Just when you thought it was all over

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Kerry Bartlett
  • 934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Perhaps the greatest fear these days is the fear of losing a job. After all, the consequences can be devastating. The trickle-down effect from a single event often results in the loss of a home, loss of retirement savings and even the loss of a relationship.

Amid uncertain economic times, draw downs looming on the horizon and a shrinking civilian job sector, our thoughts can be consumed by the fear of losing a job.

Fear not. Just when you thought it was all over, I am here to tell you that it is not. There are several options reservists have to sustain and continue their career. In fact, reserve duty may be one of the best career options available anywhere. You just have to be flexible and keep your options open. The answer may be right in front of you.

Following eleven years of active duty in the Marine Corps, I packed my bags and headed home. I found a good civilian job, bought a house and was living the American dream with my wife and step son.

After four years away from the military, I regained the desire to complete my military career. I joined the National Guard in my home town and drilled a matter of blocks from my house. It was a convenient arrangement that allowed me to pursue my goal of establishing two retirement funds.

Then the unexpected happened. The high tech company I was working for started to collapse. During the next three years, there were many layoffs and the company that was once near 10,000 employees shrunk to about 3000. I was fortunate to keep my job that long and knew my number was coming up fast. While still employed, I found a job with another company and waited to get laid off. When the day finally came, I accepted my severance package and moved quickly into the new job I had kept on the back burner for some time. I continued to drill one weekend a month and do my annual tour with the Guard.

The new job was working out ok despite a 75 minute commute one way. Unfortunately, the new job was also connected to the high tech industry and six months after I joined that company, they closed their doors.

Jobs were getting tight. Through connections in the Guard, I was able to move into a recruiting position which actually resulted in a huge pay increase and very generous benefits. After four years, the demands of recruiting took its toll and I eventually walked away. Ironically, a fellow Guard recruiter introduced me to the 934th and when I had the chance, I jumped.

After being in the 934th for a while, a fellow airman referred me to a good company that led to a quick interview and an offer. Naturally, I accepted.
Since then, my career has found solid ground and things are looking great. Through it all, when the civilian job market failed, the reserves kept me going. Through a mix of active duty, training and miscellaneous assignments, I survived.
I was willing to change career fields, duty assignments and even uniforms.
Perhaps more importantly, it was the relationships I forged in the guard and reserve that lead to new opportunities.

Remember, change is a natural part of life and careers. Expect it and plan ahead. Keep your options open; see the bigger picture and be willing to make dramatic moves.
Finally, if your military career is cut short unexpectedly, remember, as Americans we are all on the same team, so put your biases aside. I did and it worked out great for me.