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Forces sweethearts

whats it like being married to someone in the RAF....

26 replies

mum2sam · 01/09/2007 13:32

my oh is in the navy and is constantly away and hates it. The navy also treat the families like crap.He is thinking of transferring to the Raf as he has heard they hardly go away and if they do its not for a very time. Im a bit dubious of this and dont want him to transfer and for us to move away from family and friends only for it to be even worse.He could leave the navy now but we are worrried about losing our m/q not mention the pay. So honest opinions please.....

OP posts:
nell12 · 01/09/2007 20:19

My bil is in the raf and is away for more time than Dh who is in the navy!!!
BIL is just about to leave for 4 months in Basra, so away over christmas again...

Obviously there are more places to live as an RAF family. You are not just restricted to Pompey, Guz and Faslane, but it can mean upping sticks every 20 months or so. However there are more opportunities to live abroad than in the navy.

Also the RAF has a slightly different way of promoting people, it is almost a "dead man's shoes" approach.. you have to wait for someone else to be promoted before you are in for a chance IYSWIM

What spec/ dept is your dh hoping to go to? Obv you would still be eligable for a mq (not necessarily the one you are currently in though) and your dhs pay should not be too different as long as he remained at the same level eg PO - sargeant or lt-flight lt.

mum2sam · 01/09/2007 21:43

thanx for the reply hes a PO weapons engineer in the navy so hoping to stay in engineering. I thought it was too good to be true.Dh was told he would rarely go away although we might be required to move around to different bases but we could move there as a family. He was told the worst case scenario would be that he might be away for 3mths but some people dont go away hardly ever.We dont mind moving about as long as we are a family whereas with the navy they go on deployments and we stay at home.

OP posts:
samandtomsmum · 02/09/2007 15:51

hi my hubby is in the raf and goes away for courses just gone today but he does not go away has much as the navy has my friends hubby was in the navy,he goes on his four month tour which is every 3-4 yrs and he is on tech communications and this is my first proper move in 7 yrs and i know my friend said the raf stay in places longer hope this helps.

Blandmum · 02/09/2007 15:53

Get used to moving lots. The RAF tends to post the personell round from base to base. This can be as often as every 2-3 years. Sometimes even less.

They guys are not aways as long as in the Navy, but they do get longish postings. Sometimes 6 months.

Bouncingturtle · 02/09/2007 16:01

My friend's hubby is a RAF engineer - he's been serving about 10 years and has been posted to the Falklands 3 times, each time for about 4 months. She did find it tough but was able to keep in close contact via phone and email. Her main bug bear is that they can piss about with annual leave. She is due to have a baby(in a week or so), and he gets 2 weeks fully paid paternal leave. He had some annual leave accrued as well so wanted to tack on 2 weeks annual leave so he'd have 4 weeks off when the baby was born. Despite booking these 2 weeks off months ago, he has only now just be told he can't have those 2 weeks annual leave!
Same thing happened a couple of years ago - he booked 2 weeks holiday so he and my friend could get married (they went abroad) and they only told him a couple of weeks before hand her could have the time off - far too late to organise anything! They managed the year after though!

Skyler · 02/09/2007 20:11

My DH is RAF and has only been away once in 8 years. If your DH is an engineer he might go away quite often if he is on a squadron or hardly at all if not. When I say go away I mean on detachment OOA which is normally 4 mths for OR and 6 mths of Officers. There are courses but I would expect them to be similar frequency to Navy. We have been moved every 2.5 - 3 years and have never had an area of choice (in fact where we are now was our only negative choice, go figure that one). Am I right in saying Navy can specify a Home port and the family stay there?
Overseas postings are more limited now as Germany is only an option for a very few. There are no RAF camps there now. There is Cyprus and Gibraltar depending on your trade and a very few other joint service places I think.
Def true about the lack of promotion. My DH is a Sgt and has so very little chance of promotion as there are so few slots available.
There are training courses that are long (8mths) and can be unaccompanied but I would say this would only be the basic trade course. They are generally unaccompanied as it is not considered long enough to uproot the whole family. Get him to double check the courses he would need to do. Some tech trades are here for 8 mths then go away and then have to come back after 6 mths or so. Fine for a young singly but very hard with a family.
I for one am very glad that my DH is in the RAF and not the Army as I think Army wives have a lot more to put up with. I also get the impression that Navy personnel are away a lot more than any RAF people I know apart from those people on Squadrons.
What your life will be like and where you will go is quite dependant on his trade in a lot of ways. Hope this helps a bit.
I think the RAF life is easier for families, but I think your DH has been painted a rosy picture.

