Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘USAF’

Hello all!

It’s been way to long.  I’m glad to say that I’m still alive and kicking.  Let me take this time to update you on what has been going on.

1. I survived my 5 weeks at COT (Commissioned Officer Training).

That was an experience. Yes, there was a lot of yelling. There was a lot of anxiety, fear and frustration. I spent my first week there sick to my stomach. I threw up more than once, had no appetite to speak of.  It isn’t something I would want to repeat.  I was told that the first 10 days to 2 weeks would be the worse part of it, and that is the truth.  If you can survive the first 10 training days, then the rest is cake.

Not pie… Cake.

I might tell you more about that later.

2. I’m at my first assignment.

My family and I have been here for a week, on the nose.  This has been “in processing,” which included a list of folks to find and get their initials. At times I had to turn something in. Other times, I had to get some computer based training done (aka CBTs). Other times, it was some sort of briefing (some with power point displays, some without). I only need two more initials to complete my list, and should have those by Tuesday or Wednesday.  I don’t know where I’ll be assigned yet, but I’ll be happy wherever.  Everyone I’ve met has been great. The Chapel team is exceptional, and I’m glad to be a part of it.

I still have one more training to complete to really start things off. I’ll be gone for “Basic Chaplain’s Course” some time in August thru September.

3. In our house!

We sold our old home and signed a lease on a really nice home a couple of days ago. Timing was wonderful. The only problem is, our household goods won’t be here until July 17th.

Yeah, the 17th. :(

So, we are camping out indoors for the moment. I’m writing this from a cheap card table that we bought at Walmart a day ago.  It, and a couple of borrowed inflatable mattresses are all we have in the way of furniture.  It’s ok though. We’ll be alright.

We did get our internet! I mean, we all have to have priorities… Amirite?!

4. So, when is Z gonna be back in WoW?

To be honest, I’m not sure.  I think that I might be back sometime this month. However, that might be just in time for me to then leave for my next training. I’m fairly certain that I’ll start playing again once I get back from my training. WoW is still one of the best values you can find when it comes to hobbies.  I’m looking forward to resubbing and goofing off with the Frostwolves.

One thing I do know is that my play times will be different. I was able to play at least a couple, if not three mornings a week before. That will definitely change. Now, I get up for PT and then head straight into work. The nice thing is that the schedule is 7:30 am to 4:30 pm (most of the time). Sure, there will be times when I get out way later, but that seems about normal. So, it looks like I’ll be heading back to the 9pm-11pm play time.

This makes me sad, because that means I won’t be able to play with some of my Aussie friends in those early mornings. But, there is still a group of folks from down under who are on around my evening times, and I’ll be able to contribute to the guild as I had been able to do in the past.

So, I’m looking forward to getting back into things. If not before my next training, then afterwards.

5. I missed y’all.

I don’t want to be all sappy, but I did miss y’all. I have much in my Feedly to catch up on. So many blogs, and so many weeks that I wasn’t able to read your wisdom, insights, and WoW related ramblings. I may not comment, but know that I’m using this time to read all of your previous posts!

Z

Read Full Post »

Air Force Wings

tl;dr

OMGOSH GAIS I MADE IT IN!!!!

—————————————————–

For those wondering what actually happened, here is the slightly longer version.

As most of you know, I’ve been trying to get into the United States Air Force for over a year now. I’ve faced more than a couple of “hiccups” along the way.  As of a month ago, things began moving relatively quickly.

I finally passed my medical!  Remember, the big thing holding me back was some dental work. Well, after about $13k worth of work and healing, I made it through.

Next was a back ground check. There was a little bit of misunderstanding between what my local recruiter was supposed to do, v. what my regular CO recruiter was supposed to do.  On top of it, my CO recruiter was out of office, which left a TSgt responsible for collecting my documentation.

Well, it turns out that when my regular recruiter got back, the TSgt left for a week of prep-work to get ready for a MSgt exam!  Oh, and all of those pages and pages of documentation that had been sent his way?  Well, it was locked up tight on his computer! My local recruiter had to send it all back to my regular CO recruiter. Thankfully, things got done in a hurry.

