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  #1  
Old 26 January 2014, 03:40
31BZ6 31BZ6 is offline
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Career decisions - Army v. DHS/FPS

  • If this is the wrong place for this question, please advise.
This might be the stupidest question you've ever heard...but I've been going back and forth on this making pro/con lists and decided to ask the vets and leos on this board for a slap-in-the-face to help me make up my mind. I feel like the answer is right in front of me and I can't see the forest through the trees.

I just finished college (Associates not Bachelors ) am finally in the final stages of hiring process with the Federal Protective Service. I'm just waiting on their medical reviewing headshed to clear me or waive me through for colorblindness and a VA rating.

On the possibility I do not get cleared for FPS, I printed the latest Army prior service business rules and visited my local recruiter. I found out that I qualify to come back on active duty, even during this drawdown period!

I'm married and have two little kids. Do I really want to put them through another deployment? Not really, but there are many pros to getting back in the Army. It's a job I love - working dogs. They will pay to ship the family and all our things to my duty station...The FPS is going to make us move too, but we're on the hook for expenses.

The FPS starts me at GS-9 (Chicago area ~$51K/yr) and quickly moves to GS-11 (~$60K/yr). Of course I wouldn't earn that kind of money in the Army, but the Army provides free housing and healthcare for the family. Similarly, the retirement is 30 years for FPS, and given that I already have time served in the Army, I could retire in 15 short years.

I'm driving myself nuts over here guys. I know most people on here have experience in the Army and Fed LEO, sometimes both. Your candid guidance and advice is truly appreciated!
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  #2  
Old 26 January 2014, 08:46
osubuckeye762 osubuckeye762 is offline
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I do not feel that is a dumb question at all, especially regarding the economy, the cost of moving half way across the US on your dime, pay, and the cost of living for Illinois.

It is a great opportunity, and I think you will enjoy some aspects of it.

I do have to ask a couple of questions regarding the FPS/DHS position. Are they going to send you to FLETC or a local academy? What will be your main job description (patrol, K-9, standing posts)? What is the possibility for promotion or lateral movement to a special team (if they have them at your post)
Currently how are you financially, and would the move from CA to IL hurt you significantly (if you are hired). Will your wife be working?

If we look at the Army possibility, I have to ask why you left active duty in the first place? Can you or could you get your choice of military assignment or duty stations? If you would re-enlist and return to your MOS, how much freedom of movement would you have? Let's say you were an MP K-9 handler; did you have a lot of freedom for training, routine patrol, responding to calls for service etc.. OR were you stuck working an entry control point for 8-10 hours a day?

I feel that would be the biggest determining factor. I am not sure about DHS/FPS, but I know similar agencies main assignments are working access control points. It gets old after a few hours, days, weeks etc.. Especially if you are outside in the various weather conditions.


Good Luck with your decision.
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Old 26 January 2014, 10:12
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A few questions....

How old are you?

Is the FPS a covered position? (Will you serve in an armed position?)

How many years do you have in the Army, total AD and USAR?

That will get us started. Others will be along shortly, once you post these answers.
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Old 26 January 2014, 10:19
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Also, are you married/have children? If so, what is their take on it?
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Old 26 January 2014, 11:23
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Ask other handlers in the fed position if they are happy with the direction the agency as a whole has went with dogs. As others have stated, what are your chances for promotion, training, etc.? Does the agency value dogs as an integral part of their operations or are dogs there because someone said they had to be? Where do they get their dogs from? Will that procurement plan stay the same or change? What is the evidence of that agency cutting internal positions and shifting to contract positions?

Now look at the military. Ask the same questions.

I know more than a few handlers who left the mil and had horrible-paying jobs at amusement parks and some fed agencies. I also know a couple, to include trainers/kennel masters, who had good gigs.

Per the military, maybe we are entering a period where the deployments are going to slow down. You want to be careful betting on such a scenario, and don't throw in all your money on that hand, but I think the nation might be weary of the silliness we have been engaged in for the past decade and as such -- maybe the next 5-10 years of your service would be somewhat stable?
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  #6  
Old 26 January 2014, 11:29
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FPS is a stepping stone, in my opinion. There are a multitude of agencies and positions available after you have some time in service. The flip side is the benefits you expect to have in the Army are being eroded away slowly but surely.

If I were a dog handler and could get a job overseas, that would make better financial sense than re-enlisting. I wouldn't expect to be stabilized without deployments, were I a betting man.
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Old 26 January 2014, 11:44
31BZ6 31BZ6 is offline
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I am 27, married and have two kids (1 yo and 5 yo). I served 5 years active duty...no reserve or guard time. The FPS is sworn law enforcement, however it's not 6c or 12d covered. Also, FPS would send me to FLETC for a total of about six months.

My wife isn't working, but she is bringing in money from the GI Bill over the next few months while she finishes her degree. Financially we are debt-free, and keep our ahead above water but will likely need to use our credit card to get us through the first move.

Work at FPS, from my understanding, consists of building security assessments, CCTV/Alarm monitoring, training contracted guards, and very limited actual law enforcement work, but a nice take-home Tahoe with the word "Police" on the side :D.

Working K9 as an MP is alot more "active" you could say. Lots of TDY for Secret Service missions, sometimes for local depts, etc, and unlike other MPs that are restricted to their beats K9 generally has free reign of post while on patrol. Training is constant, and makes for a pretty fun/busy schedule. And of course deployments are frequent.

