long term Opportunities

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by SonNo2of4, Sep 8, 2012.

  1. SonNo2of4

    SonNo2of4 Member

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    I am a parent of a son who is applying to all three academies. It is a lot of work, but he wants to keep his options open as he learns more about the opportunities at each. I was just wondering the relative lifestyles of those who stay in the military as commissioned officers long term, does one branch tend to afford a better lifestyle for families than another (less long term travel, fewer moves etc)?
     
  2. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    :rolleyes:

    You've already lost me.
     
  3. SonNo2of4

    SonNo2of4 Member

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    Life style of an officer

    My question is whether one branch of the military tends to be more family friendly than another or are they all frequently moved from location to location.
     
  4. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I wouldn't concern myself over that at all. Moving less frequently does not necessarily equate to happier in a branch or in a career field. What will make him happy is serving in that particular branch. A happy AD member, makes a happy family member.

    If you are looking at pure stats, than I would have to say the AF. The AF is known as the "corporate" branch.

    Bullet served 21 yrs. We moved on the avg @30 month marker. Our shortest tour was at FTU (6 months), our longest was in UK at 38 months. We had friends that moved a total of 4 times, and because they didn't want to move the kids, their spouses took 1 yr remote tours. A close friend that we started off with as 1st LTs. Moved to NC at the same time as us in 98. They never moved again. They retired the same time as us in 08. We however moved in 01, 02, and 05 and moved to VA in 08. My kids attended no less than 9 public schools from K-12. The two oldest both moved 2 times mid-school yr. Their kids attended 4 schools, they for all purposes would be considered townies since from pre-school to HS they grew up with the same kids. The 4 schools, they attended were all in Goldsboro, NC.

    As you can see, you just can't make a judgement call on which one moves less or deploys more because even in the same community, everybody's path can be different. A lot has to do with their career/promotion path also for the AF. That 1 yr marker for us was when Bullet went to CGSC as an O4. He also decided to switch out of the 111 to the 15E which meant he had to do 6 months xtraining. 6 months + is considered a move. He did these things to have a better chance of being promoted along the way. We know several officers that didn't want to move, one was an AFA grad. In the end when the O5 board came out, they were all passed over and forced to retire as an O4. They opted to put family life in front of the AF's needs, and the AF reacted to their decision by passing them over.

    Every branch has their family support system for when the member's are deployed. Although, we were never with the Navy for jt assignments, I would have to say between the Army and the AF, hands down goes to the Army. They are really strong in this area, but my assumption is they are because they have to be due to the lengths of their deployments. That and the fact that most of their TDY's are in tents in the field, whereas, the AF members are usually in hotels, and can get a phone signal or skype access easier! :shake:

    As far as on base housing, AF wins that hands down. Every yr the branches rank the best housing, and AF usually comes out the top. However, in the defense of other branches, the AF is the smallest, thus, it is easy to maintain those houses just due to the amount of houses.

    I am willing to bet that most people on here will say their branch is the best, but if you look at really why they say that, it comes down to the fact that they love their branch, they want to be in that branch and not any other branch. Thus, moving 10 times in 20 yrs is not a problem, it is not a negative. They see it as a positive. I didn't want to live in Idaho, but if I didn't I wouldn't ever have seen how beautiful Boise is. I wasn't thrilled of moving to Leavenworth, but I was glad we weren't going to Alabama and loved Kansas City. It pained me to see my DD cry everytime we moved, but now that they are young adults their bond is closer than most because only they share those memories. Their friends think it is so cool that they lived in AK, and that they were born in the UK. It is all how you see it.
     
  5. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    First, there are 5 academies, not 3. That may have been what luigi meant by losing him. You probably over looked the coast guard and merchant marine academies.

    As for your question, each has pros and cons. But generally speaking in my humble opinion, the air force is the most stable for families. You still move, but for an officer its around every 3 years. Sometimes 2 and sometimes 4. But some will have good experiences with the other branches also.

    Most important thing to realize is that not all people who go to the academy stay 20 years. Many only stay the minimum 5 years. You dont know what you're getting into unril youre there. Saying you've always wanted it and a career doesnt mean anything. There are some who did cap, jrrotc , scouts, etc. and thinck they know what they are getting into who get out after 5. So worry about the first 5 then decide about a career.
     
