Married RN Considering Career in Air Force

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    I am an RN BSN with one year of experience on a cardiac/thoracic surgical floor and seriously considering a career in the air force. However, I am married. My husband just got his undergrad in Psychology and am worried that starting a career in the AF will mean that we essentially 'give up' on his career. He is interested in social work and things in the mental health care, but his dream is to be a college basketball coach and he's currently an assistant at small college. Are military spouses able to further their own career or do they basically follow their spouse to all of their assignments?

    I also want to have children in the next 3-5 years and am worried about how being pregnant and having kids with being an AF RN, worrying about deployments and such. My husband and I want to have children, but I hate the thought of being away from him and kids for weeks/months/years at a time.

    Does anyone have any insight to this? My husband and I would love to travel and moving isn't a problem for us, it's the time apart and the potential for long deployments that keeps me from signing forms ASAP. Another goal of ours is owning a home. I've read about living on bases but don't understand how purchasing a home would work with frequent moves.

    Also, would it be worth it financially? By the time I would enlist, I would have 2 years of experience. I currently make 54K a year, working nights. Would I go in a second lieutenant and stand to make substantially more money? Thanks!
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  4. 10 Comments so far...

  5. 4
    I just recently separated from the Air Force after 7 years to pursue my BSN. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE LOVE LOVE the Air Force....especially with my last assignment being a Joint Command (working with every branch of the military) it made me realize and appreciate the Air Force so much more. Once I'm done getting my BSN I would surly go back in as an AF RN.

    The reality of being in the military is that there WILL be deployments, especially as a RN, I'm pretty sure that career field WILL deploy since medical personnel are always needed. When I was in I was active duty from 2003-2010 and the deployments I had were anywhere from 4-6 months but it varies from career field and the type of command you are in/the mission. I've had fellow co-workers in the same career field as I who deployed for a year so it all depends.

    Having children is not a problem, at least for me it wasn't. You work when you are pregnant but are "flagged" so that you don't deploy or do PT (physical training- 1 1/2 mile run, push-ups, and "crunches") until 6 months after having your baby. I worked until my water broke...not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing...You get 6 weeks maternity leave and then like I said 6 months after the time you deliver the baby to be up for deployment and to be tested for PT.

    As far as the money I'm pretty sure you can do a search on military pay for officers. Usually you get the base pay but I'm not sure if they include BAH (housing pay-based on location), BAS (basic allowance for subsistence) and other "pay" like family separation pay and hazardous duty pay (while deployed for both and only in danger zones for hazardous). Oh and also COLA (cost of living allowance) in areas that need it. If you come in as a 2nd LT, If I remember correctly, it wont be too long until you reach Capt. I remember the officers telling me that the first three ranks (2nd LT, 1st LT, and Capt) are "automatic" just depends on time like how long you've been at your current rank, but the rest of the ranks (Major and up) they look at what you've done professionally, your education, PT, and other stuff that I can't remember. It's the same as enlisted (E-1 thru E-4 is automatic just depends on time and E-5 and up you have to test for it and they look at your EPR-Enlisted performance Reports and other stuff)

    The reason why I would want to go back into the AF is because I'll gain a lot of experience as a nurse that I'm afraid I won't be able to get in the civilian world....with all the nurses on this forum that say that the economy is very rough on nurses and it is hard to find a job. Also after 20 years you can retire and receive a pay check every month for the rest of your life (for 20 years of service, I believe it is 50% of your base pay of your retired rank). Medical isn't so bad during retirement....my dad retired from the Navy and he pays $400 a year for full medical coverage for the entire family (yourself and any dependents).

    And as far as your spouse and his career, my dad and mom went through the same thing. My dad was active duty Navy while my mom had a career so my mom and us kids settled in one place while my dad did the PCSing (permanent change of station). I don't know how many couples can endure that but my mom and dad are still together and own 3 houses, 2 mercedes, 2 other cars and paying for my baby sister's college (tuition, books, and all). So the sacrifices they made payed off. I know a lot of spouses who get into the system and work with the military....like your husband could work his dream job in the schools on base especially if overseas....I'm not really sure how that all works but it's definitely doable.

