Boo Hoo! You’re Getting Pink Slips

Updated: July 19, 2014


By Kerry Patton

With reduction in force taking place, many service members are being told they will not be authorized to re-enlist. Some media outlets title this as “Military Getting Pink Slips” or something of that nature. Die hard conservatives are outraged and as a conservative, I am putting my foot down and telling the social group-think folks out there to take a chill.

First and foremost, historically speaking, our military runs two key cycles of operations when it comes to personnel—heavily recruit or reduction in force. The later often happens after wars come to an end. It happened in Vietnam, The Gulf War, and it is happening now. It’s nothing new.

While we all know the military SHOULDN’T be downsized, it’s a normal occurrence after a major conflict and not something we can fix on the individual level. We have to deal with it.

Secondly, while many will disagree with this, let me put it out there—the military is not meant to be a “jobs program.” For those who cannot find, hold, and or maintain a job in the civilian workforce, the odds are you will not make it in the military and to be utterly blunt; the military likely doesn’t want you anyway.

While there are a lot of exceptional people within our military, there are also a lot of douchebags. And no, not everyone who serves is some heroic patriot. Sorry.

Now, let me explain why I have a ton of empathy, yet little sympathy, for those who are being told they cannot re-enlist. As service members, we are supposed to be resilient. This means, when faced with a predicament, we are supposed to be capable in bouncing back. If you did your minimum tour and failed to embrace the resilient mindset asked of you, then shame on you.

For those who are saying something on the lines of, “You don’t know what this is like unless you faced this type of predicament,” guess what? I did face similar.

In the 1990’s, while President Clinton implemented his reduction in force, I was one of the many who was not authorized to re-enlist. I was, at the time, on a TDY in Kuwait. My First Sergeant, accompanied by my supervisor, walked up to me while I was on post and spilled the news.

“Your re-enlistment paperwork was not approved,” My Shirt said to me. “You’re going to be a civilian the moment you touch back down in the States.”

I felt like my heart was ripped out of me. I wanted to re-enlist. The news sucked. But I also knew it wasn’t about me. It was about the needs of the nation. I was needed, just not in the capacity in which I was working.

A couple of months passed and I returned back to the States. I left New Mexico, where I was stationed at the time, and drove all the way back to the East coast. I drove without stopping merely because my rage kept me awake.

Upon returning home, I was still pissed and more than bitter. Being pissed wasn’t going to help. I needed to bounce back. I needed to make the best out of a shitty situation.

I immediately called a friend and landed my old job from high school doing landscaping work. I moved back in with my parents. During my free time, I searched high and low for other potential, more rewarding, employment.

I wasn’t going out getting drunk every night. I wasn’t taking drugs. I wasn’t doing things that would hinder my possibilities to gain a brighter future.

I was resilient and my resilience paid off. Literally, within a month of being home, I was called by some odd organization I never heard of before—the US Immigration and Naturalization Service. They asked if I was interested in a job. I had no clue who USINS was at the time, I did my homework, and the next day ran down to the office where I was to be interviewed.

Needless to say, I got the job, went to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), graduated the academy, and began working as an Immigration Inspector and assisted in Adjudications.

A few months passed, I was getting bored with Philadelphia and needed a change. I put in for a transfer to the southern land border, got the job, went back to FLETC for additional training, and quickly began working in Southern California.

I worked my ass off, stayed out of trouble, and went out of my way to go above and beyond what was expected of me supporting other entities in ways I cannot mention. Needless to say, everything started to pan out. Then, one day, the big hit occurred.

marineI was working one of the vehicular lanes of entry and got a major bust. It was a Honda Accord that had a raised floor board filled with more than 100lbs of pure China White Cocaine. The driver was rumored to be the Godson of one of the biggest drug lords working the other side of the border. Whether the rumor about this drug mule was true or not, I was quickly asked where I would like to be re-assigned for my own safety.

I went to Chicago and immediately began working at the Airport. I hated the assignment, hated Chicago, and hated believing those I was formerly supporting on my off duty, while assigned on the Southern Land Border, may no longer have any need for me—how could they when I was so far removed.

I loved working on the border and more so, loved the unique outfit of guys I was helping out who didn’t work for US Immigration. They had military mindsets—something I missed ever since I was told I could not re-enlist. I needed out of Chi-town.

After a phone call to one of the guys I once supported, I learned I could go back in the military if that was something I really wanted to do. I wanted back more than anything. So, I took his advice, resigned from US Immigration, and re-entered the Air Force after a three year hiatus.

Nothing lasts forever.