Now my packet had to “get signed by the general.”  Granted, I didn’t know who this general was, but I was under no illusion that my packet would be at the top of his things to do.  My CO recruiter said that it might take a week or two, if no hiccups came along (see: TSgt away at exam prep).  Still, that put the two week limit in the middle of the week my family takes off for vacation.

You know those vacations, don’t you?  They are the kind where you go see grandma, and grandma doesn’t have any wifi set up at her house. You know the one. The one where your fancy-pants iPad becomes useless, because of the said lack of wifi. The one where all you have is two out of five bars on your smart phone, unless you hold it up at the right angle to get 2.5 bars.

Surely, you’ve been on those vacations!

I find myself having some “ETT*,” when I get a call from my CO recruiter late on Monday afternoon!

“Hey, Z!  I’m going to email you the Letter of Acceptance right now. You don’t have to return it immediately. Tomorrow would be ok.”

Me – “Wait, what?  I have to print it out and mail it back?” Hoping that my mother (grandma to my children) has ink in her 10yr old printer.

COr – “No, SCAN IT IN, and email it back to me tomorrow sometime.”

Me – Did I mention the 10yr old printer?  “Sure thing. I’ll get it done, and emailed off to you tomorrow!”

I’m thinking to myself – surely there is a Staples, Kinko’s or some kind of office supply/printing shop in this small town?!

And the answer is?

No.

No there isn’t.

You know what there is?!  There is a library with a very liberal computer policy, and a laser printer.  Yeah…and it closes in 30 minutes!

My phone dings that familiar “just got an email” ding, and we are all heading off to the library (and ice cream at the local DQ afterwards).

Get there in time to print the bad boy out…and stare at it for the next hour. I forego the ice cream for some water-downed lemonade. I gotta get in better shape!

You see…THAT was it.  That single piece of paper.

It had three _________ places for me to write things down. The first being, “When are you able to begin your active duty? ______”  The second being, “Sign your complete name here: _________________, and Date: _________”

Three little blank, underlined spaces and my life is signed away to Uncle Sam for God and Country.

My wife and I spoke to some length that night about when I could reasonably go on active duty.  This was a real choice for us.

Actually, my CO recruiter had mentioned that that was the last real negotiable thing I had. That I could take as much time as I needed to finish things and end well with what I’m currently doing.

My wife and I have spoken about this quite a bit, but now the paper was in front of us.  It was real. Paper and ink, right in front of me.

By 10:00pm Monday night, I had placed the preferred starting date, and signed and dated the document.

That was my contract. That was the agreement. That was my “name on the dotted line.”

Woke up the next day. Got back over to the public library, where it cost me $1.00 for them to scan the document and email it back to me.

A quick save to drop box, and I’m emailing the signed document back to my CO recruiter. By 4:00 that afternoon I received a congratulatory email from my recruiter. He informed me that my packet was over at placement, and that I would be hearing from them at their earliest convenience.

So now…I get to wait some more. :)

But, that is ok. I know that the slots are open for me to go active duty during this fiscal year. I know that they desire to have me on board.  Now, I’m just taking the time that is allotted to me and finishing well.

One thing I’m looking forward to is my “swearing in.”  For enlisted, it is done at MEPS. For me, it seems I get to put that together on my own.

I know, weird.  Still, it gives me the chance to have significant people in my life as a part of the ceremony.  As far as I know, all I need is another Commissioned Officer (of any branch) and a US flag, and I should be good to go.  Instructions concerning the ceremony should be coming with my eventual paper work, so it isn’t anything to have done right now.

Who knows. Maybe I’ll point you to an eventual video. :)

If things go quickly, I could be going to a COT at the end of May.  While that would be nice, I’m not holding my breath.

Z

—————————————————–

CO – Commissioned Officer. Only a Commissioned Officer can recruit another person to be a Commissioned Officer. But, they get an enlisted recruiter to put us through MEPs, and finish up some paper work. Oh, and the local recruiter gets NO CREDIT for doing all this work on your behalf!

