Bumper/Moderator feel free to move this thread to Off Topic, but I thought it was more pertinent here. I know we have a lot of military and former military here who might know something I don't, plus a whole lot of people who are just more wise to the ways of the world than I am.
There are certain times in life the perspective of a complete stranger is valuable, especially one that will be honest with you and harshly tell you if you're full of crap. Or if you're biting off more than you can chew. It's odd I can discuss this anonymously over the internet but if I seriously mentioned it to anyone I knew, they'd freak out and beat me for it. I can't rationally discuss this with anyone who actually knows me. My family would panic, my friends would insult me for it, and my co workers don't need to know.
Basically, I've come out of college having worked my way through it and spent another year in continuing education courses getting certified to educate while working. Basically it was either stop working completely for a semester and then take 6 more hours to become certified, or work and go to school at the same time for a year.
Not to be a sob story, but I have two siblings going to school right now and my parents were quite clear I needed to get out of their financial picture entirely. Don't get me wrong, it was nothing against me, but the fact is as a parent I too would rather throw a 22 year old to the wolves than I would a 17 year old. Well even that makes it sound more harsh than it really was. I chose to strike out on my own but I did it for the sake of my parents and siblings. They'd have thought no less of me if I hadn't.
I chose to work and study, as my car cratered on me just weeks before college graduation and I spent my life savings replacing it. I didn't really have a choice. Anyway this lasted for about 18-19 months. As of August 2005, I was freed of it. I completed the program and I have the state certification and I got paid to earn it.
Anyway I finally got myself in a position where I'm my own entity for better or worse, standing on my own two feet and all that. And I'm in a bit of a dilemma. I don't relish being overworked and busy all the time, but now that I don't have the dual responsibilities any more for the first time in my life, I feel like I'm wasting time. You know, like I should be doing something more. Yeah sure I finally have a real job (I'm sorry but I don't consider my previous employment at the lumberyard as serious of an obligation).
So I figure, heck, why not go to grad school? And damn if I can't foot the bill. And I'm not so sure I want to fly back into formal school at this point anyway. I think education comes in myriad forms. I have this philosophy inspired by the end of Hamlet: the only people who come out alive are a scholar and a soldier. I think the idea person is a little bit of both. So I have started looking at the options. And today, one of them flew up and hit me in the face.
I've always had the utmost respect for anybody who is former or current military because that's not something I'd want to do. It's nothing against the military, I don't hate the government, I don't have any ridiculous hippy ideas, I just don't want to do it. I'm able to accept that the people in the military selflessly do their job so that people like me can do another job. And I figure if I can teach future soldiers how to add two numbers together and let them know that there is life after high school and they should consider their military options, I'm doing my little part. I go to recruiters and pick up materials to hand out late in the school year. I figure that's just being a good civilian citizen.
And honestly, if I was military, I'd be a grunt. I don't have any special skills the military would find useful. No one on a battlefield needs a long column of numbers added together NOW. I could do that for 2 years if I really had to, but I'd count down the days until I could get out.
I say that to let you know how weird I feel for considering this, but I am honestly considering if I should contact a National Guard recruiter.
I know, I know, there's probably a million guys like me who think "Hey it's not the real army..."
Well I don't think that per se. I realize that being in National Guard means that when something like Katrina happens, you don't get to go hang out with your buddies and talk about what you've seen in the news. You get to roll out there, get shot at, have people scream at you, and spend 2 weeks, miss work, and get your pay docked. You have a very dangerous, very serious, and very real obligation.
I also realize that I am very fortunate to have found an enterprise where I can work and make a living that I actually enjoy. I don't wish to abandon it. I'm surrounded every day by people who were needlessly miserable for decades until they finally stumbled into their niche. I don't want a second career, I just want some way to use my free time to make some more money or improve my education or both. I've spent my whole life doing lots of crap I didn't like to do so I could do the stuff I do enjoy doing. Well that's life in general. If you want to do anything good you have to do a lot of stuff you aren't going to enjoy.
I'd considered conventional part time employment, but honestly unless it was all weekends and summers, it wouldn't work, and for various logistic reasons it just would never work out. I even considered a turnkey business, but they're all very risky investments requiring lots of startup funds.
