Reading through my first two posts and the comments, I realized that I made things tougher and more confusing for everyone. Many ideas and thoughts came flooding out in no particular order in those first two blog entries, resulting in some 3000+ words for readers to work through and think about.
As a result, the comments and my responses were all over the page. Many readers brought up legitimate points that deserve attention. It’s a disservice to brush over these, and I have barely even started scratching the surface. So I’m going to simplify things. This will (hopefully) be a long-running blog, so I’ll try to stick to addressing one issue per post, posting only every week or so, as time allows.
First issue: is this just about my choices, or is it bigger than that?
For the first few years after my oldest was born, I was on AD, and the scarcity of other female pilots (and absolute lack of pilots who were also single mothers) meant all of my decisions were made in a vacuum with little outside guidance/support. When faced with the reality of what I was trying and failing to do, I looked at my options and chose the only one that made sense given what was available. I got out. Switched over to the Reserves.
I assumed I was alone or one of only a handful in my situation. Accepted in, didn’t like it, but figured that was it and I would find other ways to contribute. But as a Reservist, I kept running into other Reservists, male and female (all male at first because of my MOS), with similar stories. So about two years ago, I started looking into what the policies were across the services, and what many seniors and peers—again, of both genders—had decided and done. Kept coming back to the same stories, the same decision points.
So I thought, maybe we should start talking about it. Many of y’all have asked if this is a selfish thing on my part, and perhaps I should just accept the options available and get over it, or if it’s really for the good of the services. It’s a valid question, for sure.
My experience has shown me that it’s not just me, not by far. As more women enter the service, dual military marriages increase, and men take on greater responsibilities at home because of shifting gender roles, increasing loss of mid-grade enlisted and officer members absolutely will affect readiness and numbers. Many of the responses back this up.
The Reserves are one choice, made by many. But the inefficiencies of the Reserves bother me, the severe limitations of the Reserve contributions. Within my own job I’ve tried to manage that and somewhat improve it, but why stop there? Innovation is not the enemy. There are certainly holes in some of the ideas I will propose in future blogs. But that’s where informed, open-minded readers come in.
There are shortages in the force, even with manpower drawdowns. There are members—of both genders, again—that want to stay but cannot with existing policies. Is it possible to be on the tip of a spear, or to make flag rank, pursuing alternate career paths like those I’ve suggested and will suggest? Likely not. But most of us would happy to retire at 20 or 30 at any rank as long as we feel we were able to make a difference and continue to serve.
And again, these are ideas that do—and should—affect both genders.
So I’m trying to think outside of the proverbial box. Which is not a bad thing. Looking forward to future input…just don’t expect my posts to be as frequent or as long. Thanks for reading.