Where will you live?
There are a number of bases both in the US and abroad. As a JAG you can be assigned to any of them. When turning in your initial application you are requested to submit a “Dream Sheet” of your geographic preferences. There is a section to list your top 10 US bases, and a section to list your top 10 overseas bases. There is also an area where you can state that you would like an overseas assignment, and you can check either Pacific or Europe. We have always wanted to live abroad, at least for a few years. So we checked the Europe box and listed Italy, Germany, the UK, Hawaii (it’s considered outside the US), and Japan bases. We also submitted a list of US bases that included two bases in California, some in Colorado Springs, and a few others. We have been told that while its not very common to get your first choice, the Air Force does try to take your preferences in mind, so you may get your #4 or #5. We just tried to make sure that we would be happy with anything we listed. So to give a simple answer (a little late for that huh?) we don’t know where we will be living. At this point we feel that anywhere will be an adventure and given that we will most likely only be there for a few years, I think it will take us that amount of time just to get to know our new home.
How long are you in for?
The initial commitment is four years active duty, and four years inactive reserve (meaning you do not have to serve any time, but if the government needed additional manpower in an emergency situation you could be pulled in for service). In layman’s terms that means Will will be in the JAG as an officer for four years and then will be able to leave if he chooses and practice wherever he wants (as long as he has passed the local bar). If after four years you choose to stay for another four, you are offered a continuation bonus if you recommit for an additional term. This bonus is dependent on the number of years you commit, currently two years pays $20,000, four pays $40,000, and six pays $60,000. Six is the longest commitment you can sign. This is given over multiple years and can be used however you choose. JAGs can retire after 20 years of service.
What about deployment?
JAGS do deploy. They are not in direct combat, but are deployed to the areas of unrest such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar and Guantanamo Bay. Deployment terms different between the branches, Air Force JAGs typically deploy for around six months. I’m sure you are wondering how I feel about this. To be very honest I see it as the only con as far as going JAG is concerned, and I see it as a big one. It has been very tough having to deal with Will being away for internships, but during those times I still got to see him and talk to him pretty regularly. The thought of not seeing him at all for six months pretty much terrifies me. As does the thought that although he won’t be in combat, he WILL be in dangerous areas and there is always the possibility for the worst. At this point I’m trying to not think too much about it as I know we will cross that bridge when we get there. There is a chance that he won’t have to deploy at all, however with the state of military activity right now close to all JAGs deploy at least once.
What about Husband’s beard?
I shed a small tear when I realized that Will’s beard will be gone for at least the next four years.
What will you do?
There are a number of jobs on the bases available for spouses. Obviously they are generally not the type of jobs that you could have if you were in a settled location but if you want and need to work they have jobs in the stores, gyms and other areas available. Spouses with teaching or medical backgrounds are typically a little better off in finding jobs within their professions as well as transferable skills. I am hoping to keep my potential job that is done online for as long as possible, and then will explore other careers like personal training until we are ready to have children, at which time I hope to be a stay at home mom 🙂