I'll be turning 18 next August and I'm pregnant right now. I was thinking of joining the Air Force sometime next year so I can have some sort of stable career to care for my child. I was thinking about joining in a career of information systems. Do you have any advice? Answer. You will need to check with a recruiter to make sure you meet all the requirements for enlistment, as you have many more hoops to jump through before you are accepted. Because you would be deployable at any time, you have to keep on file with the base personnel office, three different dependant care plans: Immediate, short term and permanent.
The immediate plan is for when the phone rings and they need you to come to work immediately. You need to have someone available 24-hours a day, to be able to take care of your child for short periods of time, up to a day, for the times you need to fill in for someone else who was unable to work. The short term plan is for when that same phone rings; although this time you are being deployed for an extended period of time, anywhere from a week to three months. You need to have someone available and willing to take on that responsibility. The final plan is the permanent plan: If the unthinkable happens, and you are killed in the line of duty, you need someone willing to adopt your child. This is usually a blood relative, mother, sister/brother, and aunt/uncle.
Again, this has to be someone willing to take on this lifetime responsibility. I know these aren't things happy to think about, but they are required by military regulations, and you will be required to revalidate these plans annually. Most people choose friends and/or neighbors for the immediate and short term plans, and relatives for the permanent plan. During the period of Basic Training and your tech schools, your child will need to stay with relatives. Your time and efforts will be devoted to learning your basic military and technical skills, and you will not be provided with any time to yourself for child care.
In Basic, you will be under supervision 24-hours a day for six weeks. Today's IT personnel are the modern incarnation of yesterday's administrative personnel. There are those who specialize in computers and network management, but the majority is your clerk/typists that fill the much needed administrative support role in every squadron. There are approximately 10,000 in the Air Force, of which half are regularly non-deployable due to a variety of medical problems or other constraints. This means that, when a deployment requirement comes up, half the people have to do twice the work.
Yes, you will be deployed, and I guarantee it will be within months of getting fully qualified in your job. That means that you won't have that much time getting settled into your first permanent duty station with your child before you have to hand him/her over to your short-term sitter and go off on deployment. Every career field deploys these days. Some more than others, but everyone gets their time in the "desert".
Granted, of all the armed forces, the Air Force deploys less to the "hot" spots. The Army and Marines spend the most time in Iraq, while the USAF deploys more to support locations, such as Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. You need to look at your finances and see if the pay scale will meet your needs. As an E-1, Airman Basic, with less than four months in service, you will be earning $1,178 a month (current pay, due to go up roughly 3% next year). After four months that pay goes up to $1,274 a month.
An E-2, Airman, earns $1,427 a month. An E-3, Airman First Class, earns $1,595 after two years of service. Realize the Air Force will provide housing (or the funds to acquire housing), so that will offset your monthly costs. Probably the single biggest "bonus" is that all medical needs for you and your child will be provided for while you are on active duty.
If you stay in and retire, the current plan provides medical insurance for you and all your dependents for only $460 a year. There are many other things to consider.
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for http://www.WarGear.info/. WarGear.info carries the best selection of military clothing, war gear, and combat accessories on the market.