Wednesday, March 12, 2014

An Exercise in Patience

The "Hurry Up and Wait" phrase is a bit of a cliche in the military, but sadly, there's so much truth to it.  That's where I am right now, with my future in a holding pattern, waiting to hear where I'm heading next.  Preaching to the choir for you active duty folks waiting on orders, I know.

The Good
Remember this?  Yeah, my enlisted self is still here.
My Deserving Airman Commissioning Package finally made it out of the Wing and up to the appropriate people.  I've verified this with two different people, so I believe it to be true at this point.  Lots of blind faith going on over here.  Too bad they don't make trackers for packages, like they do pizza delivery and online shopping.  I have no idea what happens next and on what timeline, or how I'll even be notified.  

The Bad
I'm running out of time here, folks.  My preferred school date starts May 20th.  I've been buzzing around again, and saw that someone has already been bumped into the next fiscal year.  I would prefer not to go July through September, as that really throws off my teaching year.  Say what you will, but I would like to do OTS during my summer vacation.  I'm dedicated to both of my careers, military and civilian.

The Ugly
I have no idea what's going on with my career or DH's at this point.  We're flirting with the idea of relocating out of state if he finds permanent employment there, but everything is up in the air at this point.  He's on a six month TDY right now and loves what he's doing.  If he were to make that a full-time gig, that'd be great for our family.  Of course, it would be ideal if he could find a position like that out here, but I'm not sure if that's going to be possible, especially with the latest proposal to cut jobs at Peterson.  I can't make any plans beyond May because I have no idea if I'll even be in town.  My assistant principal at school is anxious to know if I'll be here next year or what's going on with DH's job.  I tell him he knows as much as I do at this point, which is true.  Don't even get me started on the "what ifs" - what if I'm at OTS when an out of state move needs to happen?  What is my culinary-challenged FIL going to feed my daughter while I'm gone?  Questions like this swirl in my head all the time.

So, in the meantime I'm going on about my business and trying to be proactive in my research.  That's about all I can do.  Keep on truckin', friends!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Community College of the Air Force

You may have heard your recruiter talk about education opportunities within the Air Force.  I'm not talking about Tuition Assistance or the Montgomery G.I. Bill, as I have not taken advantage of either of those programs yet, but I have earned my Associate in Applied Science degree courtesy of the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF)!

CCAF degrees are increasingly becoming more important to your military career.  While I'm not sure if it's been put in print just yet, the word is that you cannot progress to the senior non-commissioned officer ranks unless you have a CCAF degree.  The Air Force really stresses that education and leadership go hand in hand, and this is no exception.

Upon graduation from tech school, you are automatically enrolled in the CCAF degree program that goes with your AFSC.  As a 3S0X1 (Personnelist), my CCAF degree program is Human Resource Management.  You can check out the program requirements for your AFSC in this catalog - hit Ctrl F (or command F) and do a search for your AFSC.

Some credits are earned at BMT and tech school, others you must complete through college courses or by taking a DSST or CLEP test.  If you already have some college coursework under your belt, you can submit your transcripts to CCAF to have those credits transferred to your CCAF degree.  I did that, as well as taking DSST and CLEP tests, which are free of charge to military members (at least, the first time is free).

Your program may also require that you have your five level in your AFSC as well, keep that in mind.  While I finished my CDCs early on, I had to wait a full year after tech school to get my five level, and then my CCAF could be awarded.  It was a long time in the making, but I'm glad to have this one checked off my list.  This process took from September 2011 to April 2013 for me, largely because of the time in training requirement for my five level.

My understanding is that you can also take the credits awarded to you through military training, request a transcript, and apply those to your civilian degree, if you are working on a bachelor's degree.  I only recently ordered CCAF transcripts for the first time.  They were very inexpensive ($2.25 for five), which is always appreciated.  If you take a good look at mine, you can see where they applied my credit from BMT, my tech school at Keesler, my five level acquisition (journeyman), as well as my transfer credits from my civilian school work and DSST/CLEP tests.

The CCAF degree is one of the many ways that you can further your education through the military, as well as one that looks great as a bullet on your performance reports or awards package, especially when completed early on in your military career.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Aunie's ANG Student Flight

Are you awaiting your ship date for BMT?  Perhaps your unit has a Development and Training Flight (D&TF) or a Student Flight that you can participate in, not only for networking purposes but to prepare you for BMT.  I didn't get the benefit of such a program, but I wish I had!  Annelise is joining us here on AHE today to tell us about her involvement in her Guard unit's Student Flight.  Read about her experience after the jump!