My wife is a vet as well, and she's totally on-board if we go Army...although she understands it will be a more stressful life than work at FPS. My eldest remembers when I contracted overseas, and she does not want daddy to work far away again...which tugs at my heartstrings of course
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Old 26 January 2014, 11:50
31BZ6 31BZ6 is offline
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Thanks SOTB, you bring up a good point. Although I am being picked up as a regular officer with FPS (not K-9), I had a chat with one of the headshed about that position down-the-road. He wanted me to understand that, while I would be a good fit for the job, he doesn't really appreciate the dogs too much. He said handlers tend to forget their mission focus, physical security, and as such will not be selected for advanced promotions GS-13+.
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Old 26 January 2014, 12:26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 31BZ6 View Post
My eldest remembers when I contracted overseas, and she does not want daddy to work far away again...which tugs at my heartstrings of course
That should be a big consideration. Would the prospect of being away for long training iterations or deployed down range for 6-12 month - if this does cause you turmoil, then do not do.
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Old 26 January 2014, 12:59
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  • FPS would provide more time at home with your family, and to me that is the priority.
  • There is always the real possibility of being RIFed if you went back on active duty.
  • The sooner you hire on with FPS the sooner you will receive promotion$.
  • If you went back on active duty and got RIFed and then went with FPS, you wouldn't reach the same income level as going with FPS immediately.
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  #11  
Old 26 January 2014, 15:16
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1) Go FPS
2) Buy back your military time for retirement ASAP
3) Finish bachelors degree
4) Apply for other agencies/positions that are covered by LERS retirement
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Old 26 January 2014, 15:22
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Thumbs up

^^^^I think 0699's post is a solid one....
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Old 26 January 2014, 16:37
31BZ6 31BZ6 is offline
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0699, you make an excellent point. It seems like the best option.

Let's say I bought back the Army time to put toward the FPS retirement. Then when I transferred to a position with LERS retirement, can I buy back the time put-in with FPS?
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Old 26 January 2014, 16:44
PSC_JB PSC_JB is offline
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I agree with 0699. I struggled with this same decision myself a few years ago BZ. I've worked directly for FPS/DHS during and after superstorm Sandy. I can tell you the work we did was low/medium risk and paid very well. The benefit of going federal or getting into the private contracting world is that you are not committed for any length of time. Obviously, as we all know, is unlike the Army where you will be contractually required to put in X amount addition time on your already existing military service.

If you have any specific questions about FPS/DHS or stateside private security contracting, feel free to shoot me a PM. I will help as best I can.
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Old 26 January 2014, 17:44
31BZ6 31BZ6 is offline
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Tango PSC, glad to hear someone else has had the same kind of trouble deciding. It should be quite easy - more money and no deployments but to be honest there's alot about the Army I liked. To answer a question asked earlier, the reason I left active duty in the first place was semi-juvenile: to experience university life while single and in my early 20's. 4 years later I'm married with kids so that ship has sailed.

The FPS presents a great career opportunity and I'll wait for their medical decision before making any steps toward the Army. But I know I can fall back on active duty at least until the next business rules come out.
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Old 26 January 2014, 18:32
Mr.Smith Mr.Smith is offline
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I got a buddy who was K-9 in the Marines and he just recently went FPS. He graduated not too long ago, maybe 6 months ago. He recently posted on facebook on how to get a job over at BMW
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Old 26 January 2014, 21:12
Rockville Rockville is offline
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FPS contracted the guard force in many federal buildings.

Why not try other agencies?
The chart on page 20 at http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/587909.pdf might help.
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Old 26 January 2014, 21:13
Rockville Rockville is offline
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see
http://www.opm.gov/retirement-services/special-notices/#law enforcement officer service

Non - Covered Law Enforcement Officer's Occupation
Positions that typically do not qualify As Law Enforcement Officer Positions under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS)
Assistant U.S. Attorneys;
Bureau of Engraving and Printing Police;
DEA Diversion Investigators;
DHS Federal Protective Service;
DOD Police;
GPO Police;
Guards at Government buildings or other facilities;
IRS Revenue Officers;
Mint Police;
Secret Service Special Officers;
VA Police.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 31BZ6 View Post
0699, you make an excellent point. It seems like the best option.

Let's say I bought back the Army time to put toward the FPS retirement. Then when I transferred to a position with LERS retirement, can I buy back the time put-in with FPS?
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Old 26 January 2014, 21:16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 31BZ6 View Post
0699, you make an excellent point. It seems like the best option.

Let's say I bought back the Army time to put toward the FPS retirement. Then when I transferred to a position with LERS retirement, can I buy back the time put-in with FPS?
EDIT: Looks like I was posting the same time as Rockville. And I was wrong...

Quote:
Originally Posted by 31BZ6 View Post
Tango PSC, glad to hear someone else has had the same kind of trouble deciding. It should be quite easy - more money and no deployments but to be honest there's alot about the Army I liked. To answer a question asked earlier, the reason I left active duty in the first place was semi-juvenile: to experience university life while single and in my early 20's. 4 years later I'm married with kids so that ship has sailed.

The FPS presents a great career opportunity and I'll wait for their medical decision before making any steps toward the Army. But I know I can fall back on active duty at least until the next business rules come out.
It's been my experience that there are jobs that will give you the same intangibles you enjoyed in the military. If this FPS position isn't one of them, keep looking.
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Last edited by Gray Rhyno; 26 January 2014 at 21:28.
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  #20  
Old 26 January 2014, 21:27
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So you want to be in Fed LE, actually do LE work, in a covered position, and you liked the Army so you would probably be okay with a more "para-military" type organization?

Sounds like a good candidate for the USBP to me.
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