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  • Published
  • By By Col. Greg Canney
  • 6th Dental Squadron commander
After 24 years in uniform, I can safely say that the Air Force provides a world-beating benefit package! 

The tangible and intangible benefits of a military career are sometimes difficult to convey, especially to junior staff. "Job security" in the 21st century is far from guaranteed for most Americans, and in a challenging economy and difficult job market, the military compensation and retirement plan are indeed attractive and compelling. 

For many active duty personnel, the opportunity to serve and defend the nation is a key motivator. For some, limited civilian career options are the primary reason for visiting a military recruiter. The attraction of an Air Force career now includes all skill sets, from entry-level to professional, in a diverse assortment of fields. 

Frequent review of the Air Force benefits package is as important now as it ever was, and is a part of mentoring; feedback sessions and staff meetings are excellent opportunities to do so. A first term Airman or young CGO may not know the full range of benefits; as family or professional responsibilities increase, different benefits may become more valuable. 

The deposit made into a checking account every two weeks is what many junior staff key in on. But a much larger picture emerges when we fully account for the "intangibles", which includes the retirement plan, generous annual leave, educational and training TDYs that provide personal and professional development, holidays, sick days and perhaps most impressive, medical care! Articles abound in the media on the eroding medical benefit in corporate America, high premiums ($1000 per month!) and co-payments that military personnel do not pay. Serving for a career not only brings lifetime retirement pay, but lifelong health benefits that are best described by MasterCard as "priceless"! 

Medical Group professionals enjoy a dual career as Airmen and health care providers, and can take advantage of world-class residency training at military hospitals and AFIT sponsored civilian programs. Annual educational TDYs that last one to three weeks cannot be matched by civilian counterparts in time off to attend and expenses involved. 

Civilian insurance challenges and managed care has taken the luster off of private practice for many medical providers and increased the appeal of military medicine. 

The chance to travel and to live in foreign countries provides experiences that are difficult to put a dollar value on, even for family members. School-age kids who walk the historical sites that state-side kids can only read about receive a superior learning experience. It is education that is hands-on, tangible and enduring. Introduction to foreign languages and for some, mastering a new language, adds to the allure of overseas assignments for all age groups. 

Certainly, a military career is not for everyone, and our standards remain high to gain entrance. But after a 25 year career, it will be fun to look back at all of the great experiences, to cherish the friendships and to fully appreciate the multitude of "benefits" that my career has provided!