Air Force ROTC questions

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by akhan1104, Aug 1, 2014.

  1. akhan1104

    akhan1104 New Member

    Aug 1, 2014
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    I'll start of by saying i've read a lot of forums on this site but this is my first post. I'm about to start my sophomore year (UIUC) in three weeks and have a huge life decision to make before then.
    Back in March my advisor sent out an email to all aerospace eng majors about some guy from an aerospace company giving a talk. Turns out this guy was a former air force officer, I talked to him afterwards about his experience and thought to myself, this is really cool I may want to do this. Since then, 5 months have passed and I've literally been thinking about it everyday.
    I've always been interested in flying but was pushed away from it from my parents, but even if that didn't work out through air force rotc I would be perfectly happy being an officer in the air force doing any other job.
    The problem is I haven't told anyone I want to do it yet. I'm a muslim/indian american kid from jersey and I just don't know how my parents or family would react if I told them i wanted to join the military. I know my mom would think I'm signing my own death certificate and my dad would tell me that I'm throwing away grad school and taking a massive pay cut if i don't pursue a career in engineering (which he has a right to do as he paying 45 k a year for college). But I feel like it would be worth it for at least 4 years to do something different, separate myself from my peers and become a leader. Over the past couple months i've come up with a few pro/cons while deciding whether or not to join the afrotc program at my school.

    pro: -do something different/leadership
    -travel the world
    -serve my country
    -Make new lifelong friends through rotc
    -become more fit/disciplined
    -keep me away from doing stupid things in college
    -certain job after college
    -couple other i can't think of off the bat
    -more challenge/competitive environment

    con: -low pay compared to engineering jobs in the private sector (~$60,000)
    -won't be able to go to grad school
    -no guarantee i will be doing any engineering if i don't end up flying
    -6 year commitment if i do end up doing cso
    -no guarantee i won't end up doing a boring job at a base in montana.

    I'm pretty much set on the idea that i really want to do this even though somedays i wake up and think i may regret it. But i think I need input from others to be confident in my decision. It's also important to note that I cruised through my first year of college, 3.8 gpa at the 5th best engineering program in the country, so I definitely want more of a challenge. I also played a lot of sports in high school and miss the competitive environment a lot.

    Has anyone else been in this situation with their parents? I don't really "talk" to my parents about anything serious other than school. I wouldn't say my parents are completely against the military but they certainly aren't for it and have never really mentioned it as an option.

    Thanks in advance for any input.
  2. VMI82

    VMI82 Room 131

    Dec 2, 2013
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    I can understand your desire to honor your Parents - laudable. Particularly knowing something about your cultural heritage as you have shared with us.

    But it is your life. Your future.

    When you reach my decrepit age you do not regret the things you have done so much as those things you wish you had done but did not.

    As a parent I feel it is my job to provide the best possible foundation for my children through age 18 and then the best possible guidance from then on. But always provide unconditional love and support for what THEY want for their lives - not what I want for them.

    Final thought - Courage is a trait necessary to an Officer in our Country's service.

    Courage is not being fearless. It is feeling afraid and taking action anyway.

    I recommend you begin your career in the Air Force by taking that very courageous step of sitting down with your Family and outlying your desires and plans for serving your country in the Air Force. Bring them facts, figures, and a well thought out plan of why it is in your best interest (GI Bill for Grad school, etc.)

    They do not have to like your decision.

    But, if they are strong - they will respect your courage and in time your calling.

    Good luck.
  3. Pima

    Pima 5-Year Member

    Nov 28, 2007
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    Best response ever!

    I will only add a couple of additional things.

    The way the military works regarding pay is it is broken down into several sections.

    BAH is one of those sections. For McGuire AFB, your monthly housing allowance as an O1 is @22,000 a year (1797/mo) with no dependents. It is not taxable.

    O1 pay no matter where you live is 2907 per month. That is @36K a year. Now since the BAH is not taxable, it is actually worth alot more in disposable income. Think closer to 28K a year.

    Thus, before we add in "free healthcare" and BAS, you are making the equivalent or more than 60K a year in NJ.

    I worked as a spouse when I wanted to work. My income was gravy. My kids went to private pre-schools, played every after school sport in leagues. My car was never more than 4 years old. We were able to invest and go out to dinner. Vacations to Disney happened. Heck, Bullet got his vette too when he pinned on O4.
    ~ Granted he was rated, and had flight pay, but every penny plus more that he got from being rated was invested. It never was part of our monthly spending.
    ~~ O1s rated only make @ 125/mo more. I think at the 2+ year flying it is 250. It is when they have 6+ years that they start seeing the bucks. The 9+ year marker is when the big bucks hit.

    Thus, it really is even for the first 5 years. Non-rated actually have an edge because they can leave at 4 AD, if they were AFROTC. Rated pilots can't for at least 10.(1 yr UPT, 9 yrs payback).

    Will you become a millionaire? No. Will you enjoy a comfortable life without taking the NJ transit into NY everyday commuting at least 60 mins? Yep!

    Lockheed, Raytheon, Grumman, Booze Allen, and L3 Comm are the big players in the defense contracting world, and the employers you will probably being applying to for a position.
    ~ They love military members because as an employee that experience of being able to speak AF is worth a lot.
    ~~ The TS clearance which costs thousands of dollars and valid for 5 years doesn't hurt either! If you need a TS as an engineer it can take 6 months. It is on their dime. You have it and you are able to start immediately and they don't pay squat.

    Hope that helps.

