Life after the academy & military

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by Coltron, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. Coltron

    Coltron Candidate

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    Well, there is an introduction thread for new posters. But, it doesn't look like there is a thread dedicated for kind of quasi autobiographies of the long time posters. I have been following this site for a while now, and I have gathered some knowledge about a few of you.

    But I was wondering… could some of you share what your life has been like after leaving the academy, or military for that matter?

    Did you leave after your service commitment, or retire?
    Did all go as planned? If not, what stands out in your mind that you would have done differently looking back?
    Did you go back for grad degrees?
    What was the hardest part for your families while you served?
    And did your civilian career closely mirror what you did in the military, or did you follow a different path?
    Lastly, what is the main piece of advice that you would offer to my generation going forward in a military career nowadays? :confused:

    Of course you don’t have to answer all these questions, or be too specific in what you say. They are just some questions that I've had after reading some of the postings that you’ve done.

    Would anyone like to share a little bit about themselves and their time served, for us younger posters just starting out? I think we could obtain some good knowledge through some of your stories and life lessons.

    Thanks! -Coltron :cool:
     
  2. TexanFutureSoldier

    TexanFutureSoldier Member

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    I started a similar thread, "Civilian Career after Combat Arms" just now. Got a few replies, if you wanna check it out.
     
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Leaving the military after four years at an academy and five years active duty can be a daunting prospect. For many service members who went to an academy, wearing that uniform is all they've done since they graduated high school. How do you get insurance? When do you have to change your car registration, license, legal residence, voting registration, etc etc etc?

    Now, having been out for almost three years, I'm happy with life outside of the Coast Guard. It probably took me a year to realize the Coast Guard wasn't really my identity anymore. But the outside world can be a very exciting and rewarding place. I've started receiving emails and calls from classmates who are starting to plan their separation, and looking for advice.

    Life has been relatively good in the job department.

    I separated after five years.

    I didn't try my hardest at my first unit and it showed. My command and my guys probably picked up on it.

    My biggest regret was something I use now to measure how I react to things. I had a BM2 (a second class petty officer) and a few BM3s preparing for a paper inspection prior to a week long test of how we did things on our ship. Just a day or two before the thing kicked off, we figured out the wrong charts had been ordered. Another Coast Guard cutter gave us their charts, but we had to update them and it lasted well into the night. At some point I yelled at my BM2 in front of his guys. I regret that to this day. First, I really shouldn't have yelled at him anyway, because they were my guys and I should have been more involved with them and picked up on the issue. But second, and probably more useful now, if you're going to correct someone, don't do it in front of the guys who work for him. It underminds his authority with his guys.

    Yes. I used the G.I. Bill, and received my master's from The George Washington University.

    I was away from my girlfriend, which after a year of visiting her at her college during my senior year, was tough. But I've found relationships aren't always easy anyway, regardless of what you read on Facebook. Hardest part for me being away, understanding that I lived with a guy from my ship and our sister ship, was not being able to talk about issues or challenges. I ended up feeling a little alone now and then, especially during the holidays or birthdays.

    I was a collateral duty public affairs officer on my ship, and a full time public affairs officer at Coast Guard Headquarters. When I got out, it took me a little time, but I ended up at a public relations firm. After about six months a very good opportunity came up, which I took. Both my current job and my job at the PR firm relate to my roles as a public affairs officer in the Coast Guard. My experience as a public affairs officer, as well as my training at the Defense Information School, combined with my master's degree have prepared me for a good portion of what I do each day.

    L
    Everything you do, you're accountable for. Don't sacrifice your morals for a quick gain, that becomes a slippery slope. Remember you're SERVING the tax payer, and even if they frequently take that service for granted, don't get jaded about it. It's their right to know what your doing and how your service is spending a portion of their paychecks. Pass credit on to your people and allow blame to rest with you. Remember your people and make sure they're OK. And less positive, always remember that you could have to change jobs any day. Embrace what's in store for you.

    Of course you don’t have to answer all these questions, or be too specific in what you say. They are just some questions that I've had after reading some of the postings that you’ve done.
    [/QUOTE]
     
  4. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Look forward. Trust yourself that you will make right decisions.

