Career Focus: Beyond material compensation

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Joseph Mulcahy
  • Team Kirtland career assistance advisor
Today, I received a letter from our accounting and finance office with the heading: Personal Statement of Military Compensation. This letter reported the annual value of my direct compensation from basic pay, allowances and bonuses. It also reported the value of indirect compensation from medical benefits. Additionally, the value of free counseling, commissary discounts and other services that we often overlook when assessing our military compensation packages was also covered. Finally, this report highlighted our generous retirement system. 

This compensation report is an excellent tool to use when assisting folks with career choices. It is also a very useful tool for us to use in our enlisted retention efforts. Retaining outstanding people keeps our Air Force strong and competitive pay is an important element. Like many Airmen, I have marketable skills, certifications and college degrees. I love the pay and benefits; however, they are not the primary factors that keep me in the Air Force. I could find civilian employment with similar pay, but I would not find a career like the one I have today. 

Material compensation was not my prime motivation for joining the Air Force. Like most Airmen, I wanted to serve my nation in a unique way. Growing up in Philadelphia--our nation's birthplace--may have inspired me to enlist. It may have been my father's military service. It could have been the discipline, pride and professionalism of the military members that I had met. I may never know the root cause that inspired me to enlist, but I do know that I have never regretted the decision. 

It has been 20 years since I first swore to defend our great nation. I still love what I do. I still love putting on the uniform even after its many evolutions. I still look overhead each time I hear an aircraft's engines. Most importantly, I love being part of a team that is focused and committed to keeping our nation free. It's a team committed to integrity, sacrifice, honor, duty, excellence and freedom. 

We belong to a proud and honorable profession. We have important duties and roles to fulfill. We come to work ready to get any mission done. We are Airmen now and forever. The true motivating force for staying Air Force lies beyond material benefits. It's our culture; it's our way of life; it's our missions; it's our great people. 

If you are on the fence regarding reenlistment, search deep within yourself to find what motivated you to join. Talk to your supervisors and mentors about your doubts. 

If you would like additional assistance or guidance on this or any other career topic, call me at 846-6636 or mail me at 

See you in the wings!