I’m interested in the range of this kind of experience represented among our peers here, so if you’re willing to share your knowledge, I’d love to learn …
What was your role, how long ago, for how long, what kind of agency? What is your general view of your experience? What is the one thing that you would like everyone to know about service in your organization? What is a misconception that you would like to clear up about it?
So, what counts for the purposes of this thread –
Service in the uniformed military service of any country, in either a uniformed or non-uniformed, military or civilian role, but not as an employee of a military contractor
Service in the law enforcement agency of any governmental agency, whether in uniform or not, where in a direct or indirect role, but, again, not as an employee of a government contractor
Service in the court system in a judicial, prosecutorial, public defender, or other role as an employee of a court, whether or not in a directly legal role, but not as the employee of a private agency, firm, or contractor
Service in the corrections system of a governmental authority in any capacity, but, again, not as the employee of a private corporation or contractor
You don’t have to be on the “front line” to qualify for this thread. You can have served in a clerical position, or in a utility or service position, such as maintenance or cleaning crew, so long as you were employed directly by the agency or organization in question.
U.S. Navy Seabees, 23 years. Trained as an electrician, retired in 1990 as a Chief Petty Officer. Served in Vietnam, Japan, Spain, Guam, and Germany (attached to a U.S. Consulate). While in Germany, my job was traveling to other embassies, so I repeatedly
visited France, England, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, USSR, East Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, both business and pleasure. I also spent three months in Egypt.
Overall, my experience was a good one. I saw places and things I likely would never have seen, and gained tremendous leadership and management skills along the way, which I parlayed into very good paying jobs in civilian life. I was also able to mentor smart folks into being better at what they did. The downside is that the pay was miserable, and I spent a lot of time away from my family. The upside was that I got to spend a lot of time away from my family.
I also worked as an auxiliary police officer in a small town (24,000) over a span of 2-3 years. Interesting learning experience as to what goes on during a typical shift of police work (at least in a town that size). As auxiliaries, we carried firearms and wore uniforms, normally riding with a full time officer, but occasionally walking a foot patrol alone. Some folks think that police work has a lot of action going on, but it’s mostly boredom, at least in a smaller town. There is also a lot of paperwork to be done.
US Navy, 5 years as a submarine junior officer, mid aughts. ~1 year training, ~4 years as part of a submarine’s crew; we were at sea approximately half the time, with the rest of the time in port or in the shipyard. The most rewarding part of it was the last year or so, fully qualified, and by seniority the 6th highest ranking officer onboard (with a crew of ~120).
What I’d like everyone to know about it – prospective US high school and college graduates who aren’t sure what else to do should seriously consider the Navy (and the other branches); it will be tough but very rewarding and has a great chance to give you skills and experience useful in the long-term. Probably best, post-military-career-wise, if you choose a technical field with lots of non-military applications (machinist, electrical/electronics, computers, nuclear engineering, etc.). I’m very glad my Navy commitment is complete, and I’m very glad I did it.
USMC, 4 years active (1988 - 1992), a few years in various reserve units. Resigned my Commission in 2005. I served as HAWK Missile Base Firing Unit Platoon Commander, HAWK Support Platoon Commander, Stinger Missile Platoon Commander and Battery Executive Officer, then lastly a Low Altitude Air Defense Officer in Charge of a Marine Expeditionary Unit reinforced Stinger section. I enjoyed it. In my Stinger units, we have basically children, 19 year old kids, making the decision to fire at an aircraft or not, all by themselves, very decentralized control. Very good training. Very smart guys.
Judge’s assistant, county level in the State of California, just shy of 20 years from 1985-2004.
I loved my job, never worked so hard in my life. I would love to dispel the notion that civil service positions at the rank-and-file level are cushy, easy jobs. Not at all true in my experience.
Also, you may think you understand how your trial court system works. You probably don’t. I wish more people understood the crucial importance of their jury duty service and didn’t view it as a huge burden to be borne. Obviously if you don’t get paid during jury service, that’s a good reason to be excused. But if you get paid, please offer your time as part of being a good citizen. Don’t bring an axe to grind. It’s really important, and should be undertaken in a serious clear-eyed way.
Eleven years of active duty in the U. S. Navy and (I think) three more years as a drilling reservist.
In addition, I worked as a civilian for the Dept of the Navy for 26 years directly supporting the active duty Navy. Even now in retirement, I’ve worked for 4 contractors who support the Navy base here in this county. I stopped wearing the uniform in the 80s, but I’m still part of the organization.
Needless to say, it’s been an important part of my entire adult life and I’ve enjoyed most of it. Face it, even the best job can have its moments…
What is your general view of your experience?
Signed up because I felt I had nothing else going for me–I was so boring getting the security clearance was a piece of cake. Turned out to be the best job I’ll ever have and I still consider leaving to be a huge mistake. Although after I left my boss ended up getting blown up.
What is the one thing that you would like everyone to know about service in your organization?
That I didn’t do it for the recognition, that I resent commercial enterprises putting a metaphorical arm across my shoulder so they can capitalize on their ‘gratitude’ for my service, and that I am disgusted by veterans who use their status for attention & perks–they make all of us look like immature little attention whores.
What is a misconception that you would like to clear up about it?
Not all soldiers are killers. My job, for instance, was to give Death your address and then run away.
As a paralegal who has been involved in many, many trials, let me please say thank you for the work you did, and an emphatic thank you for what I’ve quoted here. There is nothing like having you and your client, opposing counsel and their client, and the court’s personnel spending anywhere from weeks to years preparing for a fair trial, only to have everyone seated to potentially be a juror doing everything they can to be anywhere else.
I joined the Army National Guard for the educational benefits and, this being Reagan’s America at the time, to do my part to fight commies. MOS 91A (combat medic). Figured that would look good on medical school applications.
My MASH unit was activated for Desert Shield/Desert Storm. We deployed to Saudi Arabia initially, and then Iraq. Alas, no commies.
I did my 6 + 2. I fulfilled my end of the bargain, and the Army fulfilled its end of the bargain. No real complaints.
Oh, but the stories I could tell. Every service person has stories. From head-shaking military incompetence, to courage under fire, to witnessing death, to preventing same. From fainting from hypothermic shock in the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert, to getting scorched from (literally) burning shit mixed with diesel. From trying to explain to a brainwashed Iraqi soldier dying from exposure and malnutrition that the catheter we need to insert is NOT a torture device thought up by the Great Satan, to the perfect-English speaking Iraqi soldier who was a U.S. university professor who, in a case of horribly bad timing, was visiting his family in Iraq when Saddam needed additional “volunteers” to head out into the desert to fight.
So many more stories.
Anyway, the best thing about being a medic was that I realized I didn’t really care for the health field and switched from pre-med to marine biology when I got back to school.
8 years Air Force, mostly around Washington DC and Maryland fixing radios, and traveling to install and deinstall radios and other equipment as required. ‘76 to ‘84. I was in a joint service unit, and got to know Army and Navy types, also.
Spent 2.5 years serving National Service in the Singapore Armed Forces. Spent another 5 or so years on the reserve list, got re-trained as a driver, currently going back for reservist training of 2 weeks every year or so.
Other than basic military training of about half a year of my 2.5 years of active training, I was doing a desk job for the rest of my time due to medical conditions. Still got to learn how to shoot an M16 (and subsequently retrained on the SAR), but never did throw a grenade.
The training program in Singapore caters for all types, since National Service is an obligation for all Singaporean males, so I assume training is probably less rigorous than in professional armies.
Currently a lawyer, but not criminal. Went in house a couple of years ago - best thing I ever did!