For those who are bitter and possibly pissed off by these current force reductions, don’t be. You did what was asked of you and now you are being asked for more. You are being asked, by your nation, to remove yourself from the military structure. But you are not being asked to sit back and do nothing.

As warfighters, we are resilient in nature. This makes us the best micro-society our nation has to offer. Sure, there are some dirtballs among us, but that does not mean we are all dirt balls.

Yeah, I empathize for those who are being told they can no longer serve but I do not sympathize. I have been there and know the feeling and it sucks. But sometimes life sucks. How you deal with the suck is what makes you.

For those of us who truly understand the duty of a military member, we should always remember the famous line: “It’s not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”

Take your tissues and dry your eyes. Wake up tomorrow and grab the world by its balls and continue to make something of yourself.

For those civilians on the bandwagon of hate, get a grip. Your anger is not helping anyone right now and it sure as hell isn’t helping the warfighter being told they can no longer serve in uniform.




  1. Wil Hardin

    July 19, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    I rarely disagree with the articles you guys post, but I think this cat is missing the point. I can’t speak for every person who’s outraged, but I’m not really that pissed off about people getting pink slips. I am however disgusted by how they are handing these “pink slips” out. Also, it’s easy to be “resilient” when you have the option to move back in with your parents after you’ve been cut. While I applaud the writers efforts to better himself and make strides to have the life he wanted, I think he needs to understand not everyone will be facing civilian life starting on third base. Service members should not be worried about unemployment (and everything that means for them and their families) while conducting combat operations. We’ve seen lately how our veterans are being treated by the VA, it should make people disgusted and angry that active duty troops aren’t receiving the support they deserve while serving our country.

  2. leftoftheboom

    July 19, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    I watched the first reduction in force back in the 90’s. I saw this one coming. The process has guidelines and those, to my knowledge, are being followed. Records are being reviewed and if your record has any areas of concern that meet the criteria, they go to the next step. The reviewers are not happy with the situation but they have their orders and they are obeying them.

    If you are selected you get notification. There are no surprises. When the announcement went out everyone should already be aware of any less than stellar comments in NCOER/OER evaluations that they have received. You know if your overweight or failed a PT test. You know if you lost equipment or any of the other things that give you less points than a peer.

    The records review does not track location and the people doing the review have their orders so it is absolutely likely and I know that it has already happened that Officers have reported to command assignments and then been given notification.

    None of this should come as a surprise and while it might be unfortunate that someone received a notification while deployed, do you honestly know of any time, except casualty situations, where the government gives a damn about the individual?

    The author is simply saying, quite whining, grow up, act like a Soldier. If you can’t, you are proving that the selection process was right to get rid of you because you are not of the character under stress that we really needed to keep anyway.

    • Common Sense

      July 20, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      Quit whining? That’s some bullshit right there. Losing your job, and being worried about how to put food on the table is not whining. It’s also ridiculous to say “you should know”, about how you rate when they plan to cut. The level of cutting is different every time, and how you performed vs how you are actually rated vs what they want to cut is different.

      • leftoftheboom

        July 21, 2014 at 12:29 pm

        If someone is uselessly complaining about something that cannot be altered, amended, or stopped, that sir is whining.

        The bottom line, the military is an organization that has a mission larger than an individual. No one in the military gets paid what they are worth so you better have more for motivation than a paycheck.

        Everything I stated is individual qualification, counseling, and responsibility. If and individual was not top of the grade on an OER, they knew that, it is part of the process. Every Soldier has access to their digital personnel file and they are expected to review it for accuracy. If someone got a Letter of Reprimand, they know that. The criteria is specific and points based.

        This is not a job. It may hold the virtues and benefits of one but in the end, if that is all it is, someone needs to find a new home.

        If some stellar chap had a crappy leader and got a marginal OER for a heroic performance, they should have rebutted it and taken it up the chain. Because now, since they didn’t, it will be coming back to haunt them.

        This is not a new thing and like I said, I saw it all before, heard the whines before, and the military survived the last time and they will again.

        As I was told by my leadership and passed on to my units back in 2009, the war is coming to a close, budgets are getting tight and going back to prewar standards along with all the garrison crap that goes along with it. Either you are leading the pack, or you will be packing.

        • Common Sense

          July 21, 2014 at 8:07 pm

          You wrote:
          “If someone is uselessly complaining about something that cannot be altered, amended, or stopped, that sir is whining.”

          The reduction in numbers CAN be altered, ammended and stopped. Stating your disapproval with a GOVERNMENT decision- is the right of every citizen. Everyone here seems to agree that the current cuts should not be nearly as drastic, and the military didn’t suggest the plan to cut the budget and therefore personnel.