  6. SonNo2of4

    SonNo2of4 Member

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    Appreciate the perspective

    First, I was not intending any disrespect for the other academies, but my son has ruled it down to three for specific reasons, and my goodness that is a lot. I have heard a lot of good things aboout the other ones as well. It is just a lot for a non military guy to come to understand. I guess that is why I am so excited for him. I look at the traditional Universities and say, my goodness, there is very little comparison with respect to the world of opportunites upon graduation.

    I do understand about being passed over if you decline opportunities that require moves. It is no different than in the private sector, you become geographically restrictive and you will only get asked so many times. Then again, I do respect those who wind up in family situations and are williing to place them before company and accept the consequences. I guess we will focus on the first 5 years and he has 4 years to do that once he selects the branch.
     
  7. Blackbird

    Blackbird Parent

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    SonNo2of4,

    Sent you a PM.
     
  8. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    AF has better Golf Courses. Joking aside, AF seems to have a longer Family friendly deployment. Unless you are Aleutians Korea or Minot it isn't that bad.
     
  9. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    The Army Navy course and the Quantico course are pretty nice!

    Del Rio and Alamogordo aren't great either!

    Kidding aside, the military life is what you make of it, and when you are talking family perspective you need to realize you are missing a factor. The spouse. I have seen wives/husbands hate where they are living, but accept that this is going to be their life for the next several yrs. They turn lemons into lemonade. I have also seen spouses resent where they are and beaachhh the next umpteen months about how horrible the place is.

    As Mike said take it one day at a time. The family issue is probably a decade away. Your DS has a ton of hurdles to clear before this will even become an issue.

    He will move regardless of any branch. He may miss holidays at home even if he isn't deployed. In the AF community I was around, we all would say the same thing during those moments. It was the same toast: We can't choose our family, but we can choose our friends, luckily because of the military we can choose friends that are our family. I love my blood relatives, but at the end of the day my military family gets it, and they are my support system.

    You stated you are non-military, and obviously as a normal parent your child is your concern. I would take the time and twist the question to a poll?

    How many of military members were:
    1. Members of the wedding party for other military members"
    2. How many posters that were AD attended graduations, weddings, etc for the children of your military friends?
    3. How often did you celebrate New Years, Xmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving compared to being with your family?

    I bet every poster will respond with a positive for at least 2 of the 3.

    This is one thing that is great about the military. You are now family. You have a support system. Every branch is the same. They all have that common tie.

    FWIW, I think your DS needs to decide a career path and move forward from there when it comes to the IF he gets 3 apptmts.
     
  10. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    TBS at Quantico is nice? Used to trade Christmas Leave for married enlisted so they could be with their family and took New Years for myself. Better party! It "is what you make it" was a great line.
     
  11. SonNo2of4

    SonNo2of4 Member

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    Thanks

    I agree, probably like most things in life, it is what you make of it. Certainly during the 5 after the academy, he is young enough he can enjoy the travels. I have also heard about how much the military is a family in its own right. I guess I will miss him while he is away and love it when he is here, but he needs to make a great new world for himself. I am very excited for him, he is a great person and deserves the good things that are coming his way. It does look like he will get one appt (WP), though for now it is an assurance. I think he is ready to focus on the AFA and then choose, provided he gets the choice. I think he has decided not to go for NA. We'll see, though non-military I have always respected those who choose to serve our country and will be very proud of him.
     
  12. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    I think there are too many factors to determine if one service is better than another service for family life. The biggest unknown is what kind of jobs he is going to get.

    Before the war, in the Army, the time away from family consist mostly of CTC rotations and field training time. A CTC rotation is usually only 4 month. Many field trainings, we came home on weekends. I believe some Navy folks to 6 month cruive every 18 to 24 months or shorter. A big difference, something happens to your family, a lot easier to come home if you are at CA vs somewhere middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

    Depends on your personal preference, would you want to get stationed in Fort Folk, LA vs Fort Hood, TX.

    If the spouse has a professional career, some locations are better than other.

