Not only are Johnathon and I constantly asked numerous questions about our future in the Navy, but we want to keep our friends and family updated on what our plans are. We have answered a few of the main questions for everyone...
Is Johnathon planning on re-enlisting?
Johnathon has been in the Navy for just under 5 1/2 years. He has currently re-enlisted twice already and has every intention on doing so again. His current contract is up on September 11th, 2012. At that time we will evaluate our situation and more than likely sign our lives away, yet again!
Will there be a re-enlistment bonus?
Heck NO! This is kind of a personal question and I find it tacky and rude when friends and even relatives ask about it. Our (or Johnathon's rather) salary is one thing...it can be found on the internet, but anything beyond that isn't anyone's business. Anywho, Johnathon recieved N.O.T.H.I.N.G when he first joined the Navy and that is the way it has remained. It may be a different story with other military branches or even other Naval rates, but as for us, we get nothing. :( bummer!
Explain your orders and when they are up.
Alright, since Johnathon is an AS (Aviation Support Equipment Technician) his ratio of sea duty/shore duty is 3 years sea/4 years shore. He is currently in his 2nd year stationed on the USS Makin Island. He was asked to extend and join them on deployment in 2011 and he has agreed. When he gets home in 2012 he will be cutting it close to 4 years on that particular ship. Then he will be given orders to a Naval base instead of a ship.
Sea duty? Shore duty? Explain!
Johnathon got lucky and was first put on shore duty in San Diego, California. (That is what finishing #1 in your A school will get you. :)) That meant that he reported every morning to a building on base. He is an AS (basically a diesel mechanic) and his shop is located near the runway. He doesn't work on the jets themselvs, but rather on the tractors that people ride when they go to work on them or to haul things. While on shore duty you do NOT go on deployments out to sea. However, you can be asked to serve in Iraq, or the like.
Sea duty is a whole different ball game. Johnathon now reports to a ship every morning. To get to that ship, he must first drive onto base and park. He works, eats, sleeps (while on duty) on that ship. Johnathon got lucky with the fact that his ship wasn't actually finished being built when he first got his orders. Thus resulting in very few underways. (Underway is when the ship goes out to sea, but only for a few days-few weeks.) Obviousy, sea duty includes one (or in the case of many) or multiple deployments. While on sea duty you have longer hours and more duty days.
What are duty days?
Simply put, the men and women are sectioned off into different duty sections. Depending on the number of duty sections, they will have duty on that number of days. ex: Johnathon's ship has X number of duty sections. Therefore, Johnathon has duty every X days. One day for each duty section. On that day the men and women of that duty section have training, drills and stand watches.
Do you live in miltary housing? On base?
We do live in miltary housing, however, we do not live on base. That may be the case with other branches, other families, other rates and ranks...but not for the majority of families here in San Diego. There are several...SEVERAL...military neighborhoods. These neighborhoods house both Sailors and Marines...and I'm assuming any other branch if needed.
How come your rent is FREE? Is the commissary really 50% cheaper than civilian stores?
HAHA...this one makes me laugh every.single.time. Our rent is NOT free. Let me repeat that...
Our rent is NOT FREE!
When a sailor is married or reaches a certain rank they are then given a certain amount of money each month. It may or may not pay all of your rent and utilites. The point of this is to HELP defuse the difference in cost of living. Understand that regardless of where you live, each E-4 or E-5 will make the same exact base pay as any other E-4 or E-5. Now does that sound fair when some people live in Texas and other live in Hawaii? Not to say that Texas is cheap, but the cost of living in Hawaii is substantially higher. Therefore, their BAH (money given to aid in their rent/mortgage costs) varies depending on where you are stationed.
Clearly if you live in an apartment, you are able to put that money towards rent and utilities. Johnathon and I lived in a 2 bedroom apartment when we were first married. It was in a town just south of down town San Diego. Our BAH didn't cover our entire rent...let alone our other costs. We now live in miltary housing and instead of the government giving us our BAH and us paying rent, they just keep our BAH. I can see how to civilians it appears that our rent is free, when in reality we are still paying rent with the money that we would have been recieving otherwise. (Only because I am from a small town in central Illinois and they have no idea what rent is like here in California...we pay 3-4x what the average rent is there. Depending on where you live.)
The commissary...50% cheaper! haha. Yeah right! A lot of the items are cheaper, especially when on sale!! However, if you pay attention to prices, there are some things that you can find at a Walmart or Target at the same price. It varies...plain and simple! It is tax free though.
What will Sarah and the girls do while Johnathon is gone on deployment?
Go home, of course! We will be moving somewhere else shortly after Johnathon gets home anyway. Soooo, I will pack up the kids and move to Illinois while he is gone. When his ship pulls in, we will move as a family to wherever the Navy sends us. Johnathon wants Florida...I want Texas. We'll see!
I've enjoyed clearing everything up and sharing our future plans with you all. If you have any other further questions, please don't hesitate to ask!!