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Department of Defense


The Department of Defense (DoD) is charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government relating directly to national security and the United States armed forces. The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country.

The Department of Defense is America's oldest and largest government agency -tracing its roots back to pre-Revolutionary times. Today, the Department is not only in charge of the military, but it also employs a civilian force of thousands. With over 1.4 million men and women on active duty, and 718,000 civilian personnel, DoD is the nation's largest employer. Another 1.1 million serve in the National Guard and Reserve forces. More than 2 million military retirees and their family members receive benefits.

Perhaps you are working for the DoD or interested in working for the DoD. Here is a forum to share your experience with the DoD.
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HamSammich  
#1 Posted : Tuesday, July 25, 2017 11:33:42 AM(UTC)
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Howdy y'all.

Okay, maybe "soul sucked" is a bit dramatic, but I don't know how else to describe how I've been feeling for some time now.

I've been working as a DoD civvie going on four years--two at HQ Marine Corps and two at HQ Dept. of Army--and I've got the absolute $hit$ of it all. Coming in as prior service enlisted (Army grunt), I thought I knew what to expect in terms of having to deal with assorted bullcrap on a daily basis, but now, many many years later returning to the armed forces as a PhD scientist, I must say it's MUCH worse as a civvie, in my experience.

I see how corrupt and wasteful the system is and how despicable so many of the people in civilian leadership are. And I assure you, I'm an easy-going type of person who doesn't hastily pass judgment on others. I simply can't give benefit of the doubt anymore. It's sad. I have to assume it's the job that turned them that way, and not so much that they were $hitbags to begin with and were drawn to the job because of it. Who knows... I must say, though, that the folks on this forum have struck me as very good people. I'm grateful to have this community as a virtual mentor as I navigate through the muck.

I've been searching usajobs for opps elsewhere in the Fed. I do have an interview this week with a different unit in my org--one that SHOULD be much less of a $hit$how--but I'm not nearly as excited about it as I thought I would be. I just feel that the pi$$-and-vinegar go-getter spirit I used to have has been sucked out of me, in general, and to the point where I no longer care about my career. I don't know if I can hang on for another couple of decades, but for my field, the Fed is the best thing going, pay-, benefits-, and job security-wise. I fear I'll keep encountering the same bullcrap and terrible people, and eventually I'll become one of the $hitbags, myself.

My question is: Has anyone else felt absolutely "soul crushed," for lack of a better term, in the way I describe but then was able to bounce-back after a move within DoD? I guess I'm afraid permanent damage has been done to my mindset/morale, and I'm wondering if (hoping that) others have had similar feelings but then recovered after a move. I know I certainly didn't find the refreshing change I was hoping for when moving from HQMC to HQDA.
JustFedUp  
#2 Posted : Tuesday, July 25, 2017 12:27:16 PM(UTC)
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Man, that sucks. Sorry that both agencies have broken your Spirit. It might be time to look outside the DOD to preserve what's left of your sanity.

I was an AF civillian before moving over to NASA. The difference is night and day. Also, working with a younger crowd versus military retired old farts like me has opened my apature in terms looking a new ways to approach a problem and collaborate in a diverse environment. It's certainly not a panacea here, but a welcomed change from the past.
thanks 1 user thanked JustFedUp for this useful post.
SD Analyst on 7/25/2017(UTC)
FedCivServ  
#3 Posted : Tuesday, July 25, 2017 12:48:55 PM(UTC)

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Life is too dang short to be in abject misery, which you clearly are. I would have told you that many jobs/situations can be looked at as half (or all) empty or half full but you seem to be beyond that. Since you have worked for 2 very different agencies, it is not likely to change if you go to another DoD agency. Maybe another USG agency, but it sounds like you might be happier doing something completely different. And with all due respect (I am not being a smart A in this) the way you describe things sounds like you are in a concentration camp or something; perhaps you should get a medical exam to make sure you are not clinically depressed or something. Sucking one's soul dry seems to be an extreme reaction. If everything is ok on that front, you really need a change. Don't live life in misery; you never know how many days are promised to you. good luck...
SD Analyst  
#4 Posted : Tuesday, July 25, 2017 12:53:16 PM(UTC)
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Every Organization/Dept is different. The boss makes a huge difference, even in a less than perfect environment. Is it possible to find a job not at HQ? I find the higher level organizations are the worst. Try the field. I am the only non-Vet in my Dept, only 3 non-Vets in the entire command. At one time, I worked for another Agency. I left for 7 years after being totally disillusioned with the job/boss/Agency. Eventually, I decided to return to the Federal Govt and was reinstated with a different Agency (DOD, but not USMC or DA). Best job I have ever had in over 30 years of Federal Service. I will be retiring from here not long from now. Glad I gave it another shot, and I hope you do, too.

