Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Options for JAG's exiting the military

JAGs leave the military and go onto work in a wide range of areas. There are good numbers of prosecutors, state and federal, that are former JAGs. JAGs can obtain a wide range of experience. Every JAG does not become experienced in the same areas of law. There are JAGs that get a lot of experience in government contracts, labor, environmental, and information privacy law. Others just focus on military justice, aka criminal law. That experience can determine what marketable skills they will have once they leave the service. There are also a lot of JAGs that leave the military and go into the reserves. One advantage people have said is that being in the reserves can help when transitioning between jobs.
After the first couple of assignments JAGs are typically not doing the criminal trial work unless they want. Instead they are going into positions where they might be able to specialize, act more in an advisory role at a higher headquarters legal office, or serve in a leadership role. There are so many different jobs in the JAG Corps. You can express your desire for the area of law that you want to gain experience in and bosses will typically try to help you achieve your desires. Of course your preferences only go so far.

A reminder of the Pro's

Before J joined the AF I had a few people try to tell me what my life as an Officer's wife would be like. They said things like, "You'll have to get all fancy and go to functions regularly. That's where you'll have to impress the higher ranked Officer's." Or, "You will join the military as much as your husband does." Oh, how I wish I had talked to an actual Officer's wife and not only mere Civilians :)

It's somewhat of a blur now what I first envisioned my life to be like when we were contemplating joining the military. J came home and said he had interviewed with the Army. Gulp! To sum it up, I thought, MY LIFE would be engulfed by The Military, 24/7. Socially, we'd HAVE to do ceremonies, promotions, meetings and the like. Emotionally, it would consume me because the fear of deployment would constantly hang over me. Our lives would become so regime and dictated by my husband's profession. I FEARED my husband becoming a JAG. I said, "No way!" J dropped the idea. Then a couple months later the Air Force was on campus and J brought up the prospect of becoming a JAG again. Sigh.

Then I prayed. You see, I believe in personal revelation. When you have the stamp of approval from God, peace is bound to follow. Then, when you pray more and you learn that this is exactly the path God wants you to take, more peace arrives.

I HAD to know that before I could embrace my future. At first, each day seemed like an act of faith. But now, I can honestly say, I would NOT want to be living any other kind of life. And thus far, most my fears were so off!!

I will try to stay away from what J would answer and stick to why as a JAG WIFE I feel this way. Maybe I'll do his list another time! To date, these are the main Pro's (in no particular order)

Reason 1: Job Stability. At least at this point in the "game" I don't fear layoffs, no pay check or cut backs. In fact, I expect a raise every 1-2 years, each new calendar year, (as Congress sees fit) and bonuses at his 4th and 6th year.

Reason 2: I like a good adventure! Moving around, seeing literally the world, is a dream come true for me. Meeting new people and creating amazing memories is my kind of gig!

Reason 3: It strengthens our family relationships, if you let it. My children are close, my relationship with my husband is tight and I believe it has a great deal to do with us moving and having to lean on each other. Knowing that my core, little family is the ONE constant, makes me work a little harder to keep it strong. I say, if you let it, because divorce rates in the world are high and I heard somewhere it's even higher in the military. This makes sense because of deployments, stress levels etc but as far as the JAG core, I don't think it's the same. An Officer's life is different than an Enlisted...I could go on but I won't...

Reason 4: My husband comes home happy. As a wife, this definitely adds to my happiness!! Now, not ALL JAG's enjoy what they are doing and this obviously doesn't mean J will always enjoy what he is doing. If I could claim that, then I'd be physic and unfortunately I am not :). Another JAG in J's office makes it very clear that he is getting out after his commitment at 4 years. He doesn't like how the military runs things, he feels micromanaged, and frankly has not had a good experience. The cons outweigh the pros heavily for him and his wife. I am working on getting some other JAG wives to write a brief entry on their overall experience. I'm a newbie remember, others have a greater perspective than me, simply due to the mere number of years their husbands have been serving.