          While I’m sure that there are some non-performing shitbags out there, that are complaining and whining, the article doesn’t cite any specific references to this. It speaks about generalities in regard to soldiers being pissed off that not only are what they consider critical military resources being cut- they are also losing their jobs.

          I agree that in any career or situation in life, you should have an alternate plan- however being pissed off that your plan A is no longer available, due to a government decision that you don’t agree with, is not necessarily whining, it’s often just an expression of opinion.

          I don’t see anyone suggesting mutiny or a strike, they just want the cuts to stop. I also can’t possibly believe that all of the personnel who will be cut are not fine soldiers. With the total numbers, there will certainly be some arbitrary personnel dismissals. These people have every right to be pissed off.

          • leftoftheboom

            July 21, 2014 at 9:47 pm

            There have been numerous articles to hit social media and the news about individuals getting their notification while deployed. Several other military blogs have run articles referencing the issue.

            There is a fine line between whining and expressing an opinion. I believe that line has been crossed by numerous individuals.

            The only way a Soldier can legitimately complain about this issue it to vote during whatever election cycle their state is on. That is it. By regulation, no individual has an acknowledged opinion beyond the scope of their orders, period. Any private opinion voiced in public is insubordination. That is one of the laws everyone in the military agreed too on day one.

            So enough with the complaining. Someone who gets RIFTed has two choices. They can leave on a high note with head up and pride intact for the job they did, regardless of their level of performance, they were still part of the .45%.

            Or they can whine oh woe is me and bring down the image of the entire military as nothing more than a jobs program with no special reason for pride or anything else.

            I know the cuts are not arbitrary. I know that the people sitting on the board are not happy but are still doing their jobs. All the maudlin bullshit in the world is not going to change the fact that it will happen.

            If I had my druthers, tomorrow, every unit in the Army would have a height and weight performed by a randomly selected unit so that no favoritism could take place. Then every over weight and tape failure would be assessed monthly and when they fail to show improvement, kick their fat asses out.

            If you are military and you are a leader ask yourself one simple question, at what point after you give an order to you expect it to be obeyed and adhered too? Or do you just let your subordinates complain to anyone that cares to listen?

      • JoeC

        July 21, 2014 at 12:54 pm

        That’s not bullshit, that’s reality. Being a vet doesn’t come with the privilege of not having to deal with life. Everybody is getting walking papers, not just the military. I don’t recall ever seeing any military contract that said anyone was guaranteed a position until they decided to leave. In that regard, being in the military is no different than any other job. Enlisting is voluntary and when you enlist you agree to certain things. Those are what you are entitled to, nothing else. If you don’t get the things you were promised in writing when you enlisted, you have a right to complain. Otherwise, welcome to real life. If you want to be in the military you need to be the best solider, sailor, airman or Marine you can be and that needs to be good enough to do the job. Otherwise, go do something else. Does it suck? Yes. Does it cause problems? Yes. Did you get screwed out of something you earned? Hell no. Do the best you can to be a productive member of society and move on just like you would do if you got RIF’d out of a private sector job.

        • Common Sense

          July 21, 2014 at 8:13 pm

          The bullshit comment was in reference to “stop whining”. I realise that bad shit happens, and you are not entitled to anything. However I disagree that people will not get screwed out of something they earned. As I wrote above, the depth of cuts cannot possibly leave all good soldiers untouched. There will be personnel who have done their utmost to perform, and have exceeded what was expected of them. They have every right to be pissed off that they are considered redundant, when they disagree with the cuts being made.

          • JoeC

            July 22, 2014 at 8:04 am

            I know what you were addressing and it still isn’t bullshit. If you have 100 soldiers there might be 5 turds that never should have signed up and 10 or 20 that are excellent. The rest would be the good soldiers, we’ll say there are 80 of them. If you have to cut your force by 30% you are going to lose some good soldiers. That’s life. Move on just like everyone else. As the RU shirt says, “Contrary to popular belief, you aren’t owed anything”. Being in the military gives you the opportunity for a career, not a guarantee of one.

  3. Jake

    July 26, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Everything isn’t fucked if you are told you’re out. Look into converting your military license into a CDL and get a job driving. It may not be your dream job, but it’s something. I got a job delivering beer driving a truck, it’s not my dream job, but it’s paying the bills until I get into what I really want. The military has given us skills, exploit some of them. It’s not too hard to drive a truck, and all I hear on the radio is trucking companies hiring. Just a thought.

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