I'm transitioning out of the Military

MightyMats

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Hi everyone,

Not sure why I am posting this here but I think there may be some people that have been in my shoes before.

I feel like getting some things off my chest as I sit here at work this morning (0400) in the land of the sand. Next month will mark a decade working for Uncle Sam and I am over it. I never really intended to stay in as long as I have but the Navy was pretty good for me and it really helped me become an adult and give me the direction, purpose, and work ethic I never thought I could achieve.

As it stands now my contract will end March of 2023 putting me just over 11 years. Some people say stick it out for 20 you will regret not getting the pension. But I plan on finishing my time in the reserves and I should should get my pension some time in my 50's (I am 29 right now).

I got orders to Mayport FL to a destroyer that I am supposed to report to in late 2022 but I just don't want to do this shit anymore. I work an inconsistent schedule with long hours and my sleep has deteriorated over the past decade. This life is also stressful in its own unique ways. I'm sick of being away from what I call home, being away from loved ones, only getting one week out of the year to work on my car. I want to have a kid in a few years but I fear that I wont be around for the first 8 years of his/her life.

I am back in school and have three more classes till I receive my associates degree. I am working on my common app to try to get into Boston University so I can use my benefits immediately when I transition out of the military. My wife is a little upset I do not want to accept the orders to Florida because she is sick of the north-east and the cold amongst other things but I am sick of this life I have to live and I know that if I do this next tour for 3 years I will be pot committed. She also loves the security knowing that I will be able to pay all the bills every single month.

I also want to join the work force when I am in my 30's opposed to 40's. I don't know how difficult it is to start a new career but I am sure it is easier when you are younger.

I wouldn't mind moving down to Florida but the orders I received are pretty intense. I make good money and I don't have an issue with working hard but I don't think the military could compensate me enough for the mental stress I deal with. I can look at my pay scale and see how much money I will make in 4 or 6 or 8 years from now.

What I do is important but not fulfilling in any way shape or form. I get zero job satisfaction out of what I do. I hold an active TS-SCI clearance and have heard that is worth good money in the civilian sector and know two people personally that have gotten jobs in washington DC starting 100k a year when they got out before 10 years (they had bachelors degrees in cyber security i believe).

I know that if I get into BU and complete a masters program in mechanical engineering I should be set for life if I can get my foot in the door at Raytheon, Lockheed & Martin, Boeing, or some other defense company. I watched my wife go back to school last year and get her masters degree at BU and it looked like it sucked. But I don't think it's worse than what I do now. My GI bill will pay me to go to school and with some money from the VA for injuries I have suffered, I should be ok for awhile. I also have absolutely "0" debt (not even a car payment) and should be able to have well over 2 years of savings in my own personal bank account. Not including my wife's or our joint account.

This isn't me seeking advise I just feel like talking about it and I already know my plan. It just isn't really a good idea to tell someone you work with that you are planning on getting out because unfortunately I have seen people lose support from their chain of command because they are not planning on staying in.

Was anyone else scared when they made a major life change? Because I am scared. My buddy got out last year and he thought everything was going to be easy. Life hit him hard when his wife left him and he realized no one gives you handouts.

Thanks for listening.
 

SPF Required

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Hey there @MightyMats , first off thank you for your service. I have not been in your situation and it sounds like you are definitely dealing with a lot of introspection which is good. And I have found this group here to be a welcome source of advice…. Car wise or otherwise.

When it comes to job satisfaction, don’t believe all that you see in movies and tv…. Life is hard and I would argue most folks are not happy with their jobs most of the time. I often joke that if it was fun, they wouldn’t call it work. I have been in my chosen career since I was 19 (I am 49 now). I bumped along for a long time…worked hard, did my job well, but the work wasn’t magical. But it did pay the bills and put me on a path that COULD be rewarding if I changed my mindset. Like you, I didn’t have my degree when I started working, that didn’t come along until I was 38…. Married 10 years at that point with a toddler and a newborn. It wasn’t easy, it was hard… really hard! But I knew if I kept my nose to the grindstone that I would eventually achieve some success it my life that I was told by others would be there.

