Lifers vs. Five and Dive

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by iceman2018, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. iceman2018

    iceman2018 Banned

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    For someone thinking of serving in the military. What are the factors that keep career officers until retirement and those that five and dive?
     
  2. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    For me (30+ years in uniform) it was simple:

    The people and the mission.

    I know that sounds simplistic but for me to attempt to put it into words here...it'd take a book of perhaps 1000 pages.

    From "Eldorado Canyon in 1986" to now...the experiences, the people, the battles, the excitement, the amazing one-of-a-kind opportunities, the people, the awesome locations, the challenges, the joys and the sorrows...did I mention the amazing people??

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  3. Reaper

    Reaper AFROTC Cadet (AS400)

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    Well, I know a lot of people stay in for at least 20 years so that they can get the retirement money. After 20 years you get whatever your base pay is for the rest of your life and health benefits. That's what kept my dad in for 30 years.
     
  4. bugsy

    bugsy Member

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    To be honest, you can't possibly know at this point whether you will be a lifer, active duty or working for a shipping company. Most of us that have over 20, in my case it's 24 and still going, never thought we would still be doing this. A 3 year break in service at the half way point and subsequent re-entry to active duty was never planned early on, but a blessing that I couldn't appreciate at the time.

    So what determines if your a lifer or five and dime, in this order of descending importance:

    1. Your spouse
    2. Your success and prospect for future advancement, choice may not be yours
    3. Competing opportunities
    4. Assignment location
     
  5. iceman2018

    iceman2018 Banned

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    Is it full base pay or only 50%?
     
  6. iceman2018

    iceman2018 Banned

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    Thanks for the valuable input. I'm just curious on why some find their calling and serve until they retire while some move on to another career away from the military? Or maybe still defense oriented but civilian?
     
  7. bugsy

    bugsy Member

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    To be honest, you can't possibly know at this point whether you will be a lifer, active duty or working for a company. Most of us that have over 20, in my case it's 24 and still going, never thought we would still be doing this. A 3 year break in service at the half way point and subsequent re-entry to active duty was never planned early on, but a blessing that I couldn't appreciate at the time.

    So what determines if your a lifer or five and dime, for most, in this order of descending importance:

    1. Your spouse
    2. Strength of your calling to serve
    3. Your success and prospect for future advancement, the choice may not be yours
    4. Competing opportunities
    5. Assignment and location
     
  8. iceman2018

    iceman2018 Banned

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    Thanks. Just wonder how most young men/women state that to serve is their goal and what makes most find the silver linings and not become disgruntled compared to the others that choose to do something else.
     
  9. bugsy

    bugsy Member

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    Every 3-4 years on active duty becomes a decision point. You get a new assignment and you and your spouse decide what your going to do, stay in or get out. Until you make colonel then you sign up to take what they give you. Frustration with active duty is usually equally offset by reward. So I find that a wash.
     
  10. USCGA13STN

    USCGA13STN Member

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    I would have to say it's respect. Respect for the service, for the citizens of the United States, for the people who serve under you and for those who outrank you.

    Respect is really what I would say defines the career military officer. It's one of those paramount leadership qualities which help distinguish military officers from run of the mill people.

    Respect.
     
  11. LTSackett

    LTSackett Member

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    Same as staying with any career you start right after high school - you might decide it really wasn't what you expected, and that you want to do something else, or you might rise to the challenge and stick with it until they make you retire. There are many different careers in the Navy or the Corps - if you don't like the first thing you try, you can always do something else. Some leave to make more money, and do very well in the civilian sector (there are lots of jobs available for someone with an engineering degree and a high security clearance). Others leave and find themselves missing the camaraderie they left. These days, with the draw-downs resulting from less funding to the military, some will get out because there's no job for them. The way to avoid that is to stick to jobs that will continue to be in demand.
     
  12. iceman2018

    iceman2018 Banned

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    “I am an American; free born and free bred, where I acknowledge no man as my superior, except for his own worth, or as my inferior, except for his own demerit.”
    ― Theodore Roosevelt

    Respect is earned not given because of your rank or authority.
     
  13. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    No offense, but you're not qualified to answer this question yet. Your amorphous and idealistic response is evidence of why. It's not "respect" or any other such singular virtue.

    The decision to stay in or get out is as individual as each officer and his/her goals, needs, and responsibilities.

    There is no way to tell what will make anyone stay in or get out. That's up to each one of us.
     
  14. iceman2018

    iceman2018 Banned

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    Thanks for the input.
    In your opinion, what specific jobs are no longer in demand, also the jobs you think have favorable relevance in the future.
     
