Letter to the Editor – Time of your life …

Time of your life …             

At this time of year many young graduates are thinking about what comes next. Well, if you will allow me to give a nickel’s worth of free advice, I will continue.

If you are not attending a college or trade school in a few months, you should consider going into the military. The advantages are so great that only a fool would not give it some thought.

In my case I went in for two reasons. I wanted to go to college and knew that the GI Bill would help pay for my education. I also wanted a job with the city of Los Angeles and knew that the hiring process included 10 points added to test scores for veterans.

When I enlisted in 1971 my pay was $143.70, and 30 days later president Nixon gave the military a huge pay raise. My pay jumped to $268.50. I thought I was rich! It allowed me to buy a brand new Toyota for $1,890. No, that’s not a misprint.

The food was pretty good, and I had a single room, nice travel benefits, 30 days off a year and all my medical paid. When our son Rob joined, his pay was a little higher than mine 25 years earlier, plus the air force paid his rent for a very nice high-rise apartment in Washington D.C.

Well, he retired just over a year ago and the USAF is paying to move him and his household goods back to Susanville. His retirement pay is greater than what correctional officers earn to start their careers. He is also buying a house here with zero down and lower interest rates than many can find. He lived a life so different from mine. He went and saw things I will never experience.

There are skills you can learn that will benefit you in the civilian world. Rob’s former air force job is still benefiting him today. And the discipline developed will put you far ahead of others in job searches.

When I looked up the starting pay for newly enlisted, I thought only a fool wouldn’t take that deal. Almost $2,000 a month to start. When you add in the cost of housing, food and medical I calculate the annual benefit to be about $35,000 to $38,000 a year. How many kids without a college degree can find a job paying that kind of money? (If you do have a college degree, your pay and future is even better). Plus, the dorms in the air force are like hotels rooms — Internet, cable, refrigerator and semi-private bathrooms.

So, if you have kids graduating soon, talk to them about their plans, wishes and dreams. The greatest gift you can give a child is to prepare them for life. My time in the air force far outweighed the “hassles,” and you would not have to worry about being laid off due to a virus.

So, mom and dad, what do you wish for your kids?

Bob Paniagua