ETT- “Effective Toilet Time” (TMI?) I first heard this used by @The_Koltrane on the Convert to Raid podcast. The idea is to use that 10-15 minutes of potty time to read up on raid information, or watch the lates youtube video about a boss fight.

COT- Commissioned Officer Training course.

Read Full Post »

Air Force Wings

Other working titles were:

“Pain of Dah Teeth,” and “Consequences Suck.”

Catchy, eh?

You can catch up by reading the USAF Update: Worse Fears.  That should give you a sense of where I’m coming from.

You can also check out my other posts tagged with USAF.

Since that time, I’ve done a few things. 

First, I’ve gone to some other dentists for second and third opinions. 

No one likes the idea of the “all-on-four” procedure.  They want you to keep as many natural teeth as possible. The procedure would necessitate some being taken out.  They also agree that just getting dentures is the poorest choice for a couple of reasons.  They agree that as a professional communicator/counselor; I need to be able to talk without something coming lose.  I also get mouth ulcers when I’m stressed, and they all cringed at the thought of an ulcer forming underneath a denture plate.

They want me to get the teeth removed that have to be removed.  That’s about seven to eight regular teeth, and all four wisdom teeth.

Removal of my teeth will cost around $2,000.00 (estimate).

I’m still looking at getting 5 implants (eventually).  Each implant will end up costing $4,000-$5,0000 a piece.  I’m sure that you can do the math on that one.

Either way, that is a butt load of money.

I also have another $2000.00 of other incidental teeth procedures (cavities, porcelain build up, etc.).

To begin the process, we are looking at spending between $2,000 and $4,000. 

That hurts.  It would take a year to pay that off at our current income level and cost of living.

Which brings me to the second aspect of what I’ve been doing.

I’ve been looking for another job.

I would either end up with two jobs, making enough to pay for the dental procedures.  Or, I would end up with a new job that pays more than my current position.

At this time, I’m applying for a chaplaincy position at a local hospital.  It would be a weekend salaried job, Friday through Sunday (36 hours).  I would at least make as much as I’m currently making, and I would probably have better benefits.

Here is the clincher… The reason I want the position so badly, and that I’m willing to give up my position of 10+ years.

I would be able to keep my boys at home on Monday through Thursday and save us $1,200.00 per month is childcare costs.

Read that again.   That is $1,200 SAVED IN CHILDCARE COSTS!

That, in and of itself is an amount consistent with a part time job (within my field of experience).

One kid is starting Kindergarten, the other would stay home with me on those days.  Heck for $105 per month, I could put him in a “Mother’s Day Out” program for two days a week, so that I could get stuff done around the house.

That still saves us over $1,000 per month.

That, right there, can begin the process of getting my teeth fixed.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I want this job. I don’t have the words to convey the depth of sadness this whole thing has brought into my life, nor the amount of hope a single position can hold out for me and my family.

I had a preliminary interview with a recruiter for the hospital’s parent company. She has passed my application and resume on to the Director of the department.  I’m waiting to see if she/he thinks I warrant a second interview.

Oh God, please let me get this job.

Z

Read Full Post »

One of the neat things about my process into the USAF has been the people I’ve met.

One of the hard things about my current situation is dealing with them asking “how are things going?”

WoWScrnShot_060613_093624

At the very beginning, I took an opportunity to talk to quite a bit of people about what it was like.  I had a handful of prioritized questions I could ask someone if given the time.  If they only had a minute to talk, then I would only ask one question.  If they had longer, we may make it through all five questions.

I’m sorry, but I don’t have those questions on me at the moment.  I’ll have to look them up and give them to you.

In doing this, I unknowingly interviewed a number of USAF Colonels.  I also had the opportunity to speak with a Brigadier General.

Where most of the conversations lasted between 5-20 minutes; the conversation with the General lasted well over an hour.  In the end, he asked me if he could personally give my information to a recruiter.

I was utterly humbled.  This man, one of the highest ranking officers in my future/possible command, was asking me if he could pass on my information.