  15. BR2011

    BR2011 USAFA Cadet

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    I think the rank structure keeps people too. It's very easy to track your progress and know where you stand. If you are O-4/E-6/O-6 in one job you are still an O-4/E-6/O-6 in another. I imagine in the civilian sector it's a little more convoluted and your status varies from job to job. It's very comfortable knowing that your status goes with you and that they only way is generally up. The unknown of jumping into the civilian world makes people uneasy.
     
  16. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Probably the single most important factor is family. If the military member is married, is the spouse supportive of a military career (the moves, the deployments, etc.)? If the spouse works outside the home, the couple will need to consider whether the spouse can continue his/her career. If the spouse is also in the military, they need to consider whether they can be stationed together and, if not, whether they can deal with that.

    Other reasons are as cited above: desire to do something different than the military, desire not to deploy (whether single or married), desire to make more money, desire to get an advanced degree that is impossible or difficult while in the military, wanting to homestead (stay in one place) . . . and on and on.

    BTW, do NOT assume that those who leave the military after 5, 10, etc. years are any less "loyal" to the service in which they served. Many former military types stay active in the Reserves and/or are active in veterans' activities, USNA alumni activities, philanthropy etc. They simply decided to take a different fork in the road.

    In the end, everyone gets out. Some simply do it sooner than others.:smile:
     
  17. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    So true.
    The number of guys who I knew who were "lifers" in their first year and then left as fast their commitment would let them is countless. Similarly- lots of guys I knew started off with the "I'm out of here two minutes after my commitment ends" philosophy and 25 years later were still wearing green. It's like anythng else- job satisfaction or lack thereof, family situation, a sense of doing something worthwhile or a sense of wasting time, the opportunities awaiting one on the outside or the lack of employment opportunities, promotion opportunities, multiple deployments, etc... all weigh into the decision. Most guys I knew- myself included, vaciliated between love and hate for the Army. What you decide depends on all of the above factors as well as your own specific wants and needs. The one thing I can tell you is that you can't accurately predict what you will do on comissioning day and as I have never yet met anyone with a Crystal Ball between their shoulder blades, I would suggest that you don't waste your time trying to predict that far into the future. Take each year as it goes- that's about all you can really influence anyway.
     
  18. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    7 years active, 11+ National Guar and still active NG

    Left active duty to spent more time with family. Join the NG for higher calling/benefits.

    A military career is like opening boxes and finding out what's in them. Sometime, you like what's in the box and something you don't. So soon or later, there might be something a box you don't like so much you stop opening the box.

    Until you actually become a cadet, you won't know how you feel.
    Until you actually report to your first unit, you won't know how you feel.
    Until you actaully get married, you won't know how you feel
    Until your first child is born, you won't know how you feel
     
  19. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    :thumb: +100

    For me, I thought I would get out after the first hitch. But then I really got into the "Being part of something BIGGER than just myself, that actually MADE A DIFFERENCE". It also didn't hurt having a president at the time who really inspired pride and support in the military. (Regan). No, this is not political or anything against the current president. Simply saying, when my first hitch was up, it was 1983. A lot of things changed in the military at that time. After that, it was knowing that I actually made a difference.

    I didn't mind working in corporate America when I retired. I actually really liked my job. I only left it because of the travel and not seeing my family as much as I'd want to. The ONLY REASON I retired when I did, was because my kids were stable in school. They were excelling a lot. My daughter was getting ready to go to high school. Her and her brother were making a lot of friends and our town is a great town to raise a family. There's no doubt that if I didn't have kids at the time, or I had them earlier in my career and they were getting ready to graduate high school, I never would have retired. I would have stayed in much longer. And except for being too old, too fat, and too bald; I'd do anything to be back on active duty. That's probably one of the main reasons I'm an ALO. It at least allows me to still be "Part" of the air force. Albeit a very small part. And I'd take a job with DOD on the base if the pay wasn't so crappy.

    But as scout said, each person is different. And respect is not really something at your stage, you can hang your hat on. Truth be told, there were a LOT of people in the military; Commissioned and Non-Commissioned officers, as well as airmen and civilians, that I had absolutely NO RESPECT FOR. Did I respect their rank? Sure. But that's not TRUE respect. That's "Negative Re-enforcement". Basically; if you DON'T respect their rank, you get in trouble. But TRUE respect, is respecting the individual. That, they have to earn and DESERVE.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2013
  20. USCGA13STN

    USCGA13STN Member

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    Scout Pilot, with all due respect, this answer wasn't from me, it was a direct response to a question I posed to my father for a paper in leadership and development class two years ago. He is still active duty having served for more than 30 years in the United States Army, these are his words not mine.

    Perhaps I should have prefaced my comment with that.
     

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