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USN Primary selection and family time

MIDNJAC

is clara ship
pilot
Pretty sure the wife of this random student pilot didn't really expect this scenario to happen. Shocker......RW dudes (especially TPS grads #another shocker) fly for majors too. Shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who is at all informed about the topic. OP, please don't let your husband make his current career decision based on trying to be more marketable for a different career that is entirely predicated on him quitting this job in about a decade. That's just dumb. I didn't do it, turns out I ended up highly marketable without trying.
 

picklesuit

Dirty Hinge
pilot
Contributor
So, to the original poster....
I’m a P-8 bubba, originally P-3’s. We are on a 12/6 rotation for homecycle then deployment (12 months home/6 deployed). Factor in 1-2 Dets while home and you will see what kind of time you will get with your husband.

E-6 is stateside, mostly, other than a couple bunkers at allied fields, and their time away from home is equal to, or greater than, ours, but it’s all flying the large-wing version of Starboard D, and you don’t get the same experience in the Navy you may have gotten with any other platform (such as deploying to other countries, flying below FL240, NOT being stationed on a Chair Farce base..)

More time gone, less fun flying, leads many to be bitter about career choice, and occasionally defensive. I would take the garbage posted by Yardstick as an extreme example of that, most E-6 bubbas are actually really nice guys with less of a chip on their shoulder and don’t act like that in public.

Our FRS is Jacksonville, so you will have to live there at least once, then our fleet is divided between Jax and Whidbey island, WA. Both have their pluses and minuses. Shore tour will depend on how he does as a JO, but can be back to Jax, Whiting/Corpus, or Pax River, MD if he wants to stay flying.

Expect a two year disassociated tour to the boat after that, where he will screen for O-4, and have the option to pull chocks and head for The Show or stay around and get paid less to fly less and lead more.

Can’t speak beyond that as I’m at that phase in my career now.

I’ve enjoyed it most of the way, with a couple of speed bumps due to my own shortcomings as a husband and an Aviator, and comparing notes with my friends in the E-6 community (9/11 years in Oklahoma with a two year break to go to the boat...gross) I made the right choice for me.

Put in your preferences, they do matter, but you already are aware that Big Navy gets the final vote.

Hit me up in PM if you want my wife’s contact info, she can give you the dependa side of the story...
Pickle
 

Hillbilly Gargoyle

Leisure Suit model and aspiring mariachi bassist
To the OP: Fist - CONGRATS on getting to this stage (no small feat compared to the 99%+ of US citizens who will not have this opportunity)!

I can appreciate the "what platform?" questions (since we've all been there) and concerns about the future from the spouse perspective. Even though the service needs are the main driving function in platform and location, the USN does it's best to meet member's desires. A platform selection can only SOME insight of where the first 1-4 years of duty station might look like following designation.

In retrospect, If I had it all to do over again, I would hope for something (I can't believe I'm saying this) in Norfolk/Va Beach. Why? Because I have 1) moved way too much
2) Spouse could not get settled into a successful career while moving every couple of years.

Transferring/PCS-ing every 2-3 yrs can lead to
  1. inability to grow equity in a home (build wealth)
  2. spouse self-worth becomes diminished due to lack of career growth opportunities.
I have multiple good friends who (a long time ago) reported to the Hampton Roads area child-less (if not single) and either still live in the same house, or have moved only once or twice (War College and/or Nuc Pwr School), while raising families and doing the various flying and non-flying tours needed to stay on the path to a full career. For them, family stability is a guiding principle. Although mostly do-able in the major fleet concentration areas (Norfolk, San Diego, Jacksonville), I find the most flexibility and affordability is in the Norfolk area (in spite of the awful traffic). FDNF will be very tempting and rewarding...IMHO, FDNF is the best 1st tour a young aviator/DivO can ask for.

To answer the question: Strike (VFA...Rhino only - not VAQ or F-35) and E-2 can get you there. Tilt (near future) or (some) Rotary are other pipelines. My multi-engine friends report decent stability, but nearly ALL of them are involved in either selling a house or dealing with tenant issues, and I'm aquatinted with most of them via ship tours.

