Parent Worry - AFA graduates in War Zones

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by ski_mom63, Nov 30, 2008.

  1. ski_mom63

    ski_mom63 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    0
    My only child may be attending the AFA. We are a non military family. He has been accepted to 5 colleges in additional to the AFA. His desire is to be a civil engineer or possibly a pilot if he attends the AFA. My son is mentally and physcially tough. He has every quality to be successful. However, he has no direct exposure whatsoever to military training/lifestyle etc.

    Since he applied, I have read every nonfiction and fiction book about the service academies with the last being In A Time Of War. I am scared silly.
    I would like to know what percentage of AFA graduates end up in war zones. I would think if you are a pilot, the percentage would be 100% and if an engineer, probably high too. Could someone enlighten me on this? I understand that the WP grads that choose Infantry are right there in the action. Is that true for AFA grads too?

    Please don't call me a baby about worrying, this child is the love of my life. Thank you in advance for any information.
     
  2. flyersboy114

    flyersboy114 USAFA Cadet

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    821
    Likes Received:
    0
    Welcome! I see this is your first post. I wouldn't worry to much about your son being deployed to Iraq by the time '13 graduates it appears the Iraqi's want us our by then. But a future war zone? The airforce is probably the safest branch for your son to be in, casualty and deployment wise. But it comes with the job, deployed to war zones, its bittersweet.
     
  3. ds52262

    ds52262 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Messages:
    256
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ma'am,

    I mean no offense, and understand what your son means to you. If he is fortunate enough to be accepted by USAFA or any other military academy he will be joining the military. By it's nature that means he will be defending our nation. In different times people were honored by the opportunity to serve our nation this way. It is unfortunate that today everyone wants to leave it up to the other family.

    The military your son wants to join protects everyone in this country and makes sure you have the freedoms that are taken for granted. Countless families have sent their children off to serve, only to have them never return. If this is your sons choice let him know your concern, but support him in his choice.
     
  4. Bullet

    Bullet Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Messages:
    994
    Likes Received:
    99
    ski_mom63,

    First off, welcome aboard. You've found a fantastic site that hopefully can answer not only you and your son's questions about the Academies, but also can give you a "taste" of the military life your son is thinking of joining.

    As a 20+ year veteran of the AF (recently retired), former backseater in F-15Es and F-111s (fighter jets), and the father of a son in college now hoping to also be a pilot, I hope I can give you a little perspective from both sides (parent and son of worried parents).

    I can see that your first concern is typical, and experienced by EVERY parent of a child considering a career in the military: "Will my child be safe? What if there is a war?" You have every right to have those feelings; you've earned them as a parent. I'm not going to sugar-coat the answer for you: yes, if your son joins the military, there is a high chance that one day they may end up in a war zone, either flying up over it or living in it. It's the profession they've chosen to follow. But I ask you to not let recent history overpower your view of the situation. There is an old expression in the military, "always expect the unexpected" (or is that the Boy Scouts? :biggrin:) When I joined, the world was convinced that the future battlefield would be somewhere in Europe or possibly Asia, facing the Great Bear, Russia. Pratically NO ONE expected the battle would be in the Middle East, and we didn't see us fighting an insurgency in there for years either. Flyersboy has it correct when he says the world will be changed by the time your son is commisioned and a part of the active force (if he chooses to go that route).

    Second, your son is considering a career of SERVICE to his country (emphasis added), something he can be proud of, and something you WILL be proud of just as well (if perhaps a little "concerned" about). Is there anything to feel bad about if he chooses otherwise? Absolutely not! The profession of arms is a CALLING, and something that doesn't agree with everyone.

    My advise: Talk to him. Listen to him. discuss the plusses (of which there are many), and the minuses (of which there are probably an equal number). Get to know HIS feelings on the matter, I'm sure you'll be able to express your concerns to him as well. Just realize that in the end, the choice is HIS. If he chooses a different path based on sound advise from you (I recommend you continue your investigation of the military to help in that area), and others (I also recommend you let him talk to people in the military or people with military experience, which you can NEVER get wholly from a book), thats fine. If he chooses to follow the profession of arms, I recommend you kiss him, tell him you love him and will always support him, and allow him to follow his chosen path.

    The people on this forum are WONDERFUL, and will be here to answer your questions and hopefully alleviate some of your fears. ALWAYS feel free to ask. It's kind of what we spend our time on the internet for. This is a wonderful place to get those questions answered, by people usually in the same boat as you, or who have already sailed those waters.

