And I'm not talking about this country's political and economical climate, although it's certainly deplorable enough.
Mike is currently home in between pre-deployment trainings and it has been a very busy (read: stressful) time. Is there a pre-deployment period that isn't busy or stressful? Getting training done, weapons qualifications updated, medical checks done, updating his will and all that, preparing the family, etc, etc.
It seems the mental worry of the months of separation, thoughts of parenting alone while your spouse is at war, leaving for war and all that entails is not enough to have on our plates right now.
There's the whole Force Reduction and Separation stuff too.
Currently, the Air Force is doing a giant force reduction - cutting back its' member by around 300,000. For some airman, it's something happening that doesn't affect them because they are in a critically manned field. Apparently, Mike's career field is not one of those critically manned fields. We knew this was happening and there was a small chance Mike could be forced out, but we weren't too worried about it.
That has changed.
When Mike came back from his three weeks of training, he went to work like normal but when he came home from work on his first day, he came back with forboding news. Everyone at work is extremely worried about the up coming force reduction. One of out every three airman in his career field is being forced to get out of the Air Force. Those are really high odds.
So on top of the deployment stuff Mike has to take care of, he has to worry about making sure he has all of his stuff in order for when his case goes before the Force Reduction Board, because it will. While he is deployed and when he won't be around to defend himself. I hope and pray that he has an amazing Sgt, which I think he does. He's been going over all his prior EPR's with his Sgt, making sure all of his awards and medals are in the system (i.e. proof that he was awarded them), making sure all his volunteer activities have been noted, his school work on file (and he has a 4.0 GPA currently at Liberty Univ.) and so on.
And of course, we have to talk about options if the Air Force does force Mike out. Which we sincerely hope will not happen, because Mike really wants to make a career out of his Air Force service. Where will we go? What will Mike do? Go back to school full time and then on to medical school? Find a job somewhere? Will I go back to work full time? Part time? (Mike has informed me that he wants me to finish my degree as quickly as possible - which could be done by December, but I'll put the kids in daycare at least part time, if not full time, which I don't really want to do.)
Mike works hard and he does a good job at what he does. He has the highest score you can get on every single EPR, save one, which was the next highest score. He has two associates degrees and is working on completing his bachelor's as fast as he can, he volunteers at the local chapel, at the Balloon Fiesta, at Special Olympics and other places, his PT scores have never been anything less than excellent. Supposedly this Force Reduction is to maintain the "cream of the crop" in the Air Force, and if Mike isn't that, than I don't know who qualifies.
Even while I assure Mike with his past hard work and achievements, and myself, we still worry. I know we shouldn't worry, that everything is in the Lord's hands, but the uncertainty of it all is hard to swallow. The military is full of uncertainty, but even amidst the uncertainty, there's the knowing you have a job, have a paycheck, have benefits at the end of the day. So this uncertainty is new and unwelcome.
Lord willing Mike will make TSgt when he tests for Technical Sgt before he deploys. Because if he makes Tech, than all of this will go away. They need TSgt's in his career field. So for now, we're praying that Mike will be able to stay in the Air Force, and that he'll make TSgt.