The paperwork has gone through. As of 1 March 2007, I will be discharged from the USAF. Starting next week sometime, I'll be on terminal leave. For people that know me well, you can imagine how relieved I am to be getting out.
On the other hand, I'm a little nervous about not getting to nurse from the government's tit any longer. The pay wasn't bad, and the benefits are rarely matched in the civilian world.
Recently I've begun looking for new jobs. Although I'm not going to apply to these positions, having military experience and a security clearance gives me a leg up for positions in organizations such as the CIA,the DIA or the FBI. Awesome. For reasons far too many to list here, there is no way in hell I will apply to any of these organizations. I'm tired of working with Republicans. I'm also tired of having my personal conduct outside of work regulated.
I'm a little depressed that I'll probably make much less money in whatever job I get outside of the federal sector. Seems like you're either a player, some body's bitch, a military officer, or federal spy. Since I'm not a player, quit my job as an officer, and have rejected other federal agencies, looks like I'm going to be a bitch and hope I can get health insurance.
The government has gotten huge in the last 7 years. I remember back when I first went to China in 1996. Capitalism was taking off but much of the previous structures were still in place, all of the well to do people in the society were members of the Communist Party and/or working for the government. It would be a gross over simplification to compare us to China in the 1990's however, the fact that I know loads of people who want to work for the government and stay in the military because of the job security and benefits is pretty depressing. Their patriotism is fueled by how well Uncle Sam takes care of them. Let's face it, unless you do something illegal you're not going to get fired from the Army right now. You might not get fired even if you do something illegal.
If money, benefits, and job security were my only motivations in seeking employment, I would be crazy to get out of the Air Force now. Instead I would highly consider staying in for 16 more years, and then retire at 46 and begin receiving my pension immediately for the rest of my life and also retain my health care benefits. Then I would get a much more lucrative job in the defense industrial complex for a company like Lockheed Martin or Haliburton which is run by former military members. But I might not even have to stay in the Air Force until retirement. If I would have played my cards better I could probably jump into a lucrative job in the defense industry right now. Unfortunately, they can see through me. They know I'm not really one of them and I probably couldn't get hired. Although six figures would be pretty sweet.
I know my outlook seems a little narrow, and there are lots of ways to make money in America outside of the government and defense industry. My point of view is skewed because my own job experience leaves me most qualified for positions in the government. My perspective is further skewed by the location from which I'm writing: San Antonio, Texas. The backbone of this city's economy is three military bases and the defense contractors located nearby to support them. Furthermore, I don't have the mindset to become an investment banker, real estate mogul, engineer, or dotcom CEO. My point is that it's possible to do better financially with a career in the military than many other industries. I don't think it was like that 10 years ago, but I'm no economist just a job seeker.