Most people know that my husband Tom is in the Air Force. Not a lot of people know exactly what he does there. He’s in security forces and is a k9 handler. Meaning, he’s the cop you see with the dog. He used to be a regular security forces troop but then he cross trained and went to school in order to become a K9 Handler.
Now here comes the screwy part.
He made tech or E-6. For those NOT in the military, it means he got promoted. When you make tech, you have to give up your dog and leave the kennels.
Does that make sense? You MAKE rank. You progress. And yet you have to give up your dog. One would THINK you’d be rewarded, but no.
When you become a tech, you can become a trainer in the kennels. Meaning, you no longer have a dog but you help train those that do. However, if there is no trainer slot open, you go back to flight and become a regular security forces person. And let me tell you, it’s no cake. Especially these days. The lower ranking airmen do not take their job seriously. It means that higher ranker people, like Tom, have to sit with them, essentially BABYSIT them their entire shift.
Here’s what’s going on with Tom now: he’s going to have to give up his dog very soon. New handlers are coming in, the trainer slots are filled, and he has to go back to flight.
He knew it was coming as soon as he found out he made rank.
And then his boss called the other night.
I didn’t know what was being said, Tom took the phone upstairs since Natalie decided to sing the entire soundtrack of Tangled to me. I knew it couldn’t be good news. I mean, what boss calls at 6 with GOOD news? I thought it meant he was losing his dog.
Tom came back downstairs fifteen minutes later. He asked the kids to leave the room. Crap. Not good.
We sat on the couch and he told me that yes, he’d be losing his dog next month. I felt bad for him, because he LOVES being a handler. He shouldn’t have to go back to flight and babysit. He should have a back office job at this point. He’s done his time on gates when he was a new airman. He should finally have a 9-5 job. He’s never had a 9-5 job. The Air Force gets made fun of a lot. “Chair force” is what people whisper at them because most do get to sit behind desks, even when they deploy.
But not Tom. He’s out there, risking his life, keeping the base safe. And they repay him by putting him BACK on flight to babysit airmen who should probably be kicked out?
“Here’s the thing,” Tom continued. “I can go on a deployment and be a kennel master at that post.”
Oh, no. A deployment. I knew it was coming. (And a kennel master means he’d be in charge of the entire kennels.)
“It would look great on my resume and when I get back, I could get a trainer slot so I wouldn’t have to be on flight. But I won’t do it if you don’t want me to,” Tom added.
I knew he was lucky to even be asked if he wanted to go. Most deployments he’s just told, “Hey, you’re going. Have fun.” But Tom’s boss, the kennel master of this base, respects Tom and wants what is best for him. He wishes he could keep Tom on his dog but his hands are tied. The higher ups keep saying he has to go.
“You should go,” I whispered. It would be hard, no doubt, but I could manage. I managed when he was gone for a year in Korea. I could do six months, right?
“Are you sure?” Tom pressed.
“Yes. It will look good on your resume and you’d be in charge of the kennels over there. I know you love the dogs. So go, before I change my mind,” I said dramatically.
Tom blinked at me. “Uh, I can’t go right now. It’ll be a couple of months.”
Oh. Right. I sort of got into a Grey’s Anatomy conversation type of mood.
Obviously I can’t give details on WHEN or WHERE he’s leaving. It’s sometime next year. That’s all I can say.
I’m glad he’ll still be able to work with the dogs. He will no longer be a handler, but he’ll be in charge of everything. It’s a great responsibility.
Another deployment. Here we go again.