Did I mention how humbling this was?

Of course I gave him an emphatic “YES!”

I later found out that the General and three Colonels signed onto my application as personally recommending me to the USAF.

Well, today I received an email from the General asking me how the process is coming along. 

My heart sank just a bit.

You see, I take the condition of my teeth as a personal failure.  I’m not fishing for sympathy, I’m just stating how I feel.  Let’s face it, while there are some genetic issues that come up with teeth, most of the problems are self inflicted.  For me, it was a life time of nursing Dr. Pepper all day long, combined with an unhealthy love of jaw breakers. I wasn’t the greatest at brushing and flossing on a daily basis.  I also suffer from mouth ulcers that pop up when I get anxious about something, which makes brushing a literal pain.

Yes, even now I have one on the inside of my lip.

You can very well imagine what happens to your teeth when you have soda and hard candy in your mouth for most of the day.

I view this whole situation as a negative consequence of my bad choices.

In a way, I feel that I failed the General and the Colonels.  I feel that I’ve failed my wife and children.  I feel that I’ve failed myself.  I feel that I’ve failed my God.

Please understand, I don’t lack in the ego department.  You have to have a huge ego to do what I do.  If anyone tells you different, they are lying.

I’m one to go to “next steps” very quickly.  But, I also believe in being introspective, naming self-defeating behaviors and internal “talk.”  I also want to be honest about my emotions.  These feelings of failure are real. If I let them, they can be self-defeating.  I have to deal with them, not sublimate them.  That is part of the reason I’m writing this.  It’s therapeutic.  WoWScrnShot_060613_093626

So, what do I do now? (See what I did there?!)

I think being honest continues to be the best policy.  When asked, I give people the truth as I know it.

I look to next steps.  For instance, I know of at least a few things to do.

  • I’ve already called my Oral Surgeon, asking their finance people to see if they know of any creative ways to pay for the recommended procedure.
  • I’m also planning on calling the closest dental school to see if I can be their guinea pig teaching tool.
  • I’m going to contact another dentist to get a second opinion; and hopefully discuss all possible options as s/he sees it.
  • I’m asking for prayer from family and friends (which was actually the very first thing I did).

Now, we are in a pattern of actively waiting. 

We wait to see what might surface.  But, our waiting isn’t made up of me just lounging around and sitting on my hands.  Instead, I’m going to do what I can think of to do. At the same time I realize that I can only see from a limited perspective.  I’m fully confident that something (either through my actions, or another source) will reveal itself as the proper thing to do.

I’m still going to feel sad/bad/mad in the midst of the process. But, I’m not going to let my feelings paralyzes me.

What do you do to get through those experiences that feel like a punch to the gut?

Z

Read Full Post »

Air Force Wings

If you’ve been following my journey, then you may know that I needed a waiver to enter into the USAF.

In short, I needed a “dental waiver.” It turns out that you can’t have eight or more identifiable problems with your teeth.

I had eight.

I received word yesterday that my request for a waiver was denied. 

My recruiter told me that I’m required to get everything fixed before I could go further in the process.

So, I’m right at the end; passing they physical requirements is the very last thing…and now we are at a pause in the process.

Understand, my teeth are pretty bad. I’ve grown up nursing sodas and sucking on hard candies.  There is nothing good about that. I made stupid choices, and these are the consequences.

Following my oral surgeon’s recommendation is a fairly expensive process. I’ve got a couple of lower teeth to extract, to be replaced with a post and crown(s).  That will be around $3,500.00 for his office, and whatever the cost would be on top of it for some hardware and placement at the dental office.

My upper teeth are worse off. There are six teeth there that need to be replaced and/or fixed.  He recommended getting all of my upper teeth replaced via an “All on Four” procedure.

Basically: all the teeth are pulled, four posts are implanted, then a new set of teeth are made and attached to the posts.  These are considered “permanent” replacements; though there are certain material types that may have to be replaced over the years.  For instance, most of these false teeth are made with resins, which tend to wear over time.  It isn’t unusual for them to be replaced after ten years.