    My dad retired as a LTC. I did ROTC for a year before USMA. Graduated from USMA. Served in a peace time Army for 7 years. Saw myself as a career guy, but getting married and having a child lead me to leave. Left the active duty right before 911, the job market wasn't the best. Ended up getting two grad degrees on my own, part time, one cost me about 25k and other one was free through work. Joined the NG, did one OIF deployment. My wife was pregnant with our second child during my deployment. Doing financially well. Keeping up with my peers military wise, making LTC and a decent shot of making COL.

    No clue that my life would have turned out like this, the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to be successful. Took some time to define what that was - being financially well and inner peace. My personal accomplishments are not as important as being a good husband and being a good father for me. I know that USMA and military experience helped me get to where're I am now.

    Life is what you want it to be - figure out what you want.
     
  5. Coltron

    Coltron Candidate

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    LITS & MemberLG: Thank you both for taking the time to share your experiences and offer advice in this thread. I found both of your posts to be very interesting, but mainly I found wisdom and food for thought in what you shared to take forward with me. I do appreciate it!
     
  6. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Coltron,

    To add another perspective.

    I left after my 5 year commitment. I was never really one who was set on 5 and dive or a career. I had always said that I would take each tour as it was and go from there. I was the first of my friends to get out so it was an adventure. I did land a job very quickly as a defense contractor. I made decent money. Taxes as a civilian is a big wake up call! I really wasn't sure what I wanted to do when I got out so I took a job in a location that I wanted and mostly went from there. My MOS in the Marine Corps was very small and unique, but it led directly to a job. I developed some great skills as a contractor that helped me transition to a completely private sector job. Yes, defense contractors sort of get a bad wrap, but to be honest I enjoyed the work. I still worked with the Marine Corps and Marines on a daily basis. I worked hard and the work was extremely technical, which I enjoyed. I was a history major, but was quickly promoted within the systems engineering realm.

    I will soon have 3 Masters Degrees. I used TA to get one while on Active Duty, and am nearing completion of a dual MBA and Systems Engineering Degree. Do I think these degrees will help, not sure. I have over a decade of civilian experience at this point and to be honest my experience, certifications and USNA degree have opened more doors than the other ones in my opinion.

    I am active in my alumni association and it is a great asset for networking and friendships. I recommend it to anyone, especially those who are getting out. They are wealth of resources and can often help with recommendations when relocating.

    I was never married or had kids while on Active Duty. I did have a boyfriend who was an active duty Marine. Deployments were difficult and post deployment was even harder. We returned from our last deployment at the same time and both were struggling with some PTSD after rough tours. We were both able to rely on one another greatly during this tough time.

    Best advice is to remain true to yourself. Always make sure you can look yourself in the mirror. Never compromise your morals or integrity. Trust your gut and training.
     
  7. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Oh and if you end up at Northeastern it is a great school. One of my best friends commissioned Marine PLC from Northeastern. Best of luck.
     
  8. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Retired after serving a little over 20 years. Was offerred a position that would have gotten me farther, but it also meant I would have had to ask my family to sacrifice even more (4 moves in 4 years, when my kids would all have been in HS). The scales for the first time tip in my families favor, and I walked without any regrets.

    NOTHING goes in a military career "as planned". Uncle Sam has a way of throwing curve balls at you every pitch, and all those well thought out goals and milestones you had thought out as a Lt turn to ash by the time you are a Capt. Did I envision I would get out of flying and jump out of perfectly good airplanes at my 5 year point? No way. Did I see myself serving in the Pentagon at my 13 year point? Un uh, and I would have laughed at you if you told me I would back when I was a Lt.

    What would I have done differently? I can say with complete honesty "not a darn thing". I LOVED every job I had, every position I had. I LOVED the people I worked with, and the friends I made over the years. I still can't believe I was lucky enough to do some of the things in a fighter they allowed me to do (and I won't admit to "and some they didn't" :wink:) I truly had a blessed career.

