could have hoped for, but of course I definitely want to do more. I have this ever burning desire and fire within me to serve, to do my part. Every step I get closer to being able to do something is amazing. I am extremely blessed to be able to have this opportunity again.

The Air Guard has definitely been amazing towards me. It is a small base compared to an active duty base, but it’s like home. Everyone knows everyone else somehow, and being in the same city where I’m from definitely makes it interesting. I’ve run into numerous people I know from around the area, one way or another. That’s something you didn’t really have on active duty, even though the Air Force would still bring you back together with people half a world away. The guard base feels different, it actually feels like a family. They look out for one another, and they genuinely care.

After all of my bad luck when it comes to the military, a couple of things have actually gone my way. During my first drill in May I found out that they have sign on bonuses for traditionalists. I had no idea I could get a sign on bonus for doing something I already wanted to do. Here I am wanting to sign up for as many years as I possibly can, and then they tell me I get $10,000 for being an Intelligence Officer and serving three years. Lets just say I was completely shocked. The second thing is my rank. I had talked with a Major over lunch and he was in a similar situation as I was. He had been active duty for several years, and got out as a Captain. He then had a long break in service and came back to be a traditionalist at the base. After several years he got promoted to Major, but when he promoted the question was raised on why it had taken so long for him to actually make Major. This was because his time in grade was far more than he actually needed to pin on Major. He had no idea what they meant so after doing some digging he discovered that his time in the Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) counts as time in rank. He said that they would form up about once a year to basically do roll call and make sure contact info was still up to date. What the IRR does is allow the military to have a pool of people that have had some military experience on “standby.” They aren’t paying them, they aren’t training them, they really aren’t doing anything other than being in this “parking lot.” if the need ever arises where they need people for a conflict and must call upon people to serve, these people in the metaphorical “parking lot” would be pulled first.  I wasn’t completely sure that I was in the IRR myself until about two weeks before I swore in I had to fill out a paper to pull me from the IRR. Unlike the major, I was never told to do anything and I had no knowledge I was actually in the IRR. Thus my break in service (almost two and a half years) counted as time in grade for me. Promoting from 2d Lieutenant to 1st Lieutenant is purely a time based thing. After two years you are promoted. This holds true in the guard as well, but there is a bit of paperwork that goes on behind the scenes. As of right now I am still a 2d Lieutenant but once the paperwork is processed for the “list” of people that are due for promotions in the next several months, I will then become a 1st Lieutenant. This is still over a year quicker than I thought I would promote. I originally thought that I would have my seven months of service and I would then need to be in for a year and five months before I could then promote. Lets just say having both of those pleasant surprises has made it quite nice to be back.

As far as everything else goes…I still have my civilian job with Enterprise Rent-a-Car. I just transferred from Lubbock to Terre Haute with them. I did take a bit of a pay cut (different regions pay differently) but it’s definitely a lot better here than what I experienced in Texas. It’s fun to be in an area I know the people, as I run into people at random times coming to rent cars. I also got promoted with them recently by finishing the management training program. The job is going well, I certainly cannot complain, but it’s not the same as being full-time military. I am counting down the days when I can finally go to intel school and get started back into things full force.

Lastly, I want to thank all of you. Thank you to everyone that has supported me and kept the dream alive. I couldn’t have done any of this without people like you. Thank you for reading.

The End of Active Duty: The Whole Story

11 November 2010 9 comments

Well, I don’t know where to begin with this entry really. I thought the one about dropping from Pilot Training was difficult, but this takes the cake. I wanted to write it sooner rather than later. The more time I let pass the less emotion I feel.  At this moment it’s been 18 hours since I was notified, so the wound is still quite fresh. I’m writing the entry so I can always remember, so my friends and family can better understand, and so the situation I found myself in with the Air Force doesn’t happen to other people. I’m going to be pretty honest, and I’m not going to sugar coat anything. People need the facts, and not empty promises or maybes. That’s what I got, empty guarantees and “Oh you’ll be fine!”

So here’s the whole story. I may be mentioning stuff from other entries, but here we’ll have it in the entirety. I dropped from Air Force Pilot Training back in August while at Initial Flight Screening. I didn’t enjoy flying, and some might say it’s just because IFS is hard. It is hard, and it’ll be a wake up call, but you either enjoy it, or you don’t. No matter how much it sucks it comes down to either enjoying being in the aircraft, or not. For me, I didn’t enjoy a moment of it. Flying wasn’t for me, and I experienced the same feeling when I was flying on the civilian side. I realized (with some divine guidance from God I believe) that I wasn’t meant to be a pilot, and instead needed to follow my passion…using my political science degree and going into intel. I talked to the Air Force side of things at Initial Flight Screening. I was told (and this is not verbatim) that if I dropped from Pilot training, I would meet a board to retain me or not and a reclassification board. I asked if they had any stats on how things have been looking recently with reclassifications. They didn’t have any numbers for me there, but after asking around back at Laughlin I had heard that 90% of people were being kept. I decided to drop because there isn’t any sense in the world to do something you’re miserable with. I didn’t want to fly for 12 years and hate it, or take the gamble that it would “grow” on me. I’m a dreamer, and I have big goals but I’m also a realist. The whole flying gig might be cool at first, but it’ll get old, and eventually those pilots will be sitting behind a desk too. Thus I was done with IFS on 20 August 2010, and went back to Laughlin.

