Tuesday, November 29, 2011

16 Years

After 16 years, its time to say good bye.  Good bye to the moves every 3 or 4 years, to having my privacy totally invaded every 5 years for security investigations, to being on call 24-7, to getting called in at all hours of the night for exercises, and so many other things.  For 16 years I served in the Air Force, doing what my country needed, living where they told me to go, and giving up much of my personal freedom to serve, and doing it knowing it was the right thing.

Now I'm not needed anymore, and being told good bye and left with nothing.  Oh wait, I'm left with medical conditions from spending time down in ICBM launch control centers and breathing in absolutely horrible air, hearing loss from extended exposure to high levels of ambient background noise, and a bum ankle due to a fall down the stairs at the Pentagon and a misdiagnosis.  It took 5 years to realize I had a fracture and not a sprain, 3 surgeries, a fused joint, and now I'm left with a limp, unable to run, an abnormal walking gait, and constant pain.

I understand the military is bloated in certain areas and needs to downsize.  157 Air Force Majors (myself included) were victims of this.  All of us had between 14 to 17 years of service.  But, every single day I ask myself what about the 900 people that requested release and 600 of those were denied?  We have 600 people serving in the military that want to leave, and are kicking out 157 that wanted to stay, and were so close to getting the pension they'd worked for.  In the 1990s there were drawbacks as well, but they didn't kick out the people that were so close to getting their pension.  They were allowed to serve their 20, then get out, and not allowed to serve past 20.  But most importantly, they got the pension they'd worked for.

This isn't something that can be blamed on Congress, or President Obama, or the Republicans, or the Democrats.  The blame rests solely with Air Force leadership.  They were told they needed to draw down to XXX number of people, not how to do it or who to cut.  The decision to keep people in that want out, and to kick people out close to their pension was solely that of Air Force leaders.

The military pension system is out-dated, and like Social Security, needs an overhaul.  That's been known for years, but nothing has been done.  Its an all or nothing system.  You work for 20 years, and you get lifetime pension and medical benefits.  You work for anything less and you get nothing.  We don't have a 401k that can transfer with us, there isn't any sort of matching investing.

The last several months have been hard.  A lot of tears, bitterness, hopelessness, anger, and more recently, St John's Wort.  I still have a lot of bitterness.  I can't help feeling that I've wasted 16 years of my life, and it meant nothing.  After 16 years of giving my life, I've been told I'm not good enough.

What are my plans now?  Moving to San Diego, and taking advantage of this free time that was forced on me.  My parents have some work that needs done around their house.  There's a cruise they want to go on, so I get to be dog-house-grandma sitter.  I'm going to start working on my Masters (again).  Thank you Montgomery GI Bill and my forethought to sign up for it and pay into it (this was before the post-9/11 bill that didn't require any contributions from the member).  Most importantly, I'm going to be looking for a job.  I'm thinking maybe Oregon, there aren't any military bases in Oregon.

There's going to be a lot of lifestyle adjustments.  I was used to having a very comfortable salary.  I came so close to signing up for the 2012 CCN monthly SAL Vonna is hosting, then had to stop myself.  That's a chart a month I'd be needing to buy.  With no paycheck, that's just not something I can do right now.  2012 is going to be the years of trying to work on all my WIPs (there's plenty) and some of the charts in my stash (even more than the WIPs).

Sorry for such a rant of a post, but I needed to get this out.  Writing letters to Congressmen didn't help, so maybe I can purge some of my bitterness in the blog.  Its not like I can burn my uniform, I'd more than likely asphyxiate from the toxic smoke from the flight suit (its supposed to be flame retardant, but that washes about after about 10 washes).

27 comments:

Margaret said...

Oh Mindi. I'm so sorry. I just don't understand how the military can treat such dedicated men and women so poorly. 16 years and nothing? Absolutely nothing? That's just wrong. Plain and simple. I'm glad you signed up for that GI Bill at least and will get that.

My prayers are going out to you that you will heal from this bitterness and pain. The physical injuries will probably always be a reminder, but I hope spiritually at least you'll be able to move on. Prayers also that you find a job you like and settle into a good life on your own without the military. Hugs to you.

mainely stitching said...

You should go public, if you can bear the stress. What's been done to you is criminal. I am so, so sorry.

Myra said...

Mindi, my heart goes out to you. Thank you for sharing this for those of us, like me, who would have no idea this sort of thing happens otherwise. I just can't understand how OUR military could do such a thing to those of you who have served so selflessly. I for one am appalled and wish there were something I could do to help.

I will be hoping and praying you will find something even better in the near future. You certainly deserve it.

valerie said...

So sorry to hear that you were forced out of your military job. I didn't even realize that the military was downsizing so significantly as if it was a private corporation. I would feel very angry and upset too.

I do hope that you enjoy the time off and take advantage of your GI bill. Best of luck to you Mindi!

Ginny said...