Skyler · 02/09/2007 20:12

Oh and my DH had booked 4 weeks leave for when dd1 was born, and he got a week, but we asked for 6 weeks when dd2 was born and got the lot.

Skyler · 02/09/2007 20:13

I wouldn't think RAF treat families any better at all than the Navy!

mum2sam · 02/09/2007 20:51

Well with the navy oh tends to go away from 3mth to 9thms-sometimes 3mths if we are lucky this is pretty much every year and then they are away in between that. Leave is pretty much on their terms we hardly get to choose dates and in total my o/h has only been home for 4mths this year and he hasnt even been on a proper deployment yet thats just been preparation to go on a 6mth deployment. So if he were to go away for 3-4mths every few years-i could cope with that. And possibly moving about if meant us still being togther as a family altough i could imagine it being quite annoying when making frinds.

OP posts:
Skyler · 02/09/2007 21:16

From that point of view you will def be better off then! I said I would always go where DH went, but we are beginning to re-think a little as dd1 starts school soon and I can see this becoming a much more important issue for me. I can see us doing the commute thing at some point in the next 8 years, something I swore I would never do. Time will tell. It depends on the next posting I guess.

Skyler · 02/09/2007 21:16

Sorry, meant to say Good Luck with your decision.

flower1727 · 02/09/2007 22:59

If I were you I would discourage your dh joining the R.A.F, My dh has been in 8 yrs, as an engineer we have lived on the same base for 6 yrs, ( the area is nice,) My dh is away for the 2nd time this year, 2 months at a time with no defendant date to come back. The R.A.F are so under staffed and has so much baggage the fit, healthy personell are the ones that end up doing extra time away. As an R.A.F wife its lonely, nobody cares over the last 6 yrs things have changed for the worse, you cant have a holiday 56 days prior to an attachment and trying to juggle that around school holidays is a nightmare.
Sorry if I sound really negative. I want my dh to leave, its not a life for a family, its more a single persons life and its only going to get worse with the government bitting off more than they can chew!!!!!!!!!

McDreamy · 03/09/2007 07:03

It depends on the branch your DH would transfer to. My DH is in the RAF and we are having a great time. Since we've been married (5 years) he's been away 3 times for 2 months at a time and did 6 months on call which called him away at anytime for however long. His deployments are increasing to 3 months and are predicted to come round every 18 - 24 months but for us it's all managleable.

We've been posted 3 times since we've been married and it is hard leaving your friends behind but I use it as an opportunity to make more. I think you have too while they are in or else life just becomes miserable for everyone. Not sure if this helps....

saltire · 03/09/2007 09:54

I've been an RAF wife for 14 years now!.
DH's trade haven't, until recently gone away all that much. At our last post he had 1 OOA in 4 years, but did have a lot of 2weeks here, 4 weeks there, 6 weeks on exercise kind of thing.
It depends, like many have said, on the trade. I think regiment lot go away a lot as do some of the squadrons - tornados etc, but not so much for the helicopter squadrons. Most OOAs are 4 months, but guess what, the rumour is they are going up to 6 months to bring the RAF in line with the Army.
DH is putting his papers in next year, and will b eout in 2, he will have done 24 years - he only recently got promoted, despite getting great 6000 assesments. He is fed up, his job, as an instructor is being undermined at every opportunity by the Army people who work with him, and his "higher up the chain" are Army as well.
Another thing, if you go to an RAF base, then 90% of MQs are great, not like these god-awful Naval quarters we are living in just now.