    As to your particular questions, look up the statistics: the number of casualties in the AF from the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are MINISCULE compared to our brothers and sisters in the other ground services. We DO have causualties (which is tragic), just not as many. However, he can expect to deploy sometime, if not a few times, during a military career-- it's just the nature of the job right now (again, that can change). We are an Expeditionary AF, and have been for almost two decades now, continually deploying and flying sorties in the Middle East since the First Gulf War in 90. Other services may have year long deployments compared to our four month deployments, but we've been doing them for a few more years than our brothers on the ground. I don't want to even go into the Navy's experience, as they have been used to deploying since John Paul Jones' time. :eek:

    But who knows what the next few decades may bring. The next enemy we face may not be such a push-over in the air next time. We may have a greater percentage of combat air losses. But this is only speculation! We may not even go to battle again for a hundred years! My point is: who knows, and if your son chooses to live the life, the situation would be out of your hands anyway. Just look at the current tragedy in India and realize, you don't neccesarily have to be in the military to experience danger and death.

    Finally, always remember, we're here to help. You'll find a lot of parents here just like you, asking (and answering) the same questions. So again, Welcome aboard. Strap youself in, it's going to be a bumpy ride....:thumb:
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2008
  5. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    Ski_Mom. I believe that ds52262 said what needs to be said; about as "politely" and with sympathy as anyone could possibly do it. The only reason I am even commenting, is because there's been 2 replies so far. 1 saying that the Iraqi war will probably be done by the time your child graduates the academy; and the 2nd saying basically that "The academy IS the military; and they are training MILITARY OFFICERS; and many parents have sent their children off to dangerous war zones with some never to return".

    My comments are basically to say that both posters are correct concerning future military engagements. The hard truth is; people who join the U.S. Military, in ANY CAPACITY, risk the chance of dying in the service of their country. Your child is no safer than my son is; or as I was when I was serving. But this is totally up to your child. The academy is NOT a place to go for a "FREE" college education. It is a place to go to LEARN to serve your country as a leader. To protect and defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. And be willing to give one's LIFE in that service. AND; in return; the government of the United States will give you one of the finest educations in the world; along with a number of other benefits. But the main purpose of the academy is NOT for a free college education. It's to train MILITARY LEADERS. But this is obviously your son's choice. If he is OK with it, then you should support him. If he doesn't know if it's for him or not, then you should help him figure it out. But if you are looking for someone to tell you that "Everything is going to be OK"; sorry you're not going to find that here. And anyone who tries to tell you that it will be OK; or wanting to play the "Odds game", is giving you False Hope and are doing your son and you a disservice.

    When I joined the military in the mid-late 70's, I was 17 years old. My mom and dad said they would sign for me if I promised NOT to sign up for the Army or Marines. (To dangerous). I didn't want either, so I said fine. Mom and dad were happy. Until a little while later when they found out I was going to places like Grenada, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Beirut, Libya, Middle East, etc... So much for being "SAFE".

    If you are afraid of traffic and traffic accidents, then you shouldn't become a truck driver. If you are afraid of heights, then you probably don't want to work building skyscrapers. If you are afraid of being shot at or dying, then the military, police, fireman, etc... probably not the best place to go. I won't call you, or consider you a baby for worrying. But I'm also NOT going to B.S. you into believing there are SAFE jobs in the military. There aren't. I'm especially not going to tell you that if your son is competing for 1 of 1350 slots that 10,000 people are trying for. I spent 21 years in the military. I have seen pilot friends die. I have seen administration people die. I have seen quite a few people die. A number of them in jobs some believed was "SAFE". Sorry, but it doesn't exist. I hope you can appreciate the candor instead of trying to B.S. you and try and make you "FEEL" good. best of luck to you.

    EDIT: I posted prior to Bullet's post. Bullet has some excellent 1st hand knowledge of the air force. He speaks excellent words of wisdom. later... mike....
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2008
  6. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,809
    Likes Received:
    956
    I have a little different twist on this...since you are new, you should know I am Bullets' wife. I have been with him through his entire military career including AFROTC. I had to watch him leave for combat areas many times and then walk into our closet seeing none of his clothes, but only his wedding ring left behind(they don't take that into combat). It is incredibly hard as a spouse to know they are in the way of danger, much harder than it is for me as the Mom of our DS knowing that he too will be following in his father's footsteps, including wanting to fly the Strike Eagle. I saw the happiness that Bullet felt defending our country and I would never take that away from our DS. Bullet would come home from flying and would say I can't believe they pay me to do this! Here's how I made it through the past 21 yrs and how I will make it through our DS's career.

    Believe in fate

    I always told myself that if he was to die that day, I could lock him away in a closet, but he was still going to die. When my kids got older and they start showing their fears I would tell them that I knew for a fact that Daddy loved us so much he would do everything in his power to come home to us, because I believed that so ferverently they never worried about Daddy...even when he was on the ground in the green zone in Iraq for a joint assignment.