I work in the hazardous materials industry. I deal with things like asbestos and lead paint and mercury and PCBs…. Essentially if it can kill you slowly, I am your guy. It is not glamorous nor sexy work. But it is a good job that pays well. Like you, that wasn’t enough to make me happy, but then I had a shift in my thinking. After 20 years in my job, I realized I wasn’t just dealing with hazardous materials, I was actually in the business of saving lives! After all, if I could keep even just one construction worker from getting mesothelioma or keep them from taking home lead dust on their work clothes and poisoning their kids, then I was actually doing important and rewarding work. My job actually never changed, but changing my mindset truly gave me a different outlook on my career (no longer just a job). I wake up in the morning and WANT to go to work because now I am going to work to save peoples lives! That was 10 years ago and I have never looked back and have no regrets for sticking it out.

but even with this passion for my career, and receiving many promotions to the point now I am in a leadership position and oversee these services for my company across North America, I still have a lot of runway in front of me before I can reap the financial rewards that come with a long career. While you don’t want to hear me say ‘stick it out’, that would certainly be my advice. But I would first ask you to take a deep look at the PURPOSE of what you do every day, not just the tasks of what keeps you busy. If you can find that deeper purpose and passion in your job, you might find it can become a rewarding career? And if by chance that can happen, you will reap the financial reward a hell of a lot sooner than most of us on this site.

I think you are wise to post your thoughts here. You’ll likely get a variety of responses from a good group of folks (most of them anyway).

as for the marital advice, you’re on your own there!
 

1978 NYB

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I retired from the Army in 1996. I served in Armored Cavalry and Self Propelled Artillery (8 inch) for 20 years. Deployed 15.5 out of 20 years. I lived outdoors most of those 20 years.

My advice to you is stick it out and get to the 20 year mark. You are more than halfway home already. You will regret it down the road if you get out now. Not only will you get a pension at 20 years but more importantly is the health care. Health care for you and your wife until you both die. And your kids until they are 26. I'm 66 and I'm fighting through some major health issues now and I'm glad that I stuck it out for 20 years. Don't worry, those government jobs will be there 9 years from now. A lot of those jobs require a 4 year degree so you can work on that during the next 9 years on active duty. I worked at the Army Test Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland as a contractor after I retired from the Army. Crazy money for sure. There are also tens of thousands of high paying government and contractor jobs at APG and they will be there 9 years from now too. So if I was you, I would take a deep breath and think about what I just said and discuss this with your wife and make the right decision. I know right now you are getting excited about the thought of getting out in a couple of months. It can be overpowering. The closer you get to 20 years the easier things get. And when you get to 19.5 years you will start to transition to retirement. I was told to focus on becoming a civilian. So you won't really work the last 6 months. You can do job interviews and should have a job by time you retire from the miltary. It's a hard decision, but believe me, you won't regret sticking it out for 20 years active.
 
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Camshaft

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First off, I admire you greatly for the heartfelt context of your letter and for serving your country and the rest of the world, for a decade. No matter what the bleeding hearts in my own country may say, the US military has provided all of us with a better and safer world to live in and I applaud you and your brothers for your dedication and service.
Secondly, I will say this. There are two very salient points in your letter. #1- I have 0 job satisfaction, and #2- I already know my plan. What you are really looking for is validation of the decisions that you have already made.
You are in your late 20's and if it something that is super important to you and your wife, that means you have to, or want to start a family. If your wife has a Masters degree and spent that much effort on getting one, that means she want's a career, and those two items (kids and a career) do not and cannot mesh if you are stationed overseas or away from home. It takes two parents to raise small children. You only have one life, and you can't plan it with any great certainty. You can deal in generalities but you have to be able to roll with the punches and realize that there are going to be tough situations along the way. Dealing with those will make you, your relationship and your family stronger in the long run. Life can be hard, but do not stick with something that you hate because it "pays the bills". You have some money saved, maybe your wife can work for a few years while you advance your education and then you can swap roles when you start a family and you find a career that gives you fulfillment and a bigger paycheck?
When my wife and I got married, she was a Registered nurse and had a career. I was starting a new business on my own and was scuffling to make ends meet. When we got married and were ready to have kids, I worked at my business from home and took care of the baby, and she worked full time. It was tough, but we got through it, and when our oldest son was 4 years old, we were doing well enough that she could quit her job as a nurse, and she has never gone back. Life is a crap shoot, but you need to carefully consider each move you make, especially when it involves more than just you. Assess the risks, discuss with your significant other and come to an agreement. Then throw yourself into your decision 100%, but be willing to change direction if things don't work out as you planned.
I wish you the best of luck in your deliberations, and hope that you have a happy Holiday! C shaft.
 

