Lifestyle after the Academy?

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by SamAca10, Nov 13, 2009.

  1. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Just curious. Can someone tell me the differences in the quality of life in each of the branches after the Academy/ROTC? For instance, how often do you get to see your family in the Coast Guard? What is the housing like in the Navy? Those sorts of questions.

    Thanks :thumb:
     
  2. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    Massive question. Hard to take a big bite, so I will nibble around the edges.

    Let's take "how often do you see family." Much of that will be up to you, as well as "needs of the [filll in Service]." We have watched one USNA sponsor daughter choose a ship homeported in Japan, in part because her family home in northeast US is not a good place to spend time, and another choose Mayport (Jacksonville), FL, because her family is just down the road in St. Augustine, FL. Much will depend on how you manage your finances vs. geography. You will earn 30 days' leave a year, as well as carry some leave over from year to year, and when and how (and if) you get to spend it is occasionally serendipitous. My family loved traveling to see me at various Navy duty stations. Watching my dad enjoy gelato while wandering around Rome was a lot of fun. My mom had a blast sipping MaiTais at the AFRC Hale Koa Hotel Warrior Bar on Waikiki Beach. I would go for years at a time without visiting where I grew up. If you're stationed in a place people want to visit, you will have as much family and friend time as you can manage.

    The type of duty you are on is also a key factor. Operational tours, sea duty, duty requiring extensive deployment: quality of life and family time will compete with your service's demands. Shore duty, instructor/training duty, staff duty, non-deploying duty, well, you will have some long days and impacted weekends but most likely be sleeping in your own rack in your own place at night. All the Services have a rhythm of moving you back and forth between deploying and non-deploying duty.

    "Quality of life." Well, all the services have great duty stations and armpit duty stations and so-so duty stations, and often, which they are is in the eye of the beholder! I loved my tour in Naples, Italy, but others couldn't stand it. I found living on the economy to be a daily adventure, and I thought of it as "quality of life high, standard of living low!" I had a cold water apartment (exactly what that says it is) but marble floors, French doors and a large terrace with a view of the Bay of Naples and a big wine store down the street...

    Housing... well, I would say the general feeling is that Air Force invests a lot in consistently delivering great housing and family/single airman programs, but of late, other services have been doing that too (finally). Ft. Meade, near Annapolis, has just built some great-looking single-family and townhome style family housing, as well as renovated barracks for enlisted personnel. That's been happening at a lot of bases and posts. Most single officers do not live on base in the U.S but out in town. There are many exceptions, variations, choices when it comes to where you will live. During one of my Pearl Harbor tours, I lived in a single-family quarters, an older home, with 5 different shades of linoleum on the kitchen floor, inefficient window A/C, tiny bathrooms and closets, but with a fabulous lanai with a view from Diamond Head to Barber's Point. For those of you who've been there, it was the last house before the helo pad at the top of Camp Smith in Halawa Heights. Worth every gecko, evil centipede and massive cockroach we had to kill just to kick back at pau hana time on that lanai...

    Quality of life and how you experience it will be tied to how you approach your life, rather like the "glass half-empty or full" comparison. If you are enjoying what you are doing in uniform, that will also impact how you perceive your quality of life.
     
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    It really depends on where you're stationed, and what you're stationed on.

    If you are in the Coast Guard and work at a sector straight out of the Academy, there is a good chance you will see your immediate family quite a bit, except when you travel. The same can be true for the aviation community once you graduate from Flight School. Your airframe will be a factor. Will you be in an aviation detachment that deploys on a ship? Not if you're flying HU-25, Ocean Sentry's, C-130 or MH-60s, but if you're flying MH-65s there's a good chance there.

    If you're on a ship, that matters. Black hulls are work boats, but they generally won't go out for 2 months. If you're on a white hull, you will go out for a period of time, anywhere from 2 months to 4 months (210' v. 378'). Now, if you get a red hull, you might be out there for 6 months.

    Independent of the duration of your patrol, you will generally be away from your home port for half the year, the size of the ship will determine the "chunks" you're away. While some on the Navy while say "2 months, that's nothing", while I was on my ship, we were out for 2 months and in for a little over a month. In that month, you will also prepare for your next patrol, and a month is not a very long time to "get settled" especially with the family.

    Two assignments after, it's really open. I work a desk job now. I like the work, but there is a great deal of freedom. I don't stand a watch so my weekends are off. I have plenty of classmates who are on operational second tours....they might be getting pounded off the coast of Alaska in the Bering Sea or enjoying the waters off of the Bahamas.

    When you have that time to be with your family, take advantage of it. No one can survive "hard charging" their whole careers, they burn out. Family is important, so it's good to let your family know you understand that.
     
  4. pedro4

    pedro4 Member

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    Harry Coyle

    Is an author of fiction books about the military that give a view of the life. Politics, travel, family strife, etc. Check some out-they are easy reads.
     
  5. arenrertero

    arenrertero New Member

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    Lifestyle after the Academy

    Scenario: GC approved a 1/2 month back. If person with same company for 5 yrs and not happy with the job.
    and wants to find a new job in the same field.

    What is your take on it for moving from the GC Sponsoring company within 2/3 months of the GC.?