    You can't live with the fear it will cripple you and your child will see it. Instead if the day ever comes that they ship off to a war zone do what I plan to do...kiss him, hug him and say I WILL SEE YOU WHEN YOU GET BACK...NEVER CRY IN FRONT OF THEM...THEY KNOW YOUR FEAR. I know Bullet knew I would cry, but I smiled in front of him, he didn't need to worry about me.

    Also realize not very far off in the future they may have a spouse and children, she will need you to believe he will be okay. I had a MIL who was the fearful one, she spent more time talking to me about her fears or if I heard from him than asking me how the kids or I were doing, that became a strain on me to the point that I told Bullet you need to email her...I always regretted putting that strain on him, but I had to survive also and her negativity made it very stressful to talk to her...in the end it also caused a strain on my relationship with her. Your actions and reactions will be an effect on their marriage when he is deployed.

    Finally realize the AF has changed...when we 1st got in, we were allowed 1 10 min phone call a week, and the operator would jump in saying 60 secs and click you off after 60 secs. Now, with sat phones and emails you can be in touch daily, you might have to talk in code for security reasons...ours was if Bullet dropped bombs he would tell me he spoked x amount of cigars that day. The neg. is if you don't get that daily email you worry, DON'T most of the times it is b/c the net went down. Also if they go somewhere don't sit glued to the tv looking for news or scanning the net...go on with your life, ignorance is bliss

    We are just the frame of the picture that holds them...they are the picture.

    I chuckled at that b/c it reminded me of Bullet. He is afraid of heights, but he jumped out of perfectly good airplanes into war zones and flew an airplane.

    Good luck
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2008
  7. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2006
    Messages:
    4,826
    Likes Received:
    2
    IN 2005 over 4500 teenagers between the age of 15 and 19 were killed in traffic accidents and over 400,000 required emergency room treatment for injuries. Yet we still give our teens the keys to the car. Me included.
     
  8. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    Excellent advice Pima. And just-a-mom, you bring up a really good point. In my 21 years in the Air Force and working with the army, navy, and marines; I can honestly say that I know A LOT more people personally who have died in regular non-military actions. Car accidents being the number 1. You just never know what life has in store. I'd rather live a short time doing what I want to and enjoy, than to live 90 years bored and dissatisfied with what I've done with my life.
     
  9. ski_mom63

    ski_mom63 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    0
    I appreciate all the insights. Thank you to all that have responded.
     
  10. flyersboy114

    flyersboy114 USAFA Cadet

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    821
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ma'am if this is what your son truely wants I'm sure it will be hard to stop him. In my case, I would have done anything to try to serve in the military, thank goodness my parents are ok with it.
     
  11. unitedstatesAFA2013

    unitedstatesAFA2013 Candidate Appointee

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Messages:
    383
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ski Mom
    -my mom is in the same boat as you, she wants me to apply to other colleges in the hope that i will change my mind (if accepted) and go to one of them. But that's never going to happen, and she's just going to have to trust and respect that decision...

    Pima, i have kind of a weird question that's been bothering my girlfriend and me for a while. I guess anyone else could put in some input if they've been in the same situation. My girlfriend and I want to get married (yea yea we're still 17 blah blah but we're serious) and going to the Academy would be a pain in the relationship (not to mention serving afterwords). How hard is it to settle down while in service, and keeping in touch during the time at the academy?
     
  12. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,295
    Likes Received:
    129
    That makes me laugh about Bullet. I, too, am afraid of heights (10m platform jump into the pool was a nightmare for me) but I also jumped out of a plane 5 times and want to fly a fast plane! The irony!
     
  13. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,239
    Likes Received:
    273
    Haha, me too. The 10m scared me half to death, but lifting off in a glider and nose high stalls were things I thoroughly enjoyed. I'm scared of heights, but want to get into things like aerobatics. Go figure. :confused:
     
  14. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,809
    Likes Received:
    956
    AF2013,

    Here's a couple of things to realize.

    1. Those that actually make it through the AFA and get married are called the 2%ers, b/c statistically that is how many get married to their sweetheart.

    2. If you go to UPT you will have @ 2 more yrs before you are at your 1st base.

    3. She needs to get a degree that she can move with, or be flexible and change her career at every base, it can become a source of contention b/c she will see you enjoying your career while she has to constantly re-invent herself

    Bullet and I were college sweethearts and got engaged after he graduated. We attended different colleges in different states. While we were engaged he was in California SUNT, while I stayed back in NJ. How did we make it? We made it a pt to see ea other every 6 weeks for 5 1/2 yrs. I flew out to him for the most part.

