Air force Reserve offers security in an evolving economy

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Every year approximately 100 Airmen separate from Grand Forks AFB in search of something better. The perception is that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. This was the thought when I got out via Palace Front in 1995 due to a reduction in force. At that time I was a staff sergeant with nine years military experience and just short of a bachelor's degree. Finding a job should have been easy if not effortless. In my mind I brought something that hardly anyone did, leadership experience in an evolving mission-oriented community, plus education accomplishments earned while working full-time in the military.

However for my first two years out of active duty, I was for the most part unemployed and relied on the unemployment pay, plus numerous part-time jobs just to keep a roof over my head. The most humbling experience was when I could barely afford food to feed my family and relying on my family to provide shelter. It was then that my pride took a hit and I realized that yes the grass was greener on the civilian side, however it was painted green. I did not join the Air Force Reserve until the week after 9/11 happened. Had I joined right off of active duty, I would have had the stability that the Air Force Reserve offered me doing my one weekend a month, and even more additional time throughout the week if needed. The only thing that did not make me a homeless veteran statistic was my ability to not give up and a helpful family!

Even now as I contemplate retirement, now with the education needed and over twenty six years of military experience, I still endure the challenge of the catch-22 when applying for civilian work. I have noticed that employers want both a high-level degree and many years of direct experience in that job. The saying that you must already be doing that job to get it rings true. For those who are looking at separating to either go to school full-time or try their hand at the civilian world, the Air Force Reserve can offer stability in the unpredictable phase when you first separate... a great stepping stone! The extra income and guaranteed pay can help ease the stress and tension should plans A, B, C and D not pan out. Imagine having something catastrophic happen without insurance. It can put you in debt for the rest of your life. Just having Tri-care Reserve Select could be a lifesaver.

Whether it is an unexpected bill, or longer time to find a job, or any number of unforeseen events, life can take all of our plans and throw them out the window. If you are debating separation from the military, double check the grass on the other side to see if it is truly greener or simply painted.

(To find out more information about the Air Force Reserve and the stability it can offer you and your family contact Sergeant Perkins at 362-4899.)