Either way, location stability is never a guaranteed thing, and all part of the program that comes with this privilege of service. I'm sure you've heard that there is no "bad" pipeline (fact), because they ALL offer tremendous opportunity for service and experience.

I hope this helps!
 

Brett327

Well-Known Member
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
Good post above, though I would counter with the fact that VFA can mean Lemoore too, so using that as a selection strategy won't necessarily get you to the Norfolk area. If homesteading is the desired outcome (not necessarily near a big city), VAQ/Whidbey is a good option, as I know lots of folks who have done 3 or 4 consecutive tours there.
 

Hillbilly Gargoyle

Leisure Suit model and aspiring mariachi bassist
Good call, Brett - esp with VAQ-129 (FRS), Wing, EAWS [flying] and Everett, Bremerton(?), and CSG-11 [non-flying] in the vicinity.
 

Brett327

Well-Known Member
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
Good call, Brett - esp with VAQ-129 (FRS), Wing, EAWS [flying] and Everett, Bremerton(?), and CSG-11 [non-flying] in the vicinity.
For patch wearers, one might do JO squadron tour, EAWS shore, TO, DH before having to reasonably expect orders away from Whidbey. Some Lemoore CAGs let their VAQ or CAG Paddles stay in Whidbey as well.
 

IKE

Nerd Whirler
pilot
Helo types can also "homestead" at SD (R/S) or Norfolk (S only) until their post-DH tour. If you're off-track, you could post-DH in either place too.
 

Jim123

DD-214 in hand and I'm gonna party like it's 1998
pilot
Plenty of helo bubbas have homesteaded in Jacksonville over the years too.
 

Swanee

Self aware since 2014
pilot
None
Contributor
To the OP: Fist - CONGRATS on getting to this stage (no small feat compared to the 99%+ of US citizens who will not have this opportunity)!

I can appreciate the "what platform?" questions (since we've all been there) and concerns about the future from the spouse perspective. Even though the service needs are the main driving function in platform and location, the USN does it's best to meet member's desires. A platform selection can only SOME insight of where the first 1-4 years of duty station might look like following designation.

In retrospect, If I had it all to do over again, I would hope for something (I can't believe I'm saying this) in Norfolk/Va Beach. Why? Because I have 1) moved way too much
2) Spouse could not get settled into a successful career while moving every couple of years.

Transferring/PCS-ing every 2-3 yrs can lead to
  1. inability to grow equity in a home (build wealth)
  2. spouse self-worth becomes diminished due to lack of career growth opportunities.
I have multiple good friends who (a long time ago) reported to the Hampton Roads area child-less (if not single) and either still live in the same house, or have moved only once or twice (War College and/or Nuc Pwr School), while raising families and doing the various flying and non-flying tours needed to stay on the path to a full career. For them, family stability is a guiding principle. Although mostly do-able in the major fleet concentration areas (Norfolk, San Diego, Jacksonville), I find the most flexibility and affordability is in the Norfolk area (in spite of the awful traffic). FDNF will be very tempting and rewarding...IMHO, FDNF is the best 1st tour a young aviator/DivO can ask for.

To answer the question: Strike (VFA...Rhino only - not VAQ or F-35) and E-2 can get you there. Tilt (near future) or (some) Rotary are other pipelines. My multi-engine friends report decent stability, but nearly ALL of them are involved in either selling a house or dealing with tenant issues, and I'm aquatinted with most of them via ship tours.

Either way, location stability is never a guaranteed thing, and all part of the program that comes with this privilege of service. I'm sure you've heard that there is no "bad" pipeline (fact), because they ALL offer tremendous opportunity for service and experience.

I hope this helps!

A lot of people shit on Hampton Roads for one reason or another. I've never understood it (besides the tunnel traffic). The place has just about everything you can want, you just have to look for it. Beaches? Check. Water? Check. Sports teams? Check. Colleges? Check. Good food and bars? Check. Rednecks? It's Virginia. Major theater and concerts? Check. Military friendly? Check. Low cost of living? Check. World class amusement parks? Check. Flying clubs? Check. Sailing? Check. Good schools? Check. 12 Costcos and outlets? Check. An airport that can get you wherever you want to go? Check.

