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Thread: Letter: Why I won't re-enlist

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    Senior Member Rusty Jones's Avatar
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    Letter: Why I won't re-enlist

    http://www.airforcetimes.com/article...on-t-re-enlist

    Six years ago, fresh out of high school, I joined the Air National Guard. I was working a dead-end job making $10 an hour, no insurance, and no way to go to college without loans. The decision was a no-brainer: Learn a skill, earn money for college, and have access to health care. I had every reason to join, and the recruiter knew that.

    I met my future wife right before I left for basic training. We managed to stay together through the year and a half of basic and technical school, only for me to get home and be activated for a six-month deployment. I proposed before I left so that she would know I was serious about being together.

    I returned and faced the same dilemma as before. Luckily, I scored a full-time active-duty position preserving my coveted benefits.

    Six years, multiple deployments and several mental breakdowns later, I am ready to put the Air Force in my past forever.

    I am not trying to paint a negative picture of the Air Force — I am simply telling it as it is. The Air Force has given me a lot, but what it took in return was more valuable. With so much in the news about the military, from the scandals to the budget, I think it is important to tell it from the perspective of the enlisted member. If the Air Force plans on maintaining an enlisted force, leaders would be wise to listen to the enlisted perspective. They successfully chased me away, and I know I am not the only one.

    My plan was simple (or so I thought): Stay in 20 years and retire with a good pension and health care for life. I would be 38 with time to start a second career.

    That unsinkable plan started taking on water pretty quickly. My wife and I had talked about kids, but we were going to wait until the deployments slowed down, if ever that would be. My good pension was becoming more of a dream every day as the financial situation in Washington got worse. The separation from my wife caused problems but was a reality that we accepted as necessary to live comfortably. We had food, shelter and health care. We bought a house, two cars, a flat-screen TV. At 25 and 23, we were living the American dream.

    The doubt grew stronger during a recent six-month tour to Southwest Asia. The deployment was no different than any other one before it: My wife and I missed each other, but we were handling it well. The work was mind-numbing and joyless. The leadership was terrible and went out of its way to make everything difficult. The news constantly reported on budget cuts and shrinking military benefits, which really cheers you up while you’re deployed. Emails came in daily assuring us everything was OK and reminding us the mission always comes first. All of it very ordinary, casual and expected, and it was the life I accepted.

    Then I had a moment of clarity I will never forget; I was sacrificing my life for money. I had been lured in with promises of money and support and was trapped. I had lost sight of what was truly important for the feeling of security. I had come to accept, without question, my reality because of fear. Fear that was constantly strengthened with every news report about the economy and entrenched with every thought of being poor. I had settled for unhappiness.

    Even worse, I had made that decision for my wife. She was living a married life without a husband. Our life was more depressing than I had allowed myself to see.

    The catalyst for this epiphany was one of the silliest things to happen to me. First sergeants are the military version of rabid human resources advisers in the corporate world. They walk around and make sure nobody is comfortable or breaking the dress code. My unit had a particularly square individual in this position.

    One day at chow I felt obligated to sit with him and my supervisor (I didn’t want to seem rude), and I noticed he was staring at my mustache. Regulations force you to have a Hitler mustache. Most first shirts don’t have an issue as long as you’re not doing anything extravagant, but I knew my first shirt was going to say something. The lecture involved talk about core values and my military duty.

    In that moment I realized that I was not going to subject myself to an environment where an old man can decide my fate and lecture me about mustaches and morals just so I can buy things I don’t need to make me feel better about a life I am not enjoying.

    I was ready to stop being dependent on the military and discover who I really am. I had been held back, limited, and sucked dry of all happiness. That first sergeant may have been crazy, but he helped me realize that I was crazy, too.

    So now I am waiting for my enlistment to be up in three months so I can take off the uniform and put back on the best-fitting clothes I own — myself. My wife is elated, and my future looks brighter every day, even without the so-called “security” I had been so dependent on.

    So let me ask a question of those making this military what it is — whether Congressman or commander: What do you expect from one who leaves his family for months to work in an environment designed to stifle happiness, with no freedom, trapped in an overbearing, lawsuit-frightened workplace with power-hungry leaders, all while hearing about pay cuts, getting kicked out, loss of retirement, Tricare increases, and more threats of war?

    I hate to be the one to tell you, but you really have this all wrong.

    I do not plan to re-enlist in August because I know my life is short and my time too precious to waste, simply for money. I am going to be at home with my wife and able to grow a mustache without anyone trying to tell me how to groom it.
    Alright... I was far from being joe, moto, ate-up, or whatever each individual service calls it. And I've never had a complaint about any of the Military Times articles until now... why in the HELL did they feel the need to publish THIS?

    He's complaining about the Air Force not letting him wear a type of facial hair that's been out of style since the series finale of Magnum PI (he actually CAN wear a moustache like that in the Navy, but he'll still get fucked with by his peers), among other things... outside of that, I must admit... I had most of the same complaints that he did while I was in.

    But it seems to me like he wants to give the Air Force some time to cave into his wants, in order to convince him to stay.