Mindi, I'm a new reader of your blog, so I don't know a lot about you. But I hear the bitterness and frustration in your words, and for what it's worth, I'm sorry. It seems like many businesses don't know the proper way to treat their employees. I don't know if it helps, but I appreciate your service to our country. I hope good things are just around the corner for you.

cucki said...

i am thinking of you so much deary..you are in my prayers..sending you (hugs)
love cucki xx

And This Little Pig said...

Yes it is terrible to have something so important to you taken away, an in a truly horrible/no control over the situation. But to quote an old cliche... 'when one door closes, another opens' and it is OK to rant, it's good for the soul. Thinking of you and sending good vibes.
LiBBiE in Oz

Christine said...

I'm so sorry to hear this, they don't seem to have treated you very well at all.
I hope wonderful opportunities present themselves to you in the future

Giovanna said...

OMG, I'm so sorry - this sounds awful, and so downright MEAN. Aren't you even entitled to compensation for the damage to your health ensuing from your service? I do hope you will find a suitable solution.

gracie said...

You will find a new place in your life. It is sad how you are being treated. Thank you for all the service you have given to keep me and so many others safe. We are here for you....

Annie said...

I know life isn't fair, but this just doesn't sound right at all and really doesn't make good sense.

Sending big virtual hugs to you as you try to process and deal with this.

Chris said...

Dear Mindi,
It totally sounds like the rug has been pulled out from under you. I am shocked to hear that the Air Force is doing this.
From here, I would like to say thank you for your service. It is going to be a big adjustment. I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers and I am looking forward to hearing all about your new life in this blog.
Hugs!

Natalia said...

Mindi I am so very sorry to hear this. I can totally understand your anger at having been treated so unfairly, but please don't feel like you are not good enough only because the Air Force may think so. I, among many Americans thank you dearly for your service and never take that for granted. I know that things always happen for a reason, and I hope that soon you can look back and see that. My prayers are with you through this time. Have faith and hang in there.

Carol said...

Gosh, Mindi, this just doesn't make sense at all. When there are people who want to leave the military, why not release them and keep those with long, hard-earned careers like you have?

I do hope your next chapter in life brings some of the "joie de vivre" back to you--you never know what may lie around the corner... Best wishes to you and big hugs!

wranglerkate said...

Hello - Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. What they did to you is just wrong. What makes it criminal is that they get away with it. And that is a federal government issue, because the Air Force is an agent of the federal government. I hope you can tell your story in the media. I don't know whether it would help you, but it couldn't hurt, either. There are 157 of you. Some reporter somewhere would love to get this into print and into the public awareness. It could result in some sort of reparation, and hopefully prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future. I love my country (as I am sure you and your brethren do), but it's stories like this that make me ashamed of the federal government.

Wendy Y. said...

Mindi,

After talking with you over the weekend, I am still in shock that they did this to you and so many others. It just doesn't make any sense, you serve your country and that is what you get, just isn't fair. I will miss running into you at the SB shop and I hope that you will be able to come back once in a while to visit them.

Lets hope in the long run that this is the start of bigger and better things to come in your life. Enjoy your forced time off and make the most of it.

Wendy

Keeper of the Crowes said...

Dear Mindi,
Thank you so much for your service and sacrifice! I wish you every happiness for your future endeavors! My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Linda C.

CATHI said...

I am sorry to hear about the bad treatment they did to you and all the others! It is such a shame! I wish all the best for you!

Cathi

CATHI said...

Mindi: I wrote you an email regarding your St. Nicholas pattern. I would be very grateful if you could read it (I understand that you have now other problems than that) and give me an answer.??

Best wishes

Cathi

Sally said...

his is so wrong and I believe this sort of thing happens over here too. I really feel for you.

Whatever you decide on I wish you all the very best {{{{hugs}}}}

Penny said...

Mindi, so very sorry to read this. It is hard to believe that this kind of thing can happen, but unfortunately it does and unfair can't begin to describe it. I can't begin to imagine how you must feel. It sounds like you have plans, and that is important especially your education. Will be thinking about you and wishing you all the very best in the future.

Sharon said...

What an absolute shame. I am so sorry that this has happened to you. I really don't know what is happening to this world we live in. Best wishes to you as you embark on this new journey.

Ranae said...

That's horrible!!!
I am so sorry to hear of the force out.
Maybe it's a blessing in disguise, who knows??!!
Thanks so much for your service
(((hugs)))

Anonymous said...

First, I want to thank you for serving! I was saddened to read you are being "let go" instead of those who wish to go. Good luck to you on the next part of your life's journey!

Robin in Virginia

Charlene ♥ SC said...

You know they think they're saving the pension funds as well as the higher salary of the commissioned. What they don't consider is the lack of loyalty and dedication from those who want to leave! I hate for you that this has happened. I wish for you a better door opening -- soon.

Siobhan said...

Oh Mindi, I am so sorry. There are no words other than I am sorry. I have learned in the last few years that business just isn't fair and it seems like being honorable and doing right just doesn't matter when money is the bottom line. Big hugs to you.

Michelle said...

I am so sorry to hear this. It has got to be very hard to go through this, but I hope that you can find some peace in your new adventure. Big hugs to you!