    I can tell you from experience the most successful marriages and Officers are married to wives that say shouldn't you be going on a tdy soon?:shake: Needy wives tend to hamper AD career...trust me there are wives that call the husband and say you need to get home to take the kids to soccer. When Bullet retired in August at his ceremony he commented on what I always said to him...The AF was his wife for 20 yrs and I was his mistress. What does that mean? It means that he missed 1/2 of our anniversaries, all of our youngest halloweens until he was 8, being deployed for xmas, thanksgiving, etc. Taking jets to safety for a hurricane for 10 days and leaving me behind with 3 children under the age of 8 and a dog while a cat 3 hurricane tore through SJ (no electricity or water for days). If she can't get that the AF will dictate where you live and when you move for as long as you are in, than cut it off NOW! I remember one time my SIL was amazed that I would be w/o my car for 6 weeks while I had a 3 and 1 yr old (that is how long it takes to ship it from overseas), I laughed, b/c I said I will be without a home for 4 mos. (TDY enroute), the car was the least of my concerns.

    Ask her seriously, are you willing to live in Fairbanks, or Mt Home, Idaho, or Del Rio Texas? Do you realize that for breakup(that's what they call the spring thaw in AK) you might be the one shoveling the snow off the roof? (Trust me Bullet was either at Hill or Vegas and never onced did it, but I did it for 3 yrs). How are you going to feel living in Korea and only seeing your folks 1x a yr? Have a true discussion, not the well I am going to be a pilot that grad from ENJJPT and we can live in Aviano or Germany...you will get som crappy places, Del Rio, Cannon, Mt.Home, Seymour, Pope are not hot spots that people willingly put on their dream sheet. If she turns up her nose than you need to re-think. BTW, I loved Mt. Home and only cared about SJ b/c of our friends.

    Good luck...just realize it takes work to stay together and you both have to be paddling the boat in the same direction. Her degree will be important, but in the end your career will dictate where she uses it, and if that is an issue it will become a deal breaker in the end. Also remember and stress to her that the AF frowns on homesteading, so if she thinks that you can get the 22 and live at Langley for tour after tour, you probably can, but also kiss goodby being promoted and say hello to doing remotes so you can stay. We know people who never left SJ for 11 yrs...3 yr assignment, 1 yr remote, 3 yr assign, 1 yr remote. Those are the hard cold facts. IMHO by doing that you lose the best part of the AF...moving to new areas and meeting new people
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  15. unitedstatesAFA2013

    unitedstatesAFA2013 Candidate Appointee

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Messages:
    383
    Likes Received:
    0
    Pima,
    you're right, most of those things i knew were stuff we'd have to deal with. I love traveling, its one of the reasons why the AF interests me. She, on the other hand, hasn't left the country once and plans to go to college within earshot of her parents. We'd have to talk towards the end of the year about it ,though, if i ever do hear back from the Academy. From here on i'll just keep racking up experiences like yours to keep in mind. Thanks for giving me such an in-depth answer.
     
  16. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    Hey, we all know that "Opinions are like _____; everybody's got one". So, here's just an opinion. Take it for what it's worth. Without being disrespectful, NO 17 YEAR OLD KNOWS WHAT THEY WANT FOR THE FUTURE. Sorry, but that's the truth. Many have an idea on the direction they want to go. Trust me; you will have at least 3,856,345 mind changes before you die. My suggestion is that you don't need to really discuss anything in detail. You're the one leaving. let HER bring the subject up to you. As it does, the only real choice for your 4 years at the academy is; 1) Email, call, and IM her in "Some" of your free time. (Don't let it pre-occupy your studies/grades or you missing out on some great experiences with other cadets. 2) That you'll see her when you come home on visits, T-giving, Xmas, Spring Break, and Summer Vacation. 3) If the relationship 4 years later still has the two of you still doing all that communicating and spending most of the time together on your/her visits; then it must be the right thing. If feelings change to the point where the relationship seems like a long term future isn't looking practical; then that too was meant to be. Again, this is only my opinion. It's not right or wrong. But one thing to remember; many young people truly think about their parents and older generations the notion of; "YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND". Trust me, We Do. Just about every one of us has been in the exact same shoes as you. Either the military side or the one at home. Or the local state college with the other one in college across the country. Or 1 year older and in college while the other was a senior in high school. My advice is to let it run it's course. Don't TRY and make it work, or fix it, or arrange it, etc... If it's meant to be, it will. If not, it won't. Again, just an opinion. later... mike....
     