    Please advice.

    Thanks
     
  6. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Capt MJ, LITS- are you guys saying that quality of life is in the eyes of the beholder then? There are ups and downs to it? The thing that I am most worried about is when I end up settling down to start a family...
     
  7. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    SamAca10, yes, "quality of life" for you will be an equation made up of factors which are important to you. Is it adventure? Job security? Opportunity to see the world? Technical advancement? Educational opportunities? Opportunity to lead and serve the nation? Being able to stick close to home when it comes time to raise a family? Interweave those factors with who you are as a person and what's important to you, and that helps you rule things out or in as you choose your path.

    Magically, as attested to in many threads on this forum, people get married, have children, raise families, have careers short or long, spend time away and long periods with family, face unexpected challenges and in general, play the cards they are dealt.

    In general, if you are contemplating a career on active duty in any one of the five armed services, or throw in the other two uniformed services such as NOAA and USPHS for good measure, you are not going to have a life rooted firmly in one spot that will allow you to be home for each and every one of your future family's major milestones.

    If and when you "settle down to start a family," that is often the decision point where people decide to stay or go after their initial active duty commitment. You either decide you don't want to mesh a military career with family, or you do. It's an expected element of the manpower attrition model for the junior officer ranks to see a certain percentage leave active duty every year, and this is one of the classic reasons.

    As is so often suggested on this forum, focus on what service you feel is the best fit for you. Then let the other factors play out as they will.
     
  8. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    "Settling down" will not really be possible on active duty, at least not settled for any more than 3 or 4 years. Starting a family won't be out of the question though.
     
  9. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    It also depends on the specifics of your career.

    I have an instructor who stayed in Colorado Springs for 9 years. That basically killed his chances of promotion, but he didn't mind too much.
     
  10. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    "Homesteading" will kill a career for an officer, not so much for enlisted. However, it does occur quite often, and when the $$$ become tight in the DOD that is one aspect that they will fall back on. They will say that the promotion boards will not look poorly upon homesteading, then a few yrs later when the money is flowing again, they will say it will hurt.

    The reality is for any branch for promotion the same things remain because if you listen to MPC and follow them you will always be behind the 8 ball.

    1. Get a Masters, do it early because when you're an O-3 it is easier to do than when you are an O-4 with 3 children and being higher up within the organization.

    2. Always do PME ASAP, even in correspondence, because sometimes that could be the reason for getting In Residence for a sister school.

    3.Step out of the plane, boat or tank and into a desk for a jt tour.

    4. Move, but be cognizant of where you go... for example,the base/post might not be the dream location, but the job will get you recognized by higher ranks than if you went to that dream location and you become a number. It could mean the difference of a P or DP for O-4. That location is only a few yrs of your life, that promotion will make a difference forever. Retire at O-4 because you got a P and didn't get picked for O-5 will make a difference in your paycheck on AD for about 5 yrs, and then after retirement you will see @8K a yr in a pay difference until the day you die. It will also make a difference in the 2nd career job, doors open for each rank you make, the O-5 will get a better job than the O-4. Afterall, the military already stated that the other guy/gal was better in their eyes.
     
  11. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    excuse me, but what does PME mean, PIMA? Honestly, right now "settling down" is the last thing on my mind....I haven't even done anything to settle down for yet lol!
     
  12. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Professional Military Education

    Gotta watch out for those TLAs in the DoD!
    We love our three letter acronyms.:shake:
     
  13. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    Oh - thought you meant Temporary Living Allowance, but we love that too. :^)
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2009
  14. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Of course, we have more than one meaning for acronyms. That just makes it more interesting!

    In my astronautical engineering class, we are at 3 or 4 meanings for Omega. :thumbdown:
     
  15. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    "Homesteading" means you are going to take remotes so you can come back in a yr to the same place. Some people do this because they love the area, let's be honest, go to Eglin and tell me you want to leave there for Minot! Some do it for their children, a child who just started high school or to finish their elementary school.

    CaptMJ,

    Yes TLA paycheck is great, because it seems so huge, until we tally the bills for being forced to eat out in a restaurant for a month since you want out from the 300 sqft hotel room with 3 kids!:frown: Or the cost of dropping G*d knows how many quarters into the washers and dryers!

    Now the money we always loved was DITY, we became pro's at it in the end. Those weights from our grandfather clock were so small and compact, along with the dumbells, we could fit 100+ lbs just under the car seats. Then add in the roooftop carrier and the hitch, we were able to DITY about 1000+ on our own, much of it we would have taken with us anyway.

    When we owned are camper it was even better because Bullet would load up the Burb, weigh it, come home and place it all into the camper, giving us room in the car. Additionally, we were able to stay in the camper and not in hotels as we drove x-country. Our DITY and using the camper, from AK to NC, paid close to 2K for that one move on top of TLA and DLA.

    For those cadets graduating, do yourself a favor, DITY whatever you can, it makes a difference, and YES your CLOTHES count! Side note: if you have removable seats, remove them, and place heavy weight compact items in the car, let the military take the seat. Also, when you get married and have kids make sure you have your pro-gear separated from your household...you can easily go over your weight and it is expensive!
     

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