Once back at Laughlin, the ball got rolling rather quickly for me to put my package together for reclass/retention. I wrote a one page memo explaining my situation. The memo detailed why I no longer wanted to be a pilot, that I wanted to go into intel, and why I was qualified to do so. On top of that I filled out a new “dream sheet” which had my top five job preferences. I also met with the Squadron Commander who wrote a recommendation on what to do with me. I don’t know what it said, but he has to deal with a ton of these cases a month…I am by no means a special case, or a rarity in this realm of things. He didn’t really know me, and he’s a busy man, so I’ve heard that we all get averages, which would make sense and seem only fair. Some people during the reclassification process have a better chance than others though. You may work for a Col, or a commander of some sort, and they can drop a good word for you and make things happen. It’s how the world works, it’s networking at it’s finest, even if I disagree with that. We all should be on an equal footing, but since we aren’t I’ll play the network card when I go to get a guard slot. I have no hard feelings towards anyone here at Laughlin though, they’ve all been great officers, and quite helpful. I guess I should have just worked in some office than being a gate guard, but that’s what I was assigned. I was dealt that hand, so I was going to play it.

The package went up and we waited, and waited, and waited. Two boards before mine, seven people from Laughlin met the board. All seven were retained. Five of the seven were classified as logistics officers, in which none of them had it as their top five, but at least they got to stay. One was classified as a scientist, and I think (don’t quote me on this) that the seventh was engineer. The board before mine I don’t know the specifics on jobs, but everyone was retained. Then came my board. My board I believe was the last board of the fiscal year. We have no real control when we meet the board and we don’t…we can’t try to push our package back, or push it forward, though I’ve seen odd things happen with some people. One guy submitted his package before I did, and was supposed to be in my board, but happened to be “pushed back” into the board after mine…and we’ll talk about it soon. My board called “009” had a total of 19 people in the Air Force. Four were from Vance AFB, 7 from Laughlin. I don’t know the numbers on Columbus AFB or the Naval Air Stations. Vance had 4 of the 19 people meeting the board…all four were separated. When I say separated I mean they were asked to leave the air force, and discharged within 30 days. This was last Tuesday when they found out 2 Nov 10. We kept hearing rumors and what not and I was unsure what to believe, but then we got some info. Only two people were retained out of the entire board of 19, both from Laughlin. Today we finally had our meetings with the Wing CC. My good friend Brandon and I both had meetings, along with 3 other individuals. Two people weren’t on the list for the meetings, and thus we knew most likely that these were the two that were being retained. Sure enough we were right. One was classified to weather, and the other to a Navigator slot. The five of us with meetings were all notified that we would be honorably discharged in 30 days and separated from the Air Force. That means I get to find another job. If you’re keeping up with the math, 17 people of the 19 people meeting my board were asked to leave the Air Force….never before has their been a board where so many people were not retained. We weren’t told why, it could be the end of the fiscal year and lack of slots, but all of us had clean records…I don’t even have a parking or speeding ticket to my name. It’s not a lack of anything, besides the fact I made the conscious decision to drop out of initial skills training (for me being pilot training) to pursue an avenue I thought I would enjoy and do better at. I was doing the Air Force a favor, and doing it at IFS instead of during UPT. We’re told if we do it during UPT that you’d definitely be done, and separated, so I made mine early. It turns out this didn’t matter at all. There are various situations that bring you to reclassification. It could be you drop out of IFS or UPT…Dropping at IFS is supposed to make it better than dropping at UPT. You can also be medically disqualified. The last is failing out (washing out) at either IFS or UPT. We’re told that fails at IFS sometimes can track to other rated career fields (Remotely Piloted Vehicles, Air Battle Manager, or Navigator.) This is true since one of the two retained went to navigator. UPT fails are usually not allowed such luxuries. I know for certain that myself and Brandon were IFS Drop on requests. Another guy not retained was a UPT fail. A fourth guy was an IFS fail. Across the board we were all asked to leave and will be discharged. To also give everyone some idea of how new this type of trend is…My flight commander in graduation flight has been here since April (longer than I was on active duty) and he never dealt with anyone being separated. Today he dealt with four.

