My daughter is joining the Air Force

She’s 20 years old - if you have military experience or have a child in the military - what should we expect?


Well, I’m just glad she didn’t join the Army. As an army veteran, let me tell you, it sucks. At least the Air Force is the “brainy” service.

GQ is for questions with factual answers. Since you’re looking for personal experiences, I’ll move this to IMHO.

Thank her for me for her service to our country.

Short term expectations or long term?

In the short term, she will be picked up from her house very early in the morning the day she reports to boot camp and will be delivered to her MEPS station in the nearest big city. Here she will fill out yet more paperwork and be sworn in.

She will then get airline tickets to the nearest airport to boot camp. Once there, she will submit to urinalysis, set a small toiletry kit and go to bed. That day or the next she will be given a haircut. For females, this does not mean a “buzz cut.” That day or the next she will call you to let you know she is safe.

You can expect a few more calls and letters during her few months of basic training.

Military discipline training begins immediately. Physical training follows a physical and shots.

You will be invited to her basic training graduation. I highly encourage you to attend if at all possible. You should see a striking change in your daughter. Not a bad change, or a destructive change. She should be much more focused and disciplined.

More training generally follows basic. Much of this will be classroom work. After this, she should get her first duty assignment. In the Air Force, this is very often overseas. Prepare yourself now for this possibility.

My experience is Navy, but you should find this to be true for her.

My experience in the U.S.A.F. was pretty much the same. Might I ask what job she’s training for?

Thank you your responses Barking Spider, Mr. Moto and Czarcasm. (sorry my post was originally in the wrong forum - thanks for moving it bibliophage)

Her recruiter has told her that her test scores will help determine which job she should train for. She has already taken a pre-test and scored exceptionally well on it. She has completed 50 hours of college credits and before making the decision to join the Air Force was focusing on Engineering.

Until yesterday, when she shared her intention to join with us, I never really considered this as a possibility for her future. We are not a military family, unless you count her grandfathers who both served in the Navy.

She goes for MEPS (written test and physical as I understand it) Thursday and Friday of this week, making the decision on Friday whether to sign up for four or six years. She’s leaning toward six because of the difference in rank (? # of stripes she will go in with?), higher initial pay, and larger sign-on bonus.

She’s a great young lady and we are very proud of the decision she’s made. I, on the other hand, am somewhat still in shock.

Thanks for all of the information shared thus far and please keep it coming.

I’m sure you must be very proud of her. I remember going to MEPS and taking my exams and tests. In fact, I rather envy her, as I have fond memories of that time in my life, when I was striking out on my own.

I was something of a “troubled teenager” (High School dropout)when I went in the Air Force. For me, it was a good place to grow up and gain some maturity. After four years, I had a GED, got discharged and attended and finished college. In short, I turned my life around in the Air Force. Your daughter’s life may not need “turning around”, but it’s still a good place to spend some years. Thanks to your daughter for being willing to enlist in the service of our country. I do think she will find it a rewarding experience.

Some very recent experience at our house. My stepdaughter, who turned 22 in March, joined the Air Force last November, setting it up so that she would go to Lackland AFB for basic in January. She made it through basic in an honor flight and is now in air traffic controller school in Biloxi.

Expect the first call from her within 72 hours. It might be right up against that 72 hour deadline, too. Her mom was smart enough to sleep with a notepad and pencil on the bedside table, because her daughter called at 4:15 a.m. and had only 3 minutes to A) Vent about her stress and B) communicate a very long, complicated address. I should note that we are in the Pacific time zone and San Antonio is in Central, so our 4:15 a.m. was their 6:15 a.m., a much more reasonable time for their end.

Interestingly enough, she is not from a military background. Her mom has highly pacifistic leanings, and her dad is a talented stained glass artist who has not much good to say about governments.

She had a rough go of it in childhood, and left school with a GED as a sophomore. The Air Force wouldn’t take her unless she went back to a special course to get an actual high school diploma, which she did. She also interviewed a number of people currently and formerly in the air force, both rah-rah and those who hated it, before making her own decisions.

According to her, they are roused very early each morning (can’t remember exactly, but 4:30 is in the ballpark) do exercises and then eat. Basic is a six week course these days, so it’s pretty intense as they break down individuality and build team spirit through shared hardship. Some of them get washed out, or worse (from their point of view) are “recycled” and have to repeat a week or two weeks of the course.

At the end of basic they can get one free day off base with relatives who may come to the ceremony. We were only able to afford to send her mom to San Antonio, but it was well worth it in mother-daughter bonding.