Also, most of the Armwed Forces are going what they call "Tri-service" but what they really mean is that the Army are setting the rules and everyone else has to follow

mum2sam · 03/09/2007 11:12

see with the navy the families stay put and the men go away but my dh has been lucky in the fact that he has been drafted to our home town hence we have my family to support us.So i dont want him to join another service if it involved him going away alot still and us moving around and not being together and away from my family and friends on top of that.My husband is away a ridiculus amout of time at the moment, starting silly hours and working weekends.

OP posts:
mum2sam · 03/09/2007 11:15

put it this way at the beginning of the year 30% of the ship had there notice in and with the constant workload more and more of them have had enough. Those that are in and coming towards the end of their 22 years have seen a dramatic change and although they feel the discipline isnt as bad as it was they can see how hard the younger ones are finding it and dont blame them for leaving.

OP posts:
McDreamy · 03/09/2007 12:13

Can see what you are saying mum2sam. You certainly wouldn't be living near your family and friends in the RAF but on the plus side you would see alot more of your DH. It's a tough decision to make and I can see why it's not an easy one.

As I've said before I really like our lifestyle, I was in the RAF and now I'm married into it! I know plenty of people who don't like it though!

Are your quarters really that bad? The one I'm in at the moment is pretty dire but I've put that down to location but otherwise they've been pretty good.

samandtomsmum · 03/09/2007 14:31

mum2sam it is a very tough desision for you and hope you get the support you need have you talked to any of ssafa which can help u make a desision,like i said in my earlier response i have been really lucky with moving been married 7 years and moved once but it does depend on what trade your husbend wants in the raf good luck

tori32 · 03/09/2007 14:46

mum2sam It really depends on his trade as to where, how often and how long they are away. What does he do?
I was married to DH1 who was RAF avionics tech who did 3 weeks away and 3 back for quite some time but again that depends on the aircraft they work on. On fast jets it can be 3 month tours. With regiment it can be 6 month deployment in Afganistan or Iraq.
DH2 is army and touch wood never been deployed since we got together (sheer luck!)

tori32 · 03/09/2007 14:52

Oh forgot to say postings tend to be longer in the RAF and they are more accepting of domestic requirements, i.e. kids doing exams etc. DH1 is still at the same base he was at with me in 1997 (did 2 years elsewhere but managed to get posted straight back) It tends to be posting on promotion though, but this can sometimes be inter station if there is a post.

tori32 · 03/09/2007 14:58

forgot to say as well that I am biased because I am also ex RAF!

Eildiina · 03/09/2007 16:08

I think that what every service you are in these days you are going to go away a lot due the number of armed forces dropping and the recruitment not as high as it used to be.

The 4 Month tour seems to come around every 3 years for a Cpl but the higher rank the more you travel and thats only in engineering, every trade is different.

I also agree about the comment that the tri-service means army are pulling the strings, my DH may not get his R&R as her tour is 4 months and the army's tours are 6 months so they dont think RAF should get R&R


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saltire · 03/09/2007 16:13

Also, -correct me if I'm wrong here - but the tax break thing the government introduced is no good for the RAF as the OOAs are only 4 months long, and the tax breaks are for 6 month dets.

McDreamy · 04/09/2007 09:28

The other thing to bear in mind about different lengths of detachment in the RAF is that if your DH goes away for anything under 4 months and 1 day you are not entitled to any help, financial or practical, even if your DH goes away more frequently.

I have a friends whose DH has been away alot due to his trade but she gets no help while he is away which I think sucks.

Scootergrrrl · 04/09/2007 09:32

We have a friend in the RAF and he did 10 months in Afghanistan last year because he was attached to a multi-national forces unit. So don't believe it...

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