I am at the same crossroad. I am at 18.5 years and obviously I will re-enlist to make 20 yrs but how much longer do I stay? Am I going to be missing out on something if I stay. Another big factor was getting on with my life. It is hard to really settle into a sustainable, traditional lifestyle while serving given the "flexibility" required. I want a place to call home. I want a community to call home. I am tired of having to pick up and leave every 3 or 4 years to a different part of the country. My wife and son are tired of having to start over again everytime we move to a new community. I really put a lot of thought into it but a couple things my wife and I discussed really sealed the deal to stay longer than just 20.
Just for some background: As you do, I truly love my job and am proud to serve my country. I am a Boom Operator in the US Air Force. I am close to finishing my bachelors. I hold 2 Military Associates Degrees and 2 Instructor Degrees.
Points that helped me decide to stay longer.
1. If you truly love this job and you can't do it in the civilian world, why leave it behind? Do what you love to do because once it is gone you can never get it back. Once you make that decision to move on, it cannot be changed. Don't put yourself in a position to second guess this decision.
2. Stop thinking so hard about life after the military. Stop and smell the roses. My wife and son will be behind me whatever I decide. Retirement will come eventually but don't make a decision based on what you perceive to be the right "time to go". Stop and smell the roses.
3. Financial turmoil everywhere you turn. Layoffs left and right. What is the benefit to leaving now?
4. Benefits to come. I want my son to live a better life than I was able to provide. As you know, we don't make a lot of money and frankly it has never been about the money. But an opportunity is presenting itself that is another factor on my length of service. The new GI Bill. The ability to transfer that benefit to my son so that he may attend college like most high school graduates has become very important to me. It won't bring back all the missing birthdays, family events & holidays or even make up for it but I can finally give something back to my son for all the sacrifices he made to allow me to do what I do. I can help him make a better life for himself.
Sorry to write a book here but I know what you are going through and well just make one more point.
"...I've stood on the deck of a ship as she heaved to in the violent seas and I've pulled vessels through waves as big as your house. Was I ever scared or worried? No, because I have the absolute best training in the world and have sailed with the best that this country has to offer. Seen, heard and said some of the craziest things that you've ever heard of..."
Evrything you said above I can identify with. Those moments can never be taken away. Once it is gone my friend....it is gone forever. All that is left is the stories. Do you really want that for the sake of normalcy? It will come in time whether you want it to or not.
Last edited by Wolvescp; 02-13-2009 at 06:29 PM.