Edited by user Tuesday, July 25, 2017 12:57:09 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

WaitingOnClearance  
#5 Posted : Tuesday, July 25, 2017 4:50:26 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: JustFedUp Go to Quoted Post
Man, that sucks. Sorry that both agencies have broken your Spirit. It might be time to look outside the DOD to preserve what's left of your sanity.

I was an AF civillian before moving over to NASA. The difference is night and day. Also, working with a younger crowd versus military retired old farts like me has opened my apature in terms looking a new ways to approach a problem and collaborate in a diverse environment. It's certainly not a panacea here, but a welcomed change from the past.


So you didn't enjoy your time as an AF civilian? I have heard good things but like the others have said, I feel it really depends on your individual group and manager.
GWPDA  
#6 Posted : Tuesday, July 25, 2017 6:54:31 PM(UTC)
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Here's something to consider. You've passed probation, and you've got your three years in. This makes you mobile. You've got time in grade, so you can hit the upper grades.

I've been where you are - hell I AM where you are. HQDA? My lord, run, do not walk, run the hell out of there! Best recommendation? Go full-bore civilian. Try the SBA. Try the Geological Survey. Try State, or Treasury or for real fun, consider the Library of Congress or the Congressional Research Service. Get out of the military bind. Quickly! There are far, far more purely civilian elements in the govt than military and while they're not all sweetness and light, they at least are generally absent that soul-sucking self-importance that grinds you down every single day. My favourite in my shop a few days ago, when I 'revealed' that I was actually a member of the local draft board? 'What right does a civilian have to sit on the draft board?' Um, I'm a citizen? And the military is responsible to the civilian government? C'mon!

The Smithsonian is delightful. The Architect of the Capitol is grand. The Morris K. Udall Center is a lake of bliss! Get out! Use the advantages you've gained and make the leap!
CivSer67  
#7 Posted : Tuesday, July 25, 2017 11:16:34 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: HamSammich Go to Quoted Post
Howdy y'all.

Okay, maybe "soul sucked" is a bit dramatic, but I don't know how else to describe how I've been feeling for some time now.

I've been working as a DoD civvie going on four years--two at HQ Marine Corps and two at HQ Dept. of Army--and I've got the absolute $hit$ of it all. Coming in as prior service enlisted (Army grunt), I thought I knew what to expect in terms of having to deal with assorted bullcrap on a daily basis, but now, many many years later returning to the armed forces as a PhD scientist, I must say it's MUCH worse as a civvie, in my experience.

I see how corrupt and wasteful the system is and how despicable so many of the people in civilian leadership are. And I assure you, I'm an easy-going type of person who doesn't hastily pass judgment on others. I simply can't give benefit of the doubt anymore. It's sad. I have to assume it's the job that turned them that way, and not so much that they were $hitbags to begin with and were drawn to the job because of it. Who knows... I must say, though, that the folks on this forum have struck me as very good people. I'm grateful to have this community as a virtual mentor as I navigate through the muck.

I've been searching usajobs for opps elsewhere in the Fed. I do have an interview this week with a different unit in my org--one that SHOULD be much less of a $hit$how--but I'm not nearly as excited about it as I thought I would be. I just feel that the pi$$-and-vinegar go-getter spirit I used to have has been sucked out of me, in general, and to the point where I no longer care about my career. I don't know if I can hang on for another couple of decades, but for my field, the Fed is the best thing going, pay-, benefits-, and job security-wise. I fear I'll keep encountering the same bullcrap and terrible people, and eventually I'll become one of the $hitbags, myself.

My question is: Has anyone else felt absolutely "soul crushed," for lack of a better term, in the way I describe but then was able to bounce-back after a move within DoD? I guess I'm afraid permanent damage has been done to my mindset/morale, and I'm wondering if (hoping that) others have had similar feelings but then recovered after a move. I know I certainly didn't find the refreshing change I was hoping for when moving from HQMC to HQDA.


Strange..
Funny thing is that when myself and a few others started in our selection phase (We started as (GS-11's) , we thought the exact same thing and we all stated that if we ever got to the top tiers, that we would change things for the better. Now that 4 out of the 5 have made it with my boss being one of them and at the highest spot in SES, I'd like to think we have made it better than we first had it. I love my job and I treat my employees well, I do not treat them fair as that is something you pay to ride a bus, but I treat them correctly and with respect as each has a different set of circumstances. I hope for you that someday you too can rise to the top of your series and implement changes that hindered you way back.
best of luck!