    I think ultimatley, one should pick a service first than adjust accordingly and ultimate make a decision to stay in or resign. I resign after 7 years in the active duty spent more time with my family
     
  13. navyasw02

    navyasw02 Member

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    No disrespect, but isn't a little early for your son to be considering family life in service choice? There's a lot that happens between now and commissioning that will change. The Navy I joined when I went to USNA in 1998 is different from the one I was commissioned into when we found ourselves at war. The demands on the families for all services dramatically changed over the years of extended deployments and shorter at home periods for all services. The bottom line is your son will be graduating as a military officer and needs to find someone who will be compatible with the military lifestyle, regardless of which service it is.
     
  14. SonNo2of4

    SonNo2of4 Member

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    Fair assessment

    Thanks, I guess I am a bit overwhelmed. There is a lot more to this than the traditional university. Just trying to understand the destinction between the academies, their commisions and ultimatley where it takes one in life. I think from here I will just try to get him exposed through visits. He will have to find out what options he has and what fits him,
     
  15. DevilDog

    DevilDog Member

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    I think that it is good foresite on his part. My son took that into consideration when he was deciding. He said that he wanted a family and did not want to be at sea for long periods of time. He liked the idea of being on a base that was stationary so he could have a family life.
    He ultimately chose USAFA and I think that had some bearing on his decision.
     
  16. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    +1 to DevilDog

    Our DS wanted AF only. He didn't want to do sea duty. He also was an ADAF dependent where his Dad did 2 tours with the Army. He saw how the lifestyles were different. Neither is better, they are just different.

    When he entered he wanted to fly, he understood if he got UPT he WOULD serve until he was at least 34. He understood if he accepted an O4 promotion or pilot bonus it would be more like 37.

    He put that into his equation just like DevilDog's DS. It wasn't as if he intended to marry his hs sweetheart, he was thinking if I get my dream, I will be 37, hopefully married with kids. He entered thinking he would get his dream and how that dream would impact those he loved for maybe 15-20 yrs. Afterall, if he is locked for 14/15 yrs due to commitments/bonuses/promotions, chances are you will stay for 20 to get retirement pay.

    Yes they can dive at 5, but life gets in the way. It would be best to hope you can dive, but be prepared if you can't, that means family life. That means thinking about the future. I don't disagree about choosing a mate, I am just saying it isn't wrong to think about that future life if you have no particular tie to any branch and just want to serve.
     
  17. AJM7680

    AJM7680 Banned

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    This might be a reason to pursue another branch of the military, no extended active duty obligation for making O-4.
     
  18. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    It's not that there's an extended obligation. With any promotion; they aren't going to promote you if you are getting out of the military tomorrow. And if you're coming up on retirement years, you need to hold it for 2 years to retire as it, or your retirement is reduced back to your previous rank. I know this first hand, as does quite a few others.

    Same with bonus', special duty assignments, accompanied tours, educational opportunities, etc... The military (All branches) are not going to give you a bonus or spend the money on a dream assignment or training opportunity if you are going to get out immediately and they can't recoup their investment.
     
  19. AJM7680

    AJM7680 Banned

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    Correct, as you stated there are no extended active duty requirements for making O-4. As for retirement, I'm not sure where you are getting your two year requirement. For O-4s, it is six months, for O-5s, three years. I think it used to be two.

    I think the only assignments/tours which cause extended duty is overseas and probably accompanied.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
  20. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Yes, the assignments overseas has the requirement. As for promotion vs retirements, that has changed a number of times. It wouldn't surprise me for a Ltc to be 3 years. "It was 2 years when I retired". Also; for O-4, that is a unique rank. Why? Because, unless you were prior enlisted, there is no way that you would have 19 1/2 years in the air force as an O-3 and the final 6 months as an O-4. So for O-4, if you are prior enlisted, the 6 months is possible. But for an OTS/Academy/ROTC grad starting day 1 as an O-1, it would be extremely rare to see a 19 1/2 year captain (O-3) putting on O-4 with 6 months left and eligible to retire.

    And there is also the educational opportunities, special duty stations, and bonus' that can require an additional commitment.
     

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