Now many people are wondering why this is happening, and how this could happen to me. Well a lot of it is bad timing, I happened to be in a board that they didn’t have many slots for reclasses…end of the fiscal year most likely. The Air Force is seeking to eliminate far more people dropping or failing from initial skills training than ever before. What that means is your assigned career field is your career field, if you want to switch you run a high risk of being in a position such as my own. Either stick it out, or take the gamble like I did. Of course I’m telling you, your chances aren’t too promising at the moment, and I dropped with the impression and was told by many officers I’d almost be guaranteed a reclass since I didn’t have a negative record. False! False! False! During this time in the Air Force they are riffing people. That means Reduction in Force. The Air Force is only allowed 300,000 people and there is no telling how many people are leaving the air force on a yearly basis. Many people are sticking in longer than anticipated because of the down economy. At the same time the Air Force is continuously training new people to come in…ROTC, Basic, Academy…all have people graduating at a regular rate and joining the Air Force. Combine that with a lack of people leaving = an Air Force that’s over cap and thus over budget, cuts have to be made, and people have to be cut. The focused areas are people not completing initial skills training (like myself.) or people with negative records or criminal charges. Used to be a DUI wouldn’t seal your fate, now getting a public intoxication just might. The Air Force is looking to get rid of people, so keep your head high, nose clean, and stay in your training.

Now the future isn’t as bleak as one may think. The board after mine, had 9 people go up from Laughlin, and six of them were retained. I wish I could have met that board, but nothing I can do about it. It’s luck, and timing. The next board may cut over half of people…or worse, you just don’t know. Also, the Air Force may be in a situation in a year or more where they cut too many people, or too many people left…and thus they need people. People with an honorable discharge like myself, can still sign back up.

Another thing that the Air Force is doing is making people pay back tuition assistance. My friend Brandon is in a position where he accepted an ROTC scholarship (so did I) and the Air Force helped pay for his tuition. Now that they’ve separated him, they want to get that money back…So they notified him that he also must pay back all of that tuition money. The same thing can happen to people from the Academy, and it seems to be a case by case basis. The UPT fail from Laughlin was an academy grad…it said he owed money but it would be sent up the chain to be recommended he not have to pay it back…He’s waiting to be contacted by AFPC (Air Force Personnel Center) to see if he pays it back or not. My situation is basically the best you can be in. I have nothing I owe the Air Force. I took a scholarship but never used a dime to pay for tuition. I used  the stipend and book money only. My tuition was paid for by the good ole state of Indiana, who I hope to be serving in a matter of months via the Air National Guard. So if you’re in ROTC now and reading this…use other scholarships first.

Now some of you have asked me, or may be wondering, what am I going to do now?  Back home in TH is an intelligence Wing, for the Indiana Air Guard. Intel just so happens to be the career field I wanted to go into in the Air Force! I’m now going to do the rest of my 30 days and then go back home and work on trying to get into the Air Guard. Of course this would be as a traditional guardsman, which means one weekend a month type deal…but I’m going to apply for a full time spot whenever one may be available. I don’t really know how I can pass this opportunity up. It’s back home, it’s what I want to do, and I know plenty of people out at the guard base. I already have the necessary clearances, I’m already an officer…I just need the Intel schooling. Once I get back I’ll be going out there and meeting with a couple of the officers to see what I can do in the mean time. The officer board doesn’t meet until Spring when they select their new officers. I have a pretty good shot (but we know what guarantees get you so I’m not going to bank on it until it’s a done deal.) In the meantime I need to find something to pass the time and pay the bills. But I’m quite optimistic.

I just want to finish off with…I am pissed off, I am upset, and I am disappointed I couldn’t stay active duty. I enjoyed almost every minute of active duty. All the people I’ve met have been awesome. The Airmen I worked with were the best part of being in the military, and they were enlisted! I don’t blame anyone at Laughlin, or even the Air Force as a whole. They have a manning requirement and due to the economy people aren’t leaving as projected. They did what they had to do. I took a chance (more of a chance than I realized though) to do something I would enjoy far more than flying, and this is the end result. I don’t regret it, and I’d take the chance again even if it meant the same result as this. You have to follow your heart. You also cannot be constantly scared of losing your job, living with that fear will inhibit you to be the best officer you can be. I wasn’t going to stay in something I didn’t enjoy when I knew I could do better, be happier, and kick more ass elsewhere. All it means is I have to serve my country in a different capacity, but I’m still going to be in the military come hell or a high water. I was born to serve, and this may be a little stumble, but I’ll pick myself up and be a better officer because of this experience. The only thing I wish was that people in my situation or contemplating the same thing that I did, knew the numbers of retention and the chances of reclassifying. So that’s what I’m doing, giving people the information to make an informed decision. Just remember, don’t do something you hate just because you’re scared of losing your job, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Take a chance, and do what you love. Only you can make that decision though, choose your path, and find what makes you happy. It’ll turn out, I know it will. It’s your life, grab it by the horns and throw caution to the wind. Live with no regrets.

“When it comes to a point you’re scared of losing your job on a regular basis, you’re in the wrong place. You need to find what makes you happy, and that’s not living in fear.” -Rob, contractor at Laughlin

This wont be my last post =). I’m not finished in the military quite yet.