The “All on Four” procedure would have me paying $16,900.00 to the Surgeon’s office, and then whatever my Dentist would require for her part in the ordeal.

In short, we are estimating around $25,000-$30,000 in dental costs.

Yeah, that’s $25k-$30k… Estimate.

To be honest, I don’t know what to do at this point to come up with that kind of money.  We don’t have that kind of money on hand, and insurance only covers up to $1000 per year.

I’m checking out other options, other procedures that might fit the bill.

He made his suggestion because I’m a vocational communicator.  In other words, %90 of my job is communicating.  If I can’t talk, or if there is an issue with my speech; that could hurt my job.  Having “dentures,” “partials,” or other things could “get loose” in the mouth during speaking engagements.  That would be pretty bad for a vocational communicator.  So, his recommendation was based upon what would be best for my job.

We may have to go one of the less optimal routes on this one.

Even if it was just $10,000 in costs, that would still be really hard for us to do.

So, that is it for now.  We are at a pause in the process.  I hope it isn’t a point that we can’t get beyond.  I’m 39 years old at the moment, and I have until I’m 42 years old to make it in.

That’s about it.

Z

Read Full Post »

Air Force Wings

Navimie of The Daily Frostwolf – Druid Edition poked me yesterday, reminding me that it had been 3 weeks since my last update!

While I do write for you, I also write for myself. I have a great personal perceived need to put this on (digital) paper.

Fair Warning – This post exceeds 1200 words.

A few people know what position I’m going for in the USAF.  Most don’t, however.  There is a reason for that. I’ve stayed relatively anonymous on my blog since it’s inception.  I especially don’t go into my RL job very often.

As far as I can remember, I’ve never actually mentioned what I do.

Again, there is a reason.

You see, I’ve worked in the area of Religion/Church for around 15 years.

That should be enough to scare most people away.

As you can imagine, I’m trying to enter the USAF as a Chaplain.

If everything goes as planned, I will start out as a (most likely) a Captain (O3).  I’ve got great military references on my application, great work experience, and a great education.  Thus far, I’ve excelled in everything they’ve asked of me.

At least, until I got to MEPS.

TLD;R – Z needs a Dental Waiver. MEPS was quite an experience!

The Chief Medical Officer seemed pretty positive that I would get one; but that still makes me currently “unfit for service.”  It will be 3-4 weeks before I find out whether or not I get one.

If I don’t get one, then I believe I will still be given the opportunity to get things fixed on my own. That means we’ll be spending a healthy amount of $$$ to get everything fixed.

I’m extremely embarrassed about the whole thing.

That being said, the process was quite an experience!

It wasn’t fun. It was high stress. Not every MEPS employee was the perfect example of professional courtesy.  But, I’m not going to belabor that point.

Instead, I just want to give a description of what I went through (with a slightly positive bent).

First, not everything was in working order.  You see, I was my Officer Ascensions recruiter’s first Officer to ever put through. He basically told me to do everything he tells the enlisted folks to do.  The problem is that Officers are (usually) different.  I was told that I would only need my ID and SS card.  However, I knew that I would also need my eyeglasses prescription as well.

Note – if you wear glasses/contacts, not only do you need your prescription (a complete,detailed account of your examination) from your doctor; BUT there is a special form for it to be written on. I had never heard of this form until I got to MEPS! At the same time, they never actually showed me the form.  In the end, the Chief Medical Officer accepted the prescription.

I was told to show up to the hotel the night before check-in at 7:00pm. Then I would need to be sure to show up at MEPS by 5:00am the next morning.

I got to the hotel and I was the only Officer candidate there.  The liaison saw me, and asked me to remind my OA recruiter to remember to list me as an Officer candidate.  Yeah, I wasn’t expected.

Hey, at least I got my own room!

Went and had dinner with the other (enlisted) recruits, did a cardio work out in the hotel gym, then went to the 8:30pm briefing.

Basically, the briefing was an overview on how they expected everyone to act while at the hotel.

There were about 30-50 of us there. I could count on one hand the number of people over the age of 20 (I’m 39).