1978 NYB

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Since I retired from the Army I have worked with thousands of former Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, and Marines at the Army Training Center at APG. Do you know how many of them that were in the same situation as you are, told me that they were glad they got out and didn't stay the 20 years? Pretty much none of them. Almost all of them told me the same thing, I wished I stayed for 20 years and retired when I was in my late 30's and then started a 2nd career. Even the ones that went into the reserves said they made a mistake by not finishing the 20 years. You will probably be in the reserves until you are in your late 50's. You can start a family while you are on active duty. The health care is pretty good and schools are as well. Last I checked, many families didn't have any problems producing offspring while on active duty. And something else you may have overlooked. The military has been deploying Reseve units to the sand box too. And you cant say no I'm not going. It's up to you to decide whether to get the short 9 years to go done with, or pretty much spend the rest of your adult life in the reserves. I am not a recruiter and the decision is yours to make. I'm just relaying what I have experienced since retiring 26 years ago.
 
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1978 NYB

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More info is being added to your post and it seems like you already made a decision. Good luck to you and your wife.

:usflag:
 

Samplingman

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Thanks for your service, that’s one thing they can’t take away from you.

A plan is good to have, pension better, BUT self-preservation is very important. I tell my son (about your age) who has been chasing that “dream” job, work to get the money to pay for the things that you really want (time off, family, life experiences, etc.) and the job won’t matter. I’ve been working for the same small company for 30 years and although it’s probably the most meaningless work on the planet, I love the people, have had the opportunity to do the things I want in life, and work from home with enough time off to take care of my disabled adult daughter. That’s my job satisfaction.

Best of luck to you and your wife and future family!
 

stubs300

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As a 30 year retired A.F Aircrew member I can totally relate to you situation. I got out of Active duty at the 11 year point thinking the same as you with a TS-SCI background, unless you have a degree you can forget it!! This was back in 92 with the major changes that happened after Desert Storm. Tried to do a stint in the ILANG but then realized why I got out in the first place, and just struggled with finding any decent employment at all. Then in 2000 I tagged along with my brother up to Great Lakes BX and got the A.F rag, it had jobs for both of us in the Reserves, we both went back in at 9/11 time so we had job security from then on.
You seem to have a game plan, if you can make a easy transfer from AD to Reserves, do that as you'll keep your bennies going. If I hadn't gone back in I don't know where I'd be today??? Only you can decide what's best for you, Good Luck.
 

detmatt

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I’m going to apologize in advance for not being very helpful in your decision but you certainly have my gratitude and admiration for your life choices up to this point. :thumbsup:
 

Mr C

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I am Royal Canadian Air Force with 31 years service and 11 of those years posted with USAF. I will not pretend to be able to advise you on your career choice from now on as the US systems are different than ours.

I will, however, also, thank you for your service. As it has been said by others in this thread, you have contributed to making a safer world for us all.

For what it's worth, when I was at the "decision point" in my career I chose the pension and job security and have never regretted it.
 

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There is also this to think about....there is no guarantee you will be able to stay the 20 years. It depends on what you do and what they need.
My son was about to re-up at 15 years and was notified he made Chief....and the massive troop reduction hit. They had an abundance of avionics techs and he held all sorts of clearances-at one point he reported direct to an Admiral-to no avail. He was allowed to retire at 15 years of service and receives a partial pension and has Tri-care.
He says getting out was the best thing that could have happened. The Navy became a babysitting service for adult kids. He had a very good paying job before he got out and has never regretted it.
You have to make the decision that works best for you.
 

Fratzog

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Thanks for your story and it sounds like you have a good plan. I have no related military experience to share but as an ex-recruiter for a large steel firm, I can suggest a couple things.

First, as a mechanical engineer with military experience, you would be a prime recruitment target for any large industrial organisation.

In your outline above, you indicated a lack of job satisfaction with your current role. In that regard, I would caution you that working as an "employee" or "contractor" in any large organisation can also be at once demanding, thankless and less than fulfilling.

Just be careful your expectations for private sector employment are realistic and you don't end up going from the frying pan into the fire.
 

MightyMats

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Hi all, thank you for the responses. I have read them all in their entirety. I have not completely made up my mind yet but I will have to soon. I am waiting on my hard copy orders to Florida which I think will come in next month in January. After that I will need to submit my formal intentions on my decision to re-enlist to at the least fulfill minimum time required by the job billet (3 years) which would put me at 14 years. I would then be pot committed to do 20 years. I am waiting on the ship to contact me, it is usually a formal conversation about the duties, the ship itself, schedule, OP-tempo, the chain of command, etc.

