In game of life, 'richest' player really wins

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Lisa Boothe
  • 81st Mission Support Group superintendent
Many of you may have played the board game "LIFE," which makes real life seem simple. In this game, you designate one player to be the banker and have him or her distribute $10,000 to each player. Then, the banker gives each player a car into which they place a plastic person. On your first turn, you have to decide whether to start a career or go to college. The career will allow you to earn money sooner and college will put you in debt. To go to college, you borrow $40,000 from the bank to pay for school. As the game goes on, you continue to spin the wheel and move your piece according to the number on the wheel, following the directions to search for a job, get married or buy a house, depending on what's printed on a red space. The game has stopping points for getting fired, having a mid-life crisis, having a baby and all of the other major decisions in life. In the end, the richest player wins!

Wouldn't it be wonderful if real life were truly that simple? The object of the board game, as well as life, is to make good decisions and hopefully get rich in the end.

Many of us made a decision to join the military, and although we won't necessarily get rich in the end, military service offers many rich and rewarding opportunities. Many of the riches are intangible but make us feel good inside simply because we had the experience. When I think about the different opportunities the Air Force offers us like education, travel, training, leadership opportunities, and major job skills, I feel rich when I compare myself to my civilian counterparts.

Every day you have to make a decision that is right for you and your family. When you make a "life decision," you really must take into account all the effects that choice will have on your life.

How much money do you really make in the Air Force? When I was growing up in the Air Force, I never thought that we made enough money. However, each time I went home on leave, I found that I seemed to be doing a lot better than most of my childhood friends.

Take a look at the salary of a senior airman. A senior airman customer service technician's annual salary is roughly $41,800 per year. Let's not forget about the free medical and dental insurance, paid education via tuition assistance and G.I. Bill, and the 30 days of leave per year. The same type of customer service technician in the civilian sector makes about $8.73 per hour, roughly $16,762 annual salary. The civilian sector usually doesn't include free medical, education, vacation time or sick leave.

There are other riches and benefits like the exchange, which saves a member about 11 percent over the economy costs, and the commissary which saves an average of 30 percent when compared to the civilian markets. Other benefits we take for granted are things like base services including fitness centers, child care centers, youth programs and base clubs.
How many companies out there still offer a retirement benefit plan at no cost to the member as the military does today? According to a survey by Towers Watson, a global consulting firm, only 17 percent of Fortune 100 companies still offer a direct-benefit plan, down from 67 percent in 1998. That is only 17 companies out of 100 and that number is on the steady decline. The list goes on and on, and the benefits the Air Force has to offer and the riches just keep piling up.

So, in the game of life, when you land on the red space and you are trying to decide which option is the best for you and your family, don't make a hasty decision. Do your homework and weigh your options.

Someone once said "Real riches are the riches possessed inside." The Air Force way may not necessarily make us monetarily rich in the end, but consider the richness that it does have to offer. When you look back over life's experience and think of all the things that you've done, seen and accomplished, you just may be glad that you stayed. Just like in the game, "LIFE", in the end the richest player really does win!