Got up around 3:00am. Had breakfast at 4:00am. Got to MEPS (via my own car) at 5:00am.

The Army Major that met us was pleasant enough. He wasn’t rude. He did use a loud voice, but I wouldn’t say that he “yelled” at us.  He did speak rather quickly, while reminding us repeatedly to not waste his time. :)

We lined up, went through security to get in, and made our way to our Service Liaison office.

Where, you stand in line again.  This was often repeated through out the day.  You learn new meaning to the phrase, “Hurry up and wait!”

When I finally got to the desk, the USAF personnel, saw my name-tag; and promptly asked, “Why are you hear so early!?”

That’s right. It turns out they prefer Officer types to show up around 9-10am.  I knew this was going to be the start of an interesting day.

I signed in, went and put my stuff in a locker (you did bring .25 cents, right?!), and then went to wait in a cafeteria where they gave us our paperwork/file.

From there, we went to the Control Desk to sign in officially with MEPS.  There was a little problem with my finger prints. For some reason my thumb wouldn’t take. But, they fixed that later.

Ok, I’m going to shorten this a little bit.  There were a couple of problems early on.  First, the finger print not taking. There were also a couple of digits mixed up in my Social Security #.

Once that was squared away, I could get on with it.

There was another briefing, where they got us to fill out paper work…again.

Near the end of the briefing, we were individually asked what branch we were going into, and which position we were trying out for.

Yes, MEPS is basically a job interview.  We were reminded of this multiple times.

This is where everyone there learned that I was going for the Chaplaincy.  I assumed that everyone from there on out would avoid me like the plague.

Guess what…I was wrong.

This was the interesting thing which my mind keeps coming back to.  Even in the midst of this high stress situation.  In this experience where everything changed every 5 minutes.  In this experience where there was always someone telling you want to do in a rapid fire fashion; I was still sought out.

The average age of the recruits was 18. I saw a large number of 17, 18 and 19 year olds.

It was hard to believe how the young men and women (17-18yr olds) actually sought me out and opened up to me. It always started the same way:

Enlisted Recruit, “You wanna be a Chaplain?”

Me, “Yes. I’m really hoping for it.”

Recruit, “What does a Chaplain do?”

Me, “Well, I would basically act like a Pastor or Priest in the military.  I would be able to do services, but I would also do quite a bit of counseling.”

Recruit…following a brief pause…, “I’m going through X. What do you think about X?”

It ran the gambit from Vocational Counseling, Parental Counseling, Marital Counseling, and etc.

While I found quite a bit that was frustrating concerning the overall MEPS experience; I was utterly humbled to be of service to the young men and women there.

So, on the negative: When it came to MEPS, the “right hand didn’t know what the left had was doing.” I failed the dental exam, and will need a Dental Waiver to join the USAF.

However, on the plus side: I made my weight, aced almost everything. I also had an opportunity to minister (which totally surprised me).  One friend even pointed out how this could be interpreted as a verification of my call to go into the USAF as a Chaplain.  He noted, “You’re not even in, and you’re already acting like one!”

Z

Read Full Post »

USAF Recruitment, Phase 3!

Air Force Wings

I just received a call from the recruiter.  My application has made it past the review board, and now I’m officially into Phase 3 of the process!

From what he told me, it means this:

  1. More paper work.
  2. A local recruiter is going to contact me to help facilitate a few things… like…
  3. MEPS! Which may happen in April.

Assuming that 1-3 go well, I may be heading to COT at the end of May!!!!!  I thought it may be August, but he said May.  On top of it, there is a good chance that I may get in as a Captain (03).

You wouldn’t believe how my hands are shaking as I type this!

So, these are my goals:

  1. Get into as great of shape as I can between now and MEPS.
  2. Get any, and all, paper work done (asap).
  3. Make sure my files (electronic and paper) are up to date.
  4. Don’t slack in my current position (job), just because I may be gone in 3-4 months.

I’m sure that I’m missing something, but that will work for now.

Z

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 501 other followers