When I first joined the Air Force almost 10 years ago, I would half-seriously tell people it was for the $7 babies. My best childhood friend had been in the Air Force and, as part of her son's baby album, had a copy of the $7 check she wrote to the base hospital for the food she ate during her labor and delivery stay. At the time I was young, single and still planning to have eight kids, and I thought $7 was a great deal! (I think they don't even charge for the food anymore.)
Now, with a baby on the way at last, I must hang up the dream of only paying $7 for his/her birth.
I got an email yesterday notifying me that my request to be transferred from the Active Reserve to the Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) was approved and effective Nov 1.
What this means is that I'm the most minimally (oxymoron?) attached to the Air Force as possible. I don't have any requirements (to drill, keep records updated, fitness, training, etc...), and most importantly, I am almost non-deployable. I say almost because they would have to non-voluntarily deploy a lot of people before getting to the IRR, which might happen, but probably won't.
I have mixed feelings about this change, but I know it's the best thing for our family right now. I have loved being in the Air Force, both as an active duty member and a Reservist. I have had amazing opportunities and worked with some of the best people in the world. My job in the Reserves is one of the best you can get. I've been an Individual Mobilized Augmentee (IMA), which means I wasn't assigned to a Reserve unit (one weekend a month/ two weeks a year), but to an active duty office with the same amount of requirements (35 days a year). My main job was to augment the active duty force by filling in a specific position when the active duty person wasn't able to be there, due to leave, training or deployments. So, I was much like a substitute teacher. This is what I did at Andrews Air Force Base, as well as augmenting the unit for special events such as the annual airshow.
Another perk of the job was the free agent aspect. If a unit had a special mission requirement, like a special event, they would put out a request for IMAs to come fill in. These temporary job opportunities popped up all over the world, and though I only took advantage of a few in the DC area, I enjoyed the possibilities available to me. This is how I got to work on the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee and help write an award package for Air Force Public Affairs to submit to the Public Relations Society of America (which we won, by the way!).
So, I've loved the flexibility and variety of being an IMA. I've loved to be a representative for Citizen Airmen, showing the active duty folks what Reservists can bring to the fight. I've loved to be a spokesperson for the Air Force, showing the American public what their amazing troops are doing.
I think this is part of the reason I'm not ready to resign my commission outright, cut the cord and be done with it all. For all the "costs" associated with military service, I've just had too much fun and have too much pride in what it means to totally quit. So, I'm just partially quitting. I'll still have one pinky toe in the door in case I ever need or want to return to a participating Reserve or even active duty status.
But for now, my status must change. I'm preparing for a new long-term (lifetime) assignment as Mommy, and for at least the first year, I don't want Captain or Airman to interfere with that. I totally admire the working moms and dads who handle both roles with success, but this is the right thing for my family for right now.
So, even though we'll pay a tad bit more than $7 for our baby, and even though I'll miss putting on my uniform and offering crisp salutes and service to my country, I'll turn the page with gratitude and excitement to see what is in the next chapter.