Monday, October 15, 2012

There He Goes Again

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.


  1. I'm sorry that really sucks he should be rewarded for his hard work. I hope when he returns he gets what he has worked so hard for. Hang in there!

  2. I don't know how military families do it. I whine when my husband is gone a week for work travel. All I can say is, you all have my complete respect. I'm thankful there are people willing to do what you and your husband do so that my little family can be safe.

  3. Ugh it's terrible when you don't get rewarded for your hard work. I'm sorry about this situation. It also totally sucks for you all that he will be away from you .... but I guess you know that.

    So what can I say? I hope that after this deployment he will get the kind of job he would like, close to home

  4. I am amazed at how strong you are and how positive you remain when Tom gets deployed. You are truly inspirational.

  5. P.S. If you and Tom want a dog, you can have one of my three :)

  6. I know it's a hard choice but it sounds like it is the right choice. I just hate when it feels like your only option or the only right option. Deployment sucks! You can join my made up club for Deployment Mil Spouse Bloggers. I'll make a button for us.

  7. I hate how the AF works sometimes--I know someone that deliberately failed his test to make Tech so he wouldn't have to lose his dog :( It doesn't seem fair that he'd have to go back to doing the "boring" SF jobs now that he's made rank. However, I hope he wouldn't just be babysitting--I know some Airman who aren't cut out for their jobs, but I wouldn't lump them all in that category...

  8. Bless y'all! I wish more people understood the half that stays at home goes through "deployment" too even if they don't actually physically deploy! Well wishes for y'all as you prep for this one!

  9. is it ever easier when he's gone? you get to parent your own way and not worry about what he wants to eat or watch on tv...
    congrats to him on the promo, even though it's obviously not perfect. so few things are.

  10. That stinks that they take his dog because he made rank. Best wishes to you and your hubby on his deployment.

  11. It sounds like even though you made the hard choice, you made the right one for Tom and his career. Did you tell the kids yet? How did they take the news?

  12. boo hiss, they never get easier do they?

  13. This will look good on YOUR resume. You are one of the brave!

  14. Congratulations on his making rank - that's pretty good! And he would end up on deployment with his dog anyway even if he didn't, so being kennel master and coming back as trainer sounds like a pretty good deal.

  15. It stinks he has to give up a dog when making rank. I hope the deployment goes quickly for you. They are never fun.

  16. I'm proud of you for telling him to go. I hope he'll stay safe, and that this will eventually lead to even more job satisfaction for him.

  17. Aw, sorry to hear he'll be deploying again, but hopefully that means better things for him in the future. The military can be so screwy. Luckily, he has a strong wife standing by his side :)

  18. Wow, the rules really ARE nutty-- sounds backwards, but let's hope there's a good reason for all this. You're a good wife and a good person to support him like this. Good job, Momma!

  19. So many times we all focus on our military and lift them up as heroes. But we should also remember the silent family at home that no one sees. YOU are also a hero. I can't imagine how hard it would be for a spouse to leave for long periods of time.

  20. Career military...I have such awe for the wives and families. Irishman was in the airforce and I'm thankful he didn't resign when his duty was up. I know I wouldn't handle that life well at all. He still plays with airplanes for the government though :)

  21. It's weird how the promotions work like that.

    You can do it! I'll be thinking about you.

  22. You're right. You think Tom would be REWARDED when he gets promoted. Well, I hope this all works out for you guys.


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