A note: they ask that you do not send cookies or other treats. Letters are incredibly welcome, but recruits may be allowed to receive them but not open them for several days. (Their time is strictly accounted for at first.) Don’t expect a lot of communication back, either. They do get a bit more time toward the end of the course, but sleep is always a major first choice.

Hope that helps, and good luck to you and your daughter.
By the way, she graduates in early June from air traffic controller school but just last week received her posting. Not Germany or Italy or Korea, but Minot, North Dakota. She’s going to have to invest in some woolies to survive,

Good luck to your daughter.
Everything said has been good info so far. I’m pretty sure if she has 50 hours of college she will go in with the max rank(E-3,Airman First Class or A1C) so signing up for 6 would probably not be a good idea. Some career fields you need to though because the training is so long. Try to make sure she gets a Guaranteed job or one of the better “open” career fields. I went in with “open” electronics and got lucky getting computer maintenance. I could have just as easily have been climbing poles or working on systems that are 20 years old, wait, I did that anyway. DONT let her go in as an “open” general. She could be a cook or bus driver. And yes, go to her graduation, I’m glad my parents and (now ex)wife went. Great experience for both of you. She will grow up, be prepared for that. It was the best mistake I ever made. I didn’t have the best Air Force experience but that was my fault. It got me my current civilian job which is so great I’m sitting here right now at work, in Air Force installation typing this email on a govt. computer making way more money than I probably should be and typing the best run on sentance money can buy.
Again, good luck to her.

From what I know, she’s joining the best service for a woman, as far as acceptance and equality. And brains. I know, I was a Marine. :smiley:

Please go to her graduation, she will certainly be looking for you there. Be prepared to be shocked with her improvement. Good call on her part, an experience she will never forget, and never regret.

Heh. Just wanted to wish your daughter good luck.

And ask what AFSC (job) she chose?

She’ll eventually start to show more self discipline. I think that’s the major thing for everyone. Some kids already have it and some need it. I did. She may learn to conform if she doesn’t do that very well now. The best thing I learned was to tell the difference between a leader and someone who is in a leadership position. The military is a great way to grow up. But let her get out if she wants.

Oh, I was navy and tell her thanks.

and send her cookies.

I want to add my congratulations, also. I was not in the military (I have a basically rebuilt left ankle), but my fiance retired after 20 years, as a First Shirt. I just wish she would get on this board also so she could add her congratulations also; instead, I’ll add them for her.

Congratulations, and my humble thanks for her service to our country.

The written test will be the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Apptitude Battery) or its proginey. With 50 hours of college she should place pretty high. This will help give her the widest aray of choices. Tell her to take her time and don’t let the recruter push her.

Military life is not for everyone. I know very few women who stayed in longer than 4 years. So I agree that a 6 year hitch is to long for your intial enlistment.

It is a great way to save for college though. And the VA Home loan is great ( I speak from experence.)

Just my two cents to you and her; if it’s at all an issue, forget about what this might do to one’s “schedule”. Most people go to high school, college, job or further college. Don’t think she needs to keep up with the Jone’s in this respect. Life, in realty, is long. There’ll be plenty of time to get to it all.

She’ll have experiences others would never in their lifetime experience. This will add to her overall dimeanor and will be positive.

Ten years from now, she will have served her country, herself, gotten further education and will be gainfully employed in an area that she gave great thought to. Her peers will be by her side but lacking the experience she’s about the encounter.

You should be proud of her.

Oh yea, tell her - thanks.

US NAVY 1980-84

If the TI’s don’t eat 'em…:smiley:
SpaceGhost, who’s going to Boot Camp June 5th, Great Lakes.

I agree, dont send cookies or brownies or anything in a box. She probably won’t get it. And if she does get it, it will be after a Training Instructer (TI) or 12 has had his/her palms in it. If it tastes good she probably wont get any. If its bad (to the TI’s) she may get it and then be forced to share with her 50 or so bunk mates. Don’t have everybody you know and she knows send her mail on the same day. That pisses off the TI’s too. Again, good luck and congratulations.

She should get them. At least we did. My mom sent me a whole bunch of oatmeal cookies once. I opened them and ALL the guys surrounded me at my rack. So in order to not get into trouble for having crumbs at my rack, I grabbed a handfull for me and slid the box as far away as I could to someone elses rack. All the guys dove into them. Crumbs went everywhere. I can’t remember at what week this was so I don’t remember if it was a privilege. Wait and find out for sure :wink: