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Help assess my motivations?

drgndrvr

Well-Known Member
pilot
Hey everyone. Long time lurker, infrequent poster. I'd love the opinions and advice of those of you who are currently in SELRES or retired from it.

TLDR: Should I re-affiliate with the reserves after 12 years of active duty and a two year break in service?

Context:

I didn't affiliate with the reserves when I separated two years ago for two main reasons: 1) the uncertainty of how I would balance a civilian and a reserve career and 2) the unknown of what a reserve career would look like (my experience with reservists outside of my squadron - admittedly a narrow view of the world - didn't leave the best impression).

Now that I've had some time "off" I realize I miss serving and that some of the things that drove me insane as an ambitious JO are just the way things are, even in the private sector. Also, my employer will support a reserve career 100%. So I'm considering re-affiliating with the reserves. But, I'm being careful with it, because I want to make sure my motivations aren't simply nostalgia; the last thing I want to do is waste everyone's time (including my own) and reassess in a year or two.

Some questions for those of you who went this path:

  1. Can one find "interesting" and "meaningful" work as a former 1310 (not flying) or in the RL? This is my greatest concern - if I'm going to be away from my family (3 kids under 6) for a weekend a month, two weeks a year, and possible mobilizations - I want to be doing something worthwhile. Not checking the box with trivial tasks to earn points.
  2. My wife understands my motivations and supports them, but is very nervous about what life will look like, as I already travel for work approximately 2 times per month (2 or 3 nights). How did you discuss your career choices with your family?
  3. How likely is finding a role that allows flex drill? And when do I have that discussion with the recruiters?
  4. What else should I be thinking about?
Thanks, and looking forward to your thoughts.
 

Griz882

Livin' On the Right Side of the River From Pags!
pilot
Contributor
One thing to keep in mind, and I want to be helpful, it is rarely just one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. The extra work is often worthy stuff and you feel good about it when done. If you want to get back into flying look to the Army or AF National Guard (they will keep you close to home). I genuinely enjoyed all of the local work I did during winter storms, rising waters, fires, and even riots. Even if you don’t want to fly the Guard is a good option. There are plenty of people here with current experience in the Guard and reserves who can help you so keep checking.
 

drgndrvr

Well-Known Member
pilot
I haven't considered the Guard, simply because I thought the cultural and institutional knowledge transition from a Navy O-4 to a Guard (not sure) would be too much for them to even consider me.

That said, the most rewarding work for me personally while on AD was DSCA and working with the states after hurricanes. So this is something for me to consider....
 

RobLyman

- hawk Pilot
pilot
None
I haven't considered the Guard, simply because I thought the cultural and institutional knowledge transition from a Navy O-4 to a Guard (not sure) would be too much for them to even consider me.

That said, the most rewarding work for me personally while on AD was DSCA and working with the states after hurricanes. So this is something for me to consider....
I thought the same thing. Here I am 14 years later about to retire with enough points for a >50% retirement. I had a choice of waiting for an O-4 slot to open up in the Army Guard or revert to warrant officer (CW2). I chose the latter, thinking it would be easier to manage a peter-pilot job instead of a company commander or battalion XO job part time. At the CW2 level, you are just expected to know the aircraft and the regulations. You'll have a great advantage over your peers with aircraft knowledge and will learn regs in the aircraft qualification course (AQC). That's how it worked for me, having been an FCP and an instructor at the FRS in the Navy. I stepped right into a PC/MTP position after AQC. Due to incredible timing, I was also offered a full time MTP position as well.

BUT...that is because I am in Florida who has Blackhawks and Chinooks. North Carolina is primarily Apaches. Your Navy aircraft and institutional knowledge will be less valuable in that state. Also, DSCA is not a thing for Apaches. Duh.

Pick a state that flies Blackhawks, Lakotas or Chinooks if you want to to do DSCA. The medevac and air assault mission sets fit in with DSCA. IMO, DSCA is fun the first time, OK the second time, then becomes a pain in the ass as your summer vacation plans are derailed occasionally for hurricanes that may or may not hit your area of the state. But I guess that sort of comes into play just living in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi or Alabama. Also, sleeping on the floor of an FBO gets old.

BTW, I know of a full time guard MTP position opening up in Jacksonville in about a year. ;)
 

chrispaul

NFO
None
Ok, I am sure you will receive several responses with varied opinions and experiences. In my case, I left AD (1320) for many of the same reasons as you. I also came back (18 years later!) for many of the same reason as you are stating.
  1. Can one find "interesting" and "meaningful" work as a former 1310 (not flying) or in the RL? IMO, definitely. Outside of 'hardware' units, there are several non-flying Reserve roles for aviators, especially supporting joint air operations. Flight suits is the uniform of the day. PM me if you want to talk details here and I can get more specific.
  2. My wife understands my motivations and supports them, but is very nervous about what life will look like, as I already travel for work approximately 2 times per month (2 or 3 nights). How did you discuss your career choices with your family? For me, I did not have hobbies like golf or whatever that was taking me away from the house and my wife knew I was itching for something. Being back with the Navy in some capacity scratched that itch and was my new "hobby" in my wife's eyes. Yes, there will be mobilization, but with 8 years to go until retirement, I can't see more than 2 of those happening for you unless you are volunteering.
  3. How likely is finding a role that allows flex drill? And when do I have that discussion with the recruiters? Flex drill is common in my area of the Reserves. Telework is possible too. That level of detail is not something that the recruiter will know about. Once you are affiliated, then you will be stashed in a holding spot where you have 6 months to apply for a real billet with a unit.
  4. What else should I be thinking about? Drilling locally or being "cross-assigned" somewhere outside of North Carolina can matter a lot in terms of bureaucracy, travel, and general hassle. Beyond the normal drilling, there are lots of opportunities to attend schools on per diem orders in places that your family might like to visit, etc.
I forgot to add, several of us do DSCA stuff, but again in non-flying billets. My old Skipper (1315) was sent to Guam to coordinate hurricane relief a couple years back.
 
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chrispaul

NFO
None
Also, I skipped the recruiter and worked directly with PERS-911C in Millington. They did all my accession paperwork and got me a $10K accession bonus. The process took 3-4 months and a MEPS physical.
 

bubblehead

Registered Member
Contributor
Honestly, what's your end game here? You have a family and very young children, as well as a job that requires you to travel already. I previously had a traveling job and when I added in the Reserve travel it was a huge burden on the wife, and for what?

If it were me as an O4 with 12 years active duty, my goal would be to come in and coast along until I hit 20 years. If I were able to do something meaningful along the way, then ok, but that would not be my goal with those input parameters. "Meaningful work" in the Reserve is extremely subjective. What's meaningful to you is different that what is meaningful to the Reserve force.

Some comments:

my employer will support a reserve career 100%
Do not mention your Reserve aspirations or future affiliation with your employer, ever, until legally required. So, until you go on your Annual AT I would keep your mouth closed. Lots of employers like to talk the talk about supporting Reservists, but many of us here have been burned.

What else should I be thinking about?
Have you considered changing your designator on the way in or are you set on staying a 131X? There was a period of time where aviators with TS/SCI clearances were prime targets for getting tagged for mobilization. Now that we are out of AFG, I am not sure what that looks like.

My wife understands my motivations and supports them, but is very nervous about what life will look like, as I already travel for work approximately 2 times per month (2 or 3 nights). How did you discuss your career choices with your family?
Your wife is smart and is justified in her concerns. When I came back in, my goal was to get a retirement. Period. All decisions had to be made around that goal. My wife supported 100% on the condition that I never again volunteer myself. If I got tagged for mob she would support, but going off on my own or similar was a non-starter as was doing any of the fun stuff I liked doing previously.
 

drgndrvr

Well-Known Member
pilot
These are all great points, thanks for the comments.

  • Regarding the Guard: I spoke with a recruiter yesterday and it seems like a viable option. We're going to continue things after the holiday.
  • Regarding end game: As of now, I don't have any aspirations for command, but on the other hand, I don't want to sit around at a NOSC doing NKO courses and waiting for 5pm so it can be over either.
  • And regarding designators: Yes, I've considered the change and have spoken with a few guys in the HR community.
 

bubblehead

Registered Member
Contributor
These are all great points, thanks for the comments.

  • Regarding the Guard: I spoke with a recruiter yesterday and it seems like a viable option. We're going to continue things after the holiday.
  • Regarding end game: As of now, I don't have any aspirations for command, but on the other hand, I don't want to sit around at a NOSC doing NKO courses and waiting for 5pm so it can be over either.
  • And regarding designators: Yes, I've considered the change and have spoken with a few guys in the HR community.
Again, what's your end game here for coming in to the Reserve and disrupting your family life? Not passing judgement but I've yet to get a sense of why you want to come back in, vis-a-vis having three young kids at home and a traveling civilian job.
 
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Hair Warrior

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Rarely do I see people recommend this one, but 1715 FAO is a hidden gem. The bonus here is that you can’t access as a FAO, so your initial training pipeline student group will be peer LTs/LCDRs who are fully warfare qualified in their original designator. There are some NATO, C2F, and other units in the Va Beach area that aren’t far from NC. Obviously this is not a flying job but your Mobs will look very different than if you remain URL + TS/SCI. Also, there are some fun and unique opportunities that are OCONUS in nice places, as you can imagine. Showstoppers here are MA/MS degree and language aptitude (DLAB or DLPT).
 

snake020

Contributor
These are all great points, thanks for the comments.

  • Regarding end game: As of now, I don't have any aspirations for command, but on the other hand, I don't want to sit around at a NOSC doing NKO courses and waiting for 5pm so it can be over either.
If you're just looking to do the bare minimum to get 8 more years in, be prepared for this pain.
On the positive, if you're bored with your private sector career and in the right area (namely DC), there are some great opportunities for ADT/ADSW orders. I grabbed a couple of assignments the last two years that were quite rewarding.
But then for another down check, there's the prospect of mobilisation, which pretty much sucks.
 

bubblehead

Registered Member
Contributor
OP is better off coming in on another designator (NAVIFOR, HR, etc.) and carefully managing the remaining 8 years which would not be that difficult.

For mobs, I would not be as worried these days due to AFG withdrawal. On Monday, I have to go ferret out the latest mob brief from CNRFC and NAVIFOR to see what's been happening over the last couple of months and analysis for the months to come.
 
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