Civilians Answering Deployment Call
April 24, 2008
At age 48, AMCOM worker John Moore is taking a leap into the dangerous unknown of a foreign country during wartime.
The longtime Resource Management employee has volunteered to deploy to Bagram, Afghanistan for six months, where he will be an Army Materiel Command deployed civilian working for Personnel in support of the 401st Army Field Support Brigade.
Once he made that call to volunteer, Moore's life has become a whirlwind of administrative paperwork, personal arrangements to make sure things are cared for at home and preparations to leave his job temporarily vacant.
"The scheduled plan is for me to leave out on May 4," Moore said. "If everything goes OK with all the paperwork, that's when I will be leaving.
"There is so much to think about. My job duties will be spread out to other employees here while I'm gone. I've hired a lawn service to mow the grass and I'm having a sprinkler system put in so my wife doesn't have to pull a sprinkler around the yard all summer. I've had to get 180 days worth of blood pressure medicine. I hope I can get all the bases covered before I go."
Moore is also preparing himself for working in a combat zone, something he has not done during his 23 years as a civilian employee.
"Hopefully, I'm still young enough to hit the dirt if I need to," he said. "I'll be protected and I'll stay on post. If I was worried about dying, I wouldn't be going. There is a risk, but there's a risk every time you drive down the road. I am a preacher's son and I have a strong faith."
Moore - along with AMCOM employees Carolyn Poma and George Jurgens - will travel to a processing center in Winchester, Va., for five days of training. From there, Moore will travel to Kuwait and then to Afghanistan while Poma and Jurgens travel to Iraq.
"At any given time, we are working with 30 to 40 volunteers from Redstone Arsenal who have responded to our solicitation for volunteers," said Eddie Allen of G-3 Current Operations who is the deployment lead for AMCOM.
"We have 400 people every day who are deployed from Redstone Arsenal (or who work out of Redstone Arsenal at locations like Fort Hood or Fort Bragg) to the Central Combatant Command for jobs in Afghanistan, Iraq or Kuwait. Some are gone for two to three days, some for six months to a year. Most of them are going because their job requires them to go while others volunteer. We work with all of them."
DoD civilians volunteer for several reasons, Allen said.
"The real reason above everything else is to help the Soldier," said Allen, who has deployed himself three times as a civilian. "Without exception, among volunteers that's been the top reason for going.
"But there are other reasons, too, that surface - they can make two to three times what they are making here in salary and it better positions them for future promotions. They also gain a lot of experience that they wouldn't otherwise gain, and they learn about what the Army is all about. Everything they do there means something every day."
Moore is eager to experience working shoulder-to-shoulder with Soldiers and other servicemembers in Afghanistan.
"Actually being there, I will gain so much better appreciation for what goes on and will get a better understanding of the different missions involving AMCOM and AMC," Moore said. "I will get a chance to do my part to support Soldiers and my command."
Although Moore had considered volunteering for deployment several times, family and future considerations made 2008 the year for volunteering. It's an opportunity for Moore to use the experience for future career advancements and to enhance his finances for future retirement.
"My wife took an early-out retirement because she is dealing with some medical issues," Moore said. "So, I was thinking about our future and I saw this as a good way to posture myself for possible promotions and for a better retirement.
"It's also a chance to do something different. I've been working in manpower for 23 years. So, assisting with Personnel in Afghanistan will be a new experience for me. It will be so different from my current workload that I can't help but learn something different. It's also a chance for me to experience what it's like to work close with the military."
Moore came to AMCOM (known then as MICOM) in 1984 as an intern. His career has progressed over the years, and he became a team leader about one and a half years ago in the Force Development Management Division of Resource Management.
"I'm the point of contact for military and civilian manpower spaces on the authorization side of the house," Moore said.
Allen said that, before a civilian volunteers, they should get approval from their supervisor and discuss a deployment with their family.
"Civilians should make sure that before they put their resume forward that they are ready to go," Allen said. "We don't want them to leave loose ends or a disgruntled manager.
"Once they volunteer, we send their resume to the Army Sustainment Command to fill posts for the Army Materiel Command to support commanders. They may or may not be doing the kind of work that they do here at Redstone Arsenal. It depends on what the need is there."
Before being deployed, civilians must complete a lot of paperwork, including a will, power of attorney and passport. The civilian must also pass a physical and complete online training. Usually those requirements can be completed within a month.
Moore hopes the work he has done as a volunteer overseas will help prepare him for his deployment. He traveled to Belize, Central America, twice with a church group, working for a week to provide medical help to the country's natives. And he has worked as a volunteer with the Madison County Rescue Squad.
Moore's wife, Debbie, has agreed to the deployment, although as it gets closer she does have some apprehensions.
"My wife is surrounded by family in Decatur," he said. "That will make it easier for her. Hopefully, I'll figure out how to e-mail from Afghanistan and I'll remember the 10-hour difference when I make phone calls. I want to be careful so I don't call in the middle of the night."
Besides his wife, Moore will also miss his two sons, who are students at the University of Central Florida.
Besides his family, friends and work environment, Moore said he will also miss his trumpet and teaching young people in private trumpet lessons on Saturdays.
"I've been teaching lessons for 20 years," he said. "I used to be a band director and music teacher. So, this is a far cry from what my passion is. I won't be able to take my trumpet with me. But I will be working 12 hours a day, seven days a week, so I probably won't have a chance to miss it that much."
Among the family gatherings he will miss during his deployment will be his birthday in May. But, Moore expects he will celebrate early, and hopes to receive an Ipod filled with music as a gift to take with him overseas. And he plans to be home in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Moore expects the weather in Afghanistan will be a difficult factor to adjust to as temperatures will soar to upwards of 120 degrees and winds can get as high as 110 miles an hour during the season he is deployed.
"I guess I probably will have sand in everything," he said.
Allen does talk to civilian volunteers about all aspects of the deployment, including living conditions, weather and security.
"We tell them you are as secure as possible in that environment," he said. "But there will always be the unknown and you will be exposed to danger because it is a dangerous place.
"But you will be compensated in a lot of ways for that, including in pay. I have not seen a disappointed employee come back from a civilian deployment. It is rewarding and life changing in many ways."
Editor's note: If you are a DoD civilian interested in deploying, call Allen at 876-1106 or Carl Washington, 876-2082. Contractors and other interested people can access www.cpol.army.mil for openings and opportunities for overseas employment.