    What seems unfortunate to me... is that, assuming his chain of command takes no action against him for this, he's going to end up reenlisting anyway, despite all of his shit-talking.

    If any of you folks on active duty know this guy, I'm even willing to get a friendly bet going.
    "Well... Uber's going to "driverless" cars soon, and their research probably shows that they're a natural fit (when it comes to getting paid for doing nothing)."
    -Rainmaker, referencing black males

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    Senior Member Stalwart's Avatar
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    Re: Letter: Why I won't re-enlist

    The military isn't for everyone. A lot of people are also trying to stay, some out of a need/desire for the pay & benefits and some out of a genuine desire to be part of something bigger than themselves.

    I don't and won’t disparage anyone who does their time honorably and pursues other options in the civilian world. Some have it harder or do harder jobs than others, some have it easier. Thanks for his service and good luck.

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    Re: Letter: Why I won't re-enlist

    Quote Originally Posted by Rusty Jones View Post
    http://www.airforcetimes.com/article...on-t-re-enlist



    Alright... I was far from being joe, moto, ate-up, or whatever each individual service calls it. And I've never had a complaint about any of the Military Times articles until now... why in the HELL did they feel the need to publish THIS?

    He's complaining about the Air Force not letting him wear a type of facial hair that's been out of style since the series finale of Magnum PI (he actually CAN wear a moustache like that in the Navy, but he'll still get fucked with by his peers), among other things... outside of that, I must admit... I had most of the same complaints that he did while I was in.

    But it seems to me like he wants to give the Air Force some time to cave into his wants, in order to convince him to stay.

    What seems unfortunate to me... is that, assuming his chain of command takes no action against him for this, he's going to end up reenlisting anyway, despite all of his shit-talking.

    If any of you folks on active duty know this guy, I'm even willing to get a friendly bet going.
    It sounds like he is an AGR (Active Guard). It's funny that he would write this letter. When you accept an AGR position it is a set tour length (usually 4 years) that you agree to serve on Active Duty. Contrary to popular belief you can actually resign an AGR anytime you want. It isn't a firm contract like normal active duty. The only catch is that if you resign an AGR tour you are ineligible for future AGR consideration. My only question is why he is waiting the 3 months for his tour to end? Why doesn't he just quit now?

    With all that being said I think you are getting a little too hung up on the mustache thing. I think the author is using that small issue to make a point. He is saying that he joined the military because he is being paid more than he is worth. In return for this job he is being forced to obey a dress code and other rules that he finds ridiculous. His point is valid but he might be in for a rude awakening when he starts looking for jobs in corporate America. I have a well groomed goatee and my company has never complained. Our dress code is basically business casual. I suppose I'm free to shave my head into a mohawk or get a tattoo if I want, but my employer is also free to fire me if they would like. It's a tradeoff that I accept. I work a job that pays me generously and I exchange some small freedoms for it. If I want I can leave and find a $10 an hour job where my employer will care a lot less. That sound slike where this kid is headed.

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    Re: Letter: Why I won't re-enlist

    I think his point was that serving in the AF is not fun, but it could be.

    It used to be.

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    Re: Letter: Why I won't re-enlist

    Quote Originally Posted by Measure Man View Post
    I think his point was that serving in the AF is not fun, but it could be.

    It used to be.
    When did it stop being fun? I don't need an exact date, but maybe a timeframe. Normally, when I hear people talk about "The Good old days" they are referring to times when they could get away with anything and there was a lot less accountability. The fun seems to have been sucked out of the Air Force when we started being politically correct. Instead of allowing commanders to give a verbal counseling for marijuana use we setup rules that created a zero tolerance policy. Decisions were taken out of commanders and supervisors hands because the disparity in punishment was rather large. It's sort of the same thing as the PT program. You didn't hear many people complaining about it when units had their own PTL and it was your buddy who hooked you up. Even though you had a 40 inch waist and couldn't walk a mile you always seemed to pass. Then all of the sudden BIG AIR FORCE came along and took that away. Now you actually have to prove you meet the standards. That's no fun at all.

    P.S. not trying to turn this into a PT thread just making the point that the good old days often refer to times when you could do whatever you wanted.

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    Re: Letter: Why I won't re-enlist

    My old first sergeant kicked in and I immediately wanted to kick this kids ass. Fricking staff sergeant acting like a spoiled d-bag. Sorry for the bad language folks.

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    Re: Letter: Why I won't re-enlist

    Quote Originally Posted by Measure Man View Post
    I think his point was that serving in the AF is not fun, but it could be.

    It used to be.
    It still is, only people focus more on the negative things instead of opening their eyes and seeing hey, im overseas and getting paid for it.

    People need to understand that the AF doesnt need them and that in a few years we will be forgotten as we PCS or retire. People need the AF a lot more than the otherway around and because we know that we can do these things and weed out the people we dont want. Its sucks but because the demand for people to stay in is higher than people let on, plus those wanting to join if someone can not follow the rules that have been set forth from before they joined we dont need them. Plus hopefully those people getting out are TSgt's and MSgt's so that leaves a better chance for me to get promoted.