I talked to my wife about it tonight, she has her opinions on what she wants and I have mine. I have no kids to support and I don't mean to sound cruel but I feel like I need to make the selfish decision for myself. I don't want to just take these orders because my wife wants to move to Florida on the Navy's dime. I don't think that I should be unhappy just so she is happy. The hardest part is that she doesn't support me transitioning at all and it is a huge red flag for me. I can understand why she feels the way she feels but for her to disregard what is important to me... I don't like it. We have been married for 7 years and I think of our marriage as teamwork and I don't feel the teamwork. We didn't really make any progress on the issue tonight. Maybe that's why I am venting here. This is definitely the hardest decision I have made in a long time.

And thank you to everyone who has chimed in and listened to me. I appreciate it.
 

halifaxhops

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I did 8.5 USN active, weird career started as a deck ape E1and ended up as IS E-6 intel. Then wanted to start a family went to the USNR absolutely hated it, transferred to the air guard in less than a year. I loved it ended up doing over 25 years Mostly USAF Rescue. Only regret I have really is I should have stayed Active, Have one more year to get my retirement (60 -sand box time) and have been disabled for ten years now would have helped out. That said you have a good plan. Look also at the other services also for Guard/reserve. I have dealt with them all. The USAF treats you the best by far, Army seems to use the hell out of you. Right now you can use your GI bill and also get money from the guard also. You can actually make half a salary doing it while in school, not a bad deal. Just saying Also if you did not know if you get a federal position you can buy back all your active duty time towards your retirement. Saved my ass for sure.
 
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Unix

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Hi all, thank you for the responses. I have read them all in their entirety. I have not completely made up my mind yet but I will have to soon. I am waiting on my hard copy orders to Florida which I think will come in next month in January. After that I will need to submit my formal intentions on my decision to re-enlist to at the least fulfill minimum time required by the job billet (3 years) which would put me at 14 years. I would then be pot committed to do 20 years. I am waiting on the ship to contact me, it is usually a formal conversation about the duties, the ship itself, schedule, OP-tempo, the chain of command, etc.

I talked to my wife about it tonight, she has her opinions on what she wants and I have mine. I have no kids to support and I don't mean to sound cruel but I feel like I need to make the selfish decision for myself. I don't want to just take these orders because my wife wants to move to Florida on the Navy's dime. I don't think that I should be unhappy just so she is happy. The hardest part is that she doesn't support me transitioning at all and it is a huge red flag for me. I can understand why she feels the way she feels but for her to disregard what is important to me... I don't like it. We have been married for 7 years and I think of our marriage as teamwork and I don't feel the teamwork. We didn't really make any progress on the issue tonight. Maybe that's why I am venting here. This is definitely the hardest decision I have made in a long time.

And thank you to everyone who has chimed in and listened to me. I appreciate it.

Just some advice for free. Best to learn from others mistakes. I've been there. Remember this well. She is your wife today, tomorrow could be different. Chase excellence, not women. Do what makes you happy, not her/ or others. At this moment in life you are "free", no children involved. If you have kids, you will forever, in one way or another be bound to her.
ps/ marrying these days is very risky business for guys, just a bad deal.
 

commando1

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I have my own story to tell but it's not important.
Stick it out!!!!!!!!!!!!
You'll be thanking your lucky stars you did.
 

live4theking

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Thank you for your service. :usflag: Like yourself I went to the military after high school. I got out of the AF after 4 years. 1) because they did some stupid stuff that i thought was ridiculous that now I see as petty. 2) because there was a girl at home I thought I was going to marry. She dumped me 3 days after I got home. I should've read the writing on the wall.
Satisfaction in a job is elusive from my experience. As one of the others said you need to find the meaningful purpose in what you are doing.
It seems like you and your wife have some different priorities. My first suggestion would be the two of you need to communicate clearly on your desires and expectations for the future. I'm not trying to judge your relationship in any way shape or form. Just saying that if you both start to pull in the same direction for the same goals things will be better.
I did eventually get married, but not till I was 32. At that point I cut to the chase. We talked about the following things before the relationship was allowed to get involved: faith, family, finances, politics, work, where we were going to live... I know not very romantic, but knowing what and where we agree and may not agree has helped us over the last 15 years. These are the things I'm suggesting you talk to your wife about before making a life changing decision. See where you line up and where you don't.
I would also suggest whether you are religious or not to talk with your chaplain for two reasons; 1) they are trained listeners, 2) you can talk with them with complete confidentiality.
I probably didn't say a darn thing that you were expecting, but if you were my best friend that is still the advice I would give you.
 
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