I'll also just be honest and say it would seriously mess me up right now if I had to ship off to God knows where for 8 months at a time. A couple of years or maybe just one year from now I could probably deal with it, but not right now. The Reserve is not an option for that reason because with the current shortage that's precisely what would happen. I know that's an awful selfish attitude to have, but like I said, I'm not interested in making this the permanent focus of my life. That's just not me. I realize that could happen with the NG too, but it's just not as likely. I'd really have to sit down and think real hard about this if I go any further. I realize there are no guarantees expressed or implied that I wouldn't be told "Time to go to Bosnia for 6 months."
The Guard on the other hand often at least stays in the US and even the worst SHTF disaster doesn't happen all the time and even then it is very likely it won't go longer than a month or two. I can accept that in its entirety. And just recently they have publically said they're goint to make sure most of the Guard doesn't go overseas so that we're not defenseless here at home.
The other thing is, if you sign on for enough years (six I think), they will pay for your graduate school. I didn't know this until today. I thought the Montgomery Bill was only for kids who didn't have any degrees yet. There's other benefits too, like did you know 6 years of Guard service lets you get VA loans? I've honestly wondered how someone on my income is ever supposed to afford property. Life insurance, you can go on bases, all sorts of benefits. Not a lot in the way of actual pay, but I'm a teacher. I don't get paid very much anyway.
The other thing is, yes it's more dangerous than pulling down the graveyard shift as a butter boy at the all night pancake house, but at least if your "real" job and your "part time" job ever conflict, it would look really really bad for your "real" job to try to fire you because you had to go help hurricane victims for 7 weeks.
Plus honestly, it doesn't seem all that bad in comparison to some of the other things I could do. I wouldn't mind going to Lousiana and trying to help those people, I just wouldn't want to do it every single day of my life from now until I'm too old to do it any more. I'm not going to drive out there tomorrow and do that out of the goodness of my heart, but if that was my job I'd do it. I actually kind of miss doing more physical work sometimes as silly as that sounds. I don't like the toil but I do like moving around and feeling the sense of accomplishment that I'm doing something.
And I can't deny it, I'm obsessed with the idea I need basic SHTF training and experience. I spend my time littering this and other forums with my thoughts on personal defense and urban survival. So I think on some level I'd actually enjoy learning what the NG could teach me even if I hated actually doing it. I mean heck, people actually pay lots of good money to go to Gunsite and be put through Basic Carbine for a week. I'd finally learn how to work an M16, well a little bit at least.
Come on, I used to pick up human poop off of a floor for $5.25 an hour and I survived that. Don't ask, but let's just say if I hadn't supplied my own gloves and sticks I'd not have had any cleaning equipment. Nothing can be much more degrading than that.
I'm afraid to contact a recruiter even though I know that's the logical next step. For one thing I'm not what they're looking for. Oh I figure I'm in decent enough shape (I've seen full time military in worse shape than I'm in) and they'd give me lots of good excercise anyway to fix that problem. But dang man, I'm old. They're looking for fresh faced 17 year old kids with no other obligations not some 24 year old upstart with a degree and a serious full time job trying to use Uncle Sam to get ahead. Even worse, I know these recruiters and how they think. I'd never have a moment's peace even if I decided "You know what, this ain't gonna work for me."
And that may happen anyway. I might find out they want me to go to boot camp for 16 weeks and then go to some training school for 24 more and I can't do that. I also realize the school district I work for has no provisions made for employees to be teachers and anything else at the same time. If I get stuck somewhere and don't have leave to cover it, I'd get docked plain and simple. I don't think they'd fire me because the local community would be outraged, plus my boss is a good guy. I know he wouldn't do that. But that's still an issue.
So what do you guys know about the National Guard? Should I seriously consider this, or can you already tell this isn't for me at all?
The whole thing may simply go nowhere even if I do take the next step and I realize that. I might find another opportunity. Or I might find out that I am not eligible for some reason or I can't fit the training into my schedule or something. But right now, should I risk being harassed by recruiters for the next decade and just go for it, or is this a flat out really bad idea? I hope I've made it clear that I'm not looking for another career, I'm just considering being a civilian in the Guard.
And I suppose, as always, the choice is mine. That's what being an American is all about I guess.