    OBTW as far as being a CSO. It really won't be 6 years. It will be closer to 8. The clock does not start ticking until you wing. Currently it can take up to a year to start UNT. I believe it is still close to 49 weeks to wing. That means you have 2 years from commissioning before the clock starts.
    ~ Again, during that time you can get your masters, and go to any defense contractor with real world AF experience without skipping a beat financially.
    ~~ Problem is for CSOs, it is a dieing breed.
  4. Pima

    Pima 5-Year Member

    Nov 28, 2007
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    Oh yeah VMI is right on the mark.
    Would have, could have, should have are things you say a lot more when you start hitting 35. By the time you hit 50, if you don't follow your dreams, and you have kids, you do everything to make sure that they don't ever say would've, could've should've.

    I to this day regret the college I attended (parental influence). However, I loved every friend I made. Bullet regrets he went engineering (parental influence) instead of architecture (his dream/desire).
    ~ With our kids we buttoned our lips and supported their choices... to a point...underwater basket weaving was not playing in our house when you are talking tens of thousands of dollars for a college degree.

    Folks will come around. They will become the ones bragging to the neighbors and strangers when they do come around. They will be wiping tears of joy when they pin on your butter bars, realizing the amazing man you have become, partly due to them and partly due to what AFROTC did for you.

    Finally, it appears that one of your Pro's is off the list for now.
    ~ There is a thread for at least 15 commission grads that Guard and Reserves are an option. ADAF is no longer guaranteed.

    ~~ It should be said that when you investigate this path, sometimes engineering majors are considered critical manning, and are not released to the rated world.
    ~ You said CSO, not sure if you are going this path due to vision issues, but even so, if they need aero majors, than you will face the chance that you can't go rated.
    Tell Dad, the AF has many grad school programs, including on base, (UMD, ERAU, Troy, Webster quickly come to miind) where the AF pays for you to attend. They also have AFIT (in case you don't go rated or take ED). You can't make O5 without a grad degree.
    ~ We have friends that went to Harvard, Yale, MIT as a base assignment for their grad degree.
    ~~ It was their "job" to attend school. They picked up the bill, paid their salary and were more competitive for promotions.
    ~~~ Hornet and Christcorp DS (AFA) got the golden slot...the one and only Rand fellowship to San Diego directly out of AFA for 3 years to get their Ph.D. on the AF dime. They both got before commissioning their follow on assignment to UPT. Not saying that will happen for you, but if your Dad's fear is additional educational opportunities, he is absolutely, positively drop dead wrong. The AF values education....they will require even Professional Military Education (PME) starting as a Captain (SOS). You will vie for this opportunity in residence. Again, you go and your only job is academics.

    IOWS your educational career does not end when you commission...unless you never want to be promoted to an O4, O5 or O6. Take the time and research the educational delay program that AFROTC offers.

    I don't know where you live in NJ, but I am a Jersey girl. I can guarantee you that if you enter with this info, and do even more research since there is a Lockheed plant in NJ, that your Dad will quickly realize you will make as much money after taxes in the AF as you would living in NJ and earning 60K. Plus, while your peers are entering management and paying their dues, you can in 5 yrs enter in at a higher management level (military speak/TS clearance). You can also have a Grad degree, even if it is only ERAU, and not Princeton. Difference is the AF picked up that grad degree bill.
    ~ Honestly, most people in the corporate world will say grad degrees are a dime a dozen these days. Work experience with engineering companies that have defense contracts place that fact into the equation

    In the end you will be competing against that guy/gal with an aero engineering major and AF/Navy commission for that job opening 5 yrs after graduation. They will have the grad degree via ERAU, and 5 years military experience. They will know through practical life experience as an officer what the military wants. You otoh only knows what Lockheed says design.
    ~ No clue why they say, this must be here regarding the design, since in your eyes it can work in 4 other places. The AF guy can say you put it here, than the pilot is blocked because....
    ~~ Same is true for you as a CSO. Bullet was a CSO, and he graduated with an engineering degree, did 20 yrs. His job now is working with Lockheed on what goes in the 35. Just came back from TX. He is a GS with the AF. He never used his engineering degree in the AF, but he did get a grad degree, did in residence for PME, and scooped up 1 year before he left. He signed his papers because he was recruited. 1 job was the 22, the other was the 35. Note neither have CSOs.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014
  5. akhan1104

    akhan1104 New Member

    Aug 1, 2014
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    You guys made a lot of good points, at the end of the day it's something I want to do and that should be enough. Just got to grow a pair and talk to my parents.

    A separate question: what do you guys think I could end up doing in the Air Force with an AE degree, obviously the Air Force contracts private companies to do their engineering but what would I be doing? And does having this type of degree help or hurt my chances of being stationed internationally(another thing I want to do)?
  6. Zero

    Zero Member

    Jul 23, 2014
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    There is nobody in the world that can tell you what you might be doing at this point, even with that degree its completely dependent on the needs of the Air Force at the time, your degree merely lets you opt into other careers that some may not. Example: Scientist of sorts. Your degree also does not affect your chances of being stationed anywhere, again, your job will decide that, which is random. Once you have your job, you can list your "dream sheet" of the bases you would like to go to, but this does not mean you will ever end up there.

    A lot of the advice on here is solid, make sure you are doing it because you want to and because you want to serve your country. There are benefits, like school, traveling etc. But you may not get exactly what you want or travel very little. You need to be prepared for that, especially if you don't plan on doing more than the basic 4 or so years.

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