  17. ds52262

    ds52262 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Messages:
    256
    Likes Received:
    0
    My daughter has been in a relationship with the same boy since they were sophmores in HS. He attend Embry-Riddle in Az and she USAFA. They make time for each other over their breaks, talk regularly on the phone, exchange email and facebook comments. It works for them now, but like CC say's two more years and any number of things could change. Either or both could meet someone else, time and distance could take there toll, and really we only have this moment. Keep your eye on the completion of your studys and let tomorrow take acre of itself.
     
  18. ds52262

    ds52262 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Messages:
    256
    Likes Received:
    0
    I came across this the other day and wanted to share it with the original poster. If your child is considering USAFA or the Air Force I think it deserves a few moments of reflection.

    http://www.usafatoday.com/?story=7
     
  19. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,809
    Likes Received:
    956
    This is a letter that was printed in the WSJ (Wall St Journal). I have it on my desk in my office...it was motivation to me when Bullet was in harm's way.

    AFA2013 share this with her.

    I could have posted the Military wife poem, but I like this one more. It is true to the core what a military spouse is.

    Side note, my Dad wanted to be in the AF, my Mom didn't want to leave our hometown, 20 yrs of marriage later and he left her, he never forgave her for not letting him follow his dream. He even tried to push me into the AF to be a pilot, when I married Bullet he was the happiest man in the world.

    CC I do agree let it run its course. If it ends, it ends, there will be tears and fears. Take it from us old people, there is a great love song out there for the break-up by Garth Brooks. It is called "Unanswered Prayers"...you might pray for G*d to fix it, but if he doesn't it b/c it wasn't right.

    Don't read into it that I believe you won't make it, my worry for you is if she doesn't want to pull up roots, she won't understand why the AFA is sending you away all summer. You need to have a real conversation and say, when I become AD do you realize that I'll be gone or unavailable to help you when you get a flat tire or go to the OB appts. Ask if she is okay not going home for XMas when you live in Germany, Korea or Alaska (O-1's don't make enough money to fly home at a whim).

    Here are a couple of my real life scenarios and see how she feels.
    1. Our wedding date was determined by when he could have leave
    2. 9 mos. pregnant with DS 1 Bullet's crew mate goes down and dies leaving behind a 6 week old child in England. Cliff Massengill is buried at the AFA. To see a missing man formation is something that you will never forget, @19 yrs later I can tell you what I was wearing and still feel the winter breeze on my cheek, yet I wish I never had to see it, plus the 3 others that I watched.
    3. Bullet goes TDY for 23 days to Vegas as I am left behind with his parents in another country and a 10 day old newborn
    4. Bullet leaves for Gulf 1 with us having a 6 mo old in a foreign country
    5. Bullet was in an airplane jumping into Haiti while we had a 4 mo old
    6. Bullet missed our eldest 1st communion b/c he was deployed for 4 mos to Korea, during which time I hurt myself and was on Valium for 10 days in AK (we are from NJ) no family members could get to me due to cost, but the AF family took care of me and the kids
    7. Bullet spent 15 mos going to night classes 3x a week for his Masters while I stayed at hom with 3 children under the age of 5.
    8. I had to put down the family pet because he was in Iraq.
    9. My father was diagnosed with Adult Leukemia while I lived overseas and couldn't get back to him for weeks.
    10. He spent 10 days in Oklahoma golfing as I spent 10 days cleaning up from the eye of a hurricane, he was scheduled to leave for a 120+/- day tour to Kosovo 1 week later.

    These are just a few things that I endured as a spouse, but they do happen you are young and can't fathom them, but trust me you will endure at least 50-75% of them. We had a friend who left after 10 yrs, because he realized he had already missed 50% of his childs life and didn't want to miss more. At SJAFB currently you will do at least 2 rotations in the sandbox, you will also most likely do a remote (1 yr away from home)...if this is a problem now it always will be.

    Don't give up on the relationship, but if you want to be viewed as an adult relationship than you need to have the bad juju conversation and see if you are both on the same road. If she asks do you mean I won't be home for T-Day or Xmas or birthdays, state yes, b/c we might not be able to for finances or leave. In our career of 20 yrs, I think we made it home for X-Mas @6 times, never was home for T-Day unless TDY en-route.

    It is a great life, but your family will be her and your kids, not the folks. BTW for the birth of all of my kids we had no blood family with us, only our AF family
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2008
  20. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Messages:
    4,628
    Likes Received:
    5
    :confused:

    Doesn't sound "great" at all! :eek:

    Let me re-phrase that: Sounds great for the AF officer, but is sure sounds like it sucks for the wife. :sadwavey:
     

Share This Page