I'm Annelise and I joined the Air National Guard in November of 2013.  I recently found out that I'll be attending Basic Training (BMT) this spring of 2014, and until that training date arrives, I'll be spending our mandatory UTA's (drill weekends) out at Student Flight.

Friday, January 31, 2014

3 Years = Meritorious Service

Third time's a charm!  Well, it's a medal anyway.

Today is the third anniversary of my enlistment in the Air Force Reserve - my Air Force birthday!  It means an increase of $15.20 for each drill weekend.  Seems like peanuts, but we're moving forward and that's always a good thing, right?  

I only recently was reminded that this birthday also means that I will receive the Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal, for three continuous years of service in the Air Force Reserve.  As a former Marine, DH tends to laugh at how easily ribbons and medals are handed out in the other branches, but that's how we do things in the Air Force, so who am I to judge?  In a way, I understand where he's coming from.  I haven't "done" anything, at least nothing that feels special or extraordinary.  I haven't fulfilled my enlistment contract yet, so yes, I did sign up for this.  I've just done my job for the last three years.  I've shown up.  Maybe this ribbon seems like a "Everyone Gets A Trophy!" occasion for others, but I've also watched those around me opt to go into the Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) left and right, leaving behind their military careers.  It's not easy, balancing family, career, and service, but for me it's more than worth it to serve my country.  We make it work and I see the value in continuing my service, despite the sacrifice.

So, I'll wear my new medal proudly and pat myself on the back for the three year milestone I've hit today.  Only seventeen to go!

In all seriousness, my personal Facebook status read as follows: "Three years ago today I stepped out of my comfort zone with the belief of "Better Late Than Never" in terms of goal achievement.  I never wanted to look back and wonder if I could have served my country, like all of the noble and honorable people in my life.  So I did it, at age 30.  It was one of the best decisions I could've ever made for myself and I would do it again in a heartbeat."  My message is simple, but heartfelt.  Whatever brings you to that recruiter's office, I hope that you, too, are filled with the same enthusiasm on day 1095 (hell, 7300!) as you are on day 1.     

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

17 Jan 14 Uniform Updates!

Future Airman Aunie of Aunie Sauce recently contacted me about the changes to 36-2903 and how that would affect her down at BMT.  Say what?  She beat me to it!  Thanks to Aunie for holding me accountable!  

What am I talking about?  Well, Air Force Instruction (AFI) 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of AF Personnel, was updated on 17 January 2014 and includes changes that may affect you at BMT!  Take it from me and do yourselves a favor - download AFI 36-2903 to your iPad or tablet of your preference for easy reference.  Sounds super moto/geeky, but it's worth it.  When I'm putting together my uniform for a blues inspection or a formal event, it makes it really easy to pull it up on my iPad while I'm using my ruler to perfectly align my ribbon rack.  Get in the habit of getting really, really picky about how perfect you look in uniform.  Trust me, it'll serve you well for years to come.  

Anyway, let's get to it!  I'm only highlighting the biggest changes that could affect you while at BMT and tech school.  **Please keep in mind that training environments tend to be more strict than in the operational Air Force.**  You may be held to higher standards by your MTI or squadron commander. Once you get to tech school, the rules lighten up a bit, and you'll really get to live these rules (and new freedoms) once you're permanent party.

Physical Training Uniform (PTU) Footwear

7.1.6. Footwear. Socks. Socks are mandatory. Socks will be white or black and may have small

trademark logos. Athletic style shoes. Athletic style shoes are mandatory. There are no restrictions on the color of the athletic shoes.
Authorized?  Yes.  Smart?  Debatable.  [Source]

This is a biggie, folks!  I don't expect BMT to start issuing you black socks for PT gear, but it's nice to know that you have that option now for the future, if you prefer black socks.  Just earlier this month when I was taking my test, I was reminded by my supervisor that my socks had to be white or I would not be allowed to test. 

As for athletic shoes, this should hopefully put many of you at ease and minimize the number of "Are these shoes ok?" questions that start flying around the web.  Use some common sense though.  BMT is probably not the time to debut these fabulous New Balance 890V3s.  Save your loudest pair of kicks for that half marathon when you come home, and find a more subdued pair in the meantime.  Remember that even though they might be authorized, you're not going to want the attention that they bring to you by the MTIs.  Be smart.  Color is fine, but don't go overboard.

Cell Phones

6.3.3. Handheld Electronic Devices. Handheld electronic devices are small electronic equipment such as cellular phones (personal or official), MP3 or similar players, radio, or hands-free devices (e.g. Bluetooth). Handheld electronic devices, if worn on the belt/waistband, or clipped to a purse will be plain black, silver, dark blue, or gray. Handheld electronic devices that are not worn on the belt/waistband/or clipped to a purse can be any color. Holster and other storage devices used to attach handheld electronic devices to the uniform or purse will be plain black, silver, dark blue, or gray. One handheld electronic device may be attached to a belt/waistband on either side or clipped to a purse.

