My story started in 2005 when on a random Saturday morning, I ran into a US Army National Guard recruiter while at a strip-mall. Before I dive in, I must say, this is not an advert for the military, but what happened to me after meeting “the man in the green suit” only happens to about .5% of Americans. I decided then and there to join the National Guard mostly for the $20,000 sign-on bonus and the free college education.
Fast forward to 2007 when I ended up in Iraq for a few months after I finished basic training. I got married, moved to a northeastern state, then I got a job working as a department of the army civilian supporting the military. I deployed to Afghanistan as a federal employee in 2011. Every time you see the word “deploy” from this point on, it’s just a military way of saying an extended business trip to undesirable locations. I was in Afghanistan as a federal civilian for 9 months, but while I was there, I made friends with several defense contractors. A defense contractor, in a nutshell, is a civilian who works to support the military and federal government by providing products and services. They can do anything from working as accountants or laundry attendances to mechanics working on tactical vehicles. Then some perform clandestine jobs that involve surveillance, intelligence, and perhaps a bit of torture and murder in the name of freedom. From July 2011 to May 2012, I worked with a group who were all hired by a defense contracting company called Lockheed Martin to support a logistics mission moving damaged or used electronic communication devices back to the states for repair or disposal. By meeting that group, I was then introduced to others who worked for defense contracting companies like Raytheon, AECOM, PAE, General Dynamics, DynCorp, Honeywell, KBR, NSPA, CACI, Vectrus, URS, SAIC, STS, BAE Systems, Northrop & Grumman, and to be honest, the list goes on and on. Some of these companies operated on a small scale, and others were huge, but regardless of the size, most of them paid their workers more than I was paid as a service member or a federal employee. To me, it was insane, and when a co-worker who happened to be a contractor told me she made $12,000 monthly, I knew I was on the wrong side.
After my extended business trip to Afghanistan was over, I returned to the quiet sleepy town I had inhabited previously and continued working as a department of the Army civilian. Four months after returning, I was burnt out and sick of my whinny co-workers and of doing a job I didn’t particularly like. My expenses were higher than my earnings, and every month, I was doing a terrible job at balancing everything. I returned home in May of 2012, but by September, I had amassed a plan to find and apply to as much defense contracting companies as possible. I wanted to be done with working the endless grind and decided I would put my all into getting a new job. By the end of October, I had applied to about 400 posts, but it didn’t take long to receive responses. In the end, I settled on a company that offered me $150,234 per year to work as a Logistics Analyst.
January 2013, my journey began; I was excited but worried about the position as I was very aware that I didn’t have the amount of training required for the job they offered. I left my snow-covered town at 4am for the airport on 7th January 2013 and flew to Indiana to a small military base. I stayed there for a few days doing medical examinations, signing on any dotted lines, training on weapons I would never actually use, and sat through several boring power point-presentations.
On 11th January 2013, I sat out for Afghanistan by way of Kuwait and officially went from making $37,345 per year to $150,234 per year. I worked from January until September before I took my first vacation or R & R as they called it. For my first vacation, I flew from Dubai to Barcelona, Spain, and took a cruise from Barcelona down into the south of France and Italy then back to Barcelona. I had the time of my life, and that’s when I fell in love with the lifestyle. The next year I went to Bangkok and Krabi Thailand. Then in 2015, I went to Lisbon and Copenhagen. In 2016 I visited Oslo then spend some time in Dubai, and in 2018 I went to Dubrovnik Croatia, Athens Greece then headed back to Krabi Thailand. This September I plan on going to Argentina, where I will squeeze in a few nights in Calafate which is a town close to the Argentina National Glacier Park, then I will make my way up to Mendoza known for its excellent wines and end my trip in Buenos Aires.
While I would say I haven’t done as much traveling as I would like, I am happy with what I have done so far, but 5 years have passed since I’ve started doing this. Now it feels like I cannot see myself doing any other job because I have grown accustomed to this lifestyle although it is a sacrifice to live in a warzone or work in a country that does not have all my creature comforts, there is something in doing this work that I want to eventually break away from. I want to be free to enjoy my life without to having to sacrifice so much time and energy to things I don’t like, but at the same time, I can no longer work a normal job or living a normal life. So, where do I go from here?
Side Note: It’s always good to share information, I wouldn’t have gone to all the places if I didn’t run into people who were willing to share. So if you have any questions about what I do and perhaps your interested drop me a message.
Update March 2020: My trip to Argentina has come and gone and it was a blast. After Argentina I went to Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, France, and Germany which have all been document.