JustFedUp  
#8 Posted : Wednesday, July 26, 2017 4:38:00 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: WaitingOnClearance Go to Quoted Post
So you didn't enjoy your time as an AF civilian? I have heard good things but like the others have said, I feel it really depends on your individual group and manager.


I did not dislike my time as an AF civilian. It was a comfortable transition from being in uniform to regular shirt and slacks. Moving outside the DOD just gave me different perspective on leadership and motivation in a less hierarchical, less rank conscious organization. In my Air Force past, you would never greet an SES in the hallway by their first name. They are GO/FO officer equivalent after all.

Again, there's more collaborative atmosphere open to solving problems and where innovation is fostered. The words, "how does this impact the commander's intent?" is not uttered here.

In most aspects it is an apples to oranges comparison of the two. I am no longer in the business of dropping iron on the bad guys anymore :-)

frankgonzalez  
#9 Posted : Monday, July 31, 2017 2:40:39 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: JustFedUp Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: WaitingOnClearance Go to Quoted Post
So you didn't enjoy your time as an AF civilian? I have heard good things but like the others have said, I feel it really depends on your individual group and manager.


I did not dislike my time as an AF civilian. It was a comfortable transition from being in uniform to regular shirt and slacks. Moving outside the DOD just gave me different perspective on leadership and motivation in a less hierarchical, less rank conscious organization. In my Air Force past, you would never greet an SES in the hallway by their first name. They are GO/FO officer equivalent after all.

Again, there's more collaborative atmosphere open to solving problems and where innovation is fostered. The words, "how does this impact the commander's intent?" is not uttered here.

In most aspects it is an apples to oranges comparison of the two. I am no longer in the business of dropping iron on the bad guys anymore :-)

This has been my experience as well. I went from AD AF to AF Civilian to USCG Civ to NASA Civ. As I got further away from DoD, the more relaxed it was (USCG is more relaxed than the AF is in many ways). Now I'm with NASA...I've been asked by people not to call them "Sir" or "Ma'am" (as applicable!). But after almost 30 years with military units, it is almost second nature to call everyone "sir" or "ma'am"! But I am trying hard to remember everyone is civilian here...

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
kanihoncho  
#10 Posted : Tuesday, August 01, 2017 10:28:49 AM(UTC)
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I have been with USN, VA, NPS and USACE. 4 agencies in 5 years. Twice with one of them. I have been moving to get promoted and am on the verge of another move/promotion.

My experience so far is that all agencies to date are effed up in one way or another. Funding seems to be the number one issue common to all but HQs are not fun to work at when all the office pogues kiss up to the brass and "it's every man for himself". Stay away from HQs at all costs in my book. I currently work in an org that has a civilian corporate board. Nepotism, indecision, and favoritism run rampant here.

If I wasn't moving for promotions, I wouldn't stay with any of these more than a year or so. It becomes too frustrating. The lack of organization, poor leadership, and the extreme waste of money is too much to handle.

The VA was so bad I quit after a 1.5 years because only 4 of the 9 people in my section were pulling their own weight. The others were just slow or *****birds. I've seen disabled vets not caring at all and not working knowing they won't get fired.

I have five years left and am hoping this next move/promotion is my last . . .
Toady82  
#11 Posted : Tuesday, August 01, 2017 2:19:54 PM(UTC)
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I can certainly understand the "soul crushed" feeling. I've worked as a Air Force Civilian since '09. I left for a few years between '13-'15 and actually came back to the same org. Every day I come in and feel like it is a circus. It hasn't always been that way...we've had our problems in the past, but it has been especially bad since returning in '15. Civilians have been completely marginalized (mostly all 12's and 13's) and our O-6 commander has said we are equivalents to E5/E6 Enlisted. The decision making is ridiculous and seem to all be done only to better the officer's OPRs. It is extremely obvious based on re-org that the driving factor is to ensure OPR/PRFs are being satisfied to get Officers promoted correctly and 2nd is to ensure senior enlisted are padding their careers. There is complete discord between the group level and squadron level leadership. There is a ridiculous amount of leadership layers. We're constantly in a state of "do more with less". Our leadership's idea of problem solving is reorganizing. That and our organization is horrible with rehiring retirees that have cycled through our building. There is a ton of stagnant leadership that is still operating like we're living in the '90s - no ideas, no processes, no procedures, no continual service improvement and constantly wasting money. Its chaos and many, many people are looking to jump ship. Its given me such a bad taste in my mouth for Air Force leadership that I really want nothing to do with the branch anymore at all! Definitely looking for something outside of DoD.
Engineer1111  
#12 Posted : Sunday, August 06, 2017 12:34:30 PM(UTC)
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I feel you all. Try to keep your head up and keep looking for other jobs, even though there still doesn't seem to be too much out there right now. I can definitely relate to being past the end stages of burnout and not caring about your career any more. I've been there for years - to the point that I just go through the motions and do what it takes to get the job done to the best of my ability. I only have one goal left that I haven't abandoned and that's to retire in another 18-20 years.


Quote:
...only 4 of the 9 people in my section were pulling their own weight...


Unfortunately, that seems to be about the average everywhere I've ever worked in 17 years with the government. Half of the workforce does all the heavy lifting while the other half sits back and reinforces the government stereotype.
TRW  
#13 Posted : Monday, August 07, 2017 9:33:20 AM(UTC)

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It can be soul crushing. My career path is I went from 20+ years AD AF to AF Civ, to DOD AF Contractor, to Army Civ, and now Navy Civ.

The soul crushing thing about all this is the realization that the 20+ years I spent AD were as good as it gets and the most productive and enjoyable work years of my life. The military has a unique way of leading and managing where mission focus comes first and doesn't/won't put up with the politics/BS that seems to so heavily permeate so many civilian staffed DoD organizations. Is the AD military model perfect? No, but it sure seems to operate better than what I have now which seems to be the 70/30 rule. Seventy percent of the people seem to do 100 percent of the work and the other 30 percent are dead wood with no fix in sight.

The only other career I can think of that would approach the satisfaction of my AD years would be to eventually be my own boss running my own business. I'm now in my late 50's and with all the time I have invested working as a GOV employee, it just makes sense to stick it out for another 5-7 years, reap the benefits, and then possibly pursue something more satisfying after I retire (again) in my early to mid 60's.

bmj2  
#14 Posted : Saturday, August 12, 2017 5:25:58 AM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: Toady82 Go to Quoted Post
I can certainly understand the "soul crushed" feeling. I've worked as a Air Force Civilian since '09. I left for a few years between '13-'15 and actually came back to the same org. Every day I come in and feel like it is a circus. It hasn't always been that way...we've had our problems in the past, but it has been especially bad since returning in '15. Civilians have been completely marginalized (mostly all 12's and 13's) and our O-6 commander has said we are equivalents to E5/E6 Enlisted. The decision making is ridiculous and seem to all be done only to better the officer's OPRs. It is extremely obvious based on re-org that the driving factor is to ensure OPR/PRFs are being satisfied to get Officers promoted correctly and 2nd is to ensure senior enlisted are padding their careers. There is complete discord between the group level and squadron level leadership. There is a ridiculous amount of leadership layers. We're constantly in a state of "do more with less". Our leadership's idea of problem solving is reorganizing. That and our organization is horrible with rehiring retirees that have cycled through our building. There is a ton of stagnant leadership that is still operating like we're living in the '90s - no ideas, no processes, no procedures, no continual service improvement and constantly wasting money. Its chaos and many, many people are looking to jump ship. Its given me such a bad taste in my mouth for Air Force leadership that I really want nothing to do with the branch anymore at all! Definitely looking for something outside of DoD.


You sound like you are in my organization. I was active duty before becoming a civilian, so I understand the chain of command and military roles. But the current O5/O6s in my org are all there for their own promotions. Yes, we've done the reorg thing just to create more promotion opportunities for the O5s who consider their civilian employees nothing more than rungs on their ladder. We're just slime worms to them.

To the OP, being a scientist or engineer in the AF is soul crushing. This current generation of AF leaders has no concept of what science is, or how it's useful. Frankly I think our AF has had it too easy the last 25 years. They've not come up against a comparable peer capable of blowing their butts out of the sky, so their pilot egos have grown too big and think that makes them an expert on everything.

500something  
#15 Posted : Saturday, August 12, 2017 4:38:18 PM(UTC)
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I began feeling soul sucked after about 18 years with one large Civilian Agency. I took an overseas assignment that was a real energizer and eye opener. When I returned after 3 years I no longer could tolerate my prior Agency having now experienced a much better work environment. So I resigned a GS-14 with nothing lined up and moved to Florida. Since then I have had 6 different jobs in 2 years and have become a fed again. I was fortunate enough to get another European assignment so looking forward to enjoying my job again. We shall see. I say go for it and make change happen. Life is too short to be miserable. Good Luck!
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