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    Senior Member Rusty Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Letter: Why I won't re-enlist

    Quote Originally Posted by SomeRandomGuy
    It sounds like he is an AGR (Active Guard). It's funny that he would write this letter. When you accept an AGR position it is a set tour length (usually 4 years) that you agree to serve on Active Duty. Contrary to popular belief you can actually resign an AGR anytime you want. It isn't a firm contract like normal active duty. The only catch is that if you resign an AGR tour you are ineligible for future AGR consideration. My only question is why he is waiting the 3 months for his tour to end? Why doesn't he just quit now?
    That's probably a good reason to assume he went regular Air Force from the Guard.

    With all that being said I think you are getting a little too hung up on the mustache thing. I think the author is using that small issue to make a point. He is saying that he joined the military because he is being paid more than he is worth. In return for this job he is being forced to obey a dress code and other rules that he finds ridiculous. His point is valid but he might be in for a rude awakening when he starts looking for jobs in corporate America. I have a well groomed goatee and my company has never complained. Our dress code is basically business casual. I suppose I'm free to shave my head into a mohawk or get a tattoo if I want, but my employer is also free to fire me if they would like. It's a tradeoff that I accept. I work a job that pays me generously and I exchange some small freedoms for it. If I want I can leave and find a $10 an hour job where my employer will care a lot less. That sound slike where this kid is headed.
    Agreed, but the motive behind this letter comes into question. Like Stalwart said, the military isn't for everyone. In my case, it kind of was... but the reserves is more than a good balance for me. I'm going through the process right now to get in. Probably most people who get out before they're eligible to retire have the same exact complaints as this guy (except the moustache part. If you're gonna bitch about facial hair restrictions, then let it be because you want a beard or a goatee. Not because you want to look like an 80's pornstar).

    I think that he's hoping he can change something with this letter, because it really sounds like he wants to stay. Or that he knows fully well that he may end up staying.

    I was in his position before when I was married to my ex-wife. I reenlisted and resented HER for it the whole time... one of the reasons on my end why we're no longer married.
    "Well... Uber's going to "driverless" cars soon, and their research probably shows that they're a natural fit (when it comes to getting paid for doing nothing)."
    -Rainmaker, referencing black males

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    Re: Letter: Why I won't re-enlist

    Quote Originally Posted by SomeRandomGuy View Post
    When did it stop being fun? I don't need an exact date, but maybe a timeframe. Normally, when I hear people talk about "The Good old days" they are referring to times when they could get away with anything and there was a lot less accountability. The fun seems to have been sucked out of the Air Force when we started being politically correct. Instead of allowing commanders to give a verbal counseling for marijuana use we setup rules that created a zero tolerance policy. Decisions were taken out of commanders and supervisors hands because the disparity in punishment was rather large. It's sort of the same thing as the PT program. You didn't hear many people complaining about it when units had their own PTL and it was your buddy who hooked you up. Even though you had a 40 inch waist and couldn't walk a mile you always seemed to pass. Then all of the sudden BIG AIR FORCE came along and took that away. Now you actually have to prove you meet the standards. That's no fun at all.

    P.S. not trying to turn this into a PT thread just making the point that the good old days often refer to times when you could do whatever you wanted.
    Verbal counseling for marijuana??

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    Re: Letter: Why I won't re-enlist

    Quote Originally Posted by SomeRandomGuy View Post
    When did it stop being fun? I don't need an exact date, but maybe a timeframe. Normally, when I hear people talk about "The Good old days" they are referring to times when they could get away with anything and there was a lot less accountability. The fun seems to have been sucked out of the Air Force when we started being politically correct. Instead of allowing commanders to give a verbal counseling for marijuana use we setup rules that created a zero tolerance policy. Decisions were taken out of commanders and supervisors hands because the disparity in punishment was rather large. It's sort of the same thing as the PT program. You didn't hear many people complaining about it when units had their own PTL and it was your buddy who hooked you up. Even though you had a 40 inch waist and couldn't walk a mile you always seemed to pass. Then all of the sudden BIG AIR FORCE came along and took that away. Now you actually have to prove you meet the standards. That's no fun at all.

    P.S. not trying to turn this into a PT thread just making the point that the good old days often refer to times when you could do whatever you wanted.
    I would say early 90's/McPeak era, when all the QAF stuff started and leadership wanted the AF to run like a corporation. I don't see it as being able to do what ever you wanted, but people were held accountable as individuals and there wasn't the "one guy craps his pants, put everyone in diapers" mentality that has existed since. You were evaluated based on your performance (hence the term "Performance Evaluation") and not all the box-checking that goes on now, i.e. DSD, CCAF, volunteering, etc..

    As for PT, although while I believe the cycle ergo test was not the correct way evaluate fitness, I don't think how the program is currently run (as the be-all/end-all career buster) is right either. Back then, if you failed or performed poorly on the test, you were put in a very strictly monitored fitness program (remember the yellow 1975 forms?). As long as you followed the program and documented (with verification & proof) your workouts, you were good to go. It was a pain going to the fitness center 5x/week and having someone witness your workout, but the bottom line was the AF just wanted to ensure you were doing the work, even if the test didn't happen to reflect it. A much better way to motivate people into developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle plan.

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