Terminal Lance has a strip about these people....
 

azguy

Well-Known Member
None
A lot of people shit on Hampton Roads for one reason or another. I've never understood it (besides the tunnel traffic). The place has just about everything you can want, you just have to look for it. Beaches? Check. Water? Check. Sports teams? Check. Colleges? Check. Good food and bars? Check. Rednecks? It's Virginia. Major theater and concerts? Check. Military friendly? Check. Low cost of living? Check. World class amusement parks? Check. Flying clubs? Check. Sailing? Check. Good schools? Check. 12 Costcos and outlets? Check. An airport that can get you wherever you want to go? Check.

Terminal Lance has a strip about these people....
You might be stretching it just a bit here ... Still, I agree overall. It's the FCA that we all love to hate but if you stack it up against the shitholes most of our Army/AF brethren are stationed in (plus a certain west-coast NAS), it's a solid place to be stationed.
 

villanelle

Nihongo dame desu
Contributor
Hi, OP! I'm chiming in as a Navy spouse. I only know my husband's community/experience/timing, so I'll leave the particulars to someone else.

But I think framing things like this is troublesome and sets you up for difficulties. If your goal is avoiding time apart, then that time apart becomes almost the enemy and when it happens, you likely aren't in the best place to deal with it. And if it happens significantly more than you'd planned, then it can feel extra burdensome.

You say your husband doesn't have a preference. Then he needs to go talk to instructors, mentors, and anyone else in order to get one. Choosing based on family time is a terrible idea, largely because things change, and there are outliers even when things don't change.

9/11 happened, and suddenly the expectations for how long my spouse would be deployed shifted dramatically. He still had to go out and fly the aircraft and do the mission though. At least he wasn't miserable doing that (most of the time ;) ) while he was away for more than we had imagined. That's the "things change" part. World events, politics, even maintenance issues across the fleet can great affect time away for a community on a macro level.

For the tour he finished earlier this year, there were department heads who spent less than 3 months total at sea, while others clocked probably close to triple that. In that case, nothing changed, but the answers still varied significantly. That's where the variances are seen on a micro level. Ship's schedule, squadron schedule, someone going med down, and just luck of the draw affect time away.

And I point all this out because if you are white-knuckling this gig hoping to simply endure the time you are apart, it is likely to be along, painful journey for both of you. Deployments suck. Sure. But I still adore my life while he's gone, and he generally feels a great deal of satisfaction when he's gone, even if it means not getting to bask in my near Goddess-like presence every day. The goal should be finding ways to fill out both your lives so they are whole and completed even when you are apart. And for him, part of that is going to be finding enjoyment and satisfaction from
what he's doing professionally during that time. And that doesn't come from, "I'll take whatever has me traveling the least."

Very few people (either the service member or the spouse) like being separated from family, or course. But I'd encourage you to work on shifting away from that being some unpleasantness to be avoided, and into finding ways to be okay with it and make it work in your life. Think about your own job. Pick the very worst part of physical therapy (assuming that is what you do). Now imagine that's the only thing you do at work, 100% of the time. Would you spend 2 extra hours at work if all 42 hours were filled with the very best part of your line of work? Would your spouse be okay with being apart from you for those extra 2 hours if you came home feeling accomplished and excited about your job, rather than bored (or actively unhappy)? All that is a ridiculously verbose way of saying that quality of time can, and probably should, trump quantity of time, in both your family and your professional life.

Even choosing based on location can go terribly wrong. I'm back in the US after our second tour in Japan, neither of which either of us wanted or requested. And that decimated my career (three overseas tours in a row=totally dead career for me, a generally career-minded person up until that point). Possible locations are one factor to consider and has been discussed at length, but homesteading is far from guaranteed, can be potentially ill-advised from a career standpoint (or not, depending on details, but if the good DH billet with the good timing is in another location...), and simply might not happen for various reasons. It's fine to have hopes and preferences, but allowing yourself to focus too much on them can mean that when they almost-inevitably don't happen, you are unprepared and disappointing news can become devastating news.

Congratulations to your spouse, and I hope you both enjoy this adventure that is ahead of you, whatever it may hold!
 
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