Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Why You May Hear Me Muttering To Myself
I've been in the Air Force for 9 years, 6 months and 1 day. Yes, I am counting down to retirement.
I think the hardest part of being in the military (besides deploying away from family) is the fact that no matter where you are (except deploying) or what job you have we get paid a set rate.
Let me explain. Your paycheck depends on what your rank is. I am enlisted. That means I came in the military without going through college. If I had went through a college I would have came in as an officer making much more money.
I enlisted in 1999 at the age of 17 . That means I graduated High School in June and by July I was in basic training. This started off fine because I only had to take care of myself and I lived in the dorms on base. Most enlisted that come in get paid very little because they come in with out any stripes (rank) on their arms. I, however, came in immediately with 2 stripes because I had been in JROTC in High School for 4 years. This means I started off making money that it would take a new airman 2-3 years to earn.
With this said I put on my 3rd stripe quickly as well. (The first 3 stripes are given depending on your time in and time you had the previous one on) I have been ahead of my peers for the most part. After having 3 stripes you have to test for the next few every year. In 2002, I decided my time was almost up and I was going to separate so when it was time to test for my 4th stripe I didn't put any effort into it. I tested but had no plans of sticking around to see how I did. Big mistake. I decided to re-enlist and missed my 4th stripe by less than 1 point, it think it was .075.
By 2003, I was ready to test for the second time. I tested and then found out I was pregnant. By the time the results came out I was about 6months pregnant. I found out I had made it so I would not only be having a baby but earning more money and able to help take good care of her.
So that's where I am not. In December of 2003 I put on my 4th stripe. I couldn't test for my 5th until 2007. I tested in February of 2007 and didn't make it. I tested in March of 2008 and didn't make it again. February 19th will be my 3rd time testing. I can't explain how much I need this stripe. I have been a SSgt for 5 years and have been earning pretty much the same paycheck for 5 years.
In the meantime my child has grown (yes, I'm amazed as well) and therefore want to be in activities. That wasn't a problem until October 2007 when my husband lost the contract for his job. Earning my TSgt stripe this year means more to me than anything. I will be eating, sleeping and dreaming my study material for the next month and 4 days. I have to make it. I need it. My family needs it. It is necessary.
So, I'm off to study. Again. I could use some prayer. Some hope. The answers to the test if you have them (just kidding).
Tech Sergeant. It just looks good doesn't it. Ok maybe not but the paycheck sure would.