Commentary

July 17, 2014

Are You Ready?

Commentary by Master Sgt. C.A. Tony Sargent
81st Medical Support Squadron first sergeant

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. — When Air Force leadership announced they would need to cut about 25,000 Airmen over the next five years, many people wondered if they would be affected.

A variety of programs were announced, including several allowing Airmen the option to retire early. The Air Force also allowed some Airmen the option to receive voluntary separation pay if they met certain requirements.

I personally received an e-mail from the Air Force Personnel Center announcing that I might be eligible for an early retirement option. Although I am ineligible to apply, I entertained the thought of early retirement and quickly realized that, like many of my fellow Airmen, I wasn’t prepared to leave.

In these fiscally-constrained times, do you have a plan for your future if you’re asked to leave military service? (All branches of service are going through force shaping, so please substitute the words Airman and Air Force with the proper term for your branch of service for the remainder of this article.)

Are you financially prepared for transition to civilian life? Leaders need to know their Airmen on a personal level. Does your Airman overspend? Are they living beyond their means? Do they live from one paycheck to the next? Many Airmen do not have an emergency fund established. Although there are many different thoughts on the amount of money to have in an emergency fund, most would agree the funds should be enough to cover two to three months of living expenses.

If you look at what you pay out monthly, don’t be surprised if this amount totals thousands of dollars. Airmen often don’t consider having an emergency fund while serving because we have a “steady” paycheck. Why would I need to have emergency funds? If I need something but can’t afford it, I can just wait until my next payday, right?

Not anymore. We need to be prepared for the future and, as many Airmen are finding out, that future may not include serving in the United States Air Force.

Are you marketable in the civilian sector if the Air Force asks you to become a civilian in the next five years? Fortunately, the Air Force also has Tuition Assistance. Airmen who are attending college or have already obtained a degree may be ahead of others if no longer allowed to serve. Some might argue that a bachelor’s degree is not enough to be competitive in the civilian job market.

However, in my opinion, Airmen looking for a civilian position will outshine those that have not served. Even without degree completion, an employer will see and certainly understand that Airmen have been faithfully attending college while serving their country, not to mention the added work and life experiences. By the way, college attendance also may have taken place during temporary duty away from home or deployments for months at a time. Also, the majority of Airmen exiting military service will have the Montgomery or post 9/11 GI Bill allowing them to continue pursuit of their degree or possibly begin a graduate degree program.

Are you mentally and spiritually prepared to exit military service? I would argue that being mentally and spiritually ready to take on civilian life is very important for Airmen. After all, these are two of the four pillars of our Comprehensive Airman Fitness. There are many resources available to aid with these pillars to include mental health, Military One Source, the Chaplain Corps and your chain of command.

As a first sergeant, I often ask Airmen if they are mentally and spiritually fit. Chaplains are great to talk to about any topic and can help with both pillars. You don’t have to be of any particular religious faith to share something with a chaplain and sometimes we just need someone to listen. Most Airmen work closely with their supervisors so you can also speak to them about ideas or problems.

Finally, don’t forget about your commanders, superintendents and first sergeants. Most, if not all, have open-door policies. Many have “life lessons” to go along with their counseling sessions. Often times, they might have experienced similar situations in the past to include force shaping. Force shaping has been going on for many years. I’m sure senior leaders have been through many different rounds.

Although most of this information is nothing new to the majority of you, perhaps it will be a reminder to some that we all need to be prepared for whatever the future holds. Those of us granted the privilege of serving in the United States military need to remember just that; it is a privilege, not a right. Many have personal reasons for joining but please remember that the Air Force still NEEDS you to serve honorably until the last day you’re afforded this privilege. Military members make up less than one percent of the United States population.

All who currently serve, as well as those who served before us, should be proud to wear the uniform of their branch of service. We are truly blessed to be a part of this great nation and need to be prepared to transition to civilian life at any time.

Are you ready?




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Guard Muster brings Arizona together

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brian A. Barbour) Arizona National Guard Soldiers from the 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade stand in formation on the field at Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium, Dec. 7 in Tempe. The formation, which was part of the Arizona National Guard Muster and Community Expo, was the first...
 
 
NORAD_pict

NORAD prepares to track Santa’s flight

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) — The North American Aerospace Defense Command’s NORAD Tracks Santa website, http://www.noradsanta.org, launched Dec. 1, featuring a mobile version, a holiday countdown, new games a...
 
 

Air Force not planning Involuntary Force Reductions in 2015

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. – The modern Air Force is “feeling some strain” recently, due to its shrinking size and high operations tempo, but there won’t be any more involuntary force-shaping in 2015, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said today. James said she and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark...
 

 

Local Briefs December 19, 2014

NARFE chapter 55 to meet January 12, 11 a.m. – Golden Corral The National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) Association, Chapter 55, will hold their next monthly luncheon meeting on Monday January 12, 2015 at the Golden Corral, 4380 East 22nd Street, Tucson, AZ 85711.  The luncheon starts at 11 a.m. and ends about...
 
 

New Commander addresses Airmen of 12th Air Force

To all of the 12th Air Force Community, Happy Holidays! My wife Kristan, my three children, and I are excited to join this outstanding 12th AF community.  I cannot adequately express how honored and humbled I feel to join this community as the Commander.   I certainly appreciate the exceptional efforts of General and Mrs....
 
 
(AFSOUTH)

New commander to take reins of 12th AF, AFSOUTH

Twelfth Air Force and Air Forces Southern will welcome a new commander during a change of command ceremony Dec. 19 at 10 a.m. at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Major Gen. Chris Nowland will be promoted to the rank of lieutenant ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin