Saturday, August 11, 2018

Four years of contractor life...


Feeling comfy and secure?  Good!  Time to rotate.

I regularly get visitors to this blog from people who are considering the overseas military contracting life.  Today's post is update number four in my continuing series about what it's like to be a contractor in Germany after retiring from the Army.  Please note, I'm not the actual contractor; my husband is.  However, he doesn't write this blog; I do.

Something major happened last week.  For those who haven't been following along, here is a brief timeline of our four years in Stuttgart along with links to my earlier contractor posts.

August 2014- We moved back to Stuttgart after having been gone five years.  Our arrival came one month after Bill retired from the Army.  Bill has a job working at AFRICOM with a well known company.  I posted my first blog entry about the contracting lifestyle.  Four years later, it remains a very popular post.

September 2015- I posted an update of what life had been like thirteen months after our arrival.

April 2017- Bill had just found out that the first company he worked for lost its contract.  A new company would be taking over.  Not everyone would be hired.  It was a very stressful month for us as we waited to find out our fate.  Bill did end up getting hired by the new company.  He also got a tentative job offer for a GS position in Italy, which he decided to turn down.

July 2017- Bill started working for the new company doing the same job he was doing when he was first invited to come to Germany.

October 2017- My third update on our overseas military contractor lifestyle was posted.

Okay...  so this past week, Bill had a meeting after work.  At the meeting, he and his co-workers were told that the government has decided to convert their positions to GS jobs.  The company Bill works for has been paid through the spring, so they will definitely have jobs until then, but after the money runs out, everyone will have to move to a different position or convert to the GS system.

This situation differs from what happened last year with Bill's first employer.  That time, the contract was simply lost, and everyone was on the hook to find a new job.  Basically, everyone was told "Sorry and good luck."  Quite a number of people ended up having to leave Germany, including a couple of people who had only just arrived months prior.

This time, no one is losing his or her job with the company; however, everyone who decides to stay with the company will be moving to a different position somewhere.  Some people might decide to become government service employees, but if they stay in Europe, that will very likely mean a significant reduction in pay.  Not only is the salary likely to be less, it will also mean giving up the housing allowance and moving expenses, should a move be required.  Some might opt to work for another company or simply leave Germany altogether.

Bill was asked if he would consider going GS and staying at his current job.  He said he wouldn't, because it would mean an unacceptable reduction in pay and benefits.  Bill has enjoyed what he's been doing for the past four years, but not enough to forfeit five figures in annual pay.  Aside from that, as a former Army officer, he's used to changing jobs every few years.

Fortunately, in Stuttgart, Bill is qualified for a number of jobs and is well-liked by a lot of people.  Not only does he have a lot of experience working as an exercise planner in Europe, Africa, and South and Central America, he also has a brand new master's degree in cybersecurity to join another one he has in information management.  The company he works for is very large and has contracts worldwide, so if there is nothing for him in Stuttgart, chances are good there's something for him elsewhere in Germany or Europe.  Or, we could go back to the United States, although neither of us wants to do that.

Given my 'druthers, I'd rather stay where we are.  It's not that I don't wonder about living in other places.  I just hate the moving process and have had to do it way too many times over the first twelve years of our marriage.  We like our dentist, our vet, and all of the amenities in this area.  While I don't love our house much, I do like our dog friendly neighborhood and our relatively laid back neighbors.  And our landlords are kind of "broken in" now, once we settled the issue with the broken awning that we suffered last year.

I will admit, though, that I do sometimes fantasize about moving to a different part of Germany,  Belgium, Italy, or even Spain and travel blogging in a new area.  I like new experiences, trying new foods, and meeting different people.  I also sometimes muse about moving back to the States, buying a house of my own, maybe even finally getting a job somewhere, if anyone would hire me.  But I also have two aging dogs who aren't in perfect health, so I don't really fancy looking for a new vet, putting them through quarantine (in island areas), or making them fly long haul across an ocean.    

So we'll see what happens.  I won't lie.  I am a little bit stressed out by this development, especially since we just went through a worse version of it last year.  However, some of Bill's co-workers have been with the company longer and, when this has happened in the past, they were well taken care of.  We have no reason to believe that's not what will happen this time.  At least this time, we have plenty of notice and not just ninety days.  And this time, the company wants to keep everyone and reassign them rather than tell them "See ya!  Wouldn't want to be ya!"

Stay tuned for updates.        

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