Thursday, March 20, 2014

Another big weight...

Besides the news of the unaccompanied tour for next year, the other crappy news that hit us right before Christmas break that my hubby will be reviewed for forced retirement as the government reduces the overall level of the Army. You can read more about it here or here, but I'll sum it up for you based upon what I understand.

Essentially, the military needs to reduce the number of captains and majors because the size of the army force as a whole is being shrunk. Over the past few years, they have been working on natural attrition by tightening up enforcement of regulations that had been more relaxed since the wars demanded so many soldiers. However, now they are looking to reduce further to fit the numbers mandated by congress.

As such, they are reviewing the files of about 19,000 captains and majors to reduce numbers between 5-18%. There are many subcategories based upon when you were on the promotion list (year group) and your job (MOS) which accounts for the variance of the 5-18%. Besides this, if the soldier has under 18 years of service, the soldier will be reviewed by one board or group for Early Separation with essentially a severance package. If the soldier has served 18 years, they will be reviewed by the Enhanced Selective Retirement Board for retirement.

Each board will review the files of individual service members which includes a summary of all awards, jobs held, deployments, picture, etc; all of their performance reviews starting four years after their initial enlistment, and anything in their regular or closed files which can include letters of reprimand, arrest records, etc. The boards will meet in March and April, and then notify the affected soldiers in August. There's no appeal process.

For the school we are at right now, of the 1400 soldiers attending in my husband's class almost every soldier is under consideration for this. Can you imagine the shit-storm as this news hit the families right before Christmas break? Yeah, it was great.

My hubby is part of the second category since he already has over twenty years of military service. So while it would suck for him to lose his job, he'd still be able to collect his retirement. We'd just be in a much different place than what we have planned. Again, with two more kiddos joining our family, it's just not ideal. We've definitely got a few things going for us with however the situation plays out.

A) Hubby is a workhorse. He has great reviews and a squeaky clean record. He was counseled that his risk is low.
B) I've been preparing for his retirement and should be able to land a much higher paying (and demanding) job if needed.

The most frustrating things about this process is that we have no idea really what the board will target. Arrest records? Evaluations? Looks? Time in?

When all of the deployment/unaccompanied tour crap hit us, this had already been percolating in our minds. At first I felt incredibly anxious and angry.

However, now I've adjusted. If it happens, we'll adjust our plans just as we always do. Who is to say that it won't work out better in the long run anyway!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What's next...

Our move from Alaska to Kansas last June was for the sole purpose of my husband attending a year long school. We knew going into it that we would be moving this following June to our next duty station which for the Army is typically for a period of two to four years. The school itself is a lot different from most Army trainings in that it's essentially a year of college. In fact most service members take additional classes in conjunction with this school to earn a master's degree. The leadership repeats that "this is the best year of your life." This makes most of the spouses smirk as in reality they don't see the service member much. I've lucked out in that my hubby a) is a good student b) is a non-procrastinator and c) already has a masters, so I get lots of family time. Not everybody gets to attend the school, so it's a prestigious training to have within the Army.

A big high point for the year is receiving the potential list of duty stations for our follow on assignments. Because let's face it, finding out you could traipse around Europe, lounge around in Hawaii, or live in Okinawa for a few years is just cool. So everybody gets excited and talks about how they ranked their list (specific to each job).  Then we wait between two weeks and six months to find out.

When we received our list, the branch manager specifically included that soldiers with dwell times (time at home between deployments) over certain amounts would or be likely to deploy.  My hubby fit  into the would be deploying category. So while there were some fun sounding locations, we chose to prioritize the direct deployments rather than to roll the dice and land in a new location where hubby would deploy soon after. Well, we got our wish. Hubby leaves this summer for the middle east for twelve months.

Of course, I'm not very excited about this.

The reason that hubby has a higher dwell time than others is because in a six year time period, he did three twelve month deployments. He deployed, came home for four months, deployed, came home for two years, and deployed again. In comparison, I had neighbors who deployed one time during the same period. When it came to our next assignment, they sent us to Alaska because he had deployed so much compared to his peers. While we watched soldiers duck and dodge to get out of deployments, he never flinched from his responsibility. I sucked it up and made it through those years pretty much without complaint.

This time I feel differently.

There are a couple of reasons I feel this way:
1) Several of the people who I know fit into the same dwell time category as us are not deploying.
2) Many of the financial advantages of deployments are going away, in fact now his area will be an unaccompanied tour versus a deployment.
3) I'm going to have newborn twins.
4) I have a three year old.

I had a family member who told me congratulations on getting our first choice. Honestly, I was shocked that they would say this. This is not good news, this was us trying to have a little control over our lives.

Now that everything has shaken out, I feel like we got jacked. It makes me a little bitter. It makes me sad that hubby is going to miss the first year of the twins lives. I know it's going to break my heart to see E deal with this.

I've always been supportive of my husband's career, and I will continue to be. However, it's taken me this long to even write about it without feeling emotionally compromised by putting the words down here. It will take me a little while longer until I'm not mad at the situation.

Honestly, most of me feels like I shouldn't feel this way. I even feel a little disloyal for putting this out there because I should be more accepting of our reality. I shouldn't compare our situation. I should suck it up like a good Army spouse.  My hubby certainly isn't complaining about it. I'm just not quite there yet.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I'm 28 weeks 4 days today.

Ticking along.

Still preggo.

Baby A, my yet unnamed boy, is estimated at 2 lb 7 oz.
Baby B, my girl who will probably never get a name, is estimated at 2 lb 8 oz.
It's sweet how they're already sharing by using the resources equally. Yay!

As of today, I've gained 25 lb with a belly measurement of 41 weeks.

I've slowed down tremendously over the last few weeks as I get larger and more tired doing normal things. If my mom wasn't here, I'd be seriously up a creek. But instead, I still have a clean house, good meals, help with all my errands, and I get naps every afternoon.

I'm a lucky girl. Now stay in there babies!