    Have you considered joining the Air National Guard or the Air Force Reserves? That may give you some insight into the Air Force but not the full commitment as with Active Duty. Also, have you talked to a recruiter? See what they have to say about it....do your homework first, weigh your pros and cons, and then make your decision...and make sure you don't feel pressured to do anything or sign anything when you are at the recruiters office

    Hope this helps and Best of Luck to You!
    mba2bsn, kkleber, Mrs. SnowStormRN, and 1 other like this.
  6. 2
    there is an entire section on all nurses dedicated to military nursing. i highly suggest you read through those. i'm sure you will find more information than you ever thought you'd need. plus people are probably in similar situations to what you are considering. good luck, you will make the right choice for your family!
    kkleber and Anica78 like this.
  7. 1
    My advice is DO IT! My one biggest regret in life is not joining the AF when I could. You'll make it work!
    kkleber likes this.
  8. 2
    In general, the spouse's career takes a back seat to the military career unless it is one of those "walk in off the street" types, such as working in retail (and working in retail is not easy these days). Your commitments as voiced in your post, make it sound as if you will need to give this a lot of serious thought and discussion. Do not make the move if you do not have the full support of your husband. Many couples divorce over the strains of military life, even when it is openly talked about prior to embarking on the lifestyle choice.
    kkleber and Not_A_Hat_Person like this.
  9. 1
    As someone else has already stated, you could consider a career as a USAF Reserve. You'd be active duty during training and then you'd get to serve near home. You will likely get deployed though, and possibly for a year. At the end of your term of service, you wouldn't likely qualify for retirement like the pure active duty personnel get, but then you wouldn't be moved around like active duty personnel.

    I was in an active duty USN family. While it isn't the same service, the family got moved about every 2-3 years to an other duty station. That part can be stressful on families, and marriages often end in divorce (often as high as 90%). However, if you're lucky enough to not be deployed very often, it's a lot like a "regular" day job where you go to work at regular days and times and that is not all that stressful on a spouse or kids.

    Going military is something you should feel a calling to, in my opinion. It can be stressful, but on the other hand, the military will train you and often will let you expand your education to do things you never thought you'd ever do - and you wouldn't have as many worries about being sued.

    In all, it's worth considering!

    No, I'm not an RN yet... so ask USAF RN's about their clinical education and experiences, but this has been the result of my experience in a military family. I hope this helps.
    kkleber likes this.
  10. 2
    Of all the armed forces, the air force has the least chance of being deloyed. You will probably spend most of your time on a military base treating other air force people in a hospital. They don't have a fighting force like the army, navy or army to be deployed with and treat in the battle field. You can have as many kids a you want, like someone said earlier, you wont be deployed or do physical training when your pregnaeant. You won't have to purchase a home, they will give you a very nice one to live in everytime you move. You can save your money for when you get out. Because you are only making 54k, they pay difference won't be that bad. You will have a free house to live in and a tax free allowance for food on top of your salary. If you live off base you will get a tax free allowance for rent. As far as your husband, his career would take a back seat cause when you move he must also but (not to be rude) he doesnt have a career. He can coach basketball anywhere also if he has the talent. He can also apply to civilian positions on base at the hospital and if you are living in a city, he can aply there also. Of all the services, the airforce is the most like the regular world, it is a joke among other services that its not even the military.
    mba2bsn and kkleber like this.
  11. 0
    These are all so helpful! I've read a lot of threads about military service, but it's difficult to find ones that address women RNs with spouses, with concern to deployments and such. I think I'm going to talk to a recruiter next week. I'm just scared that the months-years apart will be too much for me. But all the other benefits seem so appealing. I feel like it will be something I will either love or hate and nothing in between!

    If anyone else has any insight, I would really, really appreciate it. Talking to a recruiter is helpful, but I question their ability to be unbiased and assume they present things to be nicer than they really are.

    I also have aspirations to get my PhD in nursing research as well and also am curious about the need/benefit of having your PhD in the military.

    Thanks!
  12. 0
    He can get a Civil Service job with his education....then he is always building his career as you build yours.

    BTW, YOU won't enlist. Officers don't enlist, we get commissioned! I LOVED the AF. My father retired as a LTC and I left as a 1LT...(Democrat POTUS evicerated the the military..... ) If I were still young, I would go back!

    My parents owned many homes during my Dad's career. Additionally, they have reduced the number of relocations that are required (last I heard anyway).

    Good Luck to ya!
  13. 0
    both of you apply!


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