    Well, if I had a say, perhaps I wouldn't have spent as much time in Korea. :frown:

    Got my Master's while a young Capt, taking night and weekend courses. Spent a few nights in the field with the Army writing term papers while I did it. Getting your Master's is a "square" to fill to make the higher ranks (only the VERY rare exceptions in the AF make O-5 without one). I also completed the AF's Squadron Officer School (7 week AF cheerleading Academy), the Army's Command and General Staff College (CGSG, my "year-long sabatical" from the "real" military), and the AF's Air War College (in seminar).

    Frankly, if you stay in long enough, continuing your education is an expectation, and is something you'll comntinually do, either through a University system or the military's PME system.

    My not being there so often. Missing the holidays, and the birthdays. and the Anniversaries, and the First Communions, and the school recitals, and too many other things to count. I was lucky, Pima was strong enough to raise a family for the both of us, and she did a winderful job doing so. But I'll go to my grave with some regrets and a lot of guilt.

    True story: while at Ft. Leavenworth for CGSG, I was all excited because I would finally be home for a Halloween Trick-or-Treating with my kids. The timing always worked out before that I couldn't be there for some reason (or war) or another; I had missed the last 8. I REALLY was looking forward to being there with them for this one, which based on the age of my eldest, I knew would be the last when all three would be dressing up and going door-to-door for. It wasn't even a question when it was getting close who would be their "pareent escort", as I flatly (and excitedly) told Pima, "this year, I'm going with them."

    Well, we get to house #3, and eldest son says, "Dad, there are my friends. Can I go with them?" Reluctantly, I agree. Four houses later, middle child daughter says "Dad, there are my friends. Can I go with them?" Again, I reluctantly agree (after she turns her nose up at my idea of "why can't we join them?"). 4 houses later, and the youngest says, "Dad, I'm tired. Can we go home?" I walk in the door, watch him run away upstairs to eat his bag of candy, and turn to Pima with a broken heart and say, "that is something I missed out on, and I'll never get back...":frown:)

    Working in the Pentagon, in the "Fighter Mafia" division, making sure the next generation of AF fighters is what my buddies still in need to win the war and come home safely.

    Yeah, while I'm not flying now, I'm still "supporting the team", and my new career requires a LOT of knowledge from my old career.

    1) You got a choice. You can whine about the sucky things, but if that is the only thing you seem capable of doing, you're doing it wrong. LOVE what you are doing, even during those times you have to "embrace the suck". In fact, I would say that there is a part of EVERY DAY in your career that you can honestly say, "this isn't what I signed up for. I wish my job didn't include this!" For me, that was anytime I didn't get a chance to fly that day. But I also realized that I LOVED what I was doing. Can't even describe to you how much I LOVED every minute of it, even the "sucky" parts. If you focus on the whining instead of how much you love doing what you are doing, you not just making yourself miserable, you're making everyone around you miserable, and we'd all prefer if you were miserable somewhere else. This includes you military compatriots, your spouse (or soon to be ex-spouse), your boss, etc.

    "Love what you're doing."

    2) You'll answer to three separate "Masters" during your career: Uncle Sam, your family, and yourself. Find a way to balance serving all three equally, or you'll be in for a miserable career, marriage, or personal life (or all three). Pima GOT that I bled AF blue, but she also reminded me that while I may have ended up buried with full military honors, with all my AF mates and friends a the ceremony, the only ones who would be at my gravesite on the Anniversary of my death with fresh flowers every year was her and my family. Also, if you live to be 70, even a General would only be "in" the military for 30 of those 70 years; the other 40 is with your family. And if you sacrifice yourself to please either Uncle Sam, or your family, or both, you'll hate yourself (and the military and your family) for it.

    "Find the balance."
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2014
  9. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Oh, I almost forgot the MOST important piece of advice, especially for those who do want a family and a career:

    "Find the right spouse". I was VERY lucky that such a wonderful woman as Pima somehow fell in love with an idiot like me. Not only that, that she accepted that she would have to "share" me for a while with the AF. That she had to "share" my heart with the AF. Not only accpeted, but THRIVED, being able to superbly run my house, raise my children, and do the myriad of all the other things required on the home front when Uncle Sam called.

    Like I said, I was (and continue to be) a truly blessed man! :thumb:
     
  10. Packer

    Packer Member

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    Bullet, Fantastic advice!:thumb:
    The one thing we can control in life is our attitude.
     

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