Just last Friday, I traveled from a meeting location to the airport with three military spouses. We had an interesting discussion that got cut short by our arrival curbside at the departure drop-off. One of the spouses suggested we reunite at the United Services Organization (USO) Lounge so we could continue the conversation and enjoy all the amenities. We all agreed to meet there.
I arrived at the USO first. When I peeked in, a Lady shouted, "I need to see your Military I.D. sir!"
"I'm no longer serving ma'am. But, I'm supposed to meet some people here that are."
Several text messages, phone calls, and blog posts later - still no way in. Those military folks looked like they were having a great time in that USO Lounge too. The game was on and they had food! A World War II veteran was telling funny stories. Nostalgia with memories of the camaraderie set in.
ACCESS DENIED! I could only get a peek behind the military curtain. So, I moved out smartly and sat down outside the USO and started thinking how current military folks might feel once the realities of civilian life hit them?
So, here's a comparison of MILITARY LIFE vs. CIVILIAN LIFE:
MILITARY LIFE: The USO is free for anyone with a Military I.D. Card.
CIVILIAN LIFE: The lounges from major airlines cost anywhere from about $325 - $500 per year to join (additional fees apply for spouses). Or you can get a 1-day pass for about 50 bucks!
MILITARY LIFE: Your pay is found on a Pay Scale that's available for all the world to see.
CIVILIAN LIFE: Your pay varies and depends on a lot of factors. Oftentimes you can negotiate for higher pay if you're savvy enough. You also need to consider things such as; stock options, money-match, and other things that resemble compensation. Civilians speak of "a pay in the range of $____ and $____" or about "total compensation".
MILITARY LIFE: Promotions typically happen on an established schedule and involve a measurable system that's spelled out in great detail. For example, for the E-5/E-6 promotion point process, the US Army measures Commander's Points, Board Points, Awards, Military Education, and Civilian Education. All Branches of the Military handle Officer promotions be relying on selection boards comprised of senior officers and these boards are convened by the Secretary of Defense (or Secretary of Homeland Security for the Coast Guard).
CIVILIAN LIFE: Promotions can sometimes be vague and ambiguous. In other words, there may or may not be an established system for promotions. Every civilian company is different. See store for details!
MILITARY LIFE: 30 days paid vacation or leave.
CIVILIAN LIFE: Most companies give 2-3 weeks per year plus some holidays off. Some even let you accumulate vacation days.
MILITARY LIFE: Commissary and exchange shopping privileges.
CIVILIAN LIFE: Compare prices! Surf the 'net! Click that mouse! Go to the store! Shop til you drop!
If you want to take a longer peek behind the civilian curtain, find someone who has access to it.
Why wonder when you can know for sure?
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