This may or may not affect you at tech school, depending on the rules enforced by your squadron.  This definitely won't apply to you while at BMT.  While at Keesler (back in 2011), we were not allowed to have our phone on our person during the duty day.  The biggest change here is that if you're not wearing your cell phone on your waistband or visible on a purse, then the case can be any color.  If your phone is visible, you must adhere to the limitations of the case color as described above.  Pretty simple to follow.

If you want read about the other changes to the AFI, which won't likely affect you until you become permanent party, you can read a concise description here.   

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Palace Chase - AD to ANG

"Force Shaping" is a dirty little pair of words in the Air Force.  If you haven't heard it before, it's the nicely worded phrase for "someone's going to get fired."  Well, maybe that's a little extreme, but it's the term coined to describe how they thin the herd, typically amongst the active duty Airmen.  It happens in a variety of ways, either voluntary (retirements, people getting out of the military by choice) or involuntary (people being discharged).  How can you be proactive during this time of instability, if you think you're on the chopping block but you still want to serve?  Let's welcome back Dina from Blueberries and Bokeh, who's here to tell us about the Palace Chase program after the jump!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Postpartum PT, Round Two!

Aiming high and making a comeback!  Was that too much of a tip-off about the subject of this post?  Oh well, if you've been following me on my Twitter account, you probably already knew the results.

Everything has been building up to this weekend's UTA and my PT retest.  I was anxious about this one, understandably, since so much was riding on my results.  I couldn't proceed with my OTS package without a passing fit test score.  So many members of the Air Force are being discharged due to PT failures (albeit, not after the second one, at least not that I've heard).  I am definitely not ready to leave the Air Force behind - heck, I have seventeen more years to go!  ;)

Back in November, I shared with you the result of my first PT test failure, my first test after having DD.  Since that time, I slowly got back into making an effort to work out, or at least do something physical in preparation for my PT test.  Every other day I would do sit-ups and pushups in my daughter's room after I put her to bed.  I would do at least my minimums (as a 33 year old female) - 14 pushups and 29 sit-ups.  By the time the test came, I felt confident that I could at least do the minimums.  Over winter break I did seven days of Annual Training, and all but one of those days I hit  the gym, alternating between running and strength training.

All of that being said, the night before and the morning of my test I was really nervous.  I was ready to get it over with.  So, SO ready.  I headed over to the Fitness Assessment Cell (FAC) nice and early to take some deep breaths and get in the zone.  We started right away with height, weight, and measurements.  How did I fare?

Weight: 171 lbs [Seriously?!  12 lbs lower than last time?!  Yes!]
Height: 71 inches
Waist: 30.5 inches [I was surprised by this one, since she was measuring around the peak of my "baby muffin."]
Pushups: 23
Sit-Ups: 40 [Yes!  I doubled my total from last time!]
Run: 13:54, adjusted due to altitude to 13:37

The FAC staff won't tell you your total score.  You sign off on your sheet, but must either calculate the score on your own or look back online later once they've entered it.  When I was trying to get a quick calculation on my own later, I was shocked to realize that, holy crap, I think I may have gotten a 90!  Sure enough, my final score was a 91.20!  If that's not reason to celebrate, I don't know what is!  Going from an unsatisfactory to an excellent after having a baby?  Game on!  Quick recap - a score below 75 is a failure (as well as if you don't meet the minimums in each category), between 75 and 90 is a satisfactory and requires a retest in six months, and a score above a 90 is an excellent and doesn't require a retest for another year.

Needless to say, I pigged out at lunch.  What you don't see on my DFAC tray is the ice cream sandwich behind that red sports drink and the second cookie.  ;)  Yes, yes I did!  And I deserved it!

The new strategy I tried for this test?  Stopping short of the minute time limit during the pushups and sit-ups.  I had heard it from someone else, the idea that you should figure out on your charts when it's "not worth it" it to proceed further because of the point values, for the sake of saving your energy.  After 23 pushups and 40 sit-ups for me, it required too many more repetitions to get the next point, so I just stopped and saved my energy.  Let me warn you - don't try this strategy at BMT.  This is more one for the operational AF, since the MTIs will be yelling at you if you stop short versus giving it your all until the very end.

Hope you had a great weekend!  Keep positive when thinking about your PT tests - if I can do it, you can do it!  Take time to encourage each other too.  During each step of the way, I tried to keep my wingmen motivated to meet their own goals.  We all need our cheerleading sections!