I’m at an interesting point in my life, and in my career. As of now, I still have about three years until retirement. Yes, I’ve done 18, but I have a year break in service, which means three instead of two years left.
Given the rules of my job, I need to successfully complete company command to advance from Captain (O-3E) to Major (O-4). Thing is, I don’t give a shit about promoting, awards, special assignments or special schools.
An Officer who gets passed over twice for promotion may ride out his career if and only if by the second failure to promote, he stands within two years of retirement eligibility. Otherwise, the U.S. Military will have let him go.
I don’t get looked at for promotion to Major until next year, maybe after summer. Presuming I don’t get selected, and fail again the following year… who cares. I’ll just retire. I’ll retire as a Captain and not a Major, but the difference is small.
I calculated the present value of the perpetuity (the pension) a couple years ago, not including in kind benefits such as medical. If I did my math right, the difference comes to about $250K. Is it worth it? No. Not for me. Not given what I’d have to trade off to get there.
What would I trade off? Writing these blogs. Pursuing my side hustle. Quiet time away from work.
There’s an opportunity within the next week for me to interview for command. It wouldn’t be a guarantee that I’d get selected for command, but inon-selection would be guaranteed if I didn’t.
Why am I even considering it if I really don’t give a shit? Because I’m being asked to. Other Soldiers actually want to work alongside me. I don’t give a shit about promoting for me.
I’m tempted to say that no one ever looked out for coming up through the ranks – that’s for from true, because I realize I’ve had plenty of help.
The amount of friction, looking back, overwhelms the amount of support I received. By far.
I never got a duty station I wanted. I mean never. My first duty station was Hawaii (2001–2005). I picked it and actually went because I scored the highest in GPA at my first MOS school. I didn’t realize it was an option until the list of choices were presented and I somehow got first pick. This girl wanted to trade me for it, for $400. I said yes. But just an hour later, it was too late. No take-backs.
After that? 29 Palms. Pittsburgh. Fort Polk. Camp Arifjan. Fort Bliss. Fort Bragg. All of these assignment, I either simply did not want or wanted not to go to. Minus Pittsburgh (I served on active duty at a reserve center), the other stations are generally considered undesirable within the U.S. Military.
I made attempts within my career to advance in particular directions. As a Marine, I remember wanting to pursue contracting and acquisitions. Rejected. Becoming a Warrant Officer (W-1). Rejected. Becoming a Second Lieutenant (O-1E). Rejected. Staff Sergeant (E-6)? Fuck it. I rejected it – yes I turned down promotion to Staff Sergeant – on the way out the door.
My Army career followed the same path. And now? Fuck it.
I’ve worked so fucking hard. And for what? What did I get in exchange for it? Did I get what I want? Never. Not one duty station or special assignment. In fact, the harder I worked, the more I simply got more work, other people’s work. While I got punished for productivity, they got rewarded for mediocrity.
So, fuck it.
I am grateful. I mean it. I am thankful for everything I have. For every lesson I’ve learned. But for these occurrences, I wouldn’t now have the family I do or be the man I’ve become.
If I interview for command and actually receive a command, it wouldn’t be because I give a shit about climbing this fucking ladder. It’s the wrong ladder, on the wrong ground, against the wrong wall.
I wouldn’t be doing it for me, because fuck this shit.
As of the moment, I’m being asked to. I’m actually wanted. And there’s a world of difference between wanting to work with someone versus having to.
I’d have an opportunity to make work fulfilling for the next persons. I’d have an opportunity